EnglishPsychotherapy, Clinical Psychology & Counseling

Q&A from our Guest Editor and Editor-in-Chief about the new Rorschachiana Special Issue

Rorschachiana is celebrating the centenary of the publication of Hermann Rorschach’s seminal book, Psychodiagnostics, with a special issue of the journal! Our guest editor Dr. Kari Carstairs and Editor-in-Chief Dr. Filippo Aschieri have answered a few questions regarding the new issue.

Why did you choose the topic The Rorschach Test Today: An Update on the Research?

We want to spread the word about the fact that the Rorschach test is alive and kicking! No other psychological test has the history and continuity that the Rorschach has and one hundred years after Hermann Rorschach published his book, it is still in the forefront of research and clinical applications for so many psychologists all around the world. Specially, we aim to offer an update on the White Paper from the Society of Personality Assessment that was published in 2005 and that summarised the research up to that date.

Why did you select the articles chosen to be included in the special issue?

Authors were invited to submit review articles that summarise the research in several areas of study in order to trace the state of the art for the Rorschach in applied psychology. Working in the areas of trauma, of forensic assessment, with eating disorders, with patients struggling with thought disorders and in psychotherapy can be facilitated by findings from the Rorschach and all of these areas are included in this special edition. The test’s utility in applied fields rests on its validity, so we also offer an article on neurobiology and Rorschach as a “core” contribution to extend the use of the Rorschach to other applied fields.

In addition, we reach out to psychologists beyond those who are already familiar with the test with our contributions from our discussants who are experts in their fields of study and who comment on the research reviews from a broad perspective.

Is the Rorschach test still relevant for psychiatrists and psychologists 100 years on?

Yes! In many fields of study. For example, in the clinical and the forensic fields.

Today clinical psychologists benefit from the mounting research evidence from studies in attachment, neurobiology, psychopathology, and psychotherapy regarding a few key concepts:

(a) attachment failures and early trauma are related to many forms of psychopathology
(b) one of the major sequelae of developmental trauma is disorganization of the right hemisphere
(c) psychological interventions that promote emotional experience, awareness, and expression are more effective than those that rely solely on cognitive restructuring.

The Rorschach, tapping right-hemisphere and subcortical brain functioning, provides detailed information about the client’s psychological functioning that no other test offers, much of which clients cannot or do not directly report. The Rorschach is particularly good at capturing information about a person as an individual while at the same time making comparisons against a normative sample. This is because while the test materials are standardised, their intentionally ambiguous nature means that each person’s responses to them are unique, and rich in descriptive data. The vivid imagery and emotionally charged responses that many clients give provide a very illuminating window onto the particular experience of each client. 

As such, the findings from the Rorschach have great potential for providing clients with an occasion to reflect more deeply on themselves and on their struggles, particularly within a Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment framework. 

See Finn (2012) for a fuller discussion of these issues.

In the forensic arena, the test offers a different “take” on the examinee from self-report measures and it can round out the comprehensive picture that the psychologist builds up in order to address legal issues.  Psychologists should always consider the possibility that the examinee may not be truthful in any report for the Court.  A multi-method approach is essential.  Psychometric data complements the interview and a thorough review of documentation pertaining to the legal issues at stake and to the person’s medical history.  Psychologists should integrate information across several different measures, including performance-based tests, such as the Rorschach.  When using the Rorschach in Court, research findings provide the foundation for reaching reliable and valid inferences.

Finn, Stephen (2012).  Implications of recent research in neurobiology for psychological assessment.  Journal of Personality Assessment, 94, 440-449. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223891.2012.700665

About the authors

Dr. Kari Carstairs

Guest Editor


Private Practice


Filippo Aschieri


Faculty of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

L.go Gemelli 1

20123 Milan