Of Psychological Exams and Sour Grapes Supreme

If psychological exams are handled the way they have been handled in the case of our Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, then it is time to ban them altogether. I believe psychological exams are useful. But in justice to those who take them, if people who are responsible for them cannot properly manage them, and they begin to be misused as weapons of personal destruction, they should be banned before they deteriorate into weapons of mass destruction.

In my career as a Jesuit priest, I have had opportunity to use these exams for purposes of screening candidates to the priesthood and for screening persons for employment. It has always been on the understanding that their content is strictly confidential. Those who have access to their outcomes are the psychometricians and those to whom the examinees allow their results to be seen. Period.

Even in their use, as a layperson in psychology, I have never allowed myself to interpret them without the guidance of a competent psychometrician. Among these have been Fr. Francis Parisi, S.J., Fr. Venancio Calpotura, S.J., Fr. Roger Champoux, S.J., and Fr. Filoteo Mangulabnan, S.J., who have always been insistent on the professional ethics of using them.  Because they are so sensitive and expressed in the technical language of professional psychologists, it is even advised that their generally dark texts not be shown to the examinees themselves.

I once was confronted with a formulation like: “The examinee has such generally positive traits, there must be something wrong with him.”

This is why I believe the community of professional psychologists of the Philippines should be outraged at the leak to the public of the exam results administered to Justice Sereno, and its use now to publicly attack her person and undermine her credibility as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The person or persons responsible for this leak has/have a great burden to bear in conscience.

Under the circumstances, the dignified silence of the Chief Justice has been admirable. What, pray tell, is she to do otherwise in her defense?

The aged macho fogies are hitting the woman below the belt.  They like that.

In a situation where we are trying to regain our respect for “the insiders” in the Supreme Court, it is the “outsider” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, considered by many to have been the President’s favored one, who displayed the most maturity and magnanimity. At that time the insiders said it would be unfortunate and demoralizing for President Aquino to appoint and “outsider.”

As things turned out, he appointed “an insider.” I find it sad that the sour-graping of some leads them not only not to attend flag-raising ceremonties but now to want to publish their psychological exams. As a weapon against Sereno? In a public manifestation, “We’re sane, she’s not”? In a statement, “Mr. President, you should have appointed me, because – thank God – the results of my psychological exam look (at least to me as I interpret it from my bench in the Supreme Court!) less insane, less religious, less self-centered, less self-aggrandizing, less megalomaniac than hers”?

Theirs is a sad burlesque of indignity. She has been appointed. Response from the bench:  “Omigod, she and not me!” “Mr. President, People of the Philippines, distinguished journalists and rational representatives of our non-sensationalizing media, ladies and gentlemen: For heaven’s sakes, she’s merely she! You should’ve chosen me! Did you not notice how much more deserving I am than she? Did you not appreciate my bio-data, my televised interview before the JBC, the long years of my service, my grand accomplishments as a legal luminary? Since apparently you did not, I now offer myself again to you in all my glory fully vulnerable, fully exposed! Please, please re-consider me. Consider what I have and she doesn’t. It’s outrageous it’s she and not me! Undo the wrong you have done to Philippine history! Look at my psychological exam! Look at me!”

Actually, Mr. President, you should have chosen me! I can show you the results of my psychological exam too!

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
This entry was posted in Personal Views and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Of Psychological Exams and Sour Grapes Supreme

  1. Hahaha! This is a great read — and a hilarious one at that! I haven’t laughed this hard in months.

    Thank you, Fr. Joel!

  2. Maria Dolores R. Colayco says:


  3. Reblogged this on Tartan Track Epiphanies and commented:
    Indeed, true!

  4. This is a must-read for those who do not fully understand the use of psychological tests… and tend to use the term very loosely.

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