Mary Trump: The Mother Behind the Man

Trump doesn't talk about his mother much; that doesn't mean he isn't shaped by her
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2017 5:04 PM CDT
Mary Trump: The Mother Behind the Man
President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, to travel to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, in Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Psychologists are fascinated by President Trump. From afar they wonder, as Politico puts it, "What makes somebody act the way he acts ... his belligerence and his impulsivity, his bottomless need for applause and his clockwork rage when he doesn’t get it?" The answers inevitably start with Trump's parents: his father—who looms large in the president's life—and his mother—who, to put it simply, does not. Fred Trump is a "constant presence" for Trump, a known quantity, a figure who appeared alone in a photo at Trump's desk in Trump Tower and—initially—the White House. So attention must then be turned to Trump's mother, relegated to "a cardboard cutout of a character" in her son's life, Politico reports in a deep dive into the life of Mary Trump and the lasting effects she may have had on her son.

Over the decades, Trump has turned to "cut-and-paste aphorisms" about his mother—"tremendous," "homemaker," "very warm." And friends say Mary Trump wasn't deeply involved in her children's lives. But that doesn't mean she didn't shape the future president. A former head of the American Psychoanalytic Association says a good relationship with your mother is fundamental to "the capacity to trust; a sense of security versus insecurity; knowing what's real and what's not real." When Trump was 2, Mary Trump nearly died following an emergency hysterectomy. A North Carolina psychiatrist says that kind of experience can make a child "almost exaggerated in the ways they try to court attention," adding: "I'm not speaking specifically about Donald Trump, but boy..." Read the full story here for more on Mary Trump, including why she despaired a decade before her death, "What kind of son have I created?" (More Longform stories.)

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