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What Is the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI) is used to assess a patient with a suspected or known psychological disorder to refine the diagnosis. Patients are asked a series of true/false questions which can be used to score them, looking for particular personality traits and indicators of clinical syndromes that can be used for diagnostic purposes. This test is designed to be used specifically with adults and while it was originally developed for use in mentally ill populations, it is also sometimes used as an assessment tool for a patient without a known psychological disorder. It can sometimes provide insights into personality traits that can help people in psychotherapy and other settings.

There are 175 questions on the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, which is designed to be completed in about half an hour. The test closely coordinates with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), a widely-used psychiatric diagnostic tool in the United States; this text defines a wide range of mental health conditions and provides diagnostic criteria so care providers can determine if a patient fits into a particular category. With the assistance of the MCMI, a medical provider can identify personal disorders and some clinical syndromes like bipolar disorder and major depression.

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This series of questions is based on the original developer’s work with personality traits, which included broadly dividing people into an assortment of general types. It is not, however, a personality test; the goal is to specifically identify mental health disorders and to determine if the patient has indicators that may fit in with the DSM. Using the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory inappropriately may result in abnormal results or confusion, as the test is designed for people with psychiatric disorders.

Like other assessment tools, the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory can sometimes be challenging to administer because patients may answer the way they think the administrator wants them to, rather than honestly. While administering the test, the provider may watch the patient and take note of behavior that suggests the patient is manipulating answers or responding falsely. The sensitive questions may be explored later in another session to learn more about why the patient hesitated or lied.

In the course of a patient evaluation, a mental health professional may use a number of tools for assessment. A single instrument like the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory wouldn’t provide enough data to make a diagnosis or reach any conclusions about the patient. Testing combined with observation of the patient in clinical settings, interviews with friends and family, and a review of the patient’s history are all necessary to reach a mental health diagnosis. This process may take days or weeks, depending on the nature of the patient’s condition.

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