Hawking Up Hairballs

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Well, it looks like the clinical psychologists have all got their panties in wads. They're up in arms because Wikipedia is publishing the Rorschach blots. I guess they're afraid that all the nut jobs out there will now be able to cheat. It's hard to believe but, according to the New York Times, thousands of journal articles have been published on the interpretation of the blots. But what's to interpret? Why not read the patient's tea leafs? It makes about as much sense.

I suppose they have some diagnostic value, but you'd probably do just as well with one of those word association tests. Psychologist says, "Mother". Patient says, "Knife". Psychologist says, "Father". Patients says, "Pistol". You get those kinds of responses from a patient and you know it wouldn't be a good idea to send him home. There isn't really any sophisticated analysis involved. It's the same with those blobs of ink. A real candidate for a rubber room will make oddball associations no matter what you show him, but I defy anyone to demonstrate how these Rorschach associations have any value at all when the responses are common or mundane.

One of the many reasons that health care is so expensive is because of the proliferation of pseudo professions*, which clinical psychology comes close to being. I say "comes close to" because they do perform one good function. Since they cannot prescribe drugs, they act as a counterweight to the psychiatrists whose solution to every condition is to medicate the patient up to his eyeballs. For that alone I would give them a hand, but I can't, because these are the guys whose professional association endorsed their role in what the psychologists would probably call "enhanced interrogation". The rest of us know it as torture.

* Want a truly pseudo profession? How about nutritionists? People get degrees in that and get paid professional salaries. What nonsense. Anything a nutritionist could tell you that has any value at all could be put down on a couple of sheets of paper, and the print wouldn't have to be all that small.


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