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Division Between Neuropsychology and Personality Assessment. Essay

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There is an Indian parable of six blind men who encounter different parts of a large elephant
and are asked to describe what it is they are feeling. The man who grasps the trunk
reports that he’s holding a snake; the next man, who is holding one of the large tusks, insists
that it is a spear; another man, grasping one of the animal’s large legs, says that it is a tree.
The point of the parable is that incomplete evidence results in incomplete conclusions and a
narrow perspective of the entire beast.
As applied psychology becomes increasingly specialized, psychologists also run the
risk of drawing incomplete conclusions about patients and their functioning. Understanding
something as complex as human phenomenology through only one narrow lens guarantees
that our perceptions and conclusions will be similarly narrow. I argue, as have others
(Meyer, 2002; Ready, Stieman, & Paulsen, 2001; Wilson, 1993), that we can and should
have both breadth and depth as our goal in all clinical activities, including psychological
assessment.
In this chapter, I discuss the current division between neuropsychology and personality
assessment. I examine differences in training, test usage, and scientific literature that give rise
to somewhat different (and perhaps incomplete) perspectives of our patients. I then discuss
the neuropsychological challenges posed by traditional personality assessment and behavioral
measurement of children and adolescents and the types of “lessons” that personality
assessors can learn from neuropsychology. Similarly, I explore ways in which neuropsychology
practice can inform the assessment of child and adolescent personality and behavior.
Last, I present a case example and provide some recommendations fo...


... middle of paper ...


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International Neuropsychological Society, and APA’s Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology)
to determine what measures are most commonly given by neuropsychologists. In this
survey, respondents were asked to rate their top three assessment measures. A similar survey
was conducted by Camara, Nathan, and Puente (2000), who surveyed both neuropsychologists
and clinical psychologists in APA. The results of both surveys are displayed in
Table 3.1. The question asked by the two surveys was slightly different (i.e., “top three” in
Rabin et al. [2005] versus “most common” in Camara et al. [2000]), but it seems that neuropsychologists
appear quite unlikely to use traditional measures of personality and psychopathology
(e.g., the Rorschach was listed as 34th) and that most assessment by clinical
psychologists is focused on either personality or cognitive functioning.


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