Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss psychiatrist who in 1921 invented the Rorschach Inkblot Test, an examination in which a patient was shown a series of ten random ink designs and asked to indicate what they saw. All the inkblots were symmetrical, that is, they consisted of images identical on either side of a point down the middle of the image. Half of the inkblots were colored while the others were black and white. Furthermore, because psychologists fear familiarity with the Rorschach inkblots may sway a patient’s interpretation of their meaning, the inkblots are infrequently published or exposed to the general public. Though Rorschach was not entirely convinced of his invention’s validity, he did note that patients belonging to particular diagnosis tended to answer similarly. He founded his inkblot test conclusions in his book “Psychodiagnostik” after he studied 300 mental patients and 100 control subjects.
Today, there are numerous methods by which Rorschach inkblot tests may be administered and scored. However, generally all inkblots are presented to the patient first and then the examiner inquires what the patient sees in each. The examiner will make note of which section or spot of the inkblots seemed most significant in forming the patient’s interpretation.
Rorschach Inkblots Test results are measured by considering the type of section the patient specified as being most significant in deciding the image found in the inkblot. For example, whether the most important part of the inkblot was a fine detail or a large section, and what the patient actually saw, whether the inkblot looked like an animal figure, a human, part of a human, an inanimate object, or blood, is noted.
Rorschach Inkblot Tests are not measured out of context. For example, though two patients may indicate that they see the same things in the same inkblot, the individual backgrounds concerning each patient is of equal importance. Moreover, Rorschach Inkblots are administered so that the patient will reveal personal information in a noninvasive way.
However, there are a few commonalities witnessed between all patients. For example, if a patient says that the entire inkblot was important in deciding what image the inkblot contained, that patient is more likely to be a conceptual or gestalt. Conversely, if the patient finds a small detail to be most telling of an inkblot’s meaning, they are probably compulsively rigid or dogmatic. Furthermore, if a patient finds meaning in an inkblot based on the inkblot’s color, it is likely that patient is emotion and impulsive. Perhaps most interestingly, if a patient sees an image in the white space rather than in the inkblot itself they are more prone to rebelliousness.
Furthermore, the method by which a patient examines an inkblot is also noted. Whether the patient rotates, picks up, or otherwise handles the card containing the Rorschach Inkblots is recorded, as the examiner hopes to use this information to identify the process by which the patient thinks.
Though Hermann Rorschach had invented his inkblot tests forty years earlier, Rorschach Inkblot Tests were most prominent in the United States during the 1960s. However, currently the Rorschach Inkblot Tests are under fire. Because there has been little research in justifying Rorschach Inkblot Tests’ validity, and because major inconsistencies have risen concerning assessed inkblot tests, critics claim Rorschach Inkblot Tests are not a fail safe or excellent way to diagnose or otherwise examine patients. Though the Exner Scoring System was developed to verify Rorschach Inkblot Test assessments, a number of concerns remain, such as the limited number of diseases the test accurately diagnoses.