Friday, September 17, 2010

What's wrong with the psych test

The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory test is psychological test consisting of 175 true-false questions. It was developed on patients in psychiatric hospitals, and was never intended to be given to normal people in the general population. That is, your answers are scored by comparing them to crazy people.

While the test may have some utility in diagnosing psychological disorders, nobody has ever been able to show that the test has anything to with identifying good parents. The test does not attempt to measure any parenting abilities or disabilities.

Family court evaluators like to use these psychological tests to give their evaluations a veneer of science. But the tests are just voodoo, and the so-called experts who rely on them are quacks.

The declaration by the psychologist below is as ridiculous as saying:
I am a nurse and I have drawn blood samples 1000 times. The mom had a medical checkup 5 years ago, but was not tested for diabetes. I have reviewed her medical history, and I found she eats too many sweets, so she could be at risk for diabetes. If she has diabetes, then the disease could possibly have a negative impact on her parenting abilities. I recommended that she give a blood sample so that she can be tested for diabetes, and that she be not allowed to see her son until she does.
I suppose that there is some theoretical possibility that an undiagnosed case of diabetes could have some negative effect on the child, but how likely is that? And how does that compare to the obvious harm in the child not being able to see his mom?

The family court has to decide whether the risk in the mom visiting her son somehow outweighs the benefits. The psychologist declaration says nothing to address that issue at all. The court should disregard his declaration.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you here. There are some severe personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder (BPD), that are not easy to detect. Most BPs are very good at hiding their disorder form judges, mediators, evaluators, etc. They will even hide it from their own therapists and psychiatrists if they feel it's in their best interests. They can put on a mask to hide it when they want.

The problem is that once they are comfortable, in their own homes, and they don't feel it's necessary to hide it, the true personality comes out and it is very damaging to children... both emotionally and physically, depending on the degree.

It's possible that some of their extreme views and lack of empathy will come out in standard interviews, but not likely that it can be fully evaluated.

Also, these disorders are not something that just go away; they can be managed and my eventually improve, but they don't disappear.

I lived with a BP for 6 years, and saw the effects first hand. I also saw how she handled her outward appearance to others, especially healthcare workers. She was hospitalized multiple times, and was heavy into drugs and alcohol to cover the symptoms, including self-mutilation. Finally I couldn't take it anymore, and all of my efforts to help her eventually failed, so I filed for divorce.

Magically, all of her symptoms went away, and she was cured, according to her.

There really is no way to prove her disorder, other than the medical history, and testimony from healthcare providers, friends, and family. Plus talking with the kids. But the ability to have a test confirm evidence the disorder does indeed still exist is important. It could help not only the children, but the one suffering from the disorder that is in denial, and therefore not treating it.

Reading the psyc evaluation you posted is a ray of hope for my children and me and what we've been going through.

Anonymous said...

Also, I believe the test could be accurate.

Using your diabetes analogy, it would be like saying:
It was developed on patients in hospitals, and was never intended to be given to normal people in the general population. That is, your blood is compared to people with diabetes.

To test if someone has diabetes, you test their blood against that of someone that does have the disease. If they match, they both likely have it. If they don't, they likely don't.

If you compare a "crazy person" to a normal person, and get the same result, what would that mean? Especially if "normal" people tested differently from the "crazy."

Unfortunately, there is currently no physiological test to see if someone suffers from personality disorders.

And there is a lot of evidence out there about how severe personality disorders have a negative impact on child development.

I know it's not medical proof, but check out the movie "The 3 Faces of Eve" sometime... even though it deals with multiple personality disorder, it was very similar to what some of us see when dealing with someone with another personality disorder.

George said...

Glad to have contrary opinions here. I will post an answer tomorrow.