Inkblot Doodle on Google marks Hermann Rorschach’s Birthday

Google is celebrating the 129th Birthday of Hermann Rorschach using an Inkblot Test Doodle on its Homepage and Search Results Pages, worldwide. The Doodle is also available on the Homepage of Google Chrome Users. The Doodle lets users share their own interpretations of the several random inkblots to Google+, Facebook and Twitter, while Hermann Rorschach is seen sitting on a chair on the background taking notes with a pen and paper.

Hermann Rorschach

Hermann Rorschach

Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss Psychiatrist and Psychologist mainly known for the Invention of Rorschach Inkblot Test which is used to examine a person’s social behavior.

He was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on November 8, 1884.He lost his mother in 1897, when he was only 12 years old.

During his High School days, he was apparently so enamored of Klecksography, a Swiss childhood game of making pictures out of inkblots, that friends took to calling him “Klecks”.

He entered medical school in Zurich in 1904 and at 22 he decided to become a psychiatrist. During the winter term 1906/1907 he studied in Berlin and travelled to Russia for the first time. During the next term he studied in Bern. In 1907 he registered again at Zurich University, where he graduated in the spring of 1909.

In the same year he got engaged to Olga Stempelin, a classmate from medical school and later married. Hermann and Olga Rorschach had two children, a boy born 1917, and a girl born in 1919.

In 1914 he accepted a position as resident at the Waldau Psychiatric University Hospital near Bern. A year later he was appointed associate director of the asylum at Herisau, in eastern Switzerland. He remained there until his premature death in 1922.

Rorschach’s book “Psychodiagnostik” was published in 1921. The method presented in it became the Rorschach test.The Inkblots were anything but an overnight success. Those days, even mentioning inkblots got most psychologists drooling like Pavlov’s dogs, thanks to seemingly miraculous personality readings by Rorschach experts.

In the Rorschach test, subjects are handed ten specific inkblots – some black and white, some coloured – and asked to “say what they see”.

Trained observers then rate the reactions on many variables – for example not only what is seen but also whether the subject rotates the image, focuses on only a part of the image or mentions the colours. The psychologist can in theory then pinpoint deeper personality traits, impulses and overall mental health.

In practice however the test fails on two crucial scientific criteria: scoring reliability and validity. A test is reliable if it gets similar results regardless of who measures the responses (not the case with Rorschach); a test is valid if it measures what it aims to measure. The Rorschach test also falls down here, being unable to detect consistently what it claims to be able to: depression, anxiety disorders or a psychopathic personality.

Despite such shortcomings the Rorschach test is still carried out hundreds of thousands of times a year in hospitals, courts, prisons and schools to determine for example which parent should be given custody of a child, whether a prisoner should be eligible for parole and the extent of a child’s emotional problems.

Rorschach died of peritonitis on April 2, 1922, aged 37, leaving his wife and two children.