Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Inkblots by Damion Searls

  • THE BOOK
    • The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls
    • Published February 21, 2017
    • Other works by author include: What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going, Everything You Say is True, and several books as translator.
    • My copy is an uncorrected proof furnished by the publisher through Library Thing for an honest review.

  • THE PREMISE
    • A biography of Hermann Rorschach and of his famous inkblot test.
    • The first half of the book covers the life of Rorschach and his place in the founding of modern psychology.
    • Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 and Eugen Bleuler was born in 1857. Bleuler, who coined the terms schizophrenia (it used to be called dementia praecox) and autism, was instrumental figure in psychology but was overshadowed by his student Carl Jung, born in 1875.
      • Rorschach was born in 1884 and was also a student under Bleuler.
    • Rorschach developed his inkblot test in the late 1910s and published the book Psychodiagnostics in 1921.
      • He died in 1922, only 37 years old, of peritonitis due to a burst appendix.
    • Because Rorschach died so young he never got the chance to continue refining his test.
    • The second half of the book covers the rest of the history of the inkblots.
      • Various people came along later and added to the test protocols though the inkblots themselves have never really changed.
      • The test has come in and out of popularity as other tests came to the forefront.
        • It is either an amazing diagnostic tool for mental health issues or a complete pseudoscience depending on what's going on in the world of psychology at any given time.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • This was quite an interesting book but some parts are difficult to understand for the layman who has no background in psychology, mainly in regard to the test protocols themselves.
    • The author is very thorough in the topic and had a trove of research to use. Especially interesting is the acknowledgements section, a few pages in the back, detailing how he came to possess this trove, full of primary sources relating to the life of Rorschach and his inkblot test.
    • I found the life of Rorschach to be quite interesting, especially in the early years. He had a fascination with Russia and spent time there, for example.
      • The detail is immense, however, so some sections could be a bit of a slog.
    • It was stunning to find he died so young. One must wonder if he would be as well known as Freud and Jung are today if he had lived a full lifespan.
    • I floundered a bit when the author was describing the way inkblot test results were scored. I wished for more concrete examples to understand how it really worked but I think this would be a great book for students in psychology to read because they will understand much more than me.
    • Because my copy was an uncorrected paperback proof the text referred to color photographs that weren't included. The text pages have several illustrations and photographs though.
    • I totally want to take this test to see what it reveals about me! Unfortunately it would cost too much to find a practitioner to administer the test, especially when I have no need of it.
    • Recommended to those who are interested in psychology.
    • ★ ★ ★ ★

1 comment:

  1. Are you sure that you have no need for the test?

    ReplyDelete