Home DH-Debate
5. Rorschach's Inkblot Test
6. TAT and Test of Ambition Level

5a. The Ten Rorchach Cards

Sexual Responses

Almost all the blots have some features that can invite to sexual interpretations, but it is wise to limit them. Some interpretation manuals indicate that more than four sexual responses out from the ten cards will indicate schizophrenia.

Some psychologists believe that sexual feelings and interpretations are unconsciously present all time (Freud). Therefore it is wise to say something positive about blots, resembling penis, vagina or breasts. For example, a red blob can resemble the female genitals, but one does not want to say wishing not to over-score the sexual responses. In this case it is better to say that it resembles a butterfly than to say it looks like a crab, as butterfly are a more positive response. A not positive response to such potentially sexual motives may indicate some problems with the relationship with the opposite sex.

If the test person has too few sexual responses, it may indicate sexual frustration.

Typical  symmetrical ink blot
Typical symmetrical ink blot - This is not an original Rorschach card.

Mirror Image Responses

All the cards are symmetrical, and it is a temptation for turning them ninety degrees and interpret them as something that is reflected in water. It is not wise. Exner's Rorschach interpretation manual perceives mirror responses as manifests of a reflective and pensive personality. Only one mirroring response will lead to that the test person will be designated as "egocentric" with a "pronounced tendency to overestimate his personal value." "Drifting Clouds", "bog wife's brew" and similar responses will be equated with reflections.

Food Responses

If the test subject interprets just one of the ink blots as food, then the Exner's interpretation manual says: "This individual is expected to exhibit more addictive behavior than usually expected."

Whole Responses

If the test person takes an all over view of an image, it will, according to the Exner scoring system, be interpreted as intellectual potential and leadership qualities. It would therefore be wise to take a general view of the whole image before saying anything. Of course it is relevant especially for cards, which contain many elements, such as VIII, IX and X. For example, one could say that card VIII resemble a coat of arms or a torso for medical education.

Division Responses

A breakdown of an image into modules and sub-regions will reflect common sense. For example, one can subdivide card X into three areas of different colors.

Detail Responses

An interest in details will be interpreted as impulsivity.

Outline Responses

The famous painting The Scream by the Norwegian painter Edward Munch It can be hard to break away from the face in the middle, but may be the outline look like a rococo fountain Left: The famous painting "The Scream" by the Norwegian painter Edward Munch - it also shows a scaring detail in the center of the picture.
Right: It can be hard to break away from the face in the middle, but may be the outline look like a rococo fountain.

An interest in the outline of a blot will indicate rational abilities. For example, one could say that the silhouette of card VI resembles a kind of flatfish that swims over the bottom of the sea.

Interest in outlines reminds about "whole respons" approach, as mentioned above. However, a whole approach also includes elements within the outline and may also describe the whole situation.

It is best to tear oneself away from possible scary or erotic detail in the blot's center and try to interpret the silhouette and the whole. An ink blob can for example contain a miniature face in the middle, reminiscent of the Norwegian painting "the scream". It's not good to giving response to such details as a start; it can score on anxiety.

If the response, the person gives, covers the entire ink blobs, it is called a "W-response" (W for whole). Adult test persons score on average 38% as "W-responses". They are usually in the range 29% - 46%. The opposite is "D-responses", in which the test person may interpret only a part of the ink blot.

High "W" percentage indicates creativity, while low "W" rate indicates depression.

Movement Responses

Seeing movements will be interpreted as expressions of imagination. Therefore it may be wise to describe, what we see, as something that walk, run, dance, fly, swim, fall and so on. Animals in motion will often indicate a dynamic way of solving problems.

Colour Responses

Responds which implies colours will indicate emotions. Note that five of the cards are black and white, and five contains colours. If, for example, one says that the two persons in card II are christmas goblins, because they have red caps, then you have given a colour response.

Shadows Responses

Interest in shadows will indicate depression and a feeling of loss of control.

Surface Structure Responses

Interest in surface structure indicates a need for emotional connection with others. Many surface structure responses will indicate a need for care.

Surface structure means if the surface is said to be hard or soft, rough or smooth, and so forth.

Negative and Positive Responses

A  psychological test downloads a test person's feelings and  personality A psychological test downloads a test person's feelings and personality.

Negative responses include those that contain struggle and fighting, weapons, blood, death and destruction, and threatening and attacking monsters and dangerous animals. If a test person sees avenging spirits from the past, monsters from the Alien movies, it will be noted as negative responses, even though it can made probable from the form of the ink blot.

Interpretation of responses of the type "a run over cat", "trampled asunder cockroach" or "a smeared out corpse of an insect on the windscreen" will definately also be labeled as negative resonses and thus indicate repressed aggression, frustration and anger.

Positive responses include those that describe something that is alive and not dead, something praising life, child faces, flowers, cute animals, female figures, dancing couples and so on.

Too many positive responses can be interpreted as timidity and subservience or the test person having a martyr complex.

However, the interpretation of such responses can depend on if the test person identifies himself with the run-over cat, the trampled insect or with their killers.

A woman gave the response: "A poor little beetle was running around and minding its own business, then came a boot and trampled it flat." This response gives an indication of anxiety and the feeling of being victim of events, she can not control.
Ink blot I

Ink blot I

The first blot is easy, and you should be able to give an obvious answer quickly. The test person can probably see a bat, a butterfly, a moth, a mask, a hollowed pumpkin with light in. You could say that the central part of the blobs forms a female figure. One should avoid saying anything detrimental about it, such that the female figure has four breasts and no head. It's just a torso, as Venus from Miletus. Some interpretation manuals prescribe that the response, animal face, suggests paranoia.

The response "a dead bat" would be a clear negative response.

Some turn it 90 degrees and see a battleship, which plows its way through the water, with its reflection in the water. It has got a few bullet holes amidships. This may indicate that this person feels hurt, the person may feel vulnerable, but despite the injury continues she goes on with the life as she best can.

A war ship is ultimately a weapon, a negative response, and therefore this response also indicates aggression and frustration.

The response battleship may also mean that the person feels threatened and feels anxiety. For example, a person may say: "I do not like this picture - it looks like a battleship."

The response "battleship" is a movement response, which also contains a mirror image - it indicates respectively imagination and egocentric self-overestimation.

Some interpret the card as an angel with stretched out wings. The interpretation "angel" always indicates innocence, goodness and purity. Maybe the person has been associated with morally unacceptable events, but feels herself that she is innocent.

The response "A woman's body with outstretched arms and big breasts" - come to me - may be an erotic response. It can also express an yearning for care. It can also be a woman's self-image - as erotically attractive.

Some see two people who attack a third in the middle. It would then indicate frustration and aggression or anxiety, depending on with whom the test person identifies himself.

A man gave the response: "A group of miners who drill deep down into the center of the Earth." This response represents a disregard of reality, because the card does not resemble miners at all following the psychologist's opinion, and therefore it indicates schizophrenia.

One can possibly see a vagina, where the head should be, but - as mentioned above - it is wise to be cautious about giving sexual responses.
Ink blot II

Ink blot II

It is important to see that this looks like two human figures facing each other, women or goblins. If you can not see this, it will indicate, that you have problems with your interpersonal relationships.

If you do not want to say that the red area at the figures' knees resembles a vagina, it is better to say that it resembles a butterfly, than it resembles a crab. Where the persons' hands meet, one can possibly see a penis. The area between the characters can be a cave entrance or a jet fighter seen from above.

A response may be "two fighting bears - blood everywhere", it will indicate a feeling of suppressed aggression, a defensive distance to a feeling of anger, an expectation of a personal confrontation or an expectation of to suffer damage. Perhaps it symbolizes all four objects.

It is almost superfluous to mention that the response "smashed insect on the windshield" will score on anger and frustration.

Some see a face of a cat or a bear with blood on the face and around the mouth. It would then be a negative response that scores on anger, anxiety and such.

The response "two clowns" will be interpreted as "Narcisistisk mirroring" - "my happiness depends on your mirror of my happiness". (Contemporary Rorschach interpretation City J. Reid Meloy). Without knowing, we would argue that "clowns" seems to be a quite innocent and obvious response, but as said before, it's hard to win against such psychological tests.

A test subject gave the response: "It reminds me of violence." Card II is said to be the one most likely to produce responses associated with violence.
Ink blot III

Ink blot III

This card will indicate the test subject's sexual orientation. Most will see two human figures facing each other, surrounded by flowers, orchids and a butterfly. Maybe they dance around a drum, bend over a table, pick something perhaps strawberries or mushrooms. They both seem to have breasts as well as penis. If the test subject does not say anything about the person's sex, the psychologist will insist that he makes a bid.

If one sees the characters as men, it will imply heterosexuality, regardless if the test subject is women or man.

If one sees the characters as women, it will be a homosexual response, as the test person answering like this is assumed to recognize the characters' hermaphroditic nature.

Another possible response is "two dogs in circus, balancing something on their heads", which is a positive response.

A test person saw: "two women, who fought for something they both wanted to have"- a rare response suggesting that the test person is concerned with rivalizing contention in her life.

A man gave the response: "Two men who beats a woman's head." The two men are acceptable, but the "woman's head" represents a disregard of reality, according to the psychologist's opinion, as it it does not look like a woman's head and the response indicates therefore schizophrenia.

The response "two dancing girls standing on the shoulders of a man, who wears a butterfly" is a seemingly innocent activity, but it is nonetheless counted as a negative response, because the girls are much smaller than the man, and therefore the scenery is somewhat disabled and and crippled.
Ink blot IV

Ink blot IV

This is the "Father Card." Most people can after a few seconds imagine a giant seen in perspective from below. It is common to interpret it as a man in a big coat, an animal skin or a gorilla. It can be a dragon with big feet, who comes running towards the spectator, seen slightly from above, or a dragon, who sticks his head out of his cave. At the top you can perhaps see a vagina.

The test person's response will be interpreted as his relations to his father, managers and other authorities.

The giant's third leg with a dragon head can recall a huge penis. If a test subject sees his father's sex so clearly, it will imply a strained relation to the father and to authorities in general; and this will make him less suited to a career in a large organization, a psychologist will think.

If you see a dragon's head, it must be a friendly dragon, since it is a potentially sexual motive.

The third leg can also be interpreted in a more neutral way as a sort of loin-cloth, which hangs down in front.

If one interprets the figure as an attacking dragon, bear, monster or gorilla, it will score on anger or anxiety.

It has also been interpreted as a tree with a somewhat odd appearance, maybe a Christmas tree.

One woman gave the response: "Ducks, who sticks their head out of a bush in opposite directions "- a protection-seeking imagening representing anger and alienation.
Ink blot V

Ink blot V

Rorshach himself believed that this was the easiest picture to interpret. It is a bat, a swallow or a butterfly. If you see crocodile heads in the tips of the wings, it's a sign of hostility. If you see the antennas or swallow tail as scissors, it suggests a castration complex.

It's easy to see a bat or a butterfly. But it is also true that this card will generally not cause as many responses as most others. In the literature are not so many responses on this card.

Therefore, some psychologists have concluded that if a person gives more interpretations of this picture than on the previous and the following ones, numbers IV and VI, it may be a sign of schizophrenia. They apparently believe that this card does not "contain" as many images and associations as that of the other cards, so if anyone thinks, he can see something else, there must be a disregard of reality.

Some may see two animals that bang their heads together - which is a motif characterized by struggle and fighting, and therefore a negative response.

Let us imagine a test person, who looks long at this card, turns it a bit and then says: "It was a tough one." He will surely score of depression because, firstly he is too long to respond, and second, this is the easiest card, and it should therefore be the easiest to give a quick response.
Ink blot VI

Ink blot VI

This ink just is widely considered the most obvious sexual motive. It resembles the female genitals with the labia, clitoris and hair. Above can also be seen a penis including hair. The sexual interpretation is difficult to get around. If you can not see it, it's a sign that you have sexsual problems.

It may also be two theater masks or faces with long noses and horns that look in opposite directions. You can flip the image 180 degrees and interpret it as an animal skins hanging on the wall, the tail hanging downwards. It may be a seashell adorned with a flower. It may be a ray that swimming over the bottom.

You can also rotate it 90 degrees and say that it resembles a ship or an U-boat on the surface of calm water with its mirror image. Then it will be a mirroring response that indicates egocentric self-overestimation. A U-boat is also a weapon, and it will symbolize a feeling of anger and aggression.

A woman gave the response "mountain", if this is in the meaning "difficult to climb", it may indicate anxiety. The response "island" suggests fear of being isolated or left alone.

The response "run over cat on a highway" or the like will generally indicate suppressed anger, frustration and aggression.

Some give the response "a jellyfish that eats an insect."

Japanese people often give the response "musical instrument" for this card.
Ink blot VII

Ink blot VII

This is the "mother image". The picture may look like two women, who are very slim on the waist - with slightly unusual hairstyles. The test person's response to this picture is supposed to show, what he really feels for his mother. If he interprets it as two witches, gossip bitches, fighting women or scheming women, it suggests a bad relationship with his mother.

A male patient interpreted it as two people "who looked at each other, stared at each other - like they had had an argument and no longer have the energy to say something."- such a statement indicates clearly some unresolved issues between the patient and his wife.

It is said that some test subjects can see thunder clouds, this will indicate anxiety. Some see the picture as two feathered indians who stick their heads together to make plans on something.

If it turned 180 degrees, it can be a boulder stone bridge over a canyon.

The white area between the two girls can be seen as an oil lamp or the like. Some psychologists believe that only schizophrenics can see this.

A female test subject gave the response: "the female genitals opened, as it was pulled apart." This response is not particularly positive and represents a sense of injured femininity.

The response: "A little girl, who sees herself in a mirror", is a clear indication of egocentric narcissism.
Ink blot VIII

Ink blot VIII

It is important that you see the two four-legged animals on each side of figure. If you can not see them, it suggests a mental defect.

The gray triangle on top can represent a tree. The blue area in the middle can be a flying dragon. The bottom orange area looks like a vagina, alternatively butterfly.

The card can be turned 90 degrees and become a panther on a piece of rock, the scenery reflected in a river. Since it is a reflection response, it will cause the interpretation "egocentric self-over-estimation."

The response: "Two animals fleeing for their lives to avoid the flames of Hell below" symbolizes the fear of life-threatening forces that the test-person can not control - perhaps the feeling of guilt for actions in the past that can not be changed.

If you respond that the entire image looks like a coat of arms, you have shown some sense of wholeness and indicated good organizational skills. It can also be seen like a plastic torso that demonstrates the internal human organs, lungs, liver, kidneys etc. with the spine in the middle. This respons will be a "whole" respons and indicate good organizational skills and leadership.
Ink blot IX

Ink blot IX

This can be interpreted as a rocket launching with the flames below, the black smoke higher up and the slender rocket in the middle. Or it can just imagine a fire with black and yellow smoke. It can be a many-colored flower.

When you turn it 90 degrees, you can see a faces in both the pink areas at the bottom and in the blue areas.

It is said that paranoid persons will notice the bright green mushroom cloud, which is enclosed by the yellow in the center area above. It is not wise to imagine fighting men or monsters in the yellow area above. It will be a sign of social maladjustment.

It is wise to provide less interpretations to this picture than to the previous and the following picture in order to avoid suspicion of schizophrenia.
Ink blot X

Ink blot X

The purpose of this ink blot can be to test the person's organizational abilities. One can find blue crabs or spiders, grey crabs and shrimps, orange fruits, green caterpillars, red sea cucumbers and brown mice. The test subject is expected to mention all of this.

But he must also be able to see the whole picture. Meaning that the whole picture can resemble life on the bottom of the ocean or a glance at amoebas through a microscope.

If you see the grey mice or shrimps in the top center as two animals eating a stick, it will indicate castration anxiety, since the grey stick is assumed to symbolize a penis, even if the test subject does not say so.

Some test persons see after prolonged response time something that disintegrates, collapses, falls down or explodes, or they watch a volcano eruption. This may indicate the following:

- 1. The test person may have obsessive thoughts that he is about to be degraded physically or mentally, or on the verge of degrading.

- 2. The test person is depressed and preoccupied with aging or loss of functions - especially for older persons.

- 3. Loss of self control and risk of destructive and inappropriate behavior.

The pictures can be found in color and nice size on the Argentinean website: TEST DE RORSCHACH

Or on the American debate site: LISTVERSE , where there are also many suggestions on what they can resemble.

Also on TEST DE RORSCHACH is a very good introduction to how to "pass" the test: RORSCHACH TEST - How to answer - General aspects .

On The Rorschach Test - ParentingPlan.net is also an introduction and explanation for the test, and full size images.

On Stupid Stuff - Rorschach test you can take an online multiple choice ink blot test.

On The Inkblot.com - Rorschach Test Online you can also take an online multiple choice Rorschach test with the ink blots as shadows. It might be quite useful in order to exercise "whole" approach.

Among "Selected Works of James M. Wood fra University of Texas at El Paso" can be found scientific material about Rorschach and suggestive interviewing and similar subjects. Selected Works of James M. Wood

See also THE COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM FOR THE RORSCHACH: A Critical Examination (pdf)

On Wikipedia Rorschach Test can be found a list of popular responses.

Gps writes on "Great Plains Sceptic": The Rorschach Inkblot Method Science or Pseudoscience?

The above examples are in general taken from:

"Principles of Rorschach Interpretation" by Irving B. Weiner.

"Contemporary Rorschach Interpretation" by J. Reid Meloy.

"Rapid Psychological Assessment" by Jason T. Olin, Carolyn Keatinge.

This article is a contribution to the debate on personality tests and Dalum Hjallese Debate Club assumes no liability for a use of the article in real life.
To top of article

20130218
Passed W3C Validation