Google Celebrates Hermann Rorschach’s Birthday

If you attempted to google something today, you would have noticed the black and white doodle on its site. This latest google doodle celebrates the 129th birthday of Hermann Rorschach (born 8 November 1884).

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Who is Hermann Rorschach? If you are wondering who this guy is then let me tell you. Rorschach was a Swiss Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He is best known for developing the Rorschach inkblot test, a projective test which was widely popular in the 1960s and is still used today. This test is also also known as the Rorschach testthe Rorschach technique, or simply the inkblot test. 

During the test, a subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both. This test has been used by psychologists to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning. It has also been used to detect thought disorder, usually in cases where patients are reluctant to describe their thinking processes openly.

Me and Rorschach. As I studied Psychology in university, there was no escaping Rorschach. I was not only required to take the test but I also had to conduct the test and make the interpretation for the results.

I have to admit that when I took the test, I was a bit worried. I was not sure I would be happy and pleased with what I would see in those inkblots. But when I did take the test, I was pleased in the end because it helped me to actually see and face some of my hidden issues. As to conducting the test for others, I do not have the liberty to discuss their results 🙂

Thoughts on Rorschach Today. Even from his childhood, Rorschach already enjoyed making ink blot pictures. And he took note that people saw or interpreted different things in his pictures.  As we know today, this interest in making pictures and the curiosity on people’s responses ultimately helped him shape the Rorschach test.  Well, this reminds me that the things that interest us — well, they could give us a clue on what our career could be (or we could say, what our calling or vocation could be).

While in high school, Rorschach was considering whether to pursue a career in art or science. What helped him decide for science was German biologist Ernst Haeckel. He had written him for help on this decision; Haeckel suggested science. And Rorschach took his suggestion to heart. This reminds me that we could use a little help from others as we make career decisions whether we are yet to study a course leading to a career or whether we are considering a career change. Ultimately, it is us who make the decisions but it is for our benefit to just hear what others have to say, especially people who have known us well and who care for us.

I could not end this post without mentioning that Rorschach died at the age of 37. He died less than a year after writing his ground-breaking work. This reminds me that our time is limited on this planet. And that like the Old Testament prophet Moses, perhaps we may also need to pray to God: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90 12)  And even if Rorschach died at an apparently young age, he left something that can still help many people today. The twin realities of mortality and the capacity to leave a lasting legacy — these are gifts that Rorschach are also handing out to me, to us today.

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