Point - Counterpoint
Observation of 60+ Years
"Over the past 60 years, The Rorschach Research Exchange became The Journal of Projective Techniques and presently [ Journal of] Personality Assessment. Testing has changed from the heady days of Klopfer, Beck, and Piotrowski, the introduction of the Wechsler-Bellevue and the Stanford-Binet and the WISC [Wechster Intelligence Scale for Children]. In those days, the goals of testing were diagnostic, but more importantly the goal was to provide a view of the psychodynamics, of what was going on in the person being tested. Efforts were made to view the whole person cognitively, emotionally, in terms of motivation and drive.
"Reports were typically four to six pages long, describing the inner life of a person - a human being. But then in the late 1970s and 1980s projective techniques fell out of favor. The Rorschach was considered voodoo and the results were looked upon with skepticism by the courts. Where were the statistics? Where was the objectivity? They asked. The MMPI [Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory] and other paper-and-pencil “objective” tests took over. Those who taught the Rorschach were not trained in the test and communicated their uncertainty, their lack of knowledge, experience, and their skepticism about the test onto students.
"I have not done assessments during the past 7 years, devoting myself only to psychotherapy, but during those years, I have seen recent reports which concern me.
"Whether in the name of being “evidence based” or “neuropsychological,” the person has become secondary to 70- or 80- or even 90-page reports of standard deviations, standard scores, percentiles at the expense of the human being under consideration. The tests administered are described by a printout that is canned and passed onto the reader, not even “custom made.” Psycho-diagnostics have become psychometrics and the subject is a machine being serviced on the assembly line. Along with this change has been an adherence to the “norm.” No longer do we deal with individual differences, but scores must result in either being on the curve or the person is abnormal and in need of some form of rehabilitation.
"There is little place for individuality, and we act as if the scores in all areas must be on the line of normal without variation. Yet anyone who has evaluated children knows that the fi ndings on a 5- or 6-year-old may turn around by the time they are 17. The personality changes with new experiences. However, little room is afforded for changes with time, maturation, development, and environment. We have become rigid technicians lacking in creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. We strive to be hard Scientists, in which we test with calipers, micrometers, and gauges. It must be recognized that even in higher mathematics and the physical sciences, the real contributors go beyond and trust their intuition and sensibilities. The creative process requires jumping logical gaps. In psychology, it is crucial to remember Kurt Lewin’s equation: Behavior is a function of the person and environment."
Dr. Stanley Rosner, PhD, ABPP, ABPN
Private Practice, Stamford, CT
Bordering Westchester County