Aron psychiatrist discloses she suffers from 2nd disorder He says he 'wasn't asked' about it in her first trial

July 21, 1998|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

A Potomac psychiatrist who treated Ruthann Aron altered his testimony yesterday, saying she suffers from bipolar manic depression in addition to the personality disorder he described during her first trial in March.

Asked by prosecutors why he did not disclose that diagnosis earlier, Dr. Alan Brody said, "I wasn't asked."

The combination of the two disorders can create severe psychiatric problems because manic depression can be further exaggerated by the personality disorder, he testified.

Aron, 55, a Potomac developer who was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1994, has pleaded not criminally responsible to two counts of solicitation to commit murder. Her mental condition prevented her from distinguishing right from wrong, she contends.

She was charged in June 1997 in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme aimed at her husband, Dr. Barry Aron, and a Maryland lawyer. Among the evidence are 15 secretly recorded tapes of Aron discussing plans with an undercover officer she believed to be a hit man and a go-between.

Her first trial ended in a hung jury. Her retrial is in its third week before Montgomery County Circuit Judge Vincent E. Ferretti Jr.

Brody was Aron's psychiatrist from 1989 to 1993, when he treated her for borderline personality disorder, a condition in which a patient can shift between neurosis and psychosis. She ended treatment against Brody's advice in early 1993 in anticipation of her Senate campaign. At the time, she told him, it would be "political suicide" to continue therapy while running for office because someone might find out.

As serious as he considered her condition, Brody said he never prescribed medication because he feared she would be so resistant that she might leave therapy altogether.

He next treated her after her arrest last summer, when he concluded she had been in severe depression for several months. It was during subsequent treatment that he diagnosed bipolar manic depression, he said.

Brody said yesterday he believed Aron's mental condition prevented her from appreciating the consequences of her actions.

"I think she was play-acting," Brody said when asked to describe her behavior on the tapes. "She was being a flirty little girl who was just trying to get what she wanted.

"She had lost touch with reality."

Under questioning by Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell Jr., Brody acknowledged that Aron's medical file contained no mention of the personality disorder. He said he purposely omitted it to protect Aron's privacy.

Although Brody said he was concerned that Aron might commit suicide after her arrest, he never contacted the jail about providing a suicide watch. Had he done so, he testified, it might have provoked Aron to try it.

Also yesterday, the defense played a tape of testimony given by Aron's mother, Frieda Singer, during the first trial. The judge allowed the tape after determining that Singer was too ill to testify.

Singer described years of physical abuse inflicted by Aron's father on the family.

Pub Date: 7/21/98

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