Psychological Evaluation in the Canadian Armed Forces

There has been a lot of news coverage in Canada about a Colonel Williams whom was an aggressive fetishist and pervert who escalated his actions to assault and then murder. One article that provides some insights into the case is “Col. Williams posed for photos in women’s lingerie” By Maria Babbage at The Canadian Press. The Colonel being high up in the Canadian Forces, a man in good standing, married, and 47 years of age does not suggest what one would expect from a sexual deviant and murderer.

As such, it has raised many questions. What kind of psychological testing is in place currently to evaluate new recruits to the Canadian Forces and what if any tests are carried out in annual review of all members of the military? Are there ways to test for these kinds of things and if so why are they not being implemented on a constant basis?

Lets take a look at the answer to the above questions:

During military medical examinations, applicants are asked about problems with drug or alcohol abuse and any previous treatment by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a social worker. Disclosures of past treatment are followed up, and details are obtained from the treating professional.

In most cases during recruitment and thereafter in the Canadian Forces, psychological testing is used only to help determine an individual’s aptitude for particular military occupations, not to assess psycho-social stability. By contrast, applicants for most civilian police forces undergo a series of psychological screening tests. Recruiters on the basis of the applicant’s behavioral and social history assess normally psychological fitness, in the sense of predisposition to abhorrent behaviour, subjectively. To this end, recruiters investigate applicants’ education, work experience, family and social relationships, criminal convictions, drug use, and debts.

Recruiters are not trained in the behavioral sciences, but guidelines for recognizing and assessing psychological warning signs are provided in the Recruiter’s Handbook for the Canadian Forces and various recruiting directives. Moreover, recruiters receive training from Canadian Forces personnel selection officers, who have at least a master’s degree in psychology, as well as specialized training and work experience. Personnel selection officers are also available to provide technical advice to recruiters and others in the personnel selection system in particular cases of concern, or on general issues. Furthermore, specific cases can be referred to a personnel selection officer where the recruiter has a doubt about an applicant’s psychological fitness.

However there is no routine psychological assessment done in Canadian Forces, only full scale testing is performed if an officer is referred with psychological issues in which case a number of tests are performed:

A) Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI)
B) Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2)
C) Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCM-lll)
A) Clinician-administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) if applicable, or
B) Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV-TR (SCID)

There are many problems with this system. If a deviant has a spotless record they could easily manipulate the process and advance through the entire process unscathed and without suspicion. Psychological evaluations are only performed in the most necessary cases and even the tests performed at that point offer a consciously based response model; the applicant could still lie and pass through.

So this means the military’s applicant screening system and annual reporting / evaluations are exposed to holes at a psychological level. Would you want your country to be represented by an army or naval officer who has over pronounced violent tendencies, has very weak mental fortitude, prone to serious depression, or deep seated suicidal tendencies? The list goes on.

So far there is no reliable system in place here to avoid these kinds of events. Even if there was one it would be required to perform and report extremely fast, collect infallibly accurate results, be able to screen applicants en masse, implementation ready, and evolve with the needs of the Canadian Forces potential applicants and current personnel.

At Northam Psychotechnologies we have such a tool. A version of one of our current tools, the PASSTool, utilizing SSRM Technology developed at NPT could potentially be implemented into the current system bringing a safety to the military they have never before seen. Any topic could be tested for. The technology is a simple game that could be performed in 15 minutes with little to no instruction providing results immediately. The game tests the applicant’s subconscious mind, which cannot lie, providing a false-positive rate of only 0.3%, serious accuracy. The test can be performed on any PC computer anywhere. The test could fit into the current system screening every new recruit and all current personnel once a year to evaluate and maintain. With this kind of technology in use people like Col. Williams would not have been allowed into the military and perhaps not given the opportunity to commit such crimes.

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