Smile Politely

Rorschach on my mind

As was widely reported, someone compromised the Rorschach ink blots.

The New York Times headline asked, “Has Wikipedia created a Rorschach cheat sheet?”

In 1921, Hermann Rorschach created 10 blots, some black and white and some in color, that have been used by psychologists ever since in assessing the mental state and psychology of their patients. Today, 80% of clinical psychologists engaged in assessment services still use the Rorschach blots.

Because the blots are in the public domain, Dr. James Heilman, an emergency-room doctor from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, posted images of all 10 plates, along with what research found to be the most popular responses for each.

Apart from causing something of an uproar, the revelation of the blots and their “answers” would be fodder for a humor column. Imagine Jon Stewart reading how Arnold Schwartzenegger or Nancy Pelosi or Amy Winehouse might interpret the blots.

But that might be kind of predictable. 

Since risk is my middle name (or, as Woody Allen once said, “Death is my bread and danger my butter – oh, no, danger’s my bread, … Danger’s my bread, death – no, death is – no, death and danger are my various breads and butters”), I have chosen to put myself on the line and be completely honest. 

I decided to bare my soul by revealing what I see in the ten blots. 

I then will list what the most common or “normal” responses are.  And finally, I will interpret what my own answers reveal about myself, no matter how painful or embarrassing that might be.

Below are the actual ten pictures, my true and honest responses to what I saw when I studied the pictures for the first time. Amateur psychologists are invited to add their own observations in the comment section below or to take the test themselves.  And as Freud might have mumbled while cradling his prosthetic jaw, just shoot me now.


WHAT I SEE: There is a war in heaven.  Raised fists are pounding on the Bible and angels are butting heads.  On the right side, there are nipples on the breasts of a voluptuous body, like a painting by Rubens or a sculpture by Rodin.  On the left side, an empty canvas.

WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE SEE: Bat, butterfly, moth.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: Good grief.  Obviously, I have serious religious issues, the result of being raised in a strict church-oriented environment.  And then there’s the sex thing, tangled up with the church issues.  And art, too.  This is so transparent. I want to hide under the desk.  I might as well just toss in the towel now.  (There is no pun in the previous sentence.  Please do not mention puns.)


WHAT I SEE: These are characters from a childhood story with characters set in the  Middle Ages.  These woodsmen are wearing big red hats and playing patty cake, but their legs have been cut off by a wicked wizard.  Still  they continue on as though nothing is wrong, because something magical will happen to them.


MY SELF-ANALYSIS: I am a victim of magical thinking, beset by childish fears of powerlessness, and longing for innocence.  The big red hats are undoubtedly phallic in one way or another and this represents a deep-rooted resentment of circumcision.


WHAT I SEE: These are African nude female drummers in a National Geographic world.  They have big pointy breasts, and there are red musical notes above their heads as they summon up the fertility gods in the form of a red butterfly.  They love each other, but – I just noticed – they also have big pointy penises, so they are lesbians wearing strap-ons made from roots or they are transsexual.  Either way, they are about to make beautiful music together.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: Jeeminy cricket.  Do you have to ask?  This is some kind of complete and absolute unlimited sexuality without orientation, a pansexual impulse and in search of the exotic.  This shows the complete expectation of cosmic physical desire,  fulfillment, and ecstasy.  I’m not ashamed.  I’m accepting this as a very sex-positive and healthy attitude.


WHAT I SEE: I believe this is Gene Simmons on a Lay-Z-Boy recliner, his big feet up front and his pinhead and tongue in the long perspective distance.  He is playing video games.  Donkey Kong.

WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE SEE: Animal skin, massive animal.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: Nailed this one.  Everyone knows Gene Simmons is a massive animal.


WHAT I SEE: This is a tough one.  It reminds me of a gypsy moth or a scene from the movie Donnie Darko. It is NOT a vagina, though, like so many of the other blots.

WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE SEE: Bat, butterfly, moth.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: Drawing a blank.  Whatever fear this blot inspires, I am at a loss to name.  Your suggestions welcome.


WHAT I SEE: This is clearly a cartoon cat splayed out after being run over by a steam roller.  Or a vagina.

WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE SEE: Animal hide, skin, rug.
MY SELF-ANALYSIS: So, I’m denying the vagina thing and trying to transform that into something nonthreatening, like a cartoon animal.


WHAT I SEE: Two men wearing bear suits are talking.  They represent either the collapse of Wall Street or the fallen Soviet Union.  One is passing secret information to the other below, although that slit between them down there did for a moment make me think of a vajayjay again.  Never mind.

WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE SEE: Human heads, faces.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: What is the matter? Don’t these so-called “normal” people have any imagination at all?  Any sense of story or social concern?  This is a political reading, concern for the future of humankind and for the planet, facing head-on the threat of self-extinction, with the “secret information” being passed (reproduction?) Indicating that I believe there is hope for humanity, a solution to be had.


WHAT I SEE: The two bears again, climbing up either side of the globe, the beautiful world, toward a summit.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: This represents a belief in evolution, not revolution.  Both creatures are climbing to a higher status, a greater spiritual and physical plane.  There is no conflict here at all but a sure path to spiritual enlightenment and our animal avatars guiding us to inevitable nirvana, a perfect yin-yang.


WHAT I SEE: This is a horrible hospital CT scan of someone in dire need of the single-payer health care system.  There is hip replacement necessary in blue; a compacted large intestine and enlarged prostate in red; and lung cancer in yellow.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: This isn’t fear so much as compassion and social consciousness, understanding the need to pass a universal, single-payer health care plan now.


WHAT I SEE: Obviously, they saved the best picture for last.  This is Europe, where proper civilization, food, wine, health care, and culture abound.  We have left the crass and crumbling United States, where delusions run rampant about our self-worth and self-importance.  Here we see the Eiffel Tower above, Mediterranean sea fishermen with crabs and shrimp in green, the boot of Italy in rose, and underwater beauty abounding.

WHAT NORMAL PEOPLE SEE: Crab, lobster, spider.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS: Not that far off.  What I saw here may indicate a longing to travel, or a conviction that the grass is greener on the other side of the globe, but at heart it expresses confidence in a beautiful and fertile world, one that should be free and available to everyone.

That’s it.  I think I passed.  I’m way more normal than I thought.

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