John Clay at Literary Review:
In the early 20th century, the Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach devised a test for examining people’s personalities based on their responses to sets of inkblots. In the Rorschach test, ‘ten and only ten’ inkblot patterns are used, reproduced on cards precisely 9½ inches high and 6½ inches wide. The same image can be replicated on both sides. Subjects are invited to view each inkblot and describe what they see. Their responses to the images are assessed according to several criteria, including level of detail, perceived content (such as a dancing bear) and the impression or otherwise of motion.
Born in 1884 near Zurich, Rorschach was a frequent doodler at school, taking after his father, who was a painter. As a result, he acquired the nickname ‘Klex’, derived from the German word for blot. He studied medicine at Zurich University, where he was lectured by Carl Jung and by Eugen Bleuler, director of the Burghölzli psychiatric clinic near Zurich, where both worked. This clinic housed over a thousand patients and had acquired an international reputation for its enlightened and innovative methods, particularly the ‘affective rapport’ technique recommended by Bleuler. Jung lectured on his word association tests, in which he used a stopwatch to measure the response time to a stimulus word. He had found these tests to be psychologically valuable, coining the term ‘complex’ as a result. Rorschach took note.