Medicine: Reaching Beyond Rorschach

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In this blot, Dr. Holtzman sees a horned bat's face; "Baboons at play" is equally acceptable as a normal response. But such answers as "Reminds me of the Black Plague" are rated neurotic. Explains Holtzman: "This is an abstract association . . . an anxiety response." At the schizophrenic end of the scale the psychologist puts: "A woman's behind—pregnant, flying, you know." Most subjects agree with Holtzman: this blot reminds them of an enraged executive listening to two telephones. The response "Mud smeared on a church window" is moderately but definitely neurotic, says Holtzman, because it "shows strong hostility toward conventional authority." More nearly psychotic, because it suggests primitive appetites, is: "A throat with many throats inside it."

In the middle of this blot, Holtzman and colleagues see a sumo wrestler. A subject who sees a fat devil flanked by two thin ones would have little to worry about. But the interpretation, "A fat cannibal king with two pregnant women," says Holtzman, "is rich with hostility toward women." A schizophrenic response: "Those things on the side look like charred tree trunks—only they're pregnant." A single offbeat response to a single inkblot, says Dr. Holtzman. "leaves the psychologist up in the air. You may have a guy who suppresses Charles Addams tendencies under a peaceful exterior, or he may really be a peaceful little guy who has a Charles Addams imagination. And that isn't bad. Because our technique relies on many cards, we can judge whether an odd response is isolated and relatively insignificant, or whether it forms part of a pattern of responses of a similar type." Bats Abroad. The H.I.T. tester deals a card at a time, notes how many seconds it takes the subject to answer, then scores the response. Regardless of training, testers are almost certain to agree on classifying the content of the response as human, animal, anatomic, sexual or abstract.

Equally predictable are scorings for location, form, color and movement. Even in such sensitive emotional areas as anxiety and hostility, H.I.T. testers report a high degree of consistency.

Thanks to its predictability, the H.I.T.

has already been adopted in many Veterans Administration hospitals. And because its inkblots cut across cultural and language barriers, the H.I.T. manual is already being translated into Polish and Spanish. A bat's head is always a bat's head—at least wherever there are bats.

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