Mary Trump died at 88 in 2000, was a dignified but distant figure in his childhood, according to friends from that time.
“When I would play with Donald, his father would be around and watch him play,” said childhood friend Mark Golding. “His mom didn’t interact in that way.”
Trump’s mother gave birth to five children between 1937 and 1948, and she nearly died from severe hemorrhaging and an abdominal infection after the birth of her youngest son, Robert, when the current president was a toddler.
She was forced to withdraw from family life as she recovered from the infection and four emergency surgeries, and one expert said that experience could have made a crucial impact on Donald Trump.
“From a child’s perspective, they’ve experienced the withdrawal of a mothering figure,” said psychiatrist Leonard Cruz, author of A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of President Trump. “It might evoke ways of acting that are increasingly bombastic and attention-seeking. The child becomes almost exaggerated in the ways they try to court attention.”
“What kind of son have I created?” wondered Mary Trump in an interview from 1990, when the future president was divorcing his first wife and faced ruinous debt.
“Your mother helps you identify your feelings and develop a cognitive structure so you don’t have to act on them immediately,” said former APA president Prudence Gourguechon, “and I think it’s fair to say that the capacity for empathy develops through your maternal relationship.”