Mostly As, Bs and Cs
February 19, 2015 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Quiz: what mental disorder do you have? (adjusted for scientific accuracy)
posted by Artw (27 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a pretty glib article that's basically just taking a dump on the entire field of psychometrics.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:04 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


While I agree that "Are you ADHD/depressed/bipolar LOL" quizzes should never show up on anyone's feed, this piece really bothers me. At least one person will read all of the "D" answers, think "Well, my situation's not THAT bad," and put off getting help they truly need...probably not for the first time.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:13 AM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Exactly. And if they do finally go to get the help they need, what are they going to think when the doctor gives them a questionnaire to fill out?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:16 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a pretty glib article that's basically just taking a dump on the entire field of psychometrics.

I don't think so, I think it's reacting against the idea that taking an on-line quiz about serious mental health issues is the same as finding out which Hogwarts house you are in*. I have serious mental health issues and I know this because I have struggled and suffered immensely and it's something that affects my life on a daily basis even when it's well controlled.

If you need help, anything that gets you help is great; one of the things that got me into therapy when I was twelve was reading an article about depression in Seventeen with a quiz. It showed me something might actually be going on with me and it gave me something to show to my parents to say "I am feeling the way this quiz describes. I think I am in danger and need help". If these quizzes were a way for people to get professional help, that would be great! I support that! The thing is, they are not, they are a way for people to be like "oh hahaha I am so wacky look at me I am loopy and I totally have bipolar you guys." This is harmful in a lot of ways, including but not limited to:

-It makes people take mental health issues less seriously -- you get people saying "I feel happy and sad sometimes, and I snap out of it, just smile, you'll feel better".
-It romanticizes mental illness -- I am interesting and fun and artistic because I have these symptoms
-It trivializes something that is really hard for a lot of people, including me
-If you see everyone posting these quizzes then, even if you have these symptoms seriously, you might think that it's perfectly normal and not get the help you need

These quizzes are passed off as cute and fun like "What Parks and Rec Character Are You?" is the same as "What Serious Mental Health Issue Do You Have?" and it's not okay and presenting mental health issues in this way can actually be really harmful.

*Bipolar II, Ravenclaw
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:19 AM on February 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


Not a great quiz.

you notice a blob of something unidentifiable on the work surface. How do you respond?

C. Dab it on your finger and taste it. It’s obviously something I’ve cooked so must be safe, and I’m curious.


Who would do this?
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:22 AM on February 19, 2015


basically just taking a dump on the entire field of psychometrics.

Feature, not a bug.
posted by supercres at 8:22 AM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Who would do this?

Any reasonable person would consult AskMe before eating it.
posted by maxsparber at 8:23 AM on February 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


The last online quiz he took told Dean Burnett would have been in Hufflepuff if he’d gone to Hogwarts, and he’s had a grudge against them ever since.

That quiz was wrong. True Hufflepuffs aren't ashamed of who they are, darnit!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:24 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


That was glib too I guess.

Longer version: personality questionnaires might as well be tea leaves. I'd say that the field of psychometrics is only now becoming a science as we're able to start looking at and quantifying naturalistic behavior. It's what my current research group (self link) -- and many like it -- are doing based on natural language processing.
posted by supercres at 8:30 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope nobody out there really takes these things seriously. Most people I know just take them sort of ironically--don't know that I've seen anyone in any of my networks take one of the ones claiming to diagnose actual, serious mental disorders, but those seem to belong to a different category than lame color-preference personality quizzes and the like to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:47 AM on February 19, 2015


I hope nobody out there really takes these things seriously. Most people I know just take them sort of ironically--don't know that I've seen anyone in any of my networks take one of the ones claiming to diagnose actual, serious mental disorders,

Yeah, but that's part of the problem. "Actual, serious mental disorders" are actual and serious and it's not really great to make light of them with internet quizzes.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:50 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I agree. That's why I distinguished the color-preference style quizzes from ones pretending to diagnose real conditions in the second half of my comment.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:51 AM on February 19, 2015


That sounds like fascinating research, supercres. I recently came across this study, which I think uses a similar method - just brilliant.

Some personality instruments, though, were developed using factor analysis, which is similar to your approach, no?

Also, I mean, it seems to me, that ultimately, all assessments and questionnaires must involve at least an element of (more or less questionable, depending, of course) circularity, because they've got to be validated against something - other instruments of varying validity/reliability, potentially biased behavioural observations, etc. But when it comes down to it, I am not going to be tasting a dried-up purple blob on my kitchen counter, and I guess there are others (who, perhaps, also like going 40kph over the speed limit, or think skydiving is a good idea) who reliably might.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:02 AM on February 19, 2015


I must have MetaFilteritis because I came in here to say:


you notice a blob of something unidentifiable on the work surface. How do you respond?

C. Dab it on your finger and taste it. It’s obviously something I’ve cooked so must be safe, and I’m curious.

Who would do this?

posted by infini at 9:09 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only thing it's really treating glibly is those online tests. And those things are, by and large, a fucking scourge.

They're either dismissively cutesy or inappropriately clinical. I'm sure there are ways to do this that balance the public service/awareness aspect well, but if you've ever known a human, you know that they pretty much ignore the boring parts that tell them that that interesting stuff is not conclusive and that a self-reported internet test is a poor diagnostic tool. There are going to be people, no matter how careful you are, who take away the message that human behavior is some simple, easily quantified thing that they, having read a description on the internet, now understand and are qualified to make diagnoses.

And if you've ever visited the internet, you know there are humans who use the information they've gleaned to minimize disorders or to go around diagnosing other people. You could probably even track the popularity of these tests by just tracking the various diagnoses that random internet goobers are making at any given time. How fondly I remember when everyone learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

There is probably some way to raise awareness and to help people get help when they need it that balances out this false confidence problem, but online multiple choice tests are clearly not it.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:10 AM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm clearly paranoid that I think every move of mine on the internets is being traced adn recorded and I'm being watched.

Do they think I'm going answer their questions and give them even more data?
posted by infini at 9:11 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I enjoy breaking the law: True or False
Answer quickly

posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:17 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sure there are ways to do this that balance the public service/awareness aspect well, but if you've ever known a human, you know that they pretty much ignore the boring parts that tell them that that interesting stuff is not conclusive and that a self-reported internet test is a poor diagnostic tool.

This is a good point. Hell, when I was in actual therapy, my own doctor cautioned me about how difficult it was to make conclusive diagnoses and proposed that I might have one of two possible conditions: 1) Emerging Schizophrenia; or 2) Schizoaffective Disorder triggered by the depressive stage of a bipolar cycle.

At the time, I worried I'd just been sentenced to death, because of course Schizophrenia is progressive and irreversible--some symptoms can be managed with meds, but once your baseline moves, you don't see any lasting improvement.

Turns out my worst symptoms disappeared over time, even without the medication I needed to initially manage the issues, so it seems safe to say now I wasn't having a true schizophrenic break. But for a while there, it was a hell of mind-f**ck for me wondering where I'd end up.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Which is to say, if I'd started self-diagnosing and obsessing over online psych quizzes, who knows where I would have ended up...)
posted by saulgoodman at 9:39 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


SAUL.GOOD.MAN.

That is precisely the type of phenomenon that edged me from responding to things like this with Marge Simpson style hmmming all the way to FUCK YOU STOP IT STOP ARMCHAIR DIAGNOSING PEOPLE.

I watched almost your exact same scenario happen to someone else, except it was people on the internet calling him schizophrenic. None of them even seemed remotely aware of what a diagnosis like that entailed or what its ramifications would be. Just, "Hey, this guy is being really really crazy, and really really crazy means schizophrenic." They were so confident in their uninformed opinions that they never even questioned themselves. But they were so ignorant that I really don't think it even occurred to most of them how cruel and how dangerous what they were doing was.

(I am considering making an online quiz that diagnoses people as being dillweeds who diagnose people on the internet. I just need to come up with a really good, clinical sounding name for the disorder.)
posted by ernielundquist at 10:08 AM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm clearly paranoid that I think every move of mine on the internets is being traced adn recorded and I'm being watched.

Do they think I'm going answer their questions and give them even more data?

posted by infini at 12:11 PM

You've done the right thing, infini. Thank you for keeping us informed.
posted by orme at 10:26 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


C. Dab it on your finger and taste it. It’s obviously something I’ve cooked so must be safe, and I’m curious.

Who would do this
?

Well, there's a protocol here that should be followed: you do a wave smell test first to establish that it's not some cleaner or something disgusting, then a good direct sniff, then get a knife so you can give it a good poke, then scrape it off and get a good look at it, maybe wave it around and see if it juggles or does something neat, then, carry it over to your Loved One and jam it in their face and ask them what they think it is (reproducibility is key, and too often ignored),

...then you might essay a taste test.
posted by bonehead at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope nobody out there really takes these things seriously. Most people I know just take them sort of ironically

from TFA:
it’s highly likely that someone with an actual condition will see you do this; jokingly claiming to have an affliction that they struggle with constantly. Given the stigma and dismissal those with mental health issues deal with on a daily basis, this can only make things worse. They might be your friend, but now they’re going to have to think twice about being honest with you, given how non-seriously you take something so important to them.
(I am considering making an online quiz that diagnoses people as being dillweeds who diagnose people on the internet. I just need to come up with a really good, clinical sounding name for the disorder.)

GIFTS. Greater Internet Fuckwad Treatment Syndrome.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:11 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


C. Dab it on your finger and taste it. It’s obviously something I’ve cooked so must be safe, and I’m curious.

Who would do this?


Me. I do this so much.

Sometimes it's chocolate. Sometimes it's fluff.
posted by Braeburn at 12:31 PM on February 19, 2015


C. Dab it on your finger and taste it. It’s obviously something I’ve cooked so must be safe, and I’m curious.

Who would do this?


Heyoo! Over here!
posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 2:14 PM on February 19, 2015


I don't know, I should have mentioned getting the cat's opinion, but dogs, they'll eat anything (then throw it up behind the couch).
posted by bonehead at 3:19 PM on February 19, 2015


At the time, I worried I'd just been sentenced to death, because of course Schizophrenia is progressive and irreversible--some symptoms can be managed with meds, but once your baseline moves, you don't see any lasting improvement.

Hmm? This is just a particularly detailed chart but you'll see similar patterns pretty much anywhere you look this up - a significant chunk of people diagnosed with schizophrenia do experience progressively worsening episodes or continuous illness but about an equal number have an episodic but non-progressive course - no joke but not an irreversible drift from baseline - or overall increased stability over time. And a smaller percentage are diagnosed schizophrenic during their first psychotic episode - which turns out to be the only one. You could say that people who experience a more positive course must not have been "truly" schizophrenic or you could say schizophrenia is a somewhat imprecise association of symptoms that could potentially progress in any of a number of ways.

Or am I misreading and you are just emphasizing your fears at the time about what the word implied?
posted by atoxyl at 1:23 PM on February 20, 2015


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