Psychological Vetting for Public Office Candidates!

Psychological Vetting for Public Office Candidates!

The following quote is from Founder’s Quote Daily sent by the

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate – look to his character….” –Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789


As a practicing psychologist, it is often  my duty (and an honor) to evaluate police and fire candidates as to their psychological fitness for duty. Character is very important, but so is the psychological make-up of these men and women in many dimensions. 

Is the work of our politicians any less critical to our well-being than that of a police officer, fire fighter or other first responders to emergency situations? 

I’ll bet that you can name your own “rogue’s list” of politicians and they will include both Democrats and Republicans: Public representatives who have lied, cheated, stolen, and publically humiliated their families and the rest of  us with their uncontrolled sexual exploits, extramarital pregnancies, and  betrayals of their spouses, children and other loved ones. Each example is a deep wound to the viability of our body politic and a hopeful future.

What fool would assume that these misfits would not often  betray the best interests of their constituents for their own pleasures and power-gains?

I believe that part of the “vetting process”  of candidates for public office must be  psychological testing and a clinical interview. Much like the obligatory physical exam administered by physicians,  psychological evaluations should  be conducted by specially trained Ph.D.  psychologists to rule out certain personality disorders and other psychological problems likely to create a hazard to  public safety and security.

Why would anyone object?  We should insist upon psychological vetting for all candidates for public office.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 1/28/10

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2 Responses to “Psychological Vetting for Public Office Candidates!”

  1. Brice Petgen Says:

    My only concern is that those who seek office will show significant elevations on psychopathic deviance and paranoia scales and subscales on the MMPI-2. I don’ think we could fill 1600 pennsylvania let alone congress if we did testing.

    I once heard that anyone who seeks higher public office is automatically unqualified for the post.



    Lets not only include vetting process for Law Enforceemnt,Public Office( legislatures)but others in the Judicial(judges,attorneys),Medical(doctors,nurses,physchologists),and Educational(grade school,high school,unversity teachers) fields.Let me remind all that individual freedoms were paramount to the Fathers of our Constitution.
    True today men and women of Law Enforcement(LE) are require to take both a written and psychological interview to determine their mental fittness,but this wasn’t always the case…its a recent requirement that doesn’t date back that far.Is it necessary,I can’t say, I don’t have statistics or know of any that have been tracked that proves the vetting of LE’S has eliminated more unfit then those that are fit to serve.LE agencies across the nation have numerous documented cases of LE’S turning out to be unfit for police work even though they were exposed to the vetting process.We must be careful less our freedoms be fringed upon for the sake of what measured quantity of safety and security we derive.
    The cultural breakdowns in the public office arena is also occurring in the LE cultural arena.
    I speak from first hand knowledge because I’ve been a member of the LE culture;also was exposed to the vetting process( several times). The human spices is what it is..made up of flaws.
    I’ve always said,and believe that the more you think your getting in terms of safety and security the less freedom you will retain.
    I’m opposed to the current methods..we need to do more thinking and determine a process that doesn’t fringe upon our freedoms.


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