MMPI-2…..or, Remind Me..Why Am I Doing This Again?

Those of you who are familiar with psychological tests will know this acronym, and those of you who are familiar with the UUA fellowshipping process will know that all prospective UU ministers have to take it. Well, I took it about three weeks ago now. And I have to say that I never felt the need to check myself into a mental institution before taking this, and yet right now I still don’t know what to feel about it.

So let me start with my really big problem with the test. It’s not that good of a test to give to those who are studying for the ministry. A number of the statements are phrased like “I have visions.” or “I have heard voices.” Hell Watson, lots of people who go into the ministry have visions and/or hear voices.

Next… are only allowed to answer true or false. I’m sorry but I can’t answer true or false to the statement “I would like to do what a forest ranger does.” I don’t know what a forest ranger does. So how can I say “yay” or “nay”? I’ve never been married, so should I really answer statements that are about married couples. I don’t think so. And I’m not saying “yay” or “nay” to anything about my sex life. The answer to any of those statements would be “nun ya damn bidness.”

Finally, there is the racial factor. I was more than a little confused when the results said that I was paranoid, schizotypal, and have a persecution complex. The counselor at the center said, with no hesitation, that the high persecution score is because I’m a member of a minority group. But she said nothing about the paranoid score being related to that. And I’m guessing that for her the schizotypal score didn’t register as being related. As I was concerned with being labeled paranoid and schizotypal when I got back to Indiana I called a friend, who is a clinical psychologist and works at the Indiana State Hospital and asked her if we could talk about the test. When we got together a couple of days later, she looked at me and said “Let me guess…they told you you were a paranoid schizophrenic didn’t they?” When I told her yes she said, “Don’t worry, it’s because you’re black.” Then she explained to me that in all the years that she administered the test for the Indianapolis Police Department, the people who always scored high on the paranoia, persecution and schizo- scales were African-American men. She then went on to tell me that there have been studies that show that the paranoia and persecution scores are higher with those from minority groups. She also told me that those who are very religious tend to score higher on schizo- and deviant scales.

So I’m wondering…if it’s known that those who are looking at religious vocations tend to score higher on some of these scales, why is a career center that works with large numbers of those types of people giving this test?

If it is known that those from minority groups are going to score higher on certain scales, why isn’t there something on the answer sheet that let’s a person, if they choose to, fill-in what their ethnic background is?

Remind me, why am I doing this again?


3 thoughts on “MMPI-2…..or, Remind Me..Why Am I Doing This Again?

  1. It’s the “true/false” aspect of those kind of tests that bug me the most. As to why they do the tests in the first place, I think it’s simple peer pressure. Every job has it’s culture, and most within it just go along with the crowd. Business manager will do the latest book that all the other managers are talking about; HR people will start conducting interviews and scoring resumes according to whatever latest fad was big at their last seminar. You have to take the MMPI-2 because that’s what religious professionals are doing these days, not because of any particular merit it does or does not have. If someone wrote a book claiming the best way to judge the character of ministerial candidates was to ask them to read tea leaves, and that book was a big seller, then you’ll be served tea at your next interview. I learned decades ago in the corporate world to follow such trends, to know what to expect next, to be able to attach a colorful parachute to my cheese before somebody moves it.

  2. I’ve scored and mapped MNPIs, but wasnt qualified to read them, you have to be a psychologist – not a counselor. Indeed I’d be careful on who sees them, it is highly unethical for someone not trained to even try to read them and then tell you about them.
    Why? pretty much what happened, folks trained know what it means, and what it doesnt – folks who aren’t, take it at face value.
    Why does the UUA insist on it, I dunno. Somebody thought it was objective? – with the right person reading it, it can be a good determination of some problems.

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