|The Death of Winter, 2013, watercolor on paper|
For the rest of you, I have two words of sympathy: Polar Vortex.
What it is: This is one of my son's paintings. Obviously, it is a snowman. But, it is a fairly disturbing one, don't you think? What you can't tell from the photograph is that it is huge. He found the world's largest piece of paper and created this snowman. He painted it around Christmas, and he insisted that we hang it up. I still have nightmares sometimes.
My son was very clear that this snowman was not sinister and was not harmed in any way. All of the red splotches are supposed to be decorations, despite the fact that it looks like he was hit with a machine gun. He considered it to be a sweet, innocent picture of a happy snowman.
This painting has a strong form demand, and most of you saw it as a snowman of one sort or another. What interested me most about the painting was the obvious (and unconscious) violence and aggression.
In Rorschach terms, this would be described as a "morbid" painting--one that depicts a form that has been ruined or mutilated in some manner. When people see morbid images on the Rorschach, it can be indicative of depression or feelings of failure and low self-worth. Interestingly, kids see more morbid content in the Rorschach than adults do.
In the case of The Death Of Winter, I fully expected morbid responses from everyone, regardless of a person's level of depression or self-worth.
What you thought it was: You did not disappoint this week. Most of your responses fell into one of two morbid categories.
The first common category was snowman who has been harmed in some way:
@mwachtel Embarrassed at how common this response will be, but a snowman riddled with bullets.
— MissBumptious (@missbumptious) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel battered snowman
— lisnaree (@lisnaree) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel Looks like someone may be tired of the movie Frozen and has decided to rough up the snowman character to stop the Frozen craze
— Lex G (@WillGrahmMydsgn) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel One of the victims from the St. Valentines day massacre
— Big Swede (@litebeernut) March 21, 2014
Christmas target practice. @mwachtel
— Willow (@wshemp) March 21, 2014
The second common category was snowman who harms in some way:
@mwachtel Jedi snowman with a warning.
— Michael Medalla (@mikemedalla) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel A nightmare snowman of death.
— Jay Vogel (@JayLewisVogel) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel zombie snowman?
— BeechAcres Parenting (@BeechAcres) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel Frosty Schizoman #FridayRorschach
— Daniel K. Moody (@DKM33) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel The snowman that was in the car with Bonnie and Clyde.
— Michael Cumpton (@mccumpton) March 21, 2014
It's a Sicilian message: Sonny Corleone sleeps with the snowmen. RT @mwachtel: #FridayRorschach: What might this be? pic.twitter.com/rHvP6B3Ce1
— Dustin P. (@DPumpWORD) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel Stephen King snowman #FridayRorschach
— Jalrattan (@jkam12) March 21, 2014
Regardless, several of you were immediately and viscerally disturbed by the image:
@mwachtel disturbing. :/
— Craig ess 1 eee (@avl31479) March 21, 2014
— sas (@saserief) March 21, 2014
At least one of you expressed concern for the wellbeing of my family (which I appreciate...we keep knives away from our son):
@mwachtel Doc, are your kids drawing these? Maybe it's time we had a little talk.
— Vicky M (@PhxVic) March 21, 2014
What I found interesting is that several of you decided to overlook the overtly morbid content (on the Rorschach, this might be interpreted as problematic, as though you avoid the obvious negative aspects of life. In my mind, though, I think you were trying to see the good in the world, which I think is good):
@mwachtel snowman, highly decorated but a snowman.
— Gareth Seddon (@sedz9) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel snowman with Christmas decorations
— katrina grayson (@trinabobbles) March 21, 2014
A few of you had hybrid responses, depicting a happy snowman where something only mildly bad has happened:
@mwachtel snowman bombarded by Christmas cookies #fridayrorschach
— Troy Dildine (@troychris123) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel A decorated snowman is melting
— Fehmina Mughal (@FehminaMughal) March 21, 2014
Many of you saw this as a paintball incident (is this because of the splatter of the paint, or is it because you can't take the idea of Frosty being mortally wounded?):
@mwachtel Snowman drive by paintball incident?
— Sally Price (@saspist) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel snowman playing paintball poorly
— NoJudge (@amafera) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel a snowman playing paintball
— Nick Frye (@nick_frye) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel @Binksterb mmmmm...snowman at a paintball competition?
— Penguinus Tropicalis (@wwJamesBonddo) March 21, 2014
A few of you saw snow-women, not snowmen:
@mwachtel Snow-woman with paint-balls thrown over her? #FridayRorschach
— Mohammad Hasan (@mohd_hasan95) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel It's obviously a Snow-WOMAN walking the runway modeling the latest in haute couture by Vera Wang! Silly man....lol.
— Cheri King-Guler (@kg_cheri) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel a snow-woman with crushed tomatoes (which were thrown at her) #FridayRorschach
— Jesús M Hernández (@jesusmhdz) March 21, 2014
As always, there were the awesomely nerdy responses:
@mwachtel Christmas Dalek.
— YC Psychology (@ycpsych) March 21, 2014
@mwachtel 13th Century interpretation of the universe based on two Yggdrasil skaenes colliding #FridayRorschach
— Bret Higgins (@DeadBeatBert) March 21, 2014
There were those of you who are totally sick of winter:
@mwachtel Someone who is really, REALLY sick of winter?
— Cat (@rencatus) March 21, 2014
If we get another storm in DC next week, what I might do to an innocent snowman. @mwachtel: #FridayRorschach: What might this be?
— nancy l. wolf (@_nwolf) March 21, 2014
And my personal favorite (because I imagine this was probably the worst prom since Carrie):
@mwachtel Snowman goes to the prom:) #FridayRorschach
— Fiona (@Mistress_Fiona) March 21, 2014
What you might have missed: Only one person incorporated the red line in the top left portion of the painting. To me, it looks like a paintbrush. But, what could the paintbrush possibly mean?
|Enlarged version of the|
paintbrush in the top left
One last thought: One Friday Rorschacher came up with an interesting theory about the paintbrush. She thought it represented the idea that this was not really a snowman. Instead, it is an abstraction of a bloody snowman. Maybe a nightmare? Maybe a child's fear that paradise many someday be lost? Or the premonition of the loss of innocence--an unconscious knowledge of the harshness of the world that is to come?
@mwachtel The top left figure resembles a paintbrush, leading to the (meta) awareness that it's only an abstraction of a snowman.
— Danielle Vaughn (@dvaughn7) March 21, 2014
Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.
Friday Rorschach is a fun project designed to engage readers' creativity. To participate, follow Max on twitter. He posts the drawing every Friday morning around 10am ET/8am MT. There are no wrong answers to the Friday Rorschach.