“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.”