What is a Rorschach test?

The Rorschach test is a diagnostic method from psychoanalysis that explores the subconscious of patients. The method, named after the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922), is a projective personality test to measure intelligence, interpersonal attitudes, mood and affectivity (emotional responsiveness). The method is based on the shape interpretation of inkblot images. The psychologist tries to create a personality profile of the test person based on the associations and interpretations given to him.

Importance and interpretation of the Rorschach tables

At the beginning of the Rorschach test, the patient is presented with a series of symmetrical inkblot images on what are known as Rorschach charts. The patient should explain the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the presented image material. The answers are then evaluated for shape, colour, location, originality and creativity.

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this form interpretation process. All that matters is the patient’s interpretation of the images. The interpretation of this obtained data is an extremely complicated process and requires a lot of experience and training.

In the next step, the test subject should pick up each Rorschach table individually and examine each table individually. The blob pictures can be rotated and turned as you like. The psychologist also asks questions like “What do you see here?” or “What could this be?”. The patient’s task is to describe what he thinks he sees in the inkblot image. He should also explain to which part of the inkblot the respective mental link refers. Meanwhile, the psychologist notes the patient’s interpretation, manipulation (rotation) of the chart, and reaction times.

The evaluation of the Rorschach test

Based on his notes, the doctor can now evaluate the Rorschach test. He deals with the following points and questions according to defined guidelines:

  1. Type of recording: Are full, half or only detailed figures recorded?
  2. Quality of experience: Are shades, contrasts, colors perceived?
  3. Content: Are animals, people, plants, etc. seen?
  4. Originality: Are the answers vulgar, adapted, original?

The Rorschach test can be used to analyze the patient’s memory and sensitivity, which are mainly anchored in the subconscious. In addition, the interpretation of the form of the Rorschach pictures allows conclusions to be drawn about longings, wishes,  fears  and thus also about the personality of the test person.

Since there is room for interpretation when evaluating the results, the test is still hotly debated, but its usefulness is nevertheless recognized. However, it is not used as the sole test to record personality, but in conjunction with other standardized test procedures.

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