Psychologists dispute House justice panel assessment on Sereno's mental health

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — The assessment that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno showed signs of mental disturbance, based only on an impeachment complaint and newspaper report, is "misleading, if not inaccurate," a group of psychologists said Friday.

The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) chided the House Committee on Justice for its "misuse" of the Chief Justice's psychological test results, supposed excerpts of which were published in a news report.

The PAP said a psychological assessment should only be used for the specific purpose for which it was conducted.

"To use a psychological assessment conducted in 2012 (which was for the purpose of Chief Justice Sereno's appointment) for the current legislative proceedings is a misuse of those results," the PAP said in a statement.

It further disputed the assessment made by clinical psychologist Geraldine Tria during Wednesday's hearing.

"If a psychologist bases his/her assessment on only one of these methods, or from second-hand reports, then conclusions about "mental disturbance" based on alleged symptoms that indicate such a condition are misleading, if not inaccurate," the PAP said.

Tria was invited as an expert witness in the impeachment hearing to discuss Sereno's mental fitness. She is also a member of the PAP.

She based her findings on the impeachment complaint and the newspaper report quoting excerpts from Sereno's supposed psychiatric evaluation report when she was still applying as a chief justice.

She concluded that Sereno exhibited grandiosity, preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success and power and a sense of entitlement, among others.

When asked if she would have recommended Sereno to the chief justice post based on the findings, Tria said no.

House Justice Commitee Chairman Rey Umali on Thursday said Sereno should be impeached for betraying the public's trust about her mental condition.

READ: Umali: House committee to include findings on Sereno's mental health in grounds for impeachment

In the impeachment case, lawyer Larry Gadon claimed Sereno "failed in a psychiatric exam" prior to her appointment by scoring 4 out of 5.

Sereno's camp said the score does not mean an official failure in the test, especially if no troubling psychological conditions were found. They also argued that the performance on such an exam is not an impeachable offense.

For its part, the PAP said Sereno could not have flunked "as no one 'passes' or 'fails' a psychological assessment."

"Instead, a psychologist recommends a person to a position after the assessment indicates that he/she possesses the characteristics that fit the demands of the given position," the PAP said.

READ: Sereno camp: Baring psychiatric records 'sets bad precedent'

The PAP said it is neither supporting nor opposing issues involving Sereno, but only seeks to clarify the valid and ethical use of psychological assessments to evaluate mental health.

"The PAP upholds the dignity of every human being and we reject recent narratives that directly or indirectly use psychological assessments to stigmatize those with mental or psychological conditions," it said.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos and Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.