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Laudatio uitgesproken door prof. dr. H. Sloore

VOORGEDRAGEN DOOR DE
FACULTEIT VOOR PSYCHOLOGIE EN OPVOEDKUNDE

Professor Theodore Millon

Professor Theodore Millon is sinds 1977 verbonden aan het departement Psychologie van de University of Miami, Coral Gables en sinds 1989 visiting professor aan het departement Psychiatrie van de Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Hij studeerde aan het City College of New York waar hij zijn B.A. behaalde in 1949 en zijn M.A. in 1950. In 1954 bekwam hij zijn Ph. D.-diploma in de persoonlijkheids-, de sociale en de klinische psychologie aan de University of Connecticut.

Professor Theodore MILLON begon zijn academische loopbaan als docent bij het departement psychologie van de Lehigh University in Bethlehem (1954-1970). Van 1970 tot 1977 was hij als hoogleraar verbonden aan de afdeling psychiatrie van het Medical Center van de University of Illinois in Chicago en van 1972 tot 1977 als hoogleraar aan het departement psychologie van dezelfde universiteit.

De wetenschappelijke productie omvat 24 boeken over o.m. de experimentele psychologie, de psychopathologie en het persoonlijkheidsonderzoek, naast talloze artikels die verschenen in vooraanstaande internationale tijdschriften.

Professor Theodore MILLEN verrichtte eveneens belangwekkend klinisch onderzoek en is lid van tal van wetenschappelijke verenigingen. Als wereldautoriteit op het vlak van vooral de persoonlijksheidspsychologie, ontving hij reeds een eredoctoraat van Harvard University.

LAUDATIO
FOR PROFESSOR THEODORE MILLON
University of Miami – Harvard Medical School

Professor Theodore Millon started his training in psychology at the City College of New York where he obtained his Master Degree in clinical psychology in 1950. Four years later he took his PhD at the University of Connecticut with majors such as personality, social and clinical psychology.

He then became assistant professor in the department of psychology at the Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he taught a wide range of courses in the field of clinical and abnormal psychology, social and personality psychology, measurement, statistics and projective techniques. From 1970 till 1977, Theodore Millon became professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago and at the Medical Center of the same university. He was the principal instructor during residency, item and graduate seminars on psychopathology and research methodology and supervisor for the clinical practice and the dissertation research.

From 1977 up to now Theodore Millon has been professor at the department of psychology at the University of Miami where he directs the clinical doctoral program, teaches graduate seminars on psychopathology and methodology and supervises the clinical practice and dissertation research. Since 1989 Prof. Millon has been appointed visiting professor at the Harvard Medical School. During all these years he has successfully combined teaching with research and clinical activities.

These research activities have focussed on four major topics:

  1. the diagnostic taxonomies and the classification problem in psychopathology;
  2. the construction of psychological self-report inventories;
  3. the psychological factors in physical illness;
  4. the integrative psychotherapeutic approach or the examination of the logic and methods for co-ordinating treatment techniques.

Despite Kurt Lewin’s statement in 1936 that “there is nothing so practical as a good theory”, the personality theories had no longer been in vogue during the last 40 years. The pendulum swung back towards empiricism and positivism. Personality and personality assessment were no longer seen as the study of “personality-as-a-coherent whole”, but the whole concept and range were segmented. Therefore Prof. Millon can certainly be seen as one of the leading scientists, one of the driving forces behind the renewed interest in personality and its theory. He published several books in which he always started from a theoretical framework which was an integrative view on personality and psychopathology. In one of his latest works “Toward a new personology” (1990) he connects the conceptual structure of personology to its foundations in the natural sciences. He explores the interconnections among disciplines which developed in an unrelated way. The integration of what others have viewed as unconnected is the kind of intellectual task which can only be done by brilliant minds. While the great majority of psychologists in the last decade were only busy with horizontal refinements, professor Millon was thinking about integrative schemes and cohesive constructs, trying to link biological, psychological and sociological aspects. As the person was the main subject of personology, he seemed to be the perfect area to look for an integrated system. The intrinsic cohesion of persons seems not only a rhetoric construction, but also an authentic biopsychosocial entity.

The motto of Prof. Millon in the field of clinical psychology is to look for integration too. A mature clinical science must embody:

  1. theories;
  2. a nosology that has been derived from the theory;
  3. instruments;
  4. interventions or strategies and techniques of therapy.

Prof. Millon has been a member of and consultant for the American Psychiatric Association DSM-III Task Force and more recently he has become a member of the DSM-IV, axis II Work Group of the same association. DSM is one of the most used taxonomies for psychopathology diagnosis all over the world. Prof. Millon was also one of the pioneers of the newly developed field of personality syndromes and disorders. In DSM, personality disorders not only achieved a position of consequence among syndrome categories, but they became crucial to its multi-axial principle. Due to Prof. Millon’s contribution, the personality disorders obtained a nosological status of prominence in their own right, but they were also assigned a contextual role which made them fundamental to the understanding and interpretation of all other psychopathologies. It was asserted that personality could serve successfully as a dynamic substrate from which clinicians could better grasp the significance and meaning of their patients’ transient and florid disorders.

Shortly after the publication in 1969 of his book entitled “Modern psychopathology” – a standard book in this field – he became aware of the fact that there was a need for new instruments to measure his theoretical model, especially the pathologies of personality. He no longer approached the measurement of personality and pathology as a set of separate scales, but his new approach was holistic and oriented towards composite structures. The personality aspects were not conceived as discrete attributes which must be individually deduced and then pieced together, but as integrated configurations from the start. The MCMI represented this trend in holistic personality scales including all the personality disorders in one single inventory. But the MCMI is more than just one of the objective tools in the assessment kit of a diagnostician. It provides the clinician with a theoretical scheme to master the realm of personality pathology and to understand the processes which underlie the patient’s overly dysfunctional behaviours, thoughts and feelings.

Summarizing the work of Prof. Millon seems impossible. However, I would like to state that his work has always been at the intersection between the study of psychopathology and the study of personality. His theoretical contributions are of the greatest importance as well as its applications in the field of clinical psychology and assessment.

Just allow me to mention that the results of forty years of research are reflected in 24 books and in numerous chapters (36) and an inexhaustible list of articles, and I am convinced that this flow of ideas and publications has not ended yet!

As an authority in the field of clinical psychology, Prof. Millon has been a member of the editorial board of numerous medical journals: the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Psycholoy & Health and the Journal of Personality Assessment. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Personality Disorders and president of the International Society for the Study of the Personality Disorders.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are only a few of the most important aspects of the scientific and academic career of Prof. Millon. Therefore it is a great honour for the Faculty of Psychology and the Free University of Brussels to award him the title of Doctor Honoris Causa.

Prof. Dr. H. Sloore