Trump derangement syndrome

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Donald Trump in 2022

Trump derangement syndrome (TDS) is a pejorative term, usually for criticism or negative reactions to former United States president Donald Trump that are perceived to be irrational and to have little regard towards Trump's actual policy positions, or actions undertaken by his administration.[1] The term has mainly been used by Trump supporters to discredit criticism of him, as a way of reframing the discussion by suggesting that his opponents are incapable of accurately perceiving the world.[2][3][4] Journalists have used the term to call for restraint when judging Trump's statements and actions.[5][6][7]

Origin of the term

The origin of the term is traced to conservative political columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer, a psychiatrist, who coined the phrase Bush derangement syndrome in 2003 during the presidency of George W. Bush. That "syndrome" was defined by Krauthammer as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency—nay—the very existence of George W. Bush".[8][9][10][11] The first use of the term Trump derangement syndrome may have been by Esther Goldberg in an August 2015 op-ed in The American Spectator; she applied the term to "Ruling Class Republicans" who are dismissive or contemptuous of Trump.[12] Krauthammer, in an op-ed harshly criticizing Trump, commented that—in addition to general hysteria about Trump—the "Trump Derangement Syndrome" was the "inability to distinguish between legitimate policy differences and ... signs of psychic pathology" in his behavior.[11]


Fareed Zakaria defined the syndrome as "hatred of President Trump so intense that it impairs people's judgment".[5][13] CNN's editor-at-large Chris Cillizza called TDS "the preferred nomenclature of Trump defenders who view those who oppose him and his policies as nothing more than the blind hatred of those who preach tolerance and free speech".[1] Pointing to previous allegations of Bush Derangement Syndrome and Obama Derangement Syndrome, Cillizza suggested, "Viewed more broadly, the rise of presidential derangement syndromes is a function of increased polarization—not to mention our national self-sorting—at work in the country today."[1] Bret Stephens has described the term as something used by conservative groups whenever someone speaks out critically against Trump, regardless of political affiliation.[14]

Political analyst John Avlon uses the term using a more generalized sense inclusive of positive emotions as well as hatred towards Trump, so that for example, TDS accounts for denialism about Trump's defeat in the 2020 election, as a "political diagnosis" of people who "simply can't accept the fact that he lost the election."[15][16]

This new definition derogatorily describing the nature of Trump followers rather than his deriders has been picked up by others and widely used.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

Politico co-founder John Harris wrote that TDS is related to gaslighting, "another psychological concept in vogue in the Trump era."[24]


The term has been widely applied by pro-Trump writers to critics of Trump, accusing them of responding negatively to a wide range of Trump's statements and actions.[25][26][27]

The use of the term has been called part of a broader GOP strategy to discredit criticisms of Trump's actions, as a way of "reframing" the discussion by suggesting his political opponents are incapable of accurately perceiving the world. However, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson of Annenberg Public Policy Center, the term could backfire on Trump supporters because people might interpret it to mean that Trump is the one who is "deranged", rather than those who criticize him.[2] Some Trump supporters have asserted that he plays a form of "multi-dimensional chess" on a mental level his critics cannot comprehend, which they say explains why critics are frustrated and confused by Trump's words and actions.[28][29][30][31] Fox News anchor Bret Baier and former House speaker Paul Ryan have characterized Trump as a "troll" who makes controversial statements to see his adversaries' "heads explode".[32][33]

The term has been used by journalists critical of Trump to call for restraint.[5][6][7] Fareed Zakaria, who urged Americans to vote against Trump calling him a "cancer on American democracy", argues that every Trump policy "cannot axiomatically be wrong, evil and dangerous".[5] Adam Gopnik, who takes a strong anti-Trump position, responded to these assertions that it is a "huge and even fatal mistake for liberals (and constitutional conservatives) to respond negatively to every Trump initiative, every Trump policy, and every Trump idea". Arguing that Trump's opponents must instead recognize that the real problem is "Deranged Trump Self-Delusion", Gopnik defined the "Syndrome" as President Trump's "daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity".[26]

Examples of use

Senator Rand Paul has cited the so-called syndrome several times. In a July 16, 2018, interview he said investigators should simply focus on election security and stop "accusing Trump of collusion with the Russians and all this craziness that's not true"—accusations which he said were entirely motivated by "Trump derangement syndrome".[34]

Trump used the term in a tweet following the 2018 Russia–United States summit in Helsinki: "Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!"[35][36] He also used it in a tweet about Alan Dershowitz's book The Case Against Impeaching Trump: ".@AlanDersh, a brilliant lawyer, who although a Liberal Democrat who probably didn't vote for me, has discussed the Witch Hunt with great clarity and in a very positive way. He has written a new and very important book called 'The Case Against Impeaching Trump', which I would encourage all people with Trump Derangement Syndrome to read!"[37]

In July 2018, Jeanine Pirro accused Whoopi Goldberg of suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome during a guest appearance on The View to promote her newly published book. This occurred while Pirro was responding to a question about how the "deep state" really works.[38]

In July 2018, Eric Zorn wrote in the Chicago Tribune that the syndrome afflicts Trump's supporters more than his critics, as "what Team Trump is calling derangement is, in most cases, rational concern about his behavior and the direction he's taking the country.... The true Trump Derangement Syndrome loose on the land is the delusion suffered by those who still think he's going to make this country a better place for average people."[3]

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary under the Trump administration, made use of the term online.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also used the term in this tweet: "Trump Derangement Syndrome is becoming a major epidemic among Democrats. Instead of freaking out about the booming Trump economy why not celebrate it?"[39]

In September 2018, Fox News personality and Trump supporter, Sean Hannity criticized The Washington Post as having Trump derangement syndrome for stating in an editorial that Trump, because of his attitude toward climate change, is "complicit" in hurricanes battering the United States;[40][41] Hannity said "it is now a full-blown psychosis, it is a psychological level of unhingement I have never seen."[40]

In November 2018, Michael Goodwin, writing in the New York Post, discussed a variant of Trump Derangement syndrome he called "Trump Imitation Syndrome".[42]

In August 2019, Anthony Scaramucci, Trump's former White House Communications Director, said in interviews with Vanity Fair and CNN that he had "Trump fatigue syndrome" instead of Trump derangement syndrome.[43][44]

On 22 March 2019, Bill Maher on Real Time with Bill Maher noted that while most statements by Trump were worthy of contempt, on occasions he had made perfectly sensible comments which were pilloried without justification. A case in point was Trump's criticism of the overengineering which led to the Boeing 737 Max crashes and his preference for products to be simpler to use, which some commentators interpreted as evidence of conservative leanings.[45]

In September 2019, Sean Hannity characterized as "Trump derangement syndrome" the continuing press coverage of Trump's days-long insistence that he was correct to state on September 1 that Hurricane Dorian posed a danger to Alabama, asserting "pretty much every newsroom in America screwed this up and lied to you," adding there were "a lot of psychotic jackasses in the media mob".

See also


  1. ^ a b c Cillizza, Chris (July 19, 2018). "What is 'Trump Derangement Syndrome'—and do you have it?". CNN. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Flaherty, Anne (July 18, 2018). "Trump's diagnosis for critics: 'Trump Derangement Syndrome'". Associated Press. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Zorn, Eric (July 31, 2018). "'Trump Derangement Syndrome' afflicts supporters more than critics of the president". Chicago Tribune.
  4. ^ Leonhardt, David (September 16, 2018). "'Trump Derangement Syndrome' Is a Myth". The New York Times.
  5. ^ a b c d Zakaria, Fareed (April 13, 2017). "Liberals have to avoid Trump Derangement Syndrome". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Boot, Max (May 11, 2018). "Am I suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome? Time for a self-audit". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Page, Clarence (February 2, 2018). "Democrats, beware Trump Derangement Syndrome". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  8. ^ Davis, Michael (March 26, 2016). "Trump Derangement Syndrome". The Spectator. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  9. ^ Cost, Jay (December 4, 2017). "Taming the Imperial Presidency". National Review. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  10. ^ Krauthammer, Charles (December 5, 2003). "The Delusional Dean". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Krauthammer, Charles (June 9, 2017). "You can't govern by ID". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  12. ^ Goldberg, Esther (August 17, 2015). "Trump Derangement Syndrome". The American Spectator. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  13. ^ Zakaria, Fareed (April 16, 2017). "Fareed: Is 'Trump derangement syndrome' real?". CNN. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  14. ^ Stephens, Bret (February 26, 2017). "Don't Dismiss President Trump's Attacks on the Media as Mere Stupidity". Time. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  15. ^ Joyella, Mark (December 16, 2020). "CNN's John Avlon: Trump Supporters 'Can't Accept The Fact He Lost'". Forbes. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Avlon, John (December 16, 2020). "'Trump derangement syndrome' has taken on a new twist". CNN. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  17. ^ Harris, John (October 15, 2020). "Trump Is Suffering From Trump Derangement Syndrome". Politico. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  18. ^ Yee, Lawrence (September 20, 2019). "Bill Maher Offers New Definition of 'Trump Derangement Syndrome'". TheWrap. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  19. ^ Mills, Thomas (October 14, 2019). "The real Trump Derangement Syndrome". Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  20. ^ John, Pavlovitz (June 17, 2019). "Trump Derangement Syndrome Is Real. Trump and His Supporters Have It". Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  21. ^ Barro, Josh; White, Ken (October 6, 2021). "Trump Derangement Syndrome with David Lat". Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  22. ^ Mandaville, Lynn; Young, David (2019). "One Small Voice: It's GOP that has Trump Derangement Syndrome". Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  23. ^ "Trump Derangement Syndrome Works Both Ways". April 26, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  24. ^ John F. Harris (October 15, 2020). "Trump Is Suffering From Trump Derangement Syndrome". Politico.
  25. ^ Tobin, Jonathan (May 4, 2018). "Trump Isn't Father Coughlin". National Review. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  26. ^ a b Gopnik, Adam (April 21, 2017). "The Persistence of Trump Derangement Syndrome". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Roeder, Oliver (May 7, 2018). "Trump Isn't Playing 3D Chess—He's Playing Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe". Five Thirty Eight.
  29. ^ Herrman, John (May 31, 2017). "The Enduring Appeal of Seeing Trump as Chess Master in Chief". The New York Times.
  30. ^ Levy, Phil (July 30, 2018). "Trump Is Losing His Own 3D Chess Game". Foreign Policy. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  31. ^ Cillizza, Chris (October 8, 2017). "Donald Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess". CNN.
  32. ^ "Bret Baier: Trump Likes Trolling the Left to Watch 'Heads Explode', Even If He Contradicts Himself". Mediaite. July 24, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  33. ^ Leibovich, Mark (August 7, 2018). "This Is the Way Paul Ryan's Speakership Ends". The New York Times.
  34. ^ Watkins, Eli (July 16, 2018). "Rand Paul dismisses focus on election attack as 'Trump derangement syndrome'". CNN. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  35. ^ Smith, David (July 18, 2018). "Summit critics have Trump derangement syndrome—says Trump". The Guardian. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  36. ^ Donald J. Trump [@realDonaldTrump] (July 18, 2018). "Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2018 – via Twitter.
  37. ^ Donald J. Trump [@realDonaldTrump] (July 26, 2018). ".@AlanDersh, a brilliant lawyer, who although a Liberal Democrat who probably didn't vote for me, has discussed the Witch Hunt with great clarity and in a very positive way. He has written a new and very important book called 'The Case Against Impeaching Trump', which I would encourage all people with Trump Derangement Syndrome to read!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2018 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ Flynn, Meagan (July 20, 2018). "Whoopi vs. Judge Jeanine: 'Trump Derangement Syndrome' comment sparks yelling match on 'The View'". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  39. ^ Sarah Huckabee Sanders [@PressSec45] (August 2, 2018). "Trump Derangement Syndrome is becoming a major epidemic among Democrats. Instead of freaking out about the booming Trump economy why not celebrate it?" (Tweet). Retrieved February 13, 2021 – via Twitter.
  40. ^ a b "Hannity: 'Trump Derangement Syndrome Reaches New Heights' With WaPo Headline on Trump & Hurricanes". Fox News. September 13, 2018. Archived from the original on September 13, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  41. ^ "Another hurricane is about to batter our coast. Trump is complicit". The Washington Post. September 11, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  42. ^ Goodwin, Michael (November 21, 2018). "'Trump Imitation Syndrome' is afflicting the president's liberal enemies". New York Post. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  43. ^ Cohan, William D. (August 16, 2009). "'Oh My God, This Jackass': The Mooch Explains Why He Thinks Trump Is 'Crazy', 'Narcissistic', and a 'Paper Tiger' Who Will Drop Out by March 2020". Vanity Fair. I don't have Trump derangement syndrome, but what I do have is Trump fatigue syndrome. It's a very different thing, okay? And I submit to you that the nation, my party members, all have Trump fatigue syndrome, okay?
  44. ^ "Transcripts: CNN Tonight: Anthony Scaramucci: President Trump Is Unstable And Getting Worse [22:30:04]". CNN. August 13, 2019. I'm not going to be a prop for people on the left. I'm my own person. I'm not a guy that has Trump derangement syndrome. But I think like most Americans, I have Trump fatigue syndrome.
  45. ^ Maher, Bill [@billmaher] (March 23, 2019). "Trump Derangement Syndrome isn't a real thing, so, on the rare occasion when Trump says something not stupid, don't act like you have Trump Derangement Syndrome" (Tweet). Retrieved February 23, 2024 – via Twitter.

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