Spooky Rorschach

October 29, 2015

What do you see in this image when you think about Halloween? Is it scary or cute? Read about the value of nonverbal communication and have some spooky fun.

Spooky or cute? What do you see in this image when you think about Halloween? Keep it scary or whimsical. Before you comment, consider the discussion, below.

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Discussion

Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Dr Rorschach is remembered for having developed the Rorschach inkblot test. The purpose was, in part, to analyze and interpret the nuances of each [verbal] answer given by the patient in order to delve into the unconscious.

Nonverbal cues also convey important information about the patient. Psychiatrists know this. Thousands of hours of training go into honing their skills to listen and observe how patients communicate with them and the world around them.

Foley and colleagues1 report that well over half of communication is nonverbal. They also note that the clinical setting often places too much value on the spoken word: "Many nonverbal behaviors are unconscious and may represent a more accurate depiction of a patient's attitude and emotional state."

To gain insight into your patient's state of mind (or yours, if you're taking this test), observe her as she interprets a piece of art (in this case, a Rorschach-type ink blot). Take in the information as you ask, “What do you see?”

Before the answer comes, ask her to think about Halloween. Gaze at the image and reminisce. Where is she looking? Down? Up? Around? At her hands? At the ceiling? Does she lick her lips as she recalls the sweet and salty flavors of treats from a decade ago? Does she crack a smile?

These cues help us understand the true nature of the image-and perhaps one's state of mind.

References:

1. Foley GN, Gentile JP. Nonverbal communication in psychotherapy. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010;7:38-44.