Most psychologists make use of the pictures to assess the personality and mental status of their clients. The assessment makes use of the Rorschach inkblot test, the Thematic Apperception Test, faults in figures among other tools. Fundamental to the techniques is the response of the patient. The tools aim to let the clients express their emotions, experiences, memories, and imaginations based on the images and questions which this is followed by evaluation by practicing psychologists on personality traits, unconscious needs, and overall mental health. The results of such projective instruments are used in predicting the behavior of prisoners, evaluating the mental stability of parents engaged in child ownership battles and deciding whether children have been sexually assaulted. These projective methods have been used in psychological settings with some harshly criticizing them while others emphasizing the important role they have played in mental health studies.
The first commonly used method is the famous Rorschach inkblot test, which is given to millions of individuals worldwide every year. This test questions individuals to describe what they see in a series of 10 inkblots. The method was introduced in the 1920s by a Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, before coming under fierce attack in the 1950s since it lacked standard procedures and set of norms. In 1970s John E. Exner of Long Island University corrected the problems and the test was named Comprehensive System. The current test has two shortcomings that are scoring reliability and validity. A good tool should be able to give similar results regardless of who performs the test and this is commonly called the test-re-test procedure. From the recent investigations, the Inkblot test is only 50% accurate when compared to the number of those who positive based on Rorschach responses. This means that the test has an error which is about 50%. Furthermore, the test cannot efficiently identify most psychiatric conditions except schizophrenia and bipolar disorder among other disorders marked by disturbing thoughts. Conditions without disturbing thought cannot be diagnosed using the Comprehensive Test.
Another projective tool is the Thematic Apperception Test commonly known as TAT. This method asks respondents to tell a story based on scenes in drawings on cards. The method just as the comprehensive method lack standardization and is therefore commonly known as the “a clinician’s delight and a statistician’s headache.” In this test, most clinicians interpret people’s stories without a well-tested scoring procedure. Therefore, the use of TAT has been associated with overdiagnosis of psychological disturbance. Psychologists have been able to come up with a standardized scoring system but most of these systems do not produce similar results when used more than once. Unfortunately, the TAT methods lack ethical standards and therefore are yet to be used outside the research settings.
The third common method is commonly known as faults in figures. In contrast to the two earlier approaches, this third projective method evaluates individuals with the use of pictures. An example of the test is the Draw-a-Person Test that requires individuals to draw other human beings. Psychologists then interpret the drawings by relating specific signs including body parts and clothing to the level of personality or particular psychological disorders. The major problem with the test is the lack of agreement when it comes to scores. Worse is the lack of strong evidence to support the validity of a sign to its interpretation. On the other hand, studies have shown that there are increased chances of clinicians associating individuals with poor drawing skillsto mental illness.
From the literature review, it is becoming clear that these methods such as Rorschach, TAT, and human figure drawings can be used in a limited number of scenarios. Other tests also in use are the Sentence Completion Tests and Children’s version of the TAT also called CAT, both of which have similar shortcomings like the other tests. Some researchers and mental health professionals argue that these projective tools, despite their drawbacks have a long history of gooduse. According to the sections of professionals, these tools when administered and interpreted properly and interpreted in the right way can provide a true picture of the nature and condition of the mind.
In my opinion, the article describes some of the weaknesses of the current tools for assessing mental status but does not offer any solution. The article is overemphasizing the negative side of these tools forgetting that these tools have made significant contributions with regards to mental health. Other research findings have demonstrated the positive contributions of these tools though it is common for researchers to hide negative data form the public. So many individuals can be affected if these tools fail to provide the right assessment;therefore, clinicians, psychologists, and data analysts must towards a solution to these limitations. The lack of standardization, the lack of validity, failure to meet the test-re-test procedure are common with all the tests and this is a wakeup call to all the stakeholders to work towards a long-lasting solution. The projective methods, despite their shortcomings, are still the most common and most effective methods that can be used to evaluate and assess mental conditions.
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