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Final Assessment

“Reaction time is a factor in this so please pay attention. Answer as quickly as you can.”

On Thursday I had my third, and final (I'm told) diagnostic appointment. This comprised three specific tests/parts:

First 20 questions based on a piece of film were asked. This was a short clip of some people arranging and getting together for a dinner. The questions were asked at various points during the footage, which was paused. The purpose, I guess, was to determine how you can read their feelings and reactions. This seemed to be the function of all three tests, though who knows. It didn't help that the footage was dubbed - really badly; I mean the voicing was really ham fisted and over the top which I don't think really helped. It felt like a mini - and quite predictable - soap vignette. Person A fancies person B who secretly doesn't fancy him, but fancies person C. The end. It just didn't feel representative of real life to me. Perhaps that's the point.

“Maybe you're fed up; maybe you want to be by yourself...who knows. So you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you...”

Test two was a rather hard to follow series of short paragraph long scenarios read from a booklet (I was given a copy to follow). The purpose was to determine whether someone said anything inappropriate. So you'd have Jane commenting that Sally's wedding present was shit - while Sally was stood there or unaware that Sally was in the next room and could hear, etc. Not all situations were inappropriate. Some of them didn't seem inappropriate to me for reasons of genuine non-malice or just bad luck (how was Jane to know Sally was in the next room). I also had to answer questions about details in the story despite that I had the booklet in my hand and could look up the answer instantly. I found this quite exhausting actually; my concentration severely waned during the 20 questions.

Finally I had about 30 pictures of a person's eyes (a different person each time) surrounded by 5 or so possible emotions from which I had to circle which was correct according to the eyes. Apparently no one gets this 100% correct.

“Tell me the good things that come into your mind about…your mother.”

Now I have to wait for the outcome. I don't really hold out much hope. I don't think this process is really oriented for adults, as opposed to kids, and it's so removed from the situation people face in dealing with, for example, the likes of the DWP, that I don't think they really understand. That's not to be malicious, it's just pragmatic.

“They're just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they're written down for me. It's a test designed to provoke an emotional response.”

So what happens now? Well after a mini meltdown in which I tried to express how shit the system is to the psychologist (who seemed a good sort; I’ve nothing bad to say about any of the people I’ve seen), I can’t help assuming that they aren’t going to give me what I want.

Throughout all of these processes I think the prudent approach is to hope for the best but expect the worst. The fundamental problem, however, is that the psychologist and the DWP are totally different entities, and neither are connected. What is needed is a holistic approach – not just here but throughout all of society. People’s health issues, mental difficulties, or just everyday personal struggles are not easily dismissed in defensive terms by people hiding their own insecurities (as I’ve previously theorised). They are genuine battles fought within the confines of one’s own skin to which the world beyond is largely deaf and blind.

When dealing with other agencies, such as those necessary to one’s own survival (such as the DWP), it becomes even more fraught. For example, someone happy to hold down any job who feels none of these issues is much more likely to get employed than someone who is at war with himself or the world because of these kinds of difficulties (and not through choice). Even worse, the latter has to compete in this capitalist system just the same as the former – while still struggling. It’s like having to race against someone to win the prize, only your running shoes are made of stone and broken glass.

“My mother... I'll tell you about my mother.”


  1. The DWP does seem to be moving towards some form of personality profiling though. I had to do a Jobs Seminar a few weeks ago, organised by the local benefits office, during which I had to complete the Myers-Briggs personality test. I've done this test before under other circumstances (I'm always INFP) but I found it very worrying that the DWP now have a psychological test which has been endorsed by them - because they have tried it on claimants. I tried to pin this down, but they were clever about it. The guy who conducted the test was a consultant they'd brought in, and who worked for one of these parasite agencies which make their money from human misery and unemployment. He does the test and simply passes the result onto the DWP, and they pass the result onto me. But I wonder just how the result will affect their attitude towards me and my employment prospects, if any.

    Anyway, good luck with your results.

    1. This is just sinister. I can't really imagine what they hope to achieve from these tests? That online test from a year ago was a farce: all possible permuations of response led to the same 'diagnosis', and for what? Presumably so they can simply tell you that you're fit for work.

  2. The excuse for doing such a test was that it would make it easier to direct us towards suitable jobs, as though the country were coming down with vacancies, and such a selection process were necessary. Personally I thought that the other side of the coin was more plausible - that the results would find their way into the hands of workfare providers who can then apply pressure to those people who tested as shy or vulnerable or nervous types. I am all of those things, but I can also discipline myself to be defiant, simply because I've made myself aware of their game.

    1. I find this all deeply sinister.

      What a complete waste of time.


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