The Face of Donald J. Trump

This blog post isn’t a diagnosis. I’m not a clinician, although as a researcher I do study the molecular basis of congenital malformations. And this isn’t meant to be a statement on politics or political ideology. What this is is simply a series of observations that may help to provide a fuller picture of Donald J. Trump’s behaviors as presented by the popular press and those who have known him. Since many people have questioned his mental health, the presence of congenital malformations may add further background and understanding of Trump’s behaviors to date.

The presence of multiple congenital malformations, whether obvious to the layman or visible primarily to the clinician, are frequently accompanied by developmental disorders. While most people with developmental conditions don’t have multiple congenital malformations, the brains of those who do are often affected to some degree– though effects may not be readily visible on MRI. Multiple congenital malformations are often comorbid with intellectual disability, but they may also co-occur with developmental delay, behavioral conditions like ADHD, or learning disabilities.

While some congenital malformations can be diagnosed through pictures, others require careful measurement of the individual him- or herself for confirmation. Therefore, this blog is simply meant to suggest that Trump’s childhood pictures are dysmorphic. For the purposes of diagnosis. Mr. Trump would need to be seen by a trained dysmorphologist.

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Above is a childhood picture of Donald Trump. I’m uncertain as to his exact age at the time of this picture; it appears as though he’s about three years old. Many congenital malformations are most apparent during this period, as some malformations are in fact delays in development that may right themselves over time or become considerably less obvious. For these reasons, I’ll be using the image above for my analysis.

First off, the overall shape of the face is triangular. While it looks like this may be exaggerated by a small lower jaw, it’s impossible to tell whether the forehead is unusually prominent and/or the volume of the skull oversized (macrocephaly).

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The most obvious malformation of the face is the reduced width of the mouth, known as microstomia. On average, the width of the mouth should extend to below the pupils of the eye. The lips on the other hand are unusually thick.

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As for the nose, the tip has an unusual square-like appearance and a broad nasal bridge. Meanwhile, the nostrils (alae nasi) appear to be very mildly hypoplastic, in that they should normally extend laterally inferior to the inner corner of the eye (palpebral fissure).

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The eyes exhibit upslanting palpebral fissures (corners of the eyes), whose plain would normally be level. The palpebral fissures may also be mildly shortened, although that would require precise measurements in relation to other facial features. The eyebrows are modestly arched.

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A mold of Trump’s hand as an adult, aside from being unusually short (potentially brachydactylic), seems to indicate he may have a mild form of clinodactyly, which means a finger is bent or curved. Most often the pinky is affected.

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In summary, Donald Trump’s childhood image suggests that he had multiple craniofacial malformations affecting each of the midline structures of the face (eyes, nose, mouth), as well as the overall shape of the face and head. In addition, the mold of his hand suggest that the hands were similarly affected.

Together, these features, along with his behavioral history, suggest a syndromic condition, possibly of genetic origin. Were his family to ask my professional opinion, I would recommend genetic testing, psychological assessment, and behavioral intervention for whomever in the family is likewise affected.

10 responses to “The Face of Donald J. Trump

    • Mr. Trump’s childhood pictures exhibit strong evidence of multiple minor craniofacial malformations, which strongly suggests he has some sort of syndrome. In genetics, the presence of multiple craniofacial malformations dramatically increase the likelihood of a genetic disorder. I can provide you literature on this topic if you prefer. This is what I study, and I’d say the same thing if someone showed me the same picture without telling me the child’s identity. Mr. Trump’s behavior has been highly pathological (and I’m not going to PC-coat that just for the sake of pretending not to be partisan). I for one appreciate understanding the background to that pathology. In this instance, I suspect it isn’t simply an environmentally-produced personality disorder (e.g., familial dysfunction) but has deeper developmental roots that probably not only affect the developmental structure of the face and hands but also have affected brain function to some extent. His deficits in self-inhibition and other executive functions, poor decision-making (his own words are usually his worst enemy), his egocentrism, and the fact that his behaviors were concerning enough that his parents sent him to military school to “straighten him out”– all of these are indicative of a developmental disorder. Pair that with the multiple congenital anomalies and that would suggest a genetic or teratogenic disorder.

      • So diagnosing someone from childhood pictures without actually examining the person is a good thing? I am familiar with dysmorphic features and what they can mean but I also know that the presence of said features is a hint and in no way a definitive diagnosis.

        Don’t get me wrong, Trump is a misogynistic ass-hat pig who is completely unfit to be president for so many reasons that it isn’t the least bit funny. The idea that a large part of this country would actually vote for him when he openly mocks disabled people (let alone the other utterly reprehensible things he does) almost literally makes me sick and makes me want to move to another country.

        But, trying to imply some genetic disorder based on a childhood picture is no different than posthumously diagnosing Einstein or Telsa with autism based on solely on accounts of their behaviors.

      • Which is exactly why I said in the first line that this wasn’t meant to be a diagnosis. But in my line of work, if you see complex craniofacial features that are hitting multiple tissues across the face and the body, that’s a REALLY strong sign something developmental is going on. Now whether that comes part and parcel with his behavior is another story, since there are some examples (though a minority) where the brain/behavior/intellect are apparently unaffected when you see disturbances across the face. But many of the genes involved in brain development, with a minority of exceptions, are involved in craniofacial development too. When you see signs across the face of developmental deviation (which these are), it’s an excellent indication the brain is affected too to some extent. Sometimes you really can read the brain through the face. As much as I see this and work to understand the underlying etiology of these kinds of malformations, I really do honestly stand by the points I made in this blog. He may well have a syndrome, and further testing would be needed to address this distinct possibility. But given the combination of complex craniofacial malformations and his bizarre behavior, it’s a fairly safe bet that he not only has a personality disorder (which is far more obvious) but a developmental one as well. I do however appreciate your caution on a topic like this– and it’s a good reminder!–, as diagnostics should be left to the clinician in the appropriate setting. Which is why this is no diagnosis and I’m no diagnostician. I’m a biologist. So I’m pointing out what patterns I see in order to provide a hypothesis that helps make sense of this man’s extreme behavior. He obviously had a cold upbringing, especially when it came to his father, which can probably help to explain aspects of his personality disorder, but his incapacity to control himself reaches far beyond a PD.

  1. LOL!!! Very nicely done! The job that I retired from at the end of 2014 was as a psychologist at a local center that primarily worked with children below 3 years old. I did that for ten years. Those of us at the center worked as a team with a Pediatrician, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and an occupational therapist. We spent a lot of time looking at congenital malformations. I wish that we had a dysmorphologist on the team. However, our concerns with dysmorphology resulted in referrals to the geneticists at UNC Chapel Hill. I guess you could say that I’ve seen a lot of dysmorphology and learned about many “disorders.” Here is a list of what I can recall besides the more run of the mill things like autism: Moebius Syndrome, Velocardiofacial dysmorphologies, Potaki-Schaeffer Syndrome (extremely rare), Prader-Willi Syndrome. I do not have a guess about what to call Donald Trump from a dysmorphogical perspective. BTW, I joked with the head of the Genetics Department that Hollywood was working on a film about a geneticist called “The Prince of Nucleotides.”

    • Very cool. Yeah, I would have no idea what possible syndrome he and his family have (his daughters also have some facial similarities of the midline structures). There’s really a HUGE number of different conditions that have multiple craniofacial malformations (there’s seriously hundreds of rare disorders with CFD). But hopefully genetic testing would be informative. However, since there doesn’t appear to be any evidence (that we know of) of intellectual disability or obvious developmental delay, so genotyping may not turn up anything definitive. But, I think it’s safe to say that, given his extreme narcissism, he’s unlikely to ever seek assessment as that would be admitting imperfection.

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