Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lexicon of Madness: Rorschach Inkblot Test

Rorschach Inkblot Test: The "ROR-shock" consists of a standard set of 10 ambiguous, symetrical inkblots, some achromatic, some mostly achromatic and red, and some brightly colored. The inkblots were developed and chosen by Hermann Rorshach, a Swiss psychiatrist, over 100 years ago. The inkblots are presented to a patient in a pre-determined order, with the instruction, "What might this be?" The clinician writes down, verbatim, the entireity of the patient's response. After an inquiry phase ("Help me see it the way you did"), a complex scoring system is used to quantify the patient's responses. In experienced hands, the Rorschach can be a valuable instrument for assessing psychological functioning. At one level of interpretation, how you perceive the inkblots conveys important information about how you perceive the world. Obsessional people tend to focus more on detail. Conventional people tend to see what the average person sees. People who are hostile or who come from hostile backgrounds tend to see animals or people fighting, not cooperating. Psychotic people tend to see things that the clinician cannot readily perceive, or provide illogical explanations for their perceptions. Contrary to popular belief, many of the Rorschach variables have well-established empirical correlates. The test is very useful in identifying "low-grade" psychoticism (i.e., "deviant thinking"), oppositionalism/anger, and psychological dependency. Scores on the Rorschach Suicide Constellation (S-CON) has been found to predict suicide completion in samples of psychiatric inpatients. Among experienced administrators, scoring is acceptably reliable. The test has survived significant bouts of controversary, some of which reflects ill-founded contempt for any method that appears reminiscent of the psychodynamic approach. Projective techniques such as the Rorschach enable assessment psychologists to uncover significant data about a person that he may have be unable, or unwilling, to reveal himself.

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