Doctor seeks breakthrough on personality disorder
Dr. Ron Moline, a 33-year Oak Park resident, is making the case for a controversial psychiatric disorder.
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:17PM
OAK PARK — If one member of the Oak Park community has his way, individuals diagnosed with a debilitating condition will have a more direct route to attention and treatment.
The condition, dissociative identity disorder (DID) — also called multiple personality disorder — is popularly known through characters like those in the films “Sybil” and “The Three Faces of Eve.” In reality, however, the diagnosis is controversial.
Dr. Ron Moline, M.D., a member of the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Psychiatry faculty and a psychiatrist since 1966, wants to end the doubt.
“I regard it as a very profound pathology that needs to be cured, if possible,” he said, and has written a book to advance that cause.
In his new book, Moline argues for the validity of the diagnosis and recommends a non-standard treatment course based on his own success with DID patients. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Case Study and Contemporary Perspective will be published by this winter.
The heart of Moline’s authority is his longtime work with one DID patient whose journey he chronicles in the book. Prior to encountering this patient, a well-educated professional woman with a family, Moline said he was skeptical about DID. This case cleared his uncertainty.
Essentially, DID involves the presence of two or more distinct personality states within an individual that can take control of his or her behavior. Symptoms can include multiple mannerisms and attitudes, psychotic-like issues such as hearing voices, and memory loss when a different personality takes control. Women are much more frequently diagnosed with DID than men, and the diagnosis is highly correlated with childhood abuse.
“The field of psychiatry is almost as divided on the diagnosis of this condition as it is on the politics of this country,” he said, noting that its incidence became widely recognized in the 1980s, hand-in-hand with the rise of cultural questions about gender and other aspects of identity.
“Identity began to be very fluid and for some reason this diagnosis became almost a hysterical epidemic, to the degree that there were psychiatric units opening to address it,” he said.
The boom also fueled professional skepticism about DID, including Moline’s own, until he met his case study patient and saw her personality characteristics change rapidly and convincingly, even during the course of a therapy session.
“These presentations were compelling, frightening and could not be ignored,” Moline recalled. After he worked with her intensively for six years, Moline said the woman regained a solid sense of identify that she’s held now for almost a decade.
“This book is important for two reasons,” Moline said. “It addresses skepticism about the diagnosis and deals with questions about it, and it questions the orthodoxy of treatment among the so-called ‘experts.’ I would like to persuade the psychiatric profession that the diagnosis is real, and persuade clinicians that the treatment is much less formulaic that some would want.”
Moline, a 33-year Oak Park resident who raised two children here, is not new to publishing. In addition to professional articles he has authored “In Good Faith,” a book on Unitarian-Universalism based on his role as volunteer archivist for Unity Temple.