Written by attorney Peter Christopher Lomtevas

Psychobabble and Psychological Testing: Custodial Evaluation Manipulation – In the Court Room

The typical psychologist will be unable to quickly respond to cross examination about the number of questions on each test and how long each child took to take each test. He typically will not take into consideration the child’s ethnocentricity in the grading of these tests and he will not use independent grading services; the psychologist will grade these tests himself citing to a plastic template that had perforations for the answers. He will typically testify he did not employ peer review of his work in the case.

The psychologist will not connect in a clear and understandable manner how he leapt from the children’s answers to his conclusions.

Forensic notes typically will not appear. Also, the psychologist may say he did “structured interviews" with the subjects, but copies of these interviews will not be available (likely because they do not exist). Also, the psychologist may testify that he administered a “psycho-social" interview with a parent when in fact he will have no documentary evidence of such an interview.

Typically, the psychologist will testify that he chose a grouping of psychological tests based upon his own conjecture of what he thought was needed for the case.

Typically, these reports will consist of “canned" findings. These may include, “The child’s psychosocial motivations are inhibited by depressive elevations in his personality scales." This statement can apply to a mentally ill child or to an ordinary middle class child.

Or, alternatively, the psychologist can make descriptive strings of adjectives about a parent, for example, describing a father as an “obsessive compulsive, perseverative, anxious, depressed, labile, perfectionistic caucasian male".

Here is an absurd rendition of these psychologically seductive epithets:

1. Bob reported that the child said to Bob that he was molested by dad, but I tested Bob using the MMPI-2 Inventory test and found his histrionic levels highly elevated.

This is the same as saying we cannot believe Bob because he is scatter-brained as certified by a psychologist.

2. Similarly, Jacqueline cannot be believed because her adolescence was tainted by excessive rapes and molestations. In an interview, she presented with a borderline histrionic psychotic personality with excessive cultist ritualist obsessive compulsive elevations.

3. Dad is pristine because I administered the following twenty psychological inventories and the computer graded scoring revealed him to be a saint. Dad vomited when mention was made of homosexual intercourse or child intercourse. Dad passed the Paulus Deception Test with flying colors.

Ethnocentricity is the characteristic of a person impacting responses on these brief inventories. That is to say that a Hispanic person will answer similar questions differently than an Asian person. This difference is compensated for by the psychologist if he knows what he is doing. Otherwise, an Asian child will appear mentally affected one way or another if compared to a norm made up of Arab children. Further, a psychologist may further disparage a person based upon his ethnicity. For example, a custodial evaluator may claim, “Mr. Ying, as all males of Asian extraction, dominate their wives, giving them little room to breathe and subjugating them in mentally cruel ways." This statement is as false as it is stupid.

These psychologists are a danger to lawyers. For example, it is accepted in the psychological testing community that anxiety, motivation, fatigue, rapport, and experience may invalidate a test. However, the psychologist can react to tainted test results: a popular accusation a psychologist can make to explain the taint is that a lawyer coached the kids by exposing them to the test.

This tactic destroys the flow of a case as the accused attorney now maneuvers to save his skin as opposed to represent his client. An accusation of coaching can carry a jail sentence as witness tampering is a crime in all states.

During trial, not all materials are produced: no test booklets, no score sheets. In some cases, the psychologist will disclose answer sheets with blackened bubbles but not the questions (as these are copyrighted). However, he may reveal the questions but not the score sheets. The attorney cannot effectively cross examine the psychologist in the absence of these materials, and call into question his conclusions absent the raw data.

Another trick is to mix testing with other occurrences in the case. For example, the mother says she left the child unattended and was arrested. A test revealed the mother suffers from borderline personality disorder, and the psychologist weaves in the fact about the arrest to substantiate his test.

Also, there are no standards in methodology. For example, sex addiction can be measured in a case or not measured in a case. One psychologist can give a number of tests and another psychologist can merely go and visit a home and check a computer's internet browser history.

In some jurisdictions, psychologists do not bother with reports. They write letters to the court and call them reports. During testimony, there is no report to submit into evidence and testimony by the psychologist could be minimal: “The child is confused when he is with his [losing] parent," or “The [losing] parent is conflictual with the child." The court always holds in favor of such a psychologist and the designated losing parent loses custody and possibly all contact with the child.

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