November 8 – Happy Birthday, Hermann Rorschach

Posted on November 8, 2015

Have you ever been shown some ink blots and asked, “What do you see?”

Sometimes you might be warned, “What you see in this picture says a lot about you...”

These pictures are a part of a “projective test,” a personality test that allows people to talk about the deep thoughts and subconscious worries – because they “project” those thoughts onto a vague picture or other stimulation.

We can thank Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach for the inkblot test (usually called the Rorschach test). When Rorschach was growing up in northern Switzerland, his friends called him Klecks. That means “inkblot.” You see, even back then he was into making inkblot “pictures.” There was an entire art form, pioneered by a fellow named Justinus Kerner, of making pictures out of inkblots, and it was called Klecksography.

I'm imagining Rorschach as a child, with fingers all smudgy with ink, and even a bit on his clothes or face once in a while. I mean, if your nickname is inkblot, it is only fitting!

At any rate, Rorschach wasn't sure whether to go into art or science for his university studies and career. He ended up choosing science, of course, but he brought his art into his scientific career.

Rorschach was interested in the fact that everyone sees different figures and objects in inkblots. While he was a medical student, he began to show inkblots to school children and then analyze their responses to the blots.

He wrote a book based on his findings, but many consider his assumptions about and explanations for people's responses to inkblots are faulty. Some consider the inkblot test to be pseudoscience – something that LOOKS scientific but actually doesn't follow the scientific method.

Have fun with inkblot art, in honor of Hermann Rorschach's birthday!

Here and here are some ideas. 

Here are the original inkblots Rorschach used in his test. BUT the “results” given by this so-called inkblot “test” are not original - they are not anything to do with Rorschach's analyses - they are not in the least real - they are just for fun!

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