Assessing assessment

The article, "Assessing Assessment" (January Monitor) correctly observed that the teaching of projective techniques has eroded, or been given less emphasis, in graduate school training.

The use of projective techniques by clinicians has also decreased: A recent article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (Vol. 61, pages 1,467-1,482) noted that the percentage of clinical psychologists using projective tests declined from 72 percent in 1986 to 39 percent in 2003. Not mentioned in the Monitor article is the controversy over the reliability, validity and norms of the Rorschach. Results from a number of studies indicate that the use of Exner's Comprehensive System for the Rorschach often makes relatively normal individuals appear as though they have severe psychopathology (e.g., Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol. 33, pages 454-463). This is one reason why many psychologists have concluded that the scientific basis for the Comprehensive System is unacceptably weak. Moreover, studies demonstrate that many Comprehensive System scores are largely or entirely unrelated to clinically important psychological attributes (e.g., Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 25, pages 97-118).

These problems with the Rorschach have been discussed in numerous scientific journals and in popular publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Scientific American, but they have not been discussed in the Monitor. It is a disservice to readers to fail to include this information in an article that purports to be "Assessing Assessment."

Howard Garb, PhD San Antonio
James Wood, PhD El Paso
M. Teresa Nezworski, PhD Dallas
Scott Lilienfeld, PhD Atlanta

History of psychoanalysis

It was good to see an article in the October Monitor about Div. 39 and psychoanalysis. But, why is it necessary to bash Freud by referring to "quirky ideas of Freud's"? You report that many members of Div. 39 have offered low-fee service to vulnerable people such as elderly, trauma victims and emergency personnel. This is very worthy and a valuable activity, but it is not psychoanalysis, and might be more accurately described as counseling or social work.

The author also chose to feature two schools of psychoanalytic theory, the relational and the intersubjective schools, which probably don't represent the point of view of most analysts. She also seems to imply that other psychoanalytic theories are old fashioned or obsolete.

It's incorrect that it wasn't until the APA lawsuit in the 1980s that "training in psychoanalysis was available to nonmedical applicants such as psychologists and social workers."Such training was available in New York with the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis founded by Theodor Reik in 1948. It was available from 1959 at the New York Freudian Society Institute and the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Also, the William Alanson White Institute in New York accepted some psychologists for training as early as the 1940s. There were several other training institutes in California and other parts of the country prior to the lawsuit. Many of these groups were important in supporting the lawsuit.

Edwin Fancher
New York Freudian Society