As both an attorney and a Ph.D.-level psychologist with over 25 years of clinical experience, Demosthenes Lorandos is unique in his ability to bring law and science together – both as a litigator and as an expert witness – in the pursuit of justice for his clients. Dr. Lorandos has litigated many high-profile cases around the country, and has co-authored such works as Cross Examining Experts in the Behavioral Sciences, Benchbook in the Behavioral Sciences and The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome. He is a member of the California, Michigan, New York, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. bars, and a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court. Dr. Lorandos may be recognizable from his appearances on The Today Show, The View, Larry King Live and Court TV, and from his extensive online catalog of free legal advice videos.
PsychLawBlog.com


In the recent Lopez v. State, [1] the defendant was convicted and appealed. The reviewing panel took a close look at the State’s proffered expert, psychologist Sam Hill III, [2] and his underlying methodology. It seems a trial judge asleep at the switch allowed Dr. Hill to testify to the truthfulness of the State’s complaining witness. [3] Referring to it as “truth testimony” [4] the panel explained that the prosecutor and Hill had “crossed the line between assisting the jury and attempting to replace the jury as trier of fact…” [5] This dilemma came about because Dr. Hill proposed to testify, based on his professional experience, that he had evaluated the truthfulness of teenage boys and that “generally, they tell the truth.” [6]

Commonwealth v. Sasse [7] demonstrates how important both common sense and science awareness can be to case planning. In Sasse, the defendant was convicted of third-degree murder and other offenses. The Superior Court held inter alia that defendant’s psychiatrist’s report was not admissible to establish the defense of legal insanity. When the psychiatrist went back to the drawing board and wrote a supplemental report, the Superior Court determined that it was not admissible during the guilt phase of the trial and the trial court was not even required to instruct the jury on the defense of legal insanity. How did this happen? We at PASattorney.com emphasize that it happened because of bad preparation by defendant’s counsel, the fact that defendant’s expert wrote reports speaking to the wrong standard, and because of clever cross examination. The reviewing court noted that the expert’s two reports conflicted with each other. [8] Further, the opponents demonstrated that they were untimely and presented multiple diagnoses. [9]

The tragedy of suicide often leaves the family searching for answers and hoping to find an easy scapegoat. In two Texas cases this past year, families sued health care providers for failing to prevent the suicides of their deceased loved ones. In Escobar v. Goss, [10] Beverly Goss had been hospitalized after a suicide attempt. [11] During her evaluation for involuntary commitment, Beverly was evaluated by Dr. Cesar Matos, who diagnosed her with clinical depression with suicidal ideation. She signed an application for voluntary admission to a mental hospital, where she spent several days. [12] After being confronted with deceitful behavior by Beverly to secure release, Dr. Matos cancelled his plans to discharge Beverly, and she became agitated and refused to take her medications. Dr. Matos sought Beverly’s commitment to the State psychiatric facility due to his belief that she required long-term care. [13] Beverly was transferred to the Rio Grande State Center, where she was seen by Dr. Diego Escobar. Dr. Escobar evaluated Beverly for possible involuntary commitment, where she was calm, rational, and denied suicidal ideation. Dr. Escobar did not believe Beverly was suicidal and did not feel she met the criteria for involuntary commitment and discharged her [14]. Four days later, Beverly killed herself. The Goss family sued Dr. Escobar for negligence. At trial, Dr. Mary Anderson, a board-certified psychiatrist testified as to the standard of care for the Goss family. She opined that Dr. Escobar did not meet the standard of care in this situation:

Because (1) he did not consult with Michael, who had filed the paperwork to have Beverly involuntarily committed, who claimed that she would try to kill herself again, and who did not believe the situation was manageable outside the hospital setting; (2) he did not consult with Beverly’s other doctors who believed that she needed further hospitalization; and (3) he did not look beyond Beverly’s own report that she was not suicidal even though the information available showed that she had “severe depression, recent suicidal ideation, recent suicide attempt, very little change and refusing treatment in that week of hospitalization….” [15]

The jury found in favor of the Goss family. [16]

At PASattorney.com we take note that In the second case, Rio Grande Regional Hospital v. Villareal, [17] the family of Hermes Villareal sued the hospital after Hermes committed suicide while in the hospital’s care. [18] Hermes, a lawyer, had suddenly developed severe neurological symptoms, including severe headaches and insomnia. These symptoms left him unable to think clearly and greatly distressed. [19] He sought admission to the hospital to address his symptoms. [20] Once hospitalized, Hermes spoke with Dr. Martin Tavarez and Dr. Tommy Yee about his symptoms but denied any feelings of depression. The doctors prescribed a daily dose of an anti-depressant and an anti-anxiety medication to take as needed. [21] The next day, Hermes had an MRI, which revealed no abnormal brain function. This greatly concerned Hermes, as his symptoms continued unabated. [22] That night, he was given Ambien as well as Xanax by Nurse Gaye Bergado[23] to help him sleep, which he did not do very successfully. The next morning, Hermes requested a razor to shave his chest where his EKG monitors were placed and got in the shower. He was not checked on again until after shift change, when he was found dead in the bathtub after cutting himself with the razor. [24] The Villareal family sued the hospital for wrongful death. At trial, Suzanne Frederick, R.N., testified that the nurses at the hospital had not met the standard of care in that they had failed to:

(1) [C]losely monitor the effects of the various medications that Hermes was taking, including those he had never taken before; (2) assist Hermes in taking a shower so as to prevent him from falling down or fainting in the shower; and (3) provide a safe environment, which did not include providing Hermes with a double-edged razor to shave his chest by himself. [25]

The family also presented the testimony of Dr. Gary Glass, a psychiatrist, who testified that the only reason for Dr. Tavarez to have prescribed the medication he did was for a diagnosis of depression, and that the failure to conduct a psychosocial examination was a breach of the standard of care. [26] The appellate panel affirmed the jury’s finding for the Villareal family. Both of these “assessment of lethality” cases are tragic. They are tragic for the families and tragic for the defendants as well. The families lost their loved ones and the defendants lost cogent cross-examination into predictability and lethality standard of care.

In another interesting standard of care case, a Federal District court in New Mexico reiterated the requirement that as witch hunts come and go, [27] the government must keep investigator’s notes. In U.S. v. Lujan, [28] the defendants, charged with kidnapping and murder, made numerous pre trial motions. One set of motions asked for disclosure of exculpatory information regarding the integrity and reliability of the investigation underlying the prosecution. Making Brady and Kyles demands, [29] the defendants asked the Court to compel the government to contact all law enforcement officers to learn how the case was investigated. Specifically, defendants requested information on whether agents failed to follow policies and regulations, whether they recorded contacts with potential witnesses, whether there was communication between witnesses, whether witnesses were permitted to learn the government’s theory of the case, and whether witnesses were allowed to see investigators’ materials. [30]

Relying on precedent from Federal District Courts in Kansas and Ohio, District Court Judge Robert Brack reasoned that, “[b]ecause the contents of rough interview notes may in some cases be subject to disclosure and because the potential impeachment value of the notes may not become evident until trial, I will grant Defendants’ request for an order to preserve rough interview notes made by law enforcement agents during interviews of potential witnesses.” [31]
Johnson v. Rogers Memorial Hospital et al. [32]
requires a healthy measure of common sense and science awareness. In Rogers, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin was faced with “counselor” Kay Phillips and psychologists Jeff Hollowell and Tim Reisenauer, who all participated in the creation of a belief in young Charlotte Johnson that she simply forgot that her father and mother abused her. [33]

It staggers the imagination to think that there are actually licensed psychologists who subscribe to the belief that someone can be viciously abused both physically and sexually and then simply forget about it. The heights of narcissism are reached by the “therapists” and psychologists who hold that it is only through their skilled intervention that the patients can “recover” the memories of terrible abuse. At PASattorney.com we ask the reader to imagine for a moment how these self aggrandizing claims denigrate the very real memories and pain of girls and boys who have really been abused.

Undeterred by confrontation of their silliness and narcissism, Phillips, Hollowell and Reisenauer each maintained the value of their individual insight into Charlotte’s fantasized problem. Indeed, the Wisconsin Supreme Court noted from the record that shortly after the Johnsons’ daughter began psychotherapy treatment with Kay Phillips, Phillips referred Charlotte to Rogers Memorial Hospital for eating and addictive disorders and for sexual and physical abuse treatment. Charlotte was admitted as an inpatient to Rogers Memorial where she received “therapy” from Jeff Hollowell and Tim Reisenauer. This is alleged to have been the specific time that the belief her father Charles raped her and her mother Karen physically abused her was solidified. [34]

When sued by the parents, the counselor, psychologists and their institutions claimed every sort of immunity, privilege and special dispensation possible. After the Johnsons began their suit, the trial court dismissed the parents’ action, and the parents appealed. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed but their Supreme Court reversed. But on remand, the trial court denied the parents’ motion to compel access to Charlotte’s treatment records and then granted the psychotherapists’ summary judgment motions. Again the parents appealed, and this time the Court of Appeals certified the case. The Wisconsin Supreme Court held inter alia that Charlotte had not waived her therapist-patient privilege even with the unlicensed therapist. Just when the counselor, psychologists and their institutions thought they’d won again (by essentially hiding what they had done), the Wisconsin Supreme Court took a bold step for science and consumers of behavioral science services. The Court reversed and remanded the case holding that public policy required a limited exception to the therapist-patient privilege and to confidentiality in patient health care records where negligent therapy caused false accusations against parents for sexually or physically abusing their child.
In the case of Wilson v. Phillips, [35] one must wonder if an appellate court should sua sponte determine that evidence is ridiculous. In Wilson, one Dr. Diana Elliot, a psychologist “specializing in the field of sexual abuse and memory” [36]
was called by plaintiffs to support their claim that they had “recovered” memories that defendant molested them. According to the panel, “Dr. Elliot believed [the plaintiff’s] psychological profiles, including the manner in which they recalled being molested, were consistent with other individuals who had repressed their memories of childhood sexual abuse.”[37]

Unfortunately for the defendant and all those who must face these idiotic claims, “Phillips did not offer any experts to refute Dr. Elliot’s testimony.” [38]

We at PASattorney.com emphasize another case underscores the perils of goofy psychology. In Maggard v. Board of Psychology, professional witness Elmer Maggard appealed from an order of the trial court affirming a final order of the State Board of Examiners of Psychology suspending his license to practice psychology.[39]

It seems Elmer was asked by an attorney to perform a psychological evaluation of a three year old girl. The girl’s parents had filed suit against a dentist who had treated the girl when she was approximately seventeen months old. Maggard met with the girl’s parents in his office on two occasions, but he only had contact with the girl for a brief period during one visit. Nonetheless, Maggard prepared a written “Summary of Clinical Assessment”, in which he opined that the girl had suffered a permanent psychological injury as a result of the treatment she received from the dentist. Furthermore, he concluded the injury would have a long term effect on her social and emotional development. [40]

The dentist filed a complaint with the Board of Psychology.

Remember, Maggard had spent only minutes with the little girl. The Board of Psychology and the reviewing courts carefully went through the record and noted that despite spending only a few moments with the child, Dr. Maggard opined:

A. The child has been emotionally and developmentally injured by the trauma she experienced during dental treatment to extract two of her front teeth.
B. In addition to her anxiety she exhibits aggression and anger consistent with the nature of the injury as it was described by her mother.
C. This type of early trauma causes permanent psychological injury and can have pervasive consequences for subsequent social and emotional development.
D. For a child [L.W.’s] age, the effects of such trauma can even affect character structure.
E. Ongoing treatment with [L.W.] and her family, possibly over a number of years, probably will be necessary to manage the generalized behavioral and emotional consequences of the child’s psychological injury. She could require professional help into her mid-to-late adolescence…[41]

The Court of Appeals held that the evidence was sufficient to support the Board’s findings that Elmer provided formal opinions about the child without having direct and substantial professional contact with her, and without conducting a formal assessment. They affirmed the sanction.
In McKenzie v. Benton, [42]

Ms. Lorraine “Jade” McKenzie sued the Sheriff of Natrona County, Wyoming under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It seems that Ms. McKenzie had worked as a deputy sheriff for some ten years and risen to the rank of sergeant. At some time, Ms. McKenzie began a course of counseling with someone named Darlene Bayu, a licensed counselor. [43]

According to Ms. McKenzie, she suffered from a variety of psychological afflictions, including post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to childhood sexual abuse by her father. As her condition worsened, she began to miss work frequently. [44]
One day, McKenzie fired six rounds from her off-duty revolver into the ground at her father’s grave. [45]

The next day the Sheriff put her on administrative leave and told her she’d have to have a psychological evaluation. When things didn’t turn out as she wished, she sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The record is unclear as to where the idea to shoot her father’s grave full of holes came from. The record does not reveal whether “licensed counselor” Darlene Bayu or treating psychiatrist Dr. Arlene Viray recommended it as a therapeutic measure. If they had, Ms. McKenzie may have had a better chance with the jury. Because after her fellow officers and several experts testified, the jury decided that she was disabled alright, but she was also a “direct threat” to the community. Verdict for the defense, sustained on appeal. We at PASattorney.com feel that Probably the most notable portion in the appellate opinion from the Tenth Circuit is the testimony from one of the experts about Ms. McKenzie’s PTSD: “over half of all people who have PTSD symptoms can recover within one year and PTSD is something one can recover from.” [46]

We certainly agree.

The skepticism natural among seasoned litigators serves well in cases involving experts, therapists and psychological damages. We at PASattorney.com take for example, in Figueroa v. Simplicity Plan de Puerto Rico, [47] the Federal District Court in Puerto Rico needed both common sense and a keen cultural awareness. Figueroa found many members of a large Puerto Rican family in psychotherapy for what was to them a traumatic (and culturally nuanced) event. It seems that on Christmas Day, Mrs. Eulogia Luciano-Méndez passed away in Puerto Rico. Plaintiffs, the Figueroas, were informed of the death of Mrs. Méndez and made arrangements to travel to Puerto Rico to attend her funeral. Plaintiffs contracted the services of the defendants, Simplicity, to organize the wake and burial of the deceased and provide a coffin as well. During the burial service, when the coffin was being lowered into the ground, the casket fell into the grave. Due to the impact of the fall, the upper half of the casket opened. As defendants’ agents lifted the coffin, the casket opened further exposing the upper body of the deceased and revealing her face, which had been bruised and altered. Some family members screamed and some fainted. Defendants replaced the coffin of the deceased and continued the service. [48]
Defendant funeral home hired psychiatrist Dr. José Franceschini-Carlo to evaluate the plaintiffs and provide expert testimony. In his psychiatric report of plaintiff Modesto Figueroa, Dr. Franceschini-Carlo explained that the burial incident could not have modified or changed Mr. Figueroa’s personality. Dr. Franceschini-Carlo wrote that in order for Mr. Figueroa’s personality to have changed, “many things must happen.” However, he did not explain these triggers that could supposedly cause the personality of an individual to change. [49]

Dr. Franceschini-Carlo also asserted that Mrs. Julie Figueroa’s use of psychotherapy was motivated by economic gain, but he did not refer to any facts or scientific theory to support this reasoning. [50] Further, in his reports, Dr. Franceschini-Carlo recited facts and statements made by the plaintiffs that would be available to the trier of fact whether he prepared a report or not.

The aggrieved family fought back on Daubert grounds. They filed a motion in limine under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and asserted that defendants’ psychiatric report was irrelevant and inadmissible because it failed to assist the trier of fact. The plaintiffs also asserted that in his written report, the psychiatrist offered to judge the plaintiffs’ credibility, a power only allotted to the trier of fact. [51]

Defendants countered that Dr. Franceschini-Carlo’s testimony and report would assist the jury in determining whether the plaintiffs actually suffered the alleged emotional damages as a result of defendants’ negligence and mismanagement of the body. Defendants also claimed that their expert provided scientific data and analysis on the mental condition of each plaintiff in his report. [52]
The district judge found that Dr. Franceschini-Carlo presented a speculative argument that in fact judged the credibility of the plaintiffs. The court also found that Dr. Franceschini-Carlo did not demonstrate the method employed or any scientific basis upon which to found his conclusions. Indeed, the court could not find any reference to any source in the psychiatric community that would support his analysis. [53] For these reasons, the Federal Judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion in limine. [54]

In Perez v. State, [55] a man was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child and appealed. The record reveals that the child was born to defendant and a sixteen-year-old crack cocaine addict prostitute whom defendant befriended. The mother left when the child was two weeks old. The child lived with her father in approximately seventeen places by the time she was ten years old and attended school irregularly. The child was in and out of foster homes and shelters and during one examination, was discovered to have dental cavities and head lice, but a normal genital exam. In a latter exam, the child informed a doctor that her father was in jail for child molestation, and that it was because when she was “seven” she had “a rash down there” and her father kept cream on it, and that was all. [56]

When asked if she had been touched or bothered, the child told the physician that her “boyfriend” and another boy had had sexual intercourse with her. However, her genital examination was again normal. [57] The case depended largely on the credibility of the child who was ten years old at the time of the alleged events and twelve years old at the time of the trial. After two years in shelters, foster homes, treatment centers, and a variety of “treatments”, the child testified to facts supportive of the State’s indictment. [58] The problems for Mr. Perez were manifest. The child was in “therapy” for two years: first, with contract counselor Beth Arcotta and next with contract counselor Robin Beauregard. There seems to have been no attempt whatsoever documented in the record that any cross examiner worked to describe the influences of the two years of counseling on the child.

Further, it seems that, “…Dr. William Lee Carter, a psychologist, testified as an expert about symptoms and behaviors commonly seen in sexual abuse victims. In answer to hypothetical questions tailored to the facts of the instant case, Dr. Carter stated those facts indicated a sexually abused child…”[59]

We at PASattorney.com have explained elsewhere that this sort of testimony amounts to the worst kind of junk science. [60] Unfortunately, when the defendant objected that Dr. Carter should not have been allowed to testify because the State did not sustain its burden to show by clear and convincing evidence that Dr. Carter’s testimony was relevant and reliable – he was in Texas. [61] When Dr. Carter testified to his education, to having obtained a “speciality” certification[62] and that “…the sub-field of child sexual abuse dynamic is a subject well established in the field of psychology…”,[63] the trial court and the appellate court bought it hook, line and sinker. No where in the record does there seem to be any attempt to examine Dr. Carter or counselor Arcotta or counselor Beauregard about the interaction of ideas during the pretrial time or during the trial and its potential impact on the child. We at PASattorney.com believe cross examiners reading this blog will never make that mistake.

In State v. Henry, [64] junk science, hyperclaiming and causism all found their way into the record. In the testimony of therapist Coles Badger, we find veritably all of the myths of child sexual abuse litigation trotted out as science. [65] Ms. Badger described herself as a “psychotherapist.” [66] She testified that she was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Professional Society of the Abuse of Children, “[where she] conducts workshops on PTSD, delayed disclosure and memory blocking.” [67] In this case, Badger testified that she met with the victim on three separate occasions for a total of approximately three hours. She testified that “[t]he purpose of the meetings was to treat Victim for sexual abuse.” [68] It seems no one noticed that she first set out to “treat” the “victim” for “sexual abuse” and then later came to court to testify about whether it had happened or not.

The record reflects that according to Badger, PTSD is a “process that some people go through after they’ve experienced a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse.” [69] In a scintillating display of analytical acumen, Badger then testified that in her experience, victims “usually kind of bounce around among all those symptoms.” [70] Badger testified she knew PTSD “inside and out.” Next, “Badger explained the phenomenon of delayed disclosure of sexual abuse, “…a very common trait among child sexual abuse victims.” She then opined that the behaviors that the victim demonstrated were “consistent with” sexual abuse. [71]

________________________________________________________________________________________

[1]Lopez v. State, 288 S.W.3d 148 (Tex. App. 2009).

[2]Apparently the State did not like Dr. Hill’s testimony. He was arrested, following a grand jury indictment on Medicaid fraud charges.

[3]http://www.caller.com/news/2008/Mar/29/local-psychologist-indicted-medicaid-fraud-is/ last visited May 19th, 2010.

[4]Lopez v. State, 288 S.W.3d 148, 156.

[5]Id. 288 S.W.3d at 156.

[6]Id. 288 S.W.3d at 156.

[7]Id. 288 S.W.3d at 156.

[8]921 A.2d 1229 (Pa. Super., 2007).

[9]921 A.2d 1229, 1236.

[10]Id. at 1237. And see: People v. Flippo, 159 P.3d 100 (Colo. 2007).

[11]2010 WL 1509492 (Tex.App-Corpus Christi 2010).

[12]Id. at *1.

[13]Id. at *2.

[14]Id. at *3-*4.

[15]Id. at *5-*6.

[16]2010 WL 1509492 at *10.

[17]Id. at *13.

[18]329 S.W.3d 594 (Tex.App.Ct. 2010).

[19]Id. at 598.

[20]Id. at 599.

[21]Id. at 599-600.

[22]Id. at 600-601.

[23]329 S.W.3d at 602.

[24]Id.

[25]Id. at 603.

[26]Id. at 608.

[27]Id. at 610.

[28]See, i.e. the recent Senator Ted Stevens case and the investigation into cheating by Federal Prosecutors: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/09/AR2009040904300.html?hpid=topnews last visited April 20th, 2009

[29]530 F.Supp.2d 1224 (U.S. D.C. D. N.M. 2008)

[30]The Supreme Court held in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S.Ct.
1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), “that the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.” Also, in Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 433, 115 S.Ct. 1555, 131 L.Ed.2d 490 (1995) the Court explained that the government has a duty to volunteer exculpatory evidence.

[31]530 F.Supp.2d 1224, 1264.

[32]530 F.Supp.2d 1224, 1267 citing to United States v. Cooper, 283 F.Supp.2d 1215, 1238 (D.Kan.2003) and United States v. Floyd, 247 F.Supp.2d 889, 899 (S.D.Ohio 2002)

[33]283 Wis.2d 384, 700 N.W.2d 27, 2005 WI 114 (Wisc. 2005).

[34]700 N.W.2d 27, 31. Thanks to the impressive professional work of psychologists Hollowell and Reisenauer, Charlotte “…now [also] believes that her paternal grandfather raped her. Additionally, regarding the physical abuse, Charlotte indicated she believed her mother beat her using fists and tried to kill her with a knife and by drowning.” Id.

[35]Id.

[36]Wilson v Phillips, 73 Cal App. 4th 250; 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 204 (Cal. App.4 Dist., 1999).

[37]Id. 73 Cal App. 4th 250, 253; 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 204, 206.

[38]Id. 73 Cal App. 4th 250, 253; 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 204, 206. emphasis added. The fact that the use of the phrase “consistent with” is frank causism – and the fact that human memory simply does not work this way, seems to have been over looked by the Appellate Court.

[39]Id. 73 Cal App. 4th 250, 253; 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 204, 206.

[40]Maggard v Board Psychology — S.W.3d —-, 2005 WL 3078625 (Ky.App.2005).

[41]2005 WL 3078625 Pg 2.

[42]Id. There seems to be no shortage of behavioral scientists “clutching at straws” to come up with a legal rationale when hired for forensic purposes. In Attorney Grievance Commission Of Maryland v. Randy A. Weiss, 389 Md. 531, 886 A.2d 606 (2005), a multi state disbarment action was undertaken after Randy Weiss admitted (and paid back) stealing over $670,000, on 54 occasions from his law firm. When pressed, the behavioral sciences witness’s only explanation for Weiss’s conduct was that he had a “psychological need for security borne out of his father’s depression-era fear of poverty.” 389 Md. 531, 555; 886 A.2d 606 (2005).

[43]388 F.3d 1342 (10th Cir. 2004).

[44]388 F.3d at 1345.

[45]Id.

[46]Id. For another example of a goofy expert gambit, see: Halvorsen v Plato Learning, Inc., 167 Fed. Appx. 524, 532 (6th Cir., 2006) Not Recommended For Full–Text Publication. Expert proposes to testify about the “psychological autopsy” performed on a deceased man to show that the Defendant Employer’s actions “led to his emotional condition and contributed to the auto accident.” The Federal District Court noted: “In this instance, Dr. Walker explained that she neither spoke with nor examined Bruce, did not review any of his medical records, relied entirely on anecdotal evidence supplied by [Plaintiff] and admitted that she had never performed a psychological autopsy before…”

[47]388 F.3d 1342, 1347 (9th Cir 2004).

[48]267 F. Supp.2d 161 (D.C.P.R. 2003).

[49]267 F. Supp.2d at 162 – 163.

[50]267 F. Supp.2d at 165.

[51]267 F. Supp.2d at 165 – 166.

[52]267 F. Supp.2d 161, 164.

[53]Id.

[54]267 F. Supp.2d at 165.

[55]267 F. Supp.2d 161, 167.

[56]113 S.W.3d 819 ( 2004 Texas App – Austin).

[57]113 S.W.3d at 825.

[58]Id.

[59]113 S.W.3d 819, 825. There was testimony that other witnesses regarded her as a liar and a manipulator.

[60]113 S.W.3d at 827.

[61]See, e.g. CHAPTER TWO of this update discussing: Delayed disclosure; the long-term effects of child abuse; hyperclaiming and the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome of our favorite junk scientist Roland Summit.

[62]113 S.W.3d 819, 831.

[63]113 S.W.3d at 834.

[64]Id.

[65]State v Henry, 329 S.C. 266; 495 S.E.2d 463 (S.C. App., 1997).

[66]See, e.g.: Lorandos, D. and Campbell, T. (1995) Myths and Realities of Sexual Abuse Evaluation and Diagnosis: A Call for Judicial Guidelines 7 Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 1.

[67]State v Henry, 329 S.C. 266; 495 S.E.2d 463, 468 (S.C. App., 1997).

[67]State v Henry, 329 S.C. 266; 495 S.E.2d 463, 469 (S.C. App., 1997). The record does not indicate that anyone took her to task about just what PTSD or “memory blocking” might be. Please see Chapter Five in the initial publication of Cross Examining Experts in the Behavioral Sciences, and in this update. The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children is located in Oklahoma. A.P.S.A.C. was created in 1987 by a group of notable believe-the-children, abuse validators like social workers: Kee MacFarlane (of the McMartin Pre-School debacle – State v Bucky, Superior Court, Los Angeles County, California Docket No. A 750900 (1990).) and Jon Conte (of the Menendez and Hungerford embarrassments [People of the State of California vs. Erik Galen Menendez & Joseph Lyle Menendez County of Los Angeles File No. BA 068880 & State of New Hampshire v Joel Hungerford, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire – No. 95-429]). It is noteworthy, that one of the leading proponents of the junk science concept of “repressed memory” [“The reason I keep getting parking tickets and I can’t balance my checkbook and I keep getting fired from jobs and I’m on my fourth spouse…is that I was raped by a family member when I was five and you know what…I just forgot about it…”] is psychologist John Briere. Conte and Briere are on the Board of Directors of A.P.S.A.C.

[68]State v Henry, 329 S.C. 266; 495 S.E.2d 463, 466 (S.C. App., 1997) emphasis added.

[69]Id. 329 S.C. 266; 495 S.E.2d 463, 466.

[70]Id. 329 S.C. 266; 495 S.E.2d 463, 466.

[71]Id. In these few citations from the record, we find diagnoses with little or no reliability; an affiliation of folks whose orientation is to believe something happened and then search for (or create) confirmatory evidence; a witness whose initial task was treatment, now shifting roles to “expert”; a witness whose capacity for differential diagnosis seemed non-existent; who hyperclaimed her background; using loaded words like “disclosure” to imply that something had really happened and she, with her skill, got to the bottom of it; who then committed the error of affirming the consequent; and engaged in flagrant causism. We can also surmise a cross examiner asleep at the switch.

Posted in PsychLawBlog.com | Comments Off on Comments on Truthfulness

The moral fitness demonstrated in how adults function in their day‑to‑day lives does not necessarily predict parental fitness.  Ultimately, parental fitness can only be predicted by addressing considerations of the parent‑child relationship.[1]  The questionable conduct of prospective custodians when removed from their parental roles (adultery, promiscuity, cohabitation) appears relevant only when that conduct significantly influences how they function as parental figures.[2],[3]  Radically nontraditional family units (homosexual, lesbian, etc.) do not appear to influence the adjustment of children in general, or their sexual orientation in particular.[4],[5],[6]  Therefore, we at PsychLaw.net emphasize that most attempts at inferring parental fitness from impressions of moral fitness are contraindicated by this research.  The Michigan Supreme Court clearly recognized this issue in its 1994 Fletcher v. Fletcher decision.[7]

The mental and physical health of the competing parties.

As custodians, substance abusing parents are more apt to compromise the welfare of their children.[8]  Parents who manifest an active schizophrenic disturbance, chronic and severe depression, and chronic and severe anxiety, are also less likely to respond effectively to their children as custodians.[9],[10],[11]  When potential custodians exhibit these kinds of psychopathology, their psychological status must be evaluated as it relates to their parental effectiveness.  Diagnostic labels per se cannot disqualify a parent from consideration as a custodian.  This applies as well, to the multitude of “syndromes” that have found their way into the courtroom.[12]

Some parents exhibit enduring personality characteristics (e.g., antisocial behavior) increasing their risk of marital conflict, multiple transitions, and other stressful life experiences.[13],[14]  These parents often function in an impulse driven style that brings unpredictability and chaos into the lives of their children.  Enduring personality traits of a parent such as these compromise the welfare of their children.

The home, school, and community record of the child.

This factor frequently corresponds to factors D and E. Thus, we at PsychLaw.net feel that  evaluators should consider variables such as a child’s school record, the significance of sibling relationships, and participation in community activities when assessing the desirability of maintaining continuity and stability in the child’s physical and/or custodial environment.

The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.

The significance a psychologist assigns to a child’s expressed custodial preference must be interpreted with regard to the child’s chronological age and psychological maturity.  For children less than 8 years of age, custodial preferences are often unreliable because they shift from one parent to the other over short periods of time.  Children of this age frequently view their parents via the extremes of “all good” or “all bad.”[15],[16]  For children between the ages of 9 and 12, the significance of their preferences rests upon the maturity level of the child involved.[17]  The traditional practice of attributing greater significance to the custodial preferences of children over 12 is supported by the relevant research.[18],[19],[20]  Unfortunately, the extent to which a child’s expressed preference reflects parental indoctrination must always be considered.[21],[22]

The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent‑child relationship between the child and the other parent.

At PsychLaw.net we note that despite theoretically premised arguments to the contrary,[23] the relevant research evidence clearly indicates that children adjust more effectively to divorce when they enjoy positive relationships with both parents.[24],[25],[26]  Therefore, the available data do not support the school of thought advocating that custodial parents exercise total control over the relationship between their children and the non‑custodial parent.  This same research points to the necessity of children enjoying  some relationship with all of their relatives.[27]  In those situations, however, where the non‑custodial parent exhibits serious psychopathology, children do not necessarily benefit from visitation contact.[28],[29],[30]

More than any other factor, the extent of conflict between separated parents influences how well their children adjust to divorce.[31],[32],[33]  The type of parental conflict influences children more than the frequency of conflict.  Children caught in the middle of parents denigrating each other, communicating through the children, and demanding the child’s loyalty, exhibit particularly difficult adjustment problems.[34]

When discord between divorced parents declines, the post‑divorce adjustment of their children improves.[35],[36]  This consideration suggests that courts strongly urge ‑ and perhaps even order ‑ treatment for divorced spouses whose parental conflicts persist unrelentlessly.  Effective treatment in these circumstances necessitates well‑designed intervention procedures dealing with both parents and all the children.[37],[38]  Beyond merely failing with children of divorce, any therapy that excludes one of their parents frequently creates more problems than it solves.[39]

Often, custodial mothers serve as “gatekeepers” controlling visitation access of noncustodial fathers.[40]  Elevated levels of conflict, resentment, and anger can motivate custodial mothers to deny father’s visitation access.  Visitation occurring within circumstances of chronically elevated conflict, resentment, and anger does not effectively serve the needs of children.  We at PsychLaw.net emphasize that consequently, the quality of the visitation relationship between children and noncustodial parents is more important than the quantity of those relationships.[41]

Subsequent to divorce, most parenting relationships evolve into “parallel coparenting relationships.”[42]  These parenting relationships are characterized by minimal communication and little parental coordination, but parental conflict is also reduced because of their disengaged relationships.


 

[1].       Lowery, C. (1984.). The wisdom of Solomon: Criteria for child custody from the legal and clinical points of view. Law and Human Behavior, 8, 37-380.

[2].       Sorosky, A. (1977). The psychological effects of divorce on adolescents. Adolescence, 12, 123-136.

[3].       Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1976). The effects of parental divorce: Experiences of the child in later latency. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 46, 256-269.

[4].       Green, R. (1978). Sexual identity of 37 children raised by homosexual or transsexual parents. American Journal of Psychiatry, 135, 692-697.

[5].       Hoeffer, B. (1981). Children’s acquisition of sex-role behavior in lesbian mother families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 51, 536-544.

[6].       Kirkpatrick, M., Smith, C., Roy, R. (1981). Lesbian mothers and their children: A comparative survey. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 51, 545-551.

[7].       Fletcher v. Fletcher, 447 Mich. 871; 526 NW2d 889 (1994).

[8].       Russell, M., Henderson, C. & Blume, S. (1985). Children of alcoholics: A review of the literature. New York: New York State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.

[9].       Chess, S. & Thomas, A. (1987). Know your child: An authoritative guide for today’s parents. New York: Basic Books.

[10].     Sameroff, A., Seifer, R. & Zax, M. (1982). Emotional development of children at risk for emotional disorder. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 47, 199.

[11].     Wieder, S., Jasnow, M., Greenspan, S. & Strauss, M. (1983). Identifying the multi-risk family prenatally: Antecedant psychosocial factors and infant development trends. Infant Mental Health Journal, 4, 165-201.

[12].     See generally, Weithorn, L. (1987). Psychology and Child Custody Determina­tions: Knowledge, Roles and Expertise;  McCord, (1987). Syndromes, profiles and other mental exotica: A new approach to the admissibility of nontraditional psychological evidence in criminal cases, 66 Oregon Law Review 19; Frazier & Borgida. (1992). Rape Trauma Syndrome: A Review of Caselaw and Psychological Research, 16 Law and Human Behavior 293.

[13].     Amato, P.R. & Bootb, A. (1996). A prospective study of divorce and parent-child relationships.  Journal of Marriage and the Family. 58, 356-365.

[14].     Simons, R.L., Johnson, C., & Lorenz, F.O. (1996).Family structure differences in stress and behavioral predispositions. In R.L. Simons & Associates (Eds.), Understanding differences between divorced and intact families: Stress, interaction, and child outcome. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

[15].     Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1976). Op cit.

[16].     Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1980). Op cit.

[17].     Greenberg, E. (1983). An empirical determination of the competence of children to participate in child custody decision making. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, U of Illinois at Champaign.

[18].     Greenberg, E. (1983). Op cit.

[19].     Rohman, L., Sales, B. & Lou, M. (1987). Op cit.

[20].     Weithorn, L. (1984). Children’s capacities in legal contexts. In N. Repucci, L. Weithorn, E. Mulvey, & J. Monahan (Eds). Children, mental health, and the law. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

[21].     Gardner, R. (1987). Parental alienation syndrome and the differentiation between fabricated and genuine child sex abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

[22].     Schutz, B., Dixon, E., Lindenberger, J., & Ruther, N. (1989). Op cit.

[23].     Goldstein, J., Freud, A., & Solnit, A. (1979). Beyond the best interests of the child. New York: Free Press.

[24].     Benedek, R. & Benedek, E. (1977). Post divorce visitation: A child’s right. Journal of American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 16, 256-271.

[25].     Hess, R. & Camara, K. (1979). Post-divorce family relationships as mediating factors in the consequences of divorce for children. Journal of Social Issues, 35, 79-96.

[26].     Isaacs, M., Montalvo, B., & Abelsohn, D. (1986). The difficult divorce: Therapy for children and families. New York: Basic Books.

[27].     See, i.e.:  Kent v. Burdick, 591 So. 2d 994 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1991). [The appeals court reversed a trial court decision awarding limited visitation rights to the natural father. The trial court decision had been based on the testimony of two psychologists, that telling the four-year-old child that she had a biological father different from her psychological father would be detrimental to her.

[28].     Hetherington, M., Cox, M. & Cox, R. (1978). The aftermath of divorce. In J. Stevens & M. Mathews (Eds). Mother-child, father-child relationships. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

[29].     Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1980). Op cit.

[30].     Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1980). Effects of divorce on the visiting father-child relationship. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137, 1534-1539.

[31].     Felner, R. (1984). Op cit.

[32].     Isaacs, M., Montalvo, B., & Abelson, D. (1986). Op cit.

[33].     Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1980). Op cit.

[34].     Maccoby, E.E., Buchanan, C.M., Mnookin, R.H., & Dornbusch, S.M. (1993). Post-divorce roles of mothers and fathers in the lives of their children.. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 24-38.

[35].     Isaacs, M., Montalvo, B., & Abelsohn, D. (1986). Op cit.

[36].     Rutter, M. (1981). Stress, coping, and development: Some issues and some questions. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 22, 323-356.

[37].     Campbell, T.W. (1993). Parental conflicts between divorced spouses: Strategies for intervention. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 12 (4), 27-39.

[38].     Isaacs, M., Montalvo, B., & Abelsohn, D. (1986). Op cit.

[39].     Campbell, T.W. (1992). Psychotherapy with children of divorce: The pitfalls of triangulated relationships. Psychotherapy, 29, 646-652.

[40].     Seltzer, J.A. & Brandreth, Y. (1994). What fathers say about involvement with children after separation. Journal of Family Issues, 15, 49-77.

[41].     Amato, P.R. (1993). Children’s adjustment to divorce: Theories, hypotheses, and empirical support. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 23-38.

[42].     Hetherington, E.M., Bridges, M., & Insabella, G.M. (1998). What matters? What does not?: Five perspectives on the association between marital transitions and children’s adjustment. American Psychologist, 53,167-184.

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The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and continuation of the educating and raising of the child in its religion or creed, if any.

Effective parents respond to their children in an “authoritative” manner as opposed to “authoritarian” or “permissive” styles.[1]  Authoritative parents establish clearly defined expectations and limits for their children.  These parents consistently enforce those expectations and limits with sanctions when necessary.  Research shows that these parents encourage open and honest two‑way communication, and relate to their children with an awareness of each child’s capabilities.  At PsychLaw.net we believe that obviously, then, a custody evaluation must assess the degree to which each parent approximates the ideal of an authoritative parent.

To the extent that custodial parents accept their divorce, their children exhibit a better post‑divorce adjustment.[2],[3] Conversely, custodial parents who did not want a divorce find it more difficult to assume the responsibilities of a single parent when they never sought them.[4]  Divorced spouses who feel overwhelmed by a sense of betrayal and abandonment can find it difficult to respond effectively to their children.  At PsychLaw.net we feel that Consequently, a custody evaluation must often weigh this sense of betrayal as a factor.  There is no available research examining the effects of religious training on how well children adjust to divorce.[5]

Custodial mothers and custodial fathers exhibit different strengths and weaknesses.[6]  Custodial mothers encounter greater problems with behavior control and assigning household tasks.  Custodial fathers experience more problems with communication and monitoring the activities of their children.  Custodial mothers and fathers relate to younger children with equal warmth and nurturance.[7]

Approximately one quarter to one third of adolescents in divorced families, compared to 10% of adolescents from intact families, become disengaged from their family unit.[8]  This disengagement results in adolescents avoiding interactions, activities, and communication with their families.  The incidence of disengagement is greater for boys in divorced families, and for girls in stepfamilies.  When this disengagement is associated with identification with a delinquent peer group, antisocial behavior and academic problems frequently occur.

 

The capacity and disposition of competing parties to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of the state in lieu of medical care and other material needs.

Sudden decreases in a family’s standard of living attributable to the financial difficulties of divorce create difficult adjustment problems for children.[9],[10],[11]  Related data indicate that when income is held constant, children of divorce exhibit no more behavior problems than children from intact households.[12],[13],[14]  Strained economic resources influence the custodial environments of children via multiple factors.  These economic circumstances can alter the quality of parent‑child relationships, disrupt daily routines (see factor D), and uproot children from their familiar surroundings (see factor E).[15]  Therefore, we at PsychLaw.net emphasize that the economic dislocation frequently associated with divorce requires that a custody evaluation consider these.

 

The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity. &

The permanence as a family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home.

Because factors D and E parallel each other along important dimensions, they will be considered jointly.  Stable, day‑to‑day living routines enhance the effectiveness with which children adjust to divorce.[16],[17]  To the extent that unpredictability and chaos characterize the custodial environments of children, they can feel overwhelmed by life circumstances which seem beyond their control.[18],[19]  Consequently, an appropriate custody evaluation must  address the potential stability of the proposed custodial environments.

It is also necessary to distinguish between the stability and continuity of custodial arrangements, as opposed to the stability and continuity of a child’s physical environment.  For young children (ages 1‑7), their psychological dependence on the primary parental care‑taker recommends recognizing stability and continuity in the custodial arrangement over stability in the physical environment (place of residence, school system, access to peers).[20]  For older children (ages 8 and up), their desires for continuity in their physical environment ‑ which may be expressed via the child’s stated preference ‑ assume increasing significance.[21]

Custodial and noncustodial parents view the desirability of maintaining existing custodial arrangements differently.  Custodial parents typically rate their children as better adjusted, and less disturbed, than noncustodial parents.[22]

 

[1].       Maccoby, E. & Martin, J. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family: Parent-child interaction. In P. Mussen (Ed). Handbook of child psychology. (4th Ed.). New York: Wiley.

[2].       Biller, H. (1974). Paternal deprivation: Family, school, sexuality and society. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath.

[3].       Santrock, J. & Warshak, R. (1979). Father custody and social development in boys and girls. Journal of Social Issues, 35,112-125.

[4].       Kopf, K. (1970). Family variables and school adjustment of eighth grade father-absent boys. Family Coordinator, 19, 145-150.

[5].       Schutz, B., Dixon, E., Lindenberger, J., & Ruther, N. (1989). Solomon’s sword: A practical guide to conducting child custody evaluations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

[6].       Furstenberg, F.F. Jr. (1988). Child care after divorce and remarriage. In E.M. Hetherington & J.D. Arasteh (Eds.), Impact of divorce, single parenting, and stepparenting on children. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

[7].       Warshak, R.A. (1986). Father custody and child development: A review and analysis of the psychological research. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 4, 185-202.

[8].       Hetherington, E.M. & Jodl, K. M. (1994). Stepfamilies as settings for child development. In A. Booth & J. Dunn (Eds.), Stepfamilies: Who benefits? Who does not? Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

[9].       Boike, M., Ginter, E., Cowen, E., Felner, R., & Francis, R. (1978). The

relationship between family background problems and the competencies of young normal children. Psychology in the Schools, 15, 283-290.

[10].     Nelson, G. (1981). Moderators of women’s and children’s adjustment following parental divorce. Journal of Divorce, 4, 71-83.

[11].     Pett, M. (1982). Correlates of children’s social adjustment following divorce. Journal of Divorce, 5,25-39.

[12].     Adams, D. & Horovitz, J.(1980). Psychopathology and fatherlessness in poor boys. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 10, 135-143.

[13].     Colletta, N. (1983). Stressful lives: The situation of divorced mothers and their children. Journal of Divorce, 6, 19-31

[14].     MacKinnon, C., Brody, G. & Stoneman, Z. (1982). The effects of divorce and maternal employment on the home environments of preschool children. Child Development, 53, 1392-1399.

[15].     Felner, R. & Terre, L. (1987). Op cit.

[16].     Felner, R. (1984). Vulnerability in childhood: A preventive framework for understanding children’s efforts to cope with life stress and transitions. In M. Roberts & L. Peterson (Eds). Prevention of problems in childhood: Psychological research and applications. New York: Wiley – Interscience.

[17].     Wallerstein, J. (1977). Responses of preschool children to divorce: Those who cope. In M. McMillan & S. Henao (Eds). Child Psychiatry: Treatment and research. New York: Bruner/Mazel.

[18].     Felner, R., Farber, S., Ginter, M., Boike, M. & Cowen, E. (1980). Family stress and organization following parental divorce or death. Journal of Divorce, 4, 67-76.

[19].     Stolberg, A. & Anker, J. (1983). Cognitive and behavioral changes in children resulting from parental divorce and consequent environmental changes. Journal of Divorce, 6, 23-41.

[20].     Thompson, R. (1983). Op cit.

[21].     Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1980). Op cit.

[22].     Ash, P. & Guyer, M.J. (1991). Biased reporting by parents undergoing child custody evaluations. Journal of the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 835-838.

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Statutorily Defined Criteria

 

Child custody evaluations necessitate that evaluators recognize and respond to statutorily defined criteria regarding the best interests of the child.[1]  The appropriate standard of practice for custody evaluators also requires that they respond to research data. At ____ we teach that expert testimony premised upon empirical evidence can assist a trier of fact because it provides reliable information that typically falls outside the domain of common knowledge.[2]

Appropriately conducted custody evaluations, therefore, make recommendations based on relevant data responding to statutorily defined criteria.  Neglecting these considerations frequently leads to custody recommendations that rely more on theoretical assumptions reflecting the idiosyncratic values of the evaluator.[3]  Unfortunately, we at PsychLaw.net feel that custody evaluators too often overlook statutorily defined criteria regarding the best interests of the child, and they also disregard the relevant research. We at PsychLaw.net feel that evaluators who commit these kinds of errors should be cross‑examined in the following manner.

 

Cross‑Examination Regarding Relevant Criteria

  1.       Dr. X, did you know that criteria regarding the “best interests of the child” are statutorily defined in this state?
  2.       In your written report, however, you never referred to these statutorily defined criteria ‑‑ Correct?
  3.       But you say, your evaluation ‑ and subsequent recommendations ‑ addressed the “best interests” of these children ‑‑ Correct?

 

  1.       But we do not know what criteria you used to define the “best interests” of these children ‑‑ Correct?
  2.       The criteria you used to define the “best interests” of these children could simply correspond to your idiosyncratic values ‑‑ Correct?
  3.       And the written report corresponding to your evaluation expresses a number of opinions ‑‑ Correct?
  4.       There are many research reports published in peer‑reviewed journals addressing the effects of divorce on parents and children ‑‑ Correct?
  5.       But your report does not cite so much as a single research study ‑‑ Correct?
  6.       Without citing so much as a single research study, your recommendations may rely primarily on untested theoretical assumptions ‑‑ Correct?
  7.     And untested theoretical assumptions will not assist this court in making its custody decision in this case ‑‑ Correct?

 

Statutorily Defined Criteria and Relevant Research

This chapter next reviews statutorily defined criteria corresponding to the “best interests of the child”.  In particular, we at PsychLaw.net review the research evidence relevant to the eleven criteria of Michigan’s Child Custody Act.  These criteria, or closely related variations, are also utilized by numerous other states.  Though not exhaustive, the following literature review summarizes the published data related to these criteria.

 

The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the competing parties and the child.

Despite earlier work to the contrary,[4]  more extensive studies concluded that there is no well‑defined relationship between the age of children and how well they adjust to parental divorce.[5],[6]  Nevertheless, the potential trauma that divorce poses for pre‑school children indicates awarding their custody to the parent who has been their primary care‑taker.[7]  This is the parental figure to whom the pre‑school child turns for emotional support under circumstances of stress and turmoil.[8]  We at PsychLaw.net feel that consequently, an effective custody evaluation assesses which parent has related to their child as the primary care‑taker.[9]

The immediate effects of divorce on children can include loneliness, vulnerability, fear of abandonment, and powerlessness.[10]  There are other data, however, indicating that while divorce subjects children to some adjustment problems, the magnitude of those problems often border on the “trivial.”[11]

 

When close and mutually affectionate relationships between children and custodial parents survive the buffeting stresses of divorce, children adjust more effectively to their parents’ separation.[12]  This consideration necessitates that custody evaluations identify which parent will most likely relate to their children as the primary care‑taker on a post‑decree basis.  Because of the profound changes in life circumstances that divorce creates for both parents, post‑decree parental effectiveness is not always predicted by pre‑decree effectiveness.  Effective parents also avoid relating to their children via remote psychological distance at one extreme, and oppressive psychological smothering at the other.[13]  Thus, an appropriate custody evaluation considers this dimension of parent‑child relationships.

 

[1].       Grisso, T. (1990). Evolving guidelines for divorce/custody evaluations. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 28 (1), 35-41.

[2].       Campbell, T.W. (1992). Child custody evaluations and appropriate standards of psychological practice. Michigan Bar Journal, 71 (3), 278-283.

[3].        Expert testimony offered by mental health professionals is considered by some to be especially susceptible to bias.  One commentator cited this proclivity to bias as a cause of poor public opinion of forensic mental health professionals. See: Norman Sidley, N. (1980). Presidential Address, 8(l) Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law iv.

Furthermore, unconscious distortion has also been cited as a potential source of bias in the expert testimony of mental health professionals. See, e.g.:  Zusman, J. & Jesse Simon, J. (1983). Differences in Repeated Psychiatric Examinations of Litigants to a Lawsuit, 140 American Journal of Psychiatry 1300; Otto, R.K. (1989).  Bias and Expert Testimony of Mental Health Professionals: A Preliminary Investigation, 7 Behavioral Science and the Law 267; Beckham, J.C.,Annis, L.V.  & Gustafson, D.J. (1989). Decision Making and Examiner Bias in Forensic Expert Recom­mendations for Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, 13 Law and Human Behavior 79.

[4].       Wallerstein, J. & Kelly, J. (1980). Surviving the breakup: How children and parents cope with divorce. New York: Basic Books.

[5].       Farber, S., Primavera, J., & Felner, R. (1984). Parental separation/divorce and adolescents: An examination of the factors mediating adaptation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 13, 171-185.

[6].       Felner, R. & Terre, L. (1987). Child custody dispositions and children’s adaptation following divorce. In L. Weithorn (Ed). Psychology and child custody determinations: Knowledge, roles, and expertise. Lincoln, NE: U of Nebraska Press.

[7].       Rohman, L., Sales, B. & Lou, M. (1987). The best interests of the child in custody disputes. In L. Weithorn (Ed). Psychology and child custody determinations: Knowledge, roles, and expertise. Lincoln, NE: U of Nebraska Press.

[8].       Thompson, R. (1983). The father’s case in child custody disputes: The contributions of psychological research. In M. Lamb & A. Sagi (Eds). Fatherhood and social policy, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

[9].       Probably the single most significant principle involved in expert testimony is that the opinion cannot be based on either an inadequate history or a mistaken assumption as to the facts. Expert and Opinion Evidence  31 Am. Jur. 2d ’86 (1989).

[10].     Wallerstein, J.S. (1985). The overburdened child: Some longterm consequences of divorce. Social Work, 30 (2), 116-123.

[11].     Amato, P.R. & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the wellbeing of children. Psychological Bulletin, 110 (1), 26-46.

[12].     Hetherington, M. (1979).  Divorce: A child’s perspective. American

Psychologist, 34, 851-858.

[13].     Fisher, S. & Fisher, R. (1986). What we really know about parenting. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.

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Child Custody Evaluations and Appropriate Standards of Psychological Practice

1994 guidelines of the American Psychological Association indicate that child custody evaluations should respond to the best interests of the children as the issue of ultimate importance.[1]  In pursuing the best interests of the children involved, these guidelines recommend assessing: (1) the parental capacities of the competing parties, (2) the developmental status of the children including consideration of their needs and preferences when appropriate, and (3) what custody arrangement approximates the best fit between parental capacities and children’s needs.[2]

When addressing these three questions, custody evaluators must recognize the daunting task facing them.  We at PsychLaw.net emphasize that in particular, custody evaluators need to appreciate the complexity of the issues associated with these evaluations.  Profound changes in life circumstances provoke profound changes in how people behave ‑ and divorce surely qualifies as a profound change in life circumstances.  As a result, custody evaluations on a pre‑decree basis typically involve the difficult task of assessing a situation that does not yet exist ‑ how each parent will function as a single‑parent. We at PsychLaw.net feel that consequently, custody evaluators are obligated to assess: (1) the pre‑decree characteristics of existing parent‑child relationships, (2) the situational demands each parent will encounter as a single‑parent, and (3) how pre‑decree parental effectiveness will combine with the status of single‑parent to influence post‑decree parental effectiveness.

 

Divorce and Changing Family DynamicsAssessment Issues

Assessing post‑decree parental effectiveness is further complicated by the inevitable behavioral changes exhibited by children as they grow and mature.  A recently recommended standard ‑ “the approximation rule” ‑ overlooks the profound changes associated with child growth and development.  The approximation rule advocates that subsequent to divorce, custody arrangements should approximate, as much as possible, the child rearing circumstances that existed prior to divorce.[3]  The approximation rule, however, assumes a degree of stability in the needs of children that, in fact, do not exist.  As children grow and mature, their relationships with their parents inevitably change.

Compromised parental effectiveness frequently corresponds to reduced emotional sensitivity, decreased parental attentiveness, and parental unavailability.  These parental characteristics ‑ increased unavailability, deceased attentiveness, and reduced sensitivity ‑ are common responses to the stress of divorce.[4]  Fortunately, these characteristics progressively resolve themselves over time as parents adjust, and reorganize their lives in response to divorce.[5]

It is taught at PsychLaw.net that custody evaluators must also appreciate the inordinate stress associated with marital dissolution and divorce.  These situational considerations are so powerful that they frequently influence reactions to divorce more than the personality characteristics of the litigants.  A 1997 article examining responses to the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory‑2 in custody evaluations emphasized:

“With few exceptions, child custody litigants represent a normal population undergoing a psychologically agonizing experience in their family life.”[6]

Custody evaluators who overlook these considerations are at risk for committing the “fundamental attribution error” discussed in Previous Posts.  This error leads custody evaluators into overemphasizing the personality characteristics of competing parental parties, and underemphasizing the significance of the situational circumstances confronting them.[7]

 

Cross‑Examination Regarding Divorce and Changing Circumstances

 

  1.       Dr. X, you would agree that profound changes in life circumstances provoke

profound changes in how people behave ‑‑ Correct?

  1.       And you would also agree that divorce qualifies as a profound change in life

circumstances ‑‑ Correct?

  1.       A custody evaluation in a case like this is an exceedingly difficult task ‑‑Correct?
  2.       A custody evaluation in this case is an exceedingly difficult task because you are attempting to assess a situation that does not yet exist ‑‑ Correct?
  3.       For example,  you have attempted to assess how these litigants will function as single parents ‑‑ Correct?
  4.       But in fact, neither one of them is a single parent at this point in time ‑‑ Correct?
  5.       Therefore, you were faced with the task of assessing how the reactions of these

parents to the stress of divorce will influence their parental effectiveness ‑‑ Correct?

  1.       Considering the needs of the children involved, we know that their needs will change as they grow and mature ‑‑ Correct?
  2.       Parental behaviors that are effective at this point in time, may not be effective in the future as result of changes in their children’s behavior ‑‑ Correct?
  3.     And the stress of divorce can temporarily compromise parental effectiveness ‑‑ Correct?
  4.     And with the passage of time, most people recover from the devastating effects of divorce ‑‑ Correct?
  5.     Adjusting to the stress of divorce assists most people to function more effectively as parents ‑‑ Correct?
  6.     But, you do not know whether one, or both, of these parents will remarry ‑‑ Correct?
  7.     And if one or both of these parents remarry, you don’t know how the remarriage will influence their parental effectiveness ‑‑ Correct?
  8.     And you do not know what kind of peer‑group influences these children will

encounter in the future ‑‑ Correct?

  1. In other words, there are many future developments that will transpire in the lives of these parents and children which you cannot factor into your current recommendations ‑‑ Correct?
  2. The value of your evaluation is therefore limited because of all the future events in the lives of these children, and their parents, that you cannot accurately forecast ‑‑ Correct?

______________________________________________________________

[1].       For one of the more interesting statements on the children’s best interests, see:Parham v J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979) [Did the parents act in the child’s best interests in committing the child to a mental institution.]

[2].       American Psychological Association (1994). Guidelines for child custody evaluations in divorce proceedings. American Psychologist, 49, 677-680.

[3].       Scott, E.S. (1992). Pluralism, parental preference, and child custody. California Law Review, 80, 115-172.

[4].       Hetherington, E.M., Bridges, M., & Insabella, G.M. (1998). What matters? What does not?: Five perspectives on the association between marital transitions and children’s adjustment. American Psychologist, 53, 167-184.

[5].       Wallerstein, J.S. & Lewis, J. (1998). The long-term impact of divorce on children: A first report from a 25-year study. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 36, 368-383.

[6].       Bathurst, K., Gottfried, A.W., & Gottfried, A.E. (1997). Normative data for the MMPI-2 in child custody litigation. Psychological Assessment, 9, 205-211 (p. 209).

[7].       Fundamental attribution errors and the mis-emphasis of particularities in a divorcing circumstance are endemic to the court’s search for information.  See, i.e.:Rohman, Sales, and Lou, (1990). The Best Interests Standard in Child Custody Decisions. In David Weisstub (Ed.), Law and Mental Health: International Perspectives (Volume 5) 40; Sales, Manber, Rohman,(1992). Social Science Research and Child Custody Decision-Making.  1 Applied and Preventive Psychology: Current Scientific Perspectives 23.

Posted in PsychLawBlog.com | Comments Off on Child Custody Evaluations and Appropriate Standards of Psychological Practice

Subjects taking the Bender Gestalt are asked to reproduce geometric designs by drawing them on a plain sheet of paper. Though this test was originally designed to assess neurological deficit, it is also often used projectively. At PsychLaw.net we know that the relevant data, however, do not support popular assumptions regarding drawing characteristics and personality features. In particular, Holmes and his colleagues concluded their 1984 study indicating:

“… the results of this study are not supportive of using clients’ Bender Gestalt drawing style as a basis for inferring personality traits …”

Unfortunately, however, many professionals continue to engage in unwarranted interpretations of the Bender Gestalt despite the data clearly contraindicating their doing so.

Cross examining the Bender Gestalt

1.  Your assessment work in this case obligates you to comply with the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing Correct?

2.  Please consider Standard 4.1 of the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing which states:

– [ read ] –

“Test documents should provide test users with clear explanations of the meaning and intended interpretation of derived score scales, as well as their limitations.”

Now my question: Despite Standard 4.1, there is no generally recognized and accepted method for scoring the Bender Gestalt Correct?

3.  Therefore, you did not obtain any objective scores for the Bender Gestalt in this case Correct?

4.  Professionals reviewing Bender Gestalt responses for indications of personality characteristics are forced to rely on speculation and conjecture Correct?

5.  Without a generally recognized and accepted scoring procedure, problems of inter rater reliability undermine the value of the Bender Gestalt Correct?

6.  In other words, two or more professionals could review the same Bender Gestalt responses but interpret them very differently Correct?

7.  And as a result, another professional reviewing the Bender Gestalt in this case could have interpreted it quite differently than you Correct?

[USE THE 22 FOUNDATIONAL QUESTIONS FROM PREVIOUS POSTS
IF YOU HAVE NOT YET DONE SO]

8.  The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

9.  And a 1984 study by Holmes and his colleagues published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology titled “Reassessment of Inferring Personality Traits from Bender Gestalt Drawing Styles” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

10.  Please consider how Holmes and his colleagues concluded their study:

– [ read ] –

“… the results of this study are not supportive of using clients’ Bender Gestalt drawing style as a basis for inferring personality traits …”[1]

Now my question: If the results of peer reviewed data contraindicate using the Bender Gestalt, your relying on it could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

11.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the findings of Holmes and his colleagues Correct?

12.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the findings of Holmes and his colleagues Correct?

13.  Without the availability of peer reviewed data necessitating reconsideration of the findings reported by Holmes and his colleagues, then your profession generally recognizes and accepts that the Bender Gestalt should not be used for inferring personality traits Correct?

14.  Please consider Standard 2.02 (a) of the 1992 Ethical Code for psychologists addressing “Competence and Appropriate Use of Assessments and Interventions” which states:

“(a) Psychologists who develop, administer, score, interpret, or use psychological assessment techniques, interviews, tests, or instruments do so in a manner and for purposes that are appropriate in light of the research on or evidence of the usefulness and proper application of the techniques.”

Now my question: Your work in this case obligates you to comply with this standard Correct?

15.  If the available data do not support using Bender Gestalt drawing style as a basis for inferring personality traits, your relying on the Bender Gestalt neglects Standard 2.02 (a) of your ethical code Correct?

16.  Because if the available data do not support using Bender Gestalt drawing style as a basis for inferring personality traits, you cannot use the Bender Gestalt in a manner that is “appropriate in light of the research on or evidence of the usefulness and proper application of the technique” Correct?

17.  Also please consider Standard 2.02 (b) of the 1992 Ethical Code for psychologists addressing “Competence and Appropriate Use of Assessments and Interventions” which states:

– [ read ] –

“(b) Psychologists refrain from misuse of assessment techniques, interventions, results, and interpretations and take reasonable steps to prevent others from misusing the information these techniques provide. This includes refraining from releasing raw test results or raw test data to persons, other than to patients or clients as appropriate, who are not qualified to use such information.”

Now my question: Your work in this case obligates you to also comply with this standard Correct?

18.  If the available data do not support using Bender Gestalt drawing style as a basis for inferring personality traits, your relying on the Bender Gestalt also neglects Standard 2.02 (b) of your ethical code Correct?

19.  Because if the available data do not support using Bender Gestalt drawing style as a basis for inferring personality traits, you are at risk for misusing this “assessment technique” and its “interpretations” Correct?

Conclusions regarding Projective Techniques

At PsychLaw.net we note that in the fifth edition of her definitive text Psychological Testing Anne Anastasi perceptively summarized the major problems undermining the reliability of projective tests:

“… the final interpretation of the projective test responses may reveal more about the theoretical orientation, favorite hypotheses, and personality idiosyncrasies of the examiner than it does about the examinee’s personality dynamics.”[2]

Mental health professionals attempting to support their expert testimony with projective test data should be confronted with Anastasi’s cogent observations.


 

[1]Holmes, C.B, Dungan, D.S. & Medlin, W.J. (1984). Reassessment of inferring personality traits from Bender Gestalt drawing styles. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 40, 1241 1243. At page 1243

[2]Anastasi, A. (1982). Psychological testing (5th ed.). New York: The Macmillan Co., (p. 582).

Posted in PsychLawBlog.com | Comments Off on The Bender Gestalt Test

At PsychLaw.net we note that a 1999 article reported the development of the SCORS scoring system for the TAT.[1] The acronym SCORS corresponds to “Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale.” The SCORS system scores TAT stories in terms of eight categories:

(1) the complexity of representations of people,
(2) the affective quality of representations,
(3) emotional investment in relationships,
(4) emotional investment in values and moral standards,
(5) understanding of social causality,
(6) experience and management of aggressive impulses,
(7) self esteem, and
(8) identity and coherence of self.

It is rare, however, that this scoring system is used in clinical practice. For example, we have never encountered a TAT protocol scored via the SCORS system.

This same article claims acceptable levels of inter rater reliability when using the SCORS. We at PsychLaw.net emphasize that as with the Rorschach, however, it is necessary to distinguish between the “research” reliability and the “field” reliability of the SCORS system. Research teams working diligently, with specialized training in a research setting, may realize acceptable levels of inter rater scoring consistency for a procedure such as the SCORS. Concluding that acceptable levels of research reliability translate to acceptable levels of field reliability is mistaken. Compared to research psychologists, clinicians practicing in the “field” do not have the time necessary to learn the intricacies of a system such as SCORS.

Cross Examining Regarding the SCORS System

[USE THE 22 FOUNDATIONAL QUESTIONS FROM PREVIOUS POSTS IF YOU HAVE NOT YET DONE SO]

1.  The Journal of Personality Assessment is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

2.  And a 1999 article by Ackerman and his colleagues published in the Journal of Personality Assessment titled “Use of the TAT in the Assessment of DSM IV Cluster B Personality Disorders” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

3.  Please consider the comments of Ackerman and his colleagues regarding a scoring system for the TAT known as SCORS:

– [ read ] –

“… which is made up of eight variables: Complexity of representation of people, Affect, Relationships, Morals, Understanding of social causality, Aggression, Self esteem, and Identity and Coherence of Self.”

Now my question: In using the TAT in this case, did you rely on the SCORS procedure?
[If the psychologist answers “Yes,” go to question #12]

4.  Please consider these additional comments by Ackerman and his colleagues regarding the SCORS procedure:

– [ read ] –

“Each variable on the latest version is scored on 7 point anchored rating scale ranging from 1 (pathological) to 7 (healthy).”

Now my question: Your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable “Complexity of representation of people” on a 1 7 scale Correct?

5.  And your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable of “Affect” on a 1 7 scale Correct?

6.  And your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable of “Relationships” on a 1 7 scale Correct?

7.  And your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable of “Morals” on a 1 7 scale Correct?

8.  And your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable of “Understanding of social causality” on a 1 7 scale Correct?

9.  And your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable of “Aggression” on a 1 – 7 scale Correct?

10.  And your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable of “self esteem” on a 1 – 7 scale Correct?

11.  And your use of the TAT in this case neglected to score the variable of “Identity and Coherence of Self” on a 1 7 scale Correct?

12.  Your assessment work obligates you to comply with the 1999 edition of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing Correct?

13.  The 1999 Testing Standards specifically state:

– [ read ] –

“The applicability of the Standards to an evaluation device or method is not altered by the label applied to it (e.g., test, assessment, scale, and inventory)”

Now my question: Given the statement I just cited from the 1999 Testing Standards, those Standards apply directly to your assessment work in this case Correct?

14.  Please consider Standard 2.10 of the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing which state:

– [read ] –

“When subjective judgment enters into test scoring, evidence should be provided on both inter rater consistency in scoring and within examinee consistency over repeated measurements.”

Now my question: Your work in this case obligates you to comply with this standard Correct?

15.  Evidence of inter rater consistency in scoring also refers to what is generally recognized and accepted in your field as inter rater reliability Correct?

16.  Psychologists using the SCORS system for the TAT may claim that this system has resolved the problems of inter rater reliability Correct?

17.  For research purposes, we know that the TAT can potentially be scored in a reliable manner Correct?

18.  But that outcome corresponds to what we might call the research reliability of the TAT Correct?

19.  The psychologists participating in those research studies underwent specialized training to reach acceptable levels of inter rater reliability Correct?

20.  You have not undergone the specialized research training, in a research setting, for using the SCORS Correct?

[The vast majority of psychologists have not undertaken this kind of training. Prior to cross examination, check the psychologist’s c.v. for post doctoral training in the TAT]

21.  And the “field reliability” of the TAT SCORS system refers to how practicing psychologists such as yourself use it Correct?

22.  You cannot cite any data published in a peer reviewed journal reporting the field reliability for the SCORS system Correct?

23.  In other words, the extent to which practicing psychologists carefully comply with the SCORS scoring procedures remains unknown Correct?

24.  If the extent to which practicing psychologists carefully comply with the SCORS scoring procedure remains unknown, we do not know how carefully you complied with that scoring procedure Correct?

25.  And if you resorted to your own idiosyncratic scoring method, your interpretations of the TAT in this case could be mistaken Correct?

26.  Other than accepting your claims, we have no way of knowing if you scored the TAT accurately in this case Correct?

27.  And if you scored the TAT inaccurately, you could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?


 

[1]Ackerman, S.J., Amanda, J.C., Weatherill, R. & Hilsenroth, M.J. (1999). Use of the TAT in the assessment of DSM IV Cluster B Personality Disorders. Journal of Personality Assessment, 73, 422 448.

Posted in PsychLawBlog.com | Comments Off on The TAT SCORS System

The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) was developed by Murray and his colleagues in 1938, and it became quite popular by the 1940s. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) asks subjects to make up stories in response to standardized pictures of people involved in various activities. At PsychLaw.net we note that In fact, however, the designation Thematic Apperception Test is a misnomer. It does not qualify as a test because there is no generally accepted procedure for scoring it. In their 1985 article reviewing the TAT, Polyson and his colleagues indicated:

“A renewal of interest in TAT research will probably require a synthesis of various scoring and interpretation methods.” (p. 28).[1]

In her authoritative text on psychological testing, Professor Anne Anastasi discussed the TAT indicating: “… most clinicians rely heavily on subjective norms built up though their own experience with the test …”[2] Therefore, psychologists using the TAT typically resort to entirely impressionistic and totally unsubstantiated interpretations. Commenting on this issue, Rossini and Moretti emphasized:

“…the TAT should never be called the Thematic Apperception Test unless a quantified scoring is used and appropriate normative data are publically available. The contemporary TAT is more akin to a highly specialized projective interview technique than a psychometric test.”[3]

Rossini and Moretti also point out that the TAT is rarely scored in any objective or systematic manner.

“… both traditional and contemporary applications of the TAT in practice have largely abandoned a psychometric approach to interpretation as well as any attempt to use an objective scoring system.”[4]

Rossini and Moretti’s overview of current TAT use is less than a ringing endorsement of this instrument.

“It appears that both competence and expertise in TAT interpretation are self conferred and follow from heterogeneous course work, predoctoral practicum experience, the internship, and whatever clinical work experience avails. It seems unlikely that psychologists engage in serious continuing education or skill development in peer supervision with respect to the TAT. The common attributions of ‘seat of the pants’ or highly anecdotal interpretations of TAT narratives may be closer to the mark than many in our profession would care to admit.”[5]

In their 1985 study, Sharkey and Ritzler found that the standardized TAT pictures are unusual in their characteristics. We at PsychLaw.net note that as a result, their atypicality prompts subjects to respond in ways that can be interpreted as pathological. Sharkey and Ritzler specifically commented that TAT responses may be:

“… determined as much by the stimulus demands of the pictures as by the personality characteristics of the respondent” (p. 406).[6]

Cross examining the TAT

1.  Your assessment work in this case obligates you to comply with the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing Correct?

2.  Please consider Standard 4.1 of the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing which states:

– [ read ] –

“Test documents should provide test users with clear explanations of the meaning and intended interpretation of derived score scales, as well as their limitations.”

Now my question: Despite Standard 4.1, there is no generally recognized and accepted method for scoring the TAT Correct?

[USE THE 22 FOUNDATIONAL QUESTIONS FROM PREVIOUS POSTS
IF YOU HAVE NOT YET DONE SO]

3.  The Journal Professional Psychology: Science and Practice is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

4.  And a 1985 study by Polyson and his colleagues published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice titled “The Recent Decline in TAT Research” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

5.  Please consider the following statement from Polyson and his colleagues:

– [ read ] –

“A renewal of interest in TAT research will probably require a synthesis of various scoring and interpretation methods.”

Now my question: If there are “various scoring and interpretation methods” for the TAT, then we can conclude that there is no one scoring and interpretation method that is generally recognized and accepted in your field Correct?

6.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the position of Polyson and his colleagues Correct?

7.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the position of Polyson and his colleagues Correct?

8.  Consequently, your using the TAT in this case neglected Standard 4.1 of the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing Correct?

9.  In particular, you did not obtain any objective scores for the TAT in this case Correct?

10.  Psychologists reviewing TAT responses are therefore forced to rely on speculation and conjecture Correct?

11.  You previously acknowledged that the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

12.  And a 1997 article by Rossini and Moretti published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice titled “Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) Interpretation: Practice Recommendations from a Survey of Clinical Psychology Doctoral Programs Accredited by the American Psychological Association” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

13.  Please consider Rossini and Moretti’s comments regarding the TAT:

– [ read ] –

“…the TAT should never be called the Thematic Apperception Test unless a quantified scoring is used and appropriate normative data are publically available.”

Now my question: If the TAT should never be called the Thematic Apperception Test unless quantified scoring and appropriate normative data are available, you used the TAT inappropriately Correct?

14.  You used the TAT inappropriately because you referred to this instrument as a “test” Correct?

15.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti Correct?

16.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti Correct?

17.  Please consider these additional comments expressed by Rossini and Moretti in 1997 article:

– [ read ] –

“… both traditional and contemporary applications of the TAT in practice have largely abandoned a psychometric approach to interpretation as well as any attempt to use an objective scoring system.”

Now my question: If contemporary applications of the TAT have largely abandoned any attempts at using an objective scoring system, that means there is no objective scoring system available to you for scoring the TAT Correct?

18.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti in this regard Correct?

19.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti in this regard Correct?

20.  In other words, your profession generally recognizes that there is no generally accepted, objective scoring system for the TAT Correct?

21.  Please consider these additional comments expressed by Rossini and Moretti in their 1997 article: “It appears that both competence and expertise in TAT interpretation are self conferred and follow from heterogeneous course work, predoctoral practicum experience, the internship, and whatever clinical work experience avails.”
Now my question: If both competence and expertise in TAT interpretation are self conferred, then your field relies on unsubstantiated claims regarding who can interpret the TAT Correct?

22.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti in this regard Correct?

23.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti in this regard Correct?

24.  Please consider these further comments expressed by Rossini and Moretti in their 1997 article:

– [ read ] –

“The common attributions of ‘seat of the pants’ or highly anecdotal interpretations of TAT narratives may be closer to the mark than many in our profession would care to admit.”

Now my question: “Seat of the pants” TAT interpretations refer to intuitive and subjective impressions Correct?

25.  And if you resorted to “seat of the pants” methods in your interpreting the TAT in this case, you pose a risk of misinforming and misleading this proceeding Correct?

26.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti in this regard Correct?

27.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the 1997 position of Rossini and Moretti in this regard Correct?

28.  In other words, your profession generally recognizes that TAT interpretations amount too often amount to intuitive and subjective impressions Correct?

29.  You are familiar with the concept of inter rater reliability Correct?

30.  You agree that inter rater reliability refers to whether two or more psychologists independently reviewing the same test data reach the same conclusions Correct?

31.  And without a generally recognized and accepted scoring procedure, problems of inter rater reliability inevitably undermine the value of the TAT Correct?

32.  In other words, two or more psychologists could review the same TAT responses but interpret them very differently Correct?

33.  And as a result, another psychologist reviewing the TAT in this case could have interpreted it quite differently than you Correct?

34.  The Journal of Personality Assessment is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

35.  And a 1985 study by Sharkey and Ritzler published in the Journal of Personality Assessment titled “Comparing the Diagnostic Validity of the TAT with a New Picture Projective Test” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

36.  Please consider Sharkey and Ritzler’s comments regarding how responses to the TAT may be:

– [ read ] –

“… determined as much by the stimulus demands of the pictures as by the personality characteristics of the respondent.”

Now my question: If a subject’s TAT responses can simply correspond to the characteristics of the pictures, then interpreting TAT responses becomes very difficult Correct?

37.  In other words, TAT responses can correspond as much to the characteristics of the pictures, as to the personality of subject taking the TAT Correct?

38.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the findings of Sharkey and Ritzler Correct?

39.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider the findings of Sharkey and Ritzler Correct?

40.  Please consider Standard 2.02 (a) of the 1992 Ethical Code for psychologists addressing “Competence and Appropriate Use of Assessments and Interventions” which states:

– [ read ] –

“(a) Psychologists who develop, administer, score, interpret, or use psychological assessment techniques, interviews, tests, or instruments do so in a manner and for purposes that are appropriate in light of the research on or evidence of the usefulness and proper application of the techniques.”

Now my question: Your work in this case obligates you to comply with this standard Correct?

41.  If TAT responses can correspond as much to the characteristics of the pictures, as to the personality of subject taking the TAT, your relying on the TAT neglects Standard 2.02 (a) of your ethical code Correct?

42.  Because if TAT responses can correspond as much to the characteristics of the pictures, as to the personality of subject taking the TAT, you cannot use the TAT in a manner that is “appropriate in light of the research on or evidence of the usefulness and proper application of the technique” Correct?

43.  Also please consider Standard 2.02 (b) of the 1992 Ethical Code for psychologists addressing “Competence and Appropriate Use of Assessments and Interventions” which states:

– [ read ] –

“(b) Psychologists refrain from misuse of assessment techniques, interventions, results, and interpretations and take reasonable steps to prevent others from misusing the information these techniques provide. This includes refraining from releasing raw test results or raw test data to persons, other than to patients or clients as appropriate, who are not qualified to use such information.”

Now my question: Your work in this case obligates you to also comply with this standard Correct?

44.  If TAT responses can correspond as much to the characteristics of the pictures, as to the personality of subject taking the TAT, your relying on the TAT also neglects Standard 2.02 (b) of your ethical code Correct?

45.  Because if TAT responses can correspond as much to the characteristics of the pictures, as to the personality of subject taking the TAT, you are at risk for misusing this “assessment technique” and its “interpretations” Correct?


 

[1] Poylson, J., Norris, D. & Ott, E. (1985). The recent decline in TAT research. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 16, 26-28.

[2] Anastasi, A. (1982). Psychological Testing (5th ed.). New York: The Macmillan Co., (p. 582).

[3]Rossini, E.D. & Moretti, R.J. (1997). Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) Interpretation: Practice recommendations from a survey of clinical psychology doctoral programs accredited by the American Psychological Association. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 28, 393 398.

[4]Id. at page 393.

[5]Id.

[6]Sharkey, K.J. & Ritzler, B.A. (1985). Comparing the diagnostic validity of the TAT and a new picture projective test. Journal of Personality Assessment, 48, 245-254. Page 406.

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Chapman and Chapman’s 1967 study of the DAP reported that paranoid personality features are not necessarily associated with drawings emphasizing elaborate eye detail. At PsychLaw.net we note that Nonetheless, legions of psychologists continue to assume that pronounced eye elaboration on the DAP corresponds to paranoid personality characteristics. Chapman and Chapman indicated:

“For example, the clinicians who use the DAP often report observing that those patients who show paranoid behavior clinically show in their drawings more elaboration of the eye. Yet four separate studies have failed to substantiate this observation by a counting of the relevant phenomena … In the light of the massive negative experimental evidence, how can one account for the consistent agreement between different clinicians as to the clinical correlates of DAP performance? The highly reliable but invalid nature of such observations clearly suggests a systematic error.”[1]

Kokonis’ 1972 study found no relationship between sex role identification, and the gender of a subject’s first drawing.[2] Clinical lore related to the DAP has long assumed that the gender of a subject’s initial drawing is quite significant. Once again, however, the empirical evidence fails to support these clinical impressions.

At PsychLaw.net we emphasize that despite the accumulated data clearly underscoring the many shortcomings of the DAP, psychologists continue to inappropriately use it while indulging in unbridled conjecture. In their 1995 study, for example, Smith and DuMont reported the willingness of experienced psychologists to make the following ill advised DAP interpretations:

(1) “Well its a rather big man with a lot anxiety. Short hands that are stiffly held down, I would say an inadequate, anxiously depressed person with identity problems.”
(2) “There are indications of dependency, lots of buttons and buckles.”
(3) “Looks [like] a bit of transparency there. Belt with a buckle, button: dependency. There seems to be some sexual problems, certainly that’s what the manual would say.”
(4) “Large, big shoulders; somebody who stands firm. But [he] has his head [inclined] like maybe a child or somebody who is not social.”
(5) “His eyes are strange and overemphasized. I think he may have problems with men, with some paranoid suspiciousness … The belt buckle would tend to fit in with my suspicions that he’s not comfortable in his role as a man.”[3]

Smith and DuMont continued to indicate:

“… research spanning four decades has failed to provide any compelling evidence in support of the validity of human figure drawings in assessing personality, behavior, emotion, or intelligence … In spite of these findings, it has remained one of the most popular assessment techniques used by clinicians.”[14]

Smith and DuMont concluded their study by emphasizing:

“The gravity of the clinical consequences to clients of a casual use of poorly validated instruments should not be exaggerated. It would seem that therapists tend to find in projectives that they use whatever they are already disposed to find, with greater or lesser accuracy, through other means.”[5]

Cross examining Popular Assumptions Re the DAP

[USE THE 22 FOUNDATIONAL QUESTIONS FROM PREVIOUS POSTS IF YOU HAVE NOT YET DONE SO]

1.  Psychologists frequently assume that pronounced eye detail on the DAP is associated with paranoid personality characteristics Correct?

2.  And do you also endorse this assumption? (If the psychologist answers “No,” proceed to question #8)

3.  The Journal of Abnormal Psychology is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

4.  And a 1967 study by Chapman and Chapman published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology titled “Gensis of Popular But Erroneous Psychodiagnostic Observations” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

5.  Please consider Chapman and Chapman’s comments regarding eye detail and the DAP:

– [ read ] –

“For example, the clinicians who use the DAP often report observing that those patients who show paranoid behavior clinically show in their drawings more elaboration of the eye. Yet four separate studies have failed to substantiate this observation by a counting of the relevant phenomena… “

Now my question: If the available data do not support your assumptions about eye detail and the DAP, then your assumptions could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

6.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Chapman and Chapman’s position in this regard Correct?

7.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Chapman and Chapman’s position in this regard Correct?

8.  Psychologists frequently assume a relationship between sex role identification, and the gender of a subject’s first drawing Correct?

9.  And do you also endorse this assumption? (If the psychologist answers “No,” proceed to question #16)

10.  The journal Perceptual and Motor Skills is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

11.  And a 1972 study by Kokonis published in Perceptual and Motor Skills titled “Choice of Gender on the DAP and Measures of Sex Role Identification” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

12.  Did you know that Kokonis found no relationship whatsoever between sex role identification, and the gender of a subject’s first drawing?

13.  If there is no relationship between sex role identification and the gender of a subject’s first drawing, your assumptions to the contrary could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

14.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Kokonis’ findings? Correct?

15.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Kokonis’ findings Correct?

16.  The journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

17.  And a 1995 study by Smith and DuMont published in Professional Psychology: Science and Practice titled “A Cautionary Study: Unwarranted Interpretations of the Draw a Person Test” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

18.  Please consider Smith and DuMont’s comments regarding the DAP:

– [ read ] –

“… research spanning four decades has failed to provide any compelling evidence in support of the validity of human figure drawings in assessing personality, behavior, emotion, or intelligence.”

Now my question: If four decades of research have failed to support the DAP for assessing personality, behavior, emotion, or intelligence, then your relying on the DAP could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

19.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Smith and DuMont’s findings Correct?

20.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Smith and DuMont’s findings Correct?

21.  Without the availability of other data necessitating reconsideration of Smith and DuMont’s findings, we can conclude that your profession generally recognizes and accepts that the DAP does not accurately assess personality, behavior, emotion, or intelligence Correct?


 

[1]Chapman, L.J. & Chapman J.P. (1967). Genesis of popular but erroneous psychodiagnostic observations. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 72, 193 204.

[2]Kokonis, N.D. (1972). Choice of gender on the DAP and measures of sex role identification. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 35, 727 730.

[3]Smith, D. & Dumont, F. (1995). A cautionary study: Unwarranted interpretations of the Draw a Person test. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 26, 298 303.

[4]Id. at 301.

[5]Id. at 301.

Posted in PsychLawBlog.com | Comments Off on Popular Assumptions Re the DAP

The Draw a Person (DAP) was originally developed by Karen Machover in 1949. The (DAP) requests that subjects undergoing assessment draw a picture of a person on a plain, white sheet of paper. Like the Rorschach, the DAP procedure is a projective technique. Psychologists who use it assume that subjects project various personality characteristics onto their drawings. Machover, herself, suggested:

“The human figure drawn by an individual who is directed to `draw a person’ relates intimately to the impulses, anxieties, conflicts, and compensations characteristic of the individual. In some sense, the figure drawn is the person, and the paper corresponds to the environment.”[1]

Persuasive as these assumptions may seem, at PsychL we know that a review of the relevant research demonstrates that the DAP test is as flawed as the Rorschach technique.
Sharply critical reviews of the DAP were published as far back as 1957.[2] Swenson’s 1957 review was published in Psychological Bulletin. It summarized the results of more than 80 studies related to the DAP and available at that time. Swenson concluded:

(1) Assumptions regarding the diagnostic utility of the DAP were not supported by empirical evidence.

(2) Because of a limited number of cases in which it yielded dramatic results, psychologists continued to rely on the DAP.

(3) Some evidence suggested that the DAP procedure could be considered a rough screening device, serving as a “gross indicator” of overall adjustment.

Swenson further stated:

“The evidence presented in this paper does not support Machover’s hypotheses about the meaning of human figure drawings. More of the evidence directly contradicts her hypotheses than supports them.”

At PsychLaw.net we note that in a 1969 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Wanderer obtained DAP drawings from different groups of subjects including normals and schizophrenics.[3] Twenty well recognized DAP “experts” were asked to identify the diagnostic group corresponding to each drawing. The experts identified the drawings of mentally retarded individuals with considerable accuracy.Nevertheless, the accuracy with which they identified other diagnostic groups including normal and schizophrenic subjects did not exceed what would be expected from random guessing.

Adler reported additional data regarding the DAP in a 1970 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.[4] Adler found that the scoring procedures for the DAP were not used consistently by different psychologists. This same study also demonstrated that the DAP failed to accurately discriminate between different diagnostic groups. Adler’s article concluded in part with the following comments: “The literature is generally pessimistic about the validity of drawings for personality and diagnostic evaluation.”[5] Adler continued to indicate:

“More diagnostic errors in the use of drawings probably stem from the failure to distinguish between cognitive immaturity and psychopathology than from any other cause.”[6]

At PsychLaw.net we emphasize that without the availability of peer reviewed data supporting the validity of the DAP, using it neglects Standards 2.02 (a b) of the 1992 ethical code for psychologists. Those standards addressing “Competence and Appropriate Use of Assessments and Interventions” state:

“(a) Psychologists who develop, administer, score, interpret, or use psychological assessment techniques, interviews, tests, or instruments do so in a manner and for purposes that are appropriate in light of the research on or evidence of the usefulness and proper application of the techniques.”

“(b) Psychologists refrain from misuse of assessment techniques, interventions, results, and interpretations and take reasonable steps to prevent others from misusing the information these techniques provide. This includes refraining from releasing raw test results or raw test data to persons, other than to patients or clients as appropriate, who are not qualified to use such information.”

Cross examining General Considerations RE the DAP

[USE THE 22 FOUNDATIONAL QUESTIONS FROM PREVIOUS POSTS IF YOU HAVE NOT YET DONE SO]

1.  The journal Psychological Bulletin is a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

2.  And a 1957 article by Swenson published in Psychological Bulletin titled “Empirical Evaluations of Human Figure Drawings” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

3.  Please consider Swenson’s comments from regarding the DAP:

– [ read ] –

“The evidence presented in this paper does not support Machover’s hypotheses about the meaning of human figure drawings. More of the evidence directly contradicts her hypotheses than supports them.”

Now my question: If more evidence contradicts the use of the DAP than supports it, your relying on the DAP could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

4.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Swenson’s position in this regard Correct?

5.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Swenson’s position in this regard Correct?

6.  The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology is also a generally recognized and accepted, peer reviewed journal in your field Correct?

7.  And a 1969 study by Wanderer published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology titled “Validity of Clinical Judgments Based on Human Figure Drawings” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

8.  Please consider the following 4 steps in Wanderer’s study:

[Consider printing these four steps on a piece of paper you can hand to the witness]

(1) Wanderer obtained DAP drawings from different groups of subjects including normals and schizophrenics.

(2) Twenty well recognized DAP “experts” were asked to identify the diagnostic group corresponding to each drawing.

(3) The experts identified the drawings of mentally retarded individuals with considerable accuracy.

(4) The accuracy with which they identified other diagnostic groups including normal and schizophrenic subjects did not exceed what would be expected from random guessing.

Now my question: If experts cannot accurately discriminate the DAPs of normal and schizophrenic individuals, then your relying on the DAP in this case could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

9.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Wanderer’s findings Correct?

10.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Wanderer’s findings Correct?

11.  We have already established that the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology is a generally recognized and accepted, peer review journal in your field Correct?

12.  And a 1970 study by Adler published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology titled “Evaluation of Human Figure Drawing Technique” might be relevant to your opinions in this case Correct?

13.  You knew that Adler found that the scoring procedures for the DAP were not used consistently by different psychologists Correct?

14.  And if the scoring procedures for the DAP are not used consistently by different psychologists, the variations in scoring can lead to inconsistent conclusions when two or more psychologists evaluate the same drawings Correct?

15.  And inconsistent conclusions relying on the DAP could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

16.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Adler’s findings regarding inconsistent conclusions premised on the DAP Correct?

17.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Adler’s findings regarding inconsistent conclusions premised on the DAP Correct?

18.  Adler further indicated: “The literature is generally pessimistic about the validity of drawings for personality and diagnostic evaluation.”

Now my question: If “the literature is generally pessimistic about the validity of drawings for personality and diagnostic evaluation,” then your relying on these drawings could misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

19.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Adler’s position in this regard Correct?

20.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Adler’s position in this regard Correct?

21.  Please consider Standard 2.02 (a) of the 1992 Ethical Code for psychologists addressing “Competence and Appropriate Use of Assessments and Interventions” which states:

– [ read ] –

“(a) Psychologists who develop, administer, score, interpret, or use psychological assessment techniques, interviews, tests, or instruments do so in a manner and for purposes that are appropriate in light of the research on or evidence of the usefulness and proper application of the techniques.”

Now my question: Your work in this case obligates you to comply with this standard Correct?

22.  If “The literature is generally pessimistic about the validity of drawings for personality and diagnostic evaluation,” your relying on the DAP neglects Standard 2.02 (a) of your ethical code Correct?

23.  Because if “The literature is generally pessimistic about the validity of drawings for personality and diagnostic evaluation,” you cannot use the DAP in a manner that is “appropriate in light of the research on or evidence of the usefulness and proper application of the technique” Correct?

24.  Also please consider Standard 2.02 (b) of the 1992 Ethical Code for psychologists addressing “Competence and Appropriate Use of Assessments and Interventions” which states:

– [ read ] –

“(b) Psychologists refrain from misuse of assessment techniques, interventions, results, and interpretations and take reasonable steps to prevent others from misusing the information these techniques provide. This includes refraining from releasing raw test results or raw test data to persons, other than to patients or clients as appropriate, who are not qualified to use such information.”

Now my question: Your work in this case obligates you to also comply with this standard Correct?

25.  If “The literature is generally pessimistic about the validity of drawings for personality and diagnostic evaluation,” your relying on the DAP also neglects Standard 2.02 (b) of your ethical code Correct?

26.  Because if “The literature is generally pessimistic about the validity of drawings for personality and diagnostic evaluation,” you are at risk for misusing this “assessment technique” and its “interpretations” Correct?

27.  Adler further indicated:

“More diagnostic errors in the use of drawings probably stem from the failure to distinguish between cognitive immaturity and psychopathology than from any other cause.”

Now my question: If psychologists neglect to distinguish between cognitive immaturity and psychopathology when using the DAP, your relying on the DAP could further misinform and mislead this proceeding Correct?

28.  You have not published anything in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Adler’s position in this regard Correct?

29.  You cannot cite anything published in a peer reviewed journal necessitating that we reconsider Adler’s position in this regard Correct?


 

[1]Machover, K. (1949). Personality projection in the drawing of the human figure. Springfield, Il: C.C. Thomas, (p. 5).

[2]Swenson, C.H. (1957). Empirical evaluations of human figure drawings. Psychological Bulletin, 4, 431 468.

[3]Wanderer, Z.W. (1969). Validity of clinical judgments based on human figure drawings. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 33, 143 150.

[4]Adler, P.T. (1970). Evaluation of figure drawing technique. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 35, 52 57.

[5]Id. at 56.

[6]Id. at 57.

Posted in PsychLawBlog.com | Comments Off on Projective Drawings

Cross Examining Experts in the Behavioral Sciences

by Terrence W. Campbell and Demosthenes Lorandos, is a must for every family law practitioner. This two-volume practice set provides step-by-step guidance how to refute behavioral scientists‘ conjecture and speculation to ensure favorable rulings on Daubert, Kuhmo Tire and Frye standards. Integrates hundreds of questioning strategies and actual questions to save you time and energy in preparing your cases. Demonstrates how to examine and challenge the expertise of mental health experts and the use of psychological tests. Details both the scientific research and the legal aspects behind a mental health expert’s testimony.

The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome

by Gardner, Sauber, and Lorandos, has become the standard reference work for PAS. The International Handbook features clinical, legal, and research perspectives from 32 contributors from eight countries.

The Handbook examines the effects of PAS on both parents and children and includes new material on incidence, gender, and false accusations of abuse.

The Handbook also touches heavily on the legal aspects of PAS in American law, including criticism of PAS in courts of law, the fundamental rights of children, international PAS abductions, and the legal requirements for expert testimony.

Benchbook in the Behavioral Sciences

by Lorandos and Campbell, provides immediate access to authoritative information and immediate decision-making tools for judges and attorneys.

The U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Daubert, Joiner, and Kumho Tire have profoundly altered the rules of evidence regarding expert testimony. However, recent research indicates court personnel have little understanding of how to implement these changes in the behavioral sciences. The Federal Rules of Evidence now reflect the changes brought about by the Daubert trilogy. Before the Benchbook, there were no guidelines, practice books, or judicial decision-making manuals that address even in the vaguest “gatekeeping” responsibilities in the behavioral sciences.