Why is the Rorschach test still widely used?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The Rorschach Inkblot Test was created in 1921 by Herman Rorschach in his Psychodiagnostik.  The test consists on asking the patient to respond to a stimulus, of an ambiguous nature, in this case, to a set of 10 inkblots which are divided into 5 black and white inkblots and 5 colored inkblots. The original test consisted on 15 original inkblots that were cut from the test for purposes of easing publication costs.

The presentation of the inkblot aims for the patient to express what the shape on the inkblot may be, in their opinion. The aim is to obtain information on whether the patient is making rational or irrational connections, particularly, in patients who deny having psychotic episodes or behaviors. The original purpose of the test was mainly geared toward the study of the thought processes of schizophrenic patients, since schizophrenia, as a condition, had just been coined in 1911 by Eugen Bleuler. After the concepts of "hallucination" and "pervasive fantasy" became accepted notions in the behaviors of these patients, Rorschach decided to write a dissertation using the inkblot method to draw out the thoughts of the patients.

The main criticism about the test is its scoring system, which has undergone a number of changes through time, putting in question the validity and accuracy of the results that have been collected throughout time. Moreover, there is no systematic way to collect the data obtained from this methodology.

However, the test is still used today because its technique actually has the tremendous benefit of drawing out the personality traits and inner thoughts of the test takers. As a basic fact of psychology, the "projective" task is effective because it presents the client with an inkblot which is actually ambiguous, unrelated, and could mean anything. The information that is gathered from what the client comes up with may determine whether there are cognitive conflicts, psychotic thoughts, and any other information that comes directly out of the patient's "mental discourse". It is especially a very effective technique to use with patients who are shy, with behaviorally-challenging adolescents or with patients with the said condition of schizophrenia.

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