Psychiatric Testing

Psychiatric Testing: You can fool some of the people some of the time.

Two psychiatrists are walking down the street in opposite directions. As they pass each other, one psychiatrist says to the other: “You’re fine. So how am I?”

 My brother Larry tried to game the system in a last ditch effort to avoid being shipped off to a private school. He should have left it alone.

When the final decision was made to board him, my parents took him to several high profile private schools in New England. He took entry tests at every institution but purposefully entered wrong answers so that he would fail. Each headmaster profusely apologized to my parents for not being able to accommodate them, but when one of them said it was because my brother was basically a functional illiterate they knew they smelled the same rat as the Tuna fish he hid in the dresser drawer. He simply was not that dumb, and they knew it.

A phone call to Aunt Polly sealed his fate when she said there would be no problem placing him at The Greenbrier Military Academy in West Virginia. The head master there was personal friends with Uncle Oakley, while the school’s philosophy was that they could make a decent, a disciplined and even an educated man out of anyone.

But before they finally parked my brother in the Military Academy, my parents took him to see a psychologist. This was just to be absolutely sure that the status of his neo-natal bilirubin saturated neuronal connections was not the cause for his tendency toward juvenile delinquency, and thus the hopeful possibility of being able to seek some medical cure for the behavioral quirks. He had jaundice after he was born, and I suppose there was an issue in those days about high levels of bilirubin possibly having caused him some permanent and irreversible brain damage. Whereas today’s all encompassing excuse for poor grades, bad behavior or both is the ever popular and ever elusive diagnosis of ADD, and with so many people now having it, I am surprised this country can actually function at all.

Larry then proceeded to have about an hour-long session that included I.Q. testing, inkblot analysis, as well as cognitive, verbal, and abstract reasoning tests.

When the psychologist analyzed the test results he was able to tell my mother almost immediately that there was nothing wrong with him, with the exception that his intelligence was average to high and that his thought patterns tended toward the concrete as opposed to the abstract. He said:

  • Basically, your son is an intelligent boy who probably hangs out with a bad crowd that collectively seeks and cannot avoid getting itself into trouble.

My mother reacted by asking:

  • How do you know this for sure?

The psychologist replied:

  • When I asked your son to tell me what it means when you say that the grass is greener in your next-door neighbor’s yard, he responded by telling me that the man must have used more fertilizer. There is nothing wrong with your son that concentrating on his homework and getting a new set of friends will not fix.

And with that, my little brother was on the bus to Greenbrier, West Virginia.

grass is greener


 Ocham’s Razor

It is axiomatic in medicine that the simplest explanation for a problem is probably the correct one. This principle is known as Ocham’s Razor.

Alternatively stated: If you hear the sound of hoof beats and you are living on the plains of South Dakota, the first thing you think of is Horses or Buffalo, but usually not of Zebras.

Cartoon: © Jinx Davis


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