Questionnaires are insufficient for judging a person’s mental state

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There has recently been a proposal that patients should have to take a ‘psychological test’ before undergoing cosmetic surgery. Such tests include a questionnaire in which you score yourself on questions about, for example, how often you look at yourself at the mirror and for how long. Is this really a valid way of determining someone’s psychological state about their appearance and their decision-making ability on whether they want cosmetic surgery?

I think that such a proposal undermines those who can actually make a just decision for themselves. Some older women, for example, genuinely want cosmetic surgery for a confidence boost, and it is not up to surgeons, doctors, etc. to confirm that decision for them. Such a question such as “how long do you spend in the mirror?” is surely a contradiction anyway. If you’re not happy with yourself it’s highly unlikely that you will stare at yourself in the mirror for ages with fear that it will crack!

Even if these questionnaires were to go ahead, people are not stupid. They know exactly what this test would determine and thus make up answers to make sure they get the treatment that they want, especially younger girls. It’s so unreliable! I can understand a brief counselling session, but not a sit-down questionnaire in which you have no idea at all whether the participant is being completely true.

I read about a story of a girl who received breast implants at the age of 18 and went on to regret it. I think she knew exactly what she was getting herself in for; the matter here is age. A woman is not fully developed at 18. What this girl should have been told is that she is too young and she should wait for a few more years until she has fully developed. Giving her a bit of paper questioning her vanity and confidence levels would have totally been the wrong way to go about the situation; she is an insecure hormonal teenager so she is not going to be truthful.

One way that organisations have tried to justify these ‘psychological tests’ is with age; saying that some people are having surgery at too young an age. Erm, solution? Increase the age limit. Women especially should not be allowed to have cosmetic surgery unless absolutely necessary, for example face or bodily disfigurements, until they are fully developed. It’s just a losing battle against nature! And of course 18-year-old females are going to have insecurities and confidence problems, it’s an inevitable part of growing up. Raise the age, and counsel people who need it rather than wasting time, energy and trees on these so-called questionnaires that supposedly judge your mental capacity to decide whether you want cosmetic surgery. All these do in reality is judge your mental capacity to manipulate the questions in order to get the treatment that you want.

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