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The hundred years of the Rorschach Test

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This year marks the centenary of the Rorschach Test. To celebrate this anniversary, the cultural association “Center for Psychological Culture” (CSCP) of Milan, and the University of Milan Bicocca, have created an online event (via Zoom, Friday 10 December 2021, from 9 am : 00 to 13:30) which involves the involvement of some of the leading experts of this instrument, both in Italy and internationally. The event is open to mental health professionals and free for college students.

The Rorschach Test is a full part of the history of psychology and has followed the evolution of its orientations. In 1921 Psychodiagnostik was published, the paper through which the Swiss psychiatrist Herman Rorschach presented the ten inkblots that make up the test to the scientific community, illustrating the experiment of using them with patients. Rorschach’s experiment, based on perception, fits into the context of early twentieth century European psychiatry, belonging to the psychoanalytic reality, but gradually assuming different declinations (projective technique par excellence, personality test, method of observation of the “person in action “…) with technical and application evolutions still in progress.

The Rorschach test, which can also be administered in childhood, is not a tool for global personality assessment, it does not measure but describes some variables, so it is not really a test but a method. This description takes place through the interdependence between variables, which at times is not so evident, which is why it has aroused since the beginning and still continues to arouse criticisms regarding the validity of its evaluations. Despite this, the Rorschach method is today one of the most used in clinical practice, as well as juridical, and has become the most widespread and studied diagnostic tool for detecting the functioning of the personality.

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The method uses the unconscious mechanism of projection, according to which, faced with an ambiguous and unstructured image, the subject tends to project his own inner world on it, made up of fantasies, memories, and personal meanings rather than dwelling on it. observe it objectively. Rorschach developed his interests in the field of perception around 1911. His approach was based on the relationship between the various aspects of personality and on how these manifested themselves in different ways according to the unconscious mechanism of projection, believing that he could discriminate a perceptual style characteristic in subjects with pathological features.

The ten spots that Rorschach elaborated consist of almost symmetrical standard drawings obtained with ink spots, printed in the center of white 17 x 24 cards. Given the same stimulus, different subjects see different objects, since, according to individual differences, each tends to privilege only certain characteristics of the image (the general, the particular, the symmetry, the colors, the background…).

The Rorschach test does not end with the presentation of the boards. This is followed by the so-called “investigation” with the aim of detecting, according to the initialing (the last phase of the method), how the subject arrived at his answers, re-presenting the tables one by one: “How did he come to see this what did you see? ». Furthermore, it may be useful to ask the subject to distinguish the tables with a positive value from those with a negative value. Or deepen the examination of the tables to which inaccurate descriptions correspond, probably due to the intervention of unconscious defense mechanisms. The last phase of the method is called “tagging” and allows you to assign to the answers, one by one, some symbols that allow you to classify them into categories.

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The celebration of the centenary of the Rorschach method is intended to be an opportunity for reflection on the past, present and future application of the instrument to answer the many questions that are still open: what does Rorschach keep of its historical origin to date? What challenges does it pose to application in developmental age and throughout the life cycle?

Info are: www.centroscp.com

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