Monday, April 14, 2014

The Friday Rorschach: Sloppy Copy, Two Views

Sloppy Copy, 2014, crayon on construction paper

What it is: This is one of my son's drawings. I am not going to reveal what it is yet. But, when I told him I was going to use this drawing this week, he said, "Don't use it yet. This is just the sloppy copy!"

The sloppy copy is what his art teacher calls the drawing kids use to prepare and plan their actual artwork (I used to call them thumbnail sketches).

He eventually agreed to let me use his sloppy copy. As soon as I saw it, it occurred to me that Friday Rorschachers were going to have a difficult task. There is obvious phallic imagery in the drawing, and I suspected most people would choose to suppress that image and search of a less obvious response. It is not that I think people are sexually repressed. Rather, Twitter is a highly public forum and it can be uncomfortable for a lot of people to start talking about penises in a child's drawing in front of the whole world.

In fact, suppressing and censoring responses is a normal part of the real Rorschach experience. What happens is that people see the inkblot, which starts a complicated set of mental exercises. They see forms in the ink, and then they need to quickly, and sometimes unconsciously, decide which ones they are willing to say out loud to a stranger in the middle of a psychological assessment procedure.

What you thought it was: Several of you saw an alien or a monster (in Rorschach terms, this would be a fictionalized human response):

A number of you picked up on anger in the drawing:

There were several eating responses:

Surprisingly, two people saw a croissant:

And, there were a couple people who mentioned the penis:

In an act of foreshadowing, two of you flipped the picture upside down and responded. In the Rorschach, this is perfectly acceptable:

The Twist...what it actually is: I post the Friday Rorschach photo at 10:00 ET/8:00 MT and get a flurry of responses over the next two hours. But, this time I threw the Friday Rorschachers a twist--I sent a second tweet at 1:30/11:30:

A few of you saw masks:

More than a few of you saw a submarine on a person's head:

There were the pop culture references:

One person saw a totem pole:

And my two personal favorites for the week:

What you might have missed: It was a totem pole. Specifically, it was my son's sloppy copy drawing of a totem pole face. His class is studying Native American art, and he described to me, in fairly accurate detail, the meaning of a totem. When I asked him about the one he is drawing, he said, "Mine doesn't mean anything. It's just art."

I left that statement alone, but I thought to myself, "It is never just art."

One last thought: A few of you saw several different images in the same drawing. That is perfectly normal. In fact, most people who take the Rorschach see more than one image in each of the ten cards presented to them. Most completed Rorschachs have somewhere between 17 and 25 responses. And, if a person only gives one response per card (for a total of ten responses), the Rorschach administration is invalid and the test giver needs to start from the beginning and administer it all over again.

Here is a great example of a multiple-response tweet:

And then there is the phallic imagery. I received more than 60 responses between the two photos, but only two of those responses mentioned a penis. I am wondering if people honestly did not see it or if it somehow registered in their minds but they chose not to mention it on Twitter. Any thoughts?

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.


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