*323 Psychological Testing
Psych tests are debunked. See Scientific American, May 2001.
Psychological testing alone does not diagnose sexual abuse either in the victim, but it is helpful as part of the evaluation of the alleged sexual offender. And in cases of possible false allegations, it may be helpful to have testing of both parents. Testing both parents is not only fair, it also makes eminent common sense.
The battery of psychological tests would likely include the Rorschach Inkblot test, TAT (Thematic Apperception Test), and MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory). A penile plethysmograph, which measures sexual arousal in certain contexts, may also be administered.
Testing of the victim may be indicated if there are questions about intelligence or thought processes. The same be true for either or both of the parents.
Rorschach, TAT, and MMPI
Rorschach Inkblots, in use for some seventy years now, make up the standard set of ten inkblot pictures.
The TAT, Thematic Apperception Test, is a series of pictures of people. The pictures include anything from a single solitary young man looking down and studying what's typically seen as a violin before him, to a man with his eyes covered, shielded, standing in front of what appears to be a nude, partially clothed woman lying on a bed.
The person being tested is asked to tell a story about people: to describe the scene that was in the picture, the person's feelings, the person's thoughts at that moment, and then tell not only what might have led up to the scene in the picture but also what the outcome was going to be.
The primary value of both the Rorschach and the TAT is in assessing the personality of the person who's taking the test, the ease with which he can use his imagination.
For instance, when you show somebody an inkblot test and they don't have any outside cues as to what is an appropriate response, they tend to rely on their own internal mechanisms, their own internal preoccupations, and their own personality pattern to respond to it.
Somebody can try to affect the outcome of a Rorschach test by giving as constricted, as limited, a record as possible . . . and respondiing with only one or two responses per card. It is known, however, how many responses to expect from those being tested. For instance, an average number of responses for somebody of above average intelligence would be on the order of two or three responses per card.
The responses themselves can be scored. There are normative tables, again, based on thousands of Rorschachs that have been administered to clinical and normal populations. Using those data -- how many normal people, as opposed to how many disturbed people, saw what was on a particular card -- the quality of each response can be judged.
those criteria, a person's responses can
be determined to be appropriate and in agreement with what most other
people see. The tester can judge:
whether he has a good imagination
whether he is in good contact with reality
whether there is a sign of any potential loss of reality sense
whether there is evidence of any underlying mental illness
whether there is any sexual preoccupation
whether there are any aggressively tinged responses
whether there is any suggestion of any tendency for any
precipitous failures in reality testing
whether there is an odd response that appears out of nowhere
and that is pathological
Also likely to be included as part of the psychological test battery is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2, the most recent version). This is a set of 566 true/false questions that the person has to answer alone. His responses, his test profile, are then analyzed by computer and compared with the responses of various known clinical and nonclinical groups.
In the MMPI, there are internal validity or internal-lie scales. These scales are used to try to establish the reliability and validity of the findings. For example, the test analyzes the tendency to respond Yes or No, so that a person who tends to deny any kind of symptoms will come up with a high negativism score.
The test has certain test questions about relatively minor transgressions: for instance, "Have you ever stolen anything?" Someone who is trying to present himself as overly virtuous or overly healthy or overly moral or lacking in normal human foibles is more likely to respond in a way that will distort the test results.
The computer analyzes for this, and with all the internal checks, can determine whether there was any conscious attempt to distort or in any way manipulate the outcome of the test, and whether the test results can be considered reliable.
The MMPI is one of the standard psychological tests. It's probably one of the most highly researched personality tests because it's based not on individual interpretation but on an actuarial sort of analysis of response patterns. So there are probably some ten thousand studies published on the MMPI and its application in various clinical and prison populations.
The scientific community generally accepts the MMPI, the TAT, and the Rorschach as valid measures of psychopathology.