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Rorschach Test: What Do You See?

Ink Blots
A series of ink blots similar to those used in Rorschach test./Credit: Phil Manker Flickr

A series of ink blots sit in front of you, resembling butterflies…or wait—is that a rug?  A psychiatrist looks at you and asks: what do you see? Your answer could say a lot about your personality. Kent Franks is a clinical psychologistat the Forest Institute in Springfield.

“Often times you can actually see their disorder as they’re taking the test because they’ll visualize things that corresponded with images that go through their mind—things that they’re thinking about at that point in time. And often times that’s accompanied by a very strong emotional reaction. It has a way of bypassing certain resistances that a person might have,” Franks said.

The Rorschach Test is made up of 10 ink blot images, images that were very well calculated and designed by Rorschach. Patients taking the test will explain what they see in all of them before going back and explaining how they came to those conclusions.

So, here’s an example:  someone with a disorder might see a diseased lung instead of a bat.

There’s a complex scoring system that has standards for the images and data to help professionals interpret the answers. The Rorschach Performance Assessment system, or RPAS, was updated in 2011.

Angela King is a clinical psychologist who specializes in psychological assessment.  She practices at Midwest Assessment Psychotherapy.

“A lot of personality assessment tools that we have are self-report measures, so a person answering questions about themselves. And the Rorschach is, like I said, it gives us a good picture of how the person sees the world,” King said.

Kent Frank said the test is a look into someone’s personality without their guard up.

“The images, feelings, and memories it evokes are unique to those people, and it says something about them, it says something about their lives and the way that they function, and how they get along on a day to day basis,” Franks said.

Hermann Rorschach died a year after he invented the test, but his test lives on daily in the field of psychology.

For KSMU News, I’m Anna Thomas.