A Developmental Perspective
Routledge – 1996 – 328 pages
Martin Leichtman's The Rorschach is a work of stunning originality that takes as its point of departure a circumstance that has long confounded Rorschach examiners. Attempts to use the Rorschach with young children yield results that are inconsistent if not comical. What, after all, does one make of a protocol when the child treats a card like a frisbee or confidently detects "piadigats" and "red foombas"?
A far more consequential problem facing examiners of adults and children alike concerns the very nature of the Rorschach test. Despite voluminous literature establishing the personality correlates of particular Rorschach scores, neither Hermann Rorschach nor his intellectual descendants have provided an adequate explanation of precisely what the subject is being asked to do. Is the Rorschach a test of imagination? Of perception? Of projection?
In point of fact, Leichtman argues, the two problems are intimately related. To appreciate the stages through which children gradually master the Rorschach in its standard form is to discover the nature of the test itself. Integrating his developmental analysis with an illuminating discussion of the extensive literature on test administration, scoring, and interpretation, Leichtman arrives at a new understanding of the Rorschach as a test of representation and creativity. This finding, in turn, leads to an intriguing reconceptualization of all projective tests that clarifies their relationships to more objective measures of ability.
"Despite the resurgent popularity of the Rorschach, few have questioned its theoretical underpinnings. Leichtman does. Using the stages through which young children progressively master the test as his point of entry, Leichtman offers a remarkably scholarly and evocative account of the conceptual nature of the Rorschach task, including the distinctive quality of Rorschach stimuli, the nature of the patient-examiner relationship, and the assumptions underlying Rorschach scoring. In addition to its rich theoretical yield, this book provides the most penetrating discussion to date of the Rorschach assessment of children. For serious students of the Rorschach - theorists, clinicians, and researchers alike - this volume is absolutely essential reading. Leichtman has given us a genuine Rorschach treasure."
- Paul M. Lerner, Ed.D., Author, Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Rorschach (Analytic Press, 1998)
"In clear, readable language and with compelling logic, Martin Leichtman tackles the question usually avoided or lightly passed over by other writers: What is the nature of the Rorschach task itself? He pursues this problem methodically and convincingly through careful examination of the Rorschachs of preschool children. Leichtman is intimidated neither by methodological debates nor by previous divergent conceptions of stages in the mastery of the test. Instead, he creatively suggests how these controversies can be used to construct a new view of this developmental process, and how, in turn, we can better understand the Rorschachs not only of children but of adults as well."
- Mary S. Cerney, Ph.D., Past President, Society for Personality Assessment
Part I: Young Children and the Rorschach. Studies of the Rorschach in Early Childhood. Methodological Issues. Patterns of Early Rorschach Performance. The Preschool Rorschach Literature: Concensus, Controversy, and Synthesis. Part II: Stages in the Mastery of the Rorschach. Characteristics of the Model. Stage I: Perseverative Approaches to the Rorschach. Stage II: Confabulatory Approaches to the Rorschach. Stage III: "The Rorschach." Part III: Psychosocial Aspects of the Rorschach Test. Formulating the Problem. An Ego-Psychological Perspective on Preschoolers' Handling of the Rorschach. Work and Play. Interpersonal Aspects of the Rorschach Situation. The Rorschach Situation and the Orthogenetic Principle. Part IV. Cognitive Aspects of the Rorschach Test. The Perception Hypothesis. Rorschach Perception Hypotheses. A Critique of the Expanded Perception Hypotheses. Alternatives to the Perception Hypotheses. The Rorschach and Representation I: The Nature of Projective Tests. The Rorschach and Representation II: The Symbol Situation. The Rorschach and Representation III: Conceptualizing Primary Aspects of the Test. Representation and Children's Rorschachs. Part V: Clinical Applications. Problems in the Clinical Assessment of Young Children. A Clinical-Developmental Approach to Preschool Rorschachs. The Rorschach and Severly Disturbed Children. The Rorschach and Thought Disorder.
Martin Leichtman, Ph.D., is Chief Psychologist in the Child and Adolescent Services of the Menninger Clinic. A graduate of the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis, he is a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology and a Fellow of the Society for Personality Assessment. He serves on the faculties of the Menninger School of Mental Health Sciences and the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis.