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Book Forum: Psychometric Testing   |    
What’s Wrong With the Rorschach? Science Confronts the Controversial Inkblot Test
Am J Psychiatry 2004;161:586-a-586. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.3.586-a
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New York, N.Y.

By James M. Wood, M. Teresa Nezworski, Scott O. Lilienfeld, and Howard N. Garb. New York, Jossey-Bass (John Wiley & Sons), 2002, 446 pp., $24.95.

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For many years, the Rorschach test was viewed as the psychometric equivalent of psychoanalysis. It pierced through psychic defenses, gaining a clear picture of affects and conflicts, conscious and unconscious, as well as the intactness of thought processes. Many thought that the Rorschach could make the diagnostic decision as to whether a patient might possibly be psychotic. The blot’s ambiguity was a great benefit because patients would not realize what they were revealing and, therefore, could not defend against revealing it. The revered experts were Klopfer and Beck. More recently, John Exner and Irving Weiner provided detailed rules for interpretation of Rorschach scores.

This book starts with an engaging clinical anecdote in which one author presents an analysis of his own Rorschach and then details how it is a very poor fit to his life experiences and personality. The book provides details of systematic research indicating that such interpretations were not factually based but, rather, based on presumptions. Of particular concern is the frequent, unjustified use of the Rorschach as definitive in forensic matters and critical clinical evaluations. There is an engaging, lucid review of relevant research and controversies. In particular, the authors’ critique of the Exner comprehensive system is trenchant.

The authors believe that the Holtzman Inkblot Test has been better validated and is more reliable but requires updated norms. These authors cannot be considered as simply ideologically biased against projective testing. Rather, they call for projective testing that meets standard rational, psychometric norms.




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