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Hermann Rorschach [IPA: heɐman ʁoɐʃax] (November 8, 1884, Zurich – April 2, 1922, Herisau) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, known above all for the development of the test that bears his name, the Rorschach Test.
Family origin and early studies
Rorschach was born in Switzerland, in a family with few economic resources. His father was a painter without great success in his profession and who taught painting at a male high school.
During his studies in the secondary stage, Rorschach showed special enthusiasm for inking on paper and gluing it, in such a way that he obtained forms of birds or butterflies, which earned him the nickname “kleck” which means « stain ».
At the end of school, he became interested in painting and began studies in natural sciences, entering the medical school in 1904. After graduating in 1909 he became interested in psychiatry.
Start in psychoanalysis
In 1911, Rorschach came into contact with psychoanalysis, a current psychological and psychiatric trend in the early twentieth century. He entered the university clinic in Zurich, “La Burghölzli”, directed by Eugen Bleuler, where he became enthusiastic about Freudian ideas, while he began the technique of verbal association. This is how he began to give greater importance to the aspect of interpretation and psychodiagnosis, a term that was the first to coin, based on artistic works by neurotics and psychotics about their own ability to paint.
Development as a psychiatrist
While he was working in a hospital in Switzerland, he had time to become interested in religious sects. His research allowed him to draw a general picture of the Swiss religious sects, a synthesis of religious psychology, sociology, psychopathology and psychoanalysis During that interval, when a colleague published in 1917 his doctoral thesis on a stain test he had invented, Hermann Rorschach renewed his interest in his technique already used. In this way Hermann came to use 40 cards, although there were actually 15 used with a greater frequency. He then collected the responses of 305 people to whom he showed the cards and asked them what could this be? The test was applied to 117 neurotics and 118 psychotics.
Subjective responses made it easier to distinguish between each other based on perceptual abilities, intelligence and emotional characteristics. Rorschach considered this test as a mirror where the spot constitutes an optical stimulus, which activates images that are projected back to the spots. This is based on the tendency to project interpretations and emotions before ambiguous stimuli; in this case the spots.
Thus, observers are able to glimpse deeper personality traits and impulses in the person performing the test. Several colleagues of Hermann encouraged him to publish these results. The manuscript that contains the original version of the tests consists of 15 cards, but six editors rejected them, in such a way that they had to reduce the number of cards to ten.
In June 1921 his book was finally printed, but the edition of the cards was unsatisfactory since they reduced the size and the colors were altered. This is how the model of the ten cards that is known today as the Rorschach psychodiagnostic test became.
In 1922 Hermann Rorschach died of peritonitis as a result of a poorly attended appendicitis.
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