Trying to uncover secrets that lie within an individual’s mind is the job of psychoanalysts, with their ultimate assessment based on the comments and attitudes expressed by the person under the psychological microscope. According to Patrick Mahony, different methods have been used over the years; with the Rorschach test one of the more famous and controversial methods.
Created in 1921 by Swiss psychologist Herman Rorschach, the test essentially boils down to showing a series of 10 inkblots to a patient and allowing them to freely describe what they feel the picture indicates. The basis for this test is to try and tap into memories that may be repressed for any number of reasons.
Rorschach’s original intent was to explore the issue of schizophrenia more deeply, but this test has become one that seeks to uncover any number of potential abnormalities or actions. It’s become iconic enough to be parodied by humourists or others leery of taking results from its use seriously.
Patrick Mahony has found that those parodies attempt to over-emphasize the responses given. One of the most consistent form focuses on individuals who hyper-sexualize their answers. By using terms of that nature with each inkblot they see, the usual determination by the would-be doctor is that the patient simply has a dirty mind.
Though detractors have always surrounded the test, the fact that five different offshoots of it came in response to the original shows that attempting to discern its inner workings retains a certain fascination. These changes came decades after Rorschach’s death, with the scoring method changed.
Therefore, the original test could almost be excluded from criticism, especially since Rorschach himself crafted the test with perception of the inkblot ranking higher than the interpretation of it.
Given the fact that the father of psychoanalysis influenced Rorschach, Sigmund Freud, as well as other influential individuals like Carl Jung, there remains a certain amount of validity to the test.
Despite that validity, Patrick Mahony notes that a certain “what if” quality hovers over this test since Rorschach died at the age of 37, just one year after introducing the test. At the time of his death, he had put in just four years of study on it. Therefore, the mind that he sought to study is left to wonder how far he may have been able to take this had he lived longer.