Inkblots Spot Mental Illness?

In Mental Health through Will-Training Dr. Abraham Low has several very critical things to say about classical psychoanalysis, specifically that it is a very long and expensive process. Psychiatry, insanity, mental institutions, and treatments for the depressed or suicidal are a common trope of films and literature, and there was a time when this was all I knew about the treatment of mental health. These projective tests are one of the major interviewing and researching technique and that is why it costs a bit more than any other tests and researches. Freud found that many patients could not be hypnotized, and so he developed free association as a more general technique to explore the psyche of his patients. He was interested in the sensory processing of abstract images by his patients, and used the images as stimulus for a test similar to the free association method used by Freud. In free association an individual lies on a couch, sometimes with the therapist seated behind them out of view, and says whatever comes to mind.

The 10 blots are probably the “most analyzed paintings of the 20th century,” says Searls. Young children are very much interested in listening to stories about animals and in playing with animals. However, the article also points out that even if the information gathered from these assessment tools is accurate, it rarely adds much to the information collected from generally more reliable diagnostic tools – for example, one-on-one interviews with a patient. Normally, tat and rorschach, the number of the literature extrapolating topics of response styles, test biases and malingering in any measures are apparently larger than the literature on any other focused issue with regards to the levels of validity or even application. A third projective test is the Rotter Incomplete Sentence Blank (RISB) developed by Julian Rotter in 1950 (recall his theory of locus of control, covered earlier in this chapter). These methods are grouped under the title of projective techniques, and many people are familiar with them in at least a theatrical presentation of psychiatry. While people are of course afraid of being hurt in a car accident for example, the shame associated with mental illness has no analogue in physical injuries. For example, a person who’d recently witnessed a murder might see pools of blood in the image, or a little girl might find a butterfly.

The practice of letting a patient explain their worries and concerns, and talk about their past with little guidance from the therapist originates with Freud. The Rorschach test is a series of 10 inkblots which are then shown to a patient and they are asked to interpret a picture from these random spots. In the chapter “Simplicity Versus Complexity In Combating Fears”, Low, as the examiner (E) recommends that the patient (P) command their muscles to do what they fear to do. My confusion and fear about what was happening to me left me unable to ask direct and clear questions. These good stories create real stigma for people seeking mental health treatment, and they also create confusion about what one might reasonably expect as treatment. Mental illness is frightening for some people in a way that physical ailments are not. Proponents of the projective test believe that the way you interpret the image is a reflection of who you are. The Thematic Apperception Test was created in the 1930s by Henry A. Murray and Christiana D. Morgan while they were working with the Harvard University Psychological Clinic.

If you are a university student you should be aware that many campuses offer mental health counselling services to students free of charge. When I first struggled with depression I went to see several different university counsellors. While I think these counsellors tried to help and were reasonable and decent people, given that my initial symptoms were rather vague, their advice wasn’t very specific. It is very common to think that these projective tests can be more on the sides of personality. Some tests include other areas such as science and social studies. I was able to see social workers at various times during my studies who were happy to meet with me on a semi-regular basis. Theoretically, this allows the examiner to see things about you that you may be unaware of, or may be reluctant to talk about. When you look at this colorful image, it is possible to see any number of things. All of these tests look at how people interact with the world around them and aim to advance personality psychology.

The tests are usually administered in booklet form where respondents complete the stems by writing words on paper. Projective tests are most often used in conjunction with other assessments to help provide an in-depth picture of an individual’s personality. Today, the use of projective tests is controversial due to interpretative challenges that make it difficult to compare one person’s score to that of another. In addition, projective tests make it especially difficult for subjects to skew their answers in a particular direction as they sometimes attempt to do with other types of assessment. The TAT lacks scientific evidence that might make it useful as part of developing a diagnosis. The disadvantage is that what the subjects out of his life is that part of his experience which he is willing to reveal. Instead, the subject is requested to behave in an imaginative way i.e., by making up a story, interpreting ink-blots or constructing some objects out of plastic material and drawing what he wants.