On November 8, 1884, Swiss Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach was born. 40 years later, he turned his passion for klecksography — the art of inkblotting — into a revolutionary psychological analysis tool dubbed the “Rorschach test.”
Today, Rorschach’s interpretative diagnosis method is still commonly used while being highly controversial as a type of pseudoscience. In the test, a patient glances over one of ten inkblot cards and tells the psychologist what they believe is going on in the picture. The psychologist then interprets the response in the contexts of emotions and personality.
For people who won’t easily share their inner thoughts, it’s been a productive way of drawing out the subconscious. Though complaints against the Rorschach test are aplenty — in one example, a patient describes an inkblot as looking like a “bra.” When the answer is given to two different psychologist, one deems it a sexual response while another perceives it as an inclination towards material items. An imperfect test.
Below are the 10 official Rorschach inkblots. Throughout the years, common analysis has shown that the cards vary in their frequency to provoke sexual imagery. Meaning, you shouldn’t be afraid if a penis or vagina where your friend sees two old women cooking pasta. You’re not crazy. To celebrate Rorschach birthday, scan the pictures below. What’s your self-diagnosis?
Based on a scoring system developed by Samuel J Beck in the first half of the 20th century, natural responses to Card 1 include “bat, butterfly, moth.”
Beck says “two humans,” but what’s going down in the nether regions is open for debate. Card II
“Two humans” is, again, the common answer for Card III, but what’s going on with those giant sacks?
Beck describes Card IV as “animal hide, skin, rug” associating it with male dominance. If only it were sexier.
Another “easy” blot that elicits responses similar to Card I. People born in the ’80s might say Silence of the Lambs.
Either Beck or his patients weren’t very original, again leaning towards “animal hide, skin, rug” as a description for Card VI. This is also dubbed the “sex card.”
Beck thinks you’ll see human heads or faces in Card VII, but other studies dub it the “feminine card” thanks to the common perception of a vagina.
Card VIII, the first color card, often throws people off. Or does it allow you to relax? Or does freak you out because it looks like two lizards climbing up a masked man?
Most Rorschach-ers do not report a common response to Card IX. Whereas Georgia O’Keeffe is suing for copyright infringement.
According to Beck, Card X is described as a “crab, lobster, spider” by many test takers. But how do you really feel?
Matt Patches is a writer and reporter living in New York City. His work has been featured on Vulture, Time Out New York, and The Hollywood Reporter. He is the host of the pop culture podcast Operation Kino.
Images via Google, Wikipedia