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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 Test

Q. I was given the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 test. Is there a website where I can find out what my test scores mean? I'd like to know both the validity t-scores and the clinical t-scores and the explanation in layman's terms.

A. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) is probably the most widely used test instrument to detect and describe personality problems and other mental health issues. But it is important to understand the limitations of the MMPI. It does not make a diagnosis--it merely describes the patient in terms of a number of scales, such as "depression", "hypochondriasis", "social introversion", etc. It is also an instrument that requires an experienced and skilled clinician to interpret.

For example, the pattern of peaks and valleys may be more important than elevations on a given scale. Furthermore, the MMPI should never be used in isolation for purposes of reaching a diagnosis or planning treatment. When those are the goals, the MMPI should always--and I mean ALWAYS!--be merely a part of a comprehensive mental health evaluation, which includes the patient's complete personal and psychological history; family history; medical history; and mental status examination.

For all these reasons, I would discourage you from trying to figure out on your own what your raw scores on the MMPI mean, or what implications you should draw from them. I'm not sure why you were asked or required to take this exam, but presumably a mental health professional has been asked to interpret it. That person should really be the one to speak with you about the meaning of the results--or should furnish the interpretation to your own mental health professional, who could then help you put the results in a larger context and perspective.

All that said, if you really want to investigate the MMPI on your own, you can find a good deal of explanatory information at the website http://assessments.ncspearson.com. Most textbooks of psychiatry also have fairly clear descriptions of the test.

March 2002

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