Guide The Childhood Hand that Disturbs Projective Test: A Diagnostic and Therapeutic Drawing Test

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For Thematic Apperception Test, Murray proposed ways of quantifying needs. But later authors like Cramer and Bellak depended more on qualitative analyses. Later, authors like Garb also emphasized the need for adhering to quantification of TAT protocol and took to task those psychologists who ignored it. Such compromising attempts in turn have not gone uncontested. For example, Haak argued that such efforts of standardization of projective tests destroy the essential value of such tests.

The projective test was created to provide qualitatively rich and complex information about the personality of the individual. Excessive and mindless statistical rigour in reliability, validity and norms minimize this creative potential embedded in the projective tests. Thus in one sense, many psychologists feel that over-emphasizing quantifying and empirical evidences somehow constrict the very soul of projective tests.

Such emphasis may make the tests amenable to undesirable scientism that deprives the discipline from its depth. And, of course there are still researchers who go for hard core projective tests that assay a broad array of components of personality. For example, the Fairy Tale test Coulacoglou, or the Somatic Inkblot Test or SIS series Cassell, , exemplify relatively recent additions to the repertoire of ambitious projective tests, where responses are evaluated in terms of content and perceptual characteristics and its utility in differential diagnosis is emphasized.

Indeed, a number of tests utilize the somatic basis of projection, SIS being one major example, but also others like the Hand test Wagner, ; The utility of projective tests to break barrier in traumatized persons has been emphasized by recent authors like Capri For example, Catterall and Ibbotson considered the use of projective tests in educational field.

They found that such tests were useful so far they are versatile, involving, generate fun, help in overcoming barrier, assist in idea generation.

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They are problematic since they involve unsolved ethical issue, difficulty in justifying selection of materials, problems of validity and analysis etc. The term projection was specifically meant to connote that subjective ideas and contents are projected on a neutral ambiguous stimulus Dichter, , It has been suggested that the phenomenon of projection may be viewed as a technique rather than tests. From this perspective, projective tests may be viewed as behaviour sample.

When projection is used in tests, there is the need for standardization of stimulus and quantification of responses against a norm. When projection is used as technique, it may serve as a way of deriving psychoanalytically informed propositions from the responses to a specific kind of stimuli. When it is viewed as behaviour sample, it is comparable to observing the spontaneous behaviour of a person and drawing hypotheses from a discourse. In fact, this is a movement from the nomothetic to the idiographic, and therefore, to some extent from quantitative to qualitative, from predictive to experiential.

As we use projection as a technique to unfurl individual dynamics from a sample of responses, we become sensitive to the wide range of human variation in experiencing and reacting. We become less sure about the diagnostic labelling to be derived from such endeavours. This last statement makes us re-locate the issue of validity of interpretation of projected behaviour.

The former construal is more structured in organization, the latter is relatively open- ended in interpretative stance. At best, within the second premise, we could surmise with caution that individuals belonging to groups differentiated on empirical basis might have different perceptual dispositions. This is, indeed, a matter of attitude to the discipline that we study.

Are we interested in appreciating the diversity of human responses and construing a qualitative pattern, if any, from the observation enriched with interpretation? This requires us to have a fresh look at the interpretation of projected material; perhaps we should opt for a process approach rather than the diagnostic and relatively static orientation to psychological phenomena.

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The data obtained may reflect the perceptual process at work, an operation of the cognitive flow that may be discerned at different stages of projection in response to ambiguous stimulus - immediate reaction, evidence seeking, elaboration and finalization. Indeed, this is what Hermann Rorschach implied at the initial stage of his work when he considered the Inkblot test as an experiment and not a test. Unfortunately this process oriented approach was diluted in the diagnostic use of his cards in favour of a more structured interpretation.

There have been instances of using projective technique in the spirit of process approach that eschew the need for standardized tools. Since such employment of frames is not standardized, it may be called an example of projective technique, and the responses were analysed in terms of how much evaluation and how much flow was intended, and not the mere content of responses. Indeed projective techniques have long been used to interpret spontaneous creations, and such efforts may be discerned as unlabeled use of projective technique.

Rieber presents an analysis of bookplates by different stalwart thinkers of the 19th century, including Sigmund Freud, Hall, Baldwin and Brill. At other times, projective mechanism has been identified in everyday activities. If we extend similar use of projection to a certain limit, the entire life of humankind may be contemplated as a result of projection of attitudes and needs: the whole rich domain of psychohistory is indeed replete with instances of projection deMause, ; Erikson, ; But let us not stretch the notion of projection to such extremes, at least for our present discussion, though it may be helpful to formulate our later notions if we keep in mind that projection is actually that common and expansive in the drama of life that human beings play.

To remain tied to the pragmatics of practice of psychology in social and clinical fields, we may consider the way people project in response to given ambiguous stimuli within a relatively controlled and artificially constructed and consistently employed situation. This of course requires acceptable level of reliability and validity indices to be reported.

Such use of projection also entails an element of power in the test taker: the respondent does not know what is being projected, but the psychologist can see what the respondent does not. The second attitude constitutes presenting ambiguous stimuli as projective techniques and considers the responses as reflecting cognitive tendencies. The resultant tendencies are less certain in nature than clinical categories: tendencies of cognitive and affective responses in ambiguous situation are after all only probabilities, perhaps connected to the degree of ambiguity, but also to the context of occurrence.

Here the psychologist is more of an observer of the flow of cognition and affect, rather than a diagnostician. It also retains a doubt as to how much non-ambiguous material can be extracted from ambiguous stimuli. This also entails some degree of power of the psychologist, but that is employed with a reflexive doubt. The third attitude is of rejection of the projective hypothesis - it is believed that ambiguous stimuli would not yield any clear, consistent and non-ambiguous information; hence it is useless.

Among these three, I would elaborate the second one, as it entails a scope for a fresh approach to the literature of projective technique. There are two things that might be particularly relevant in this discussion. One is the criteria of interpretation of the responses: content versus formal characteristics. The second is the issue of reliability and validity, about which the researcher must take a clear stand.

What is projected in projective tests?

Can we trust the Rorschach test?

Is it perceptual-motor and affective tendencies, about which the person may be partially aware? Is it some of each?

Initially, Rorschach ignored the content of the protocols, and emphasized a perceptual-cognitive approach for the interpretation of responses. Later on, he introduced the analyses of content as well. Content has always been the most salient aspect of the TAT protocol.

Content has a semantic value and also has symbolic underpinnings special for a culture. Content is also most affected by immediate situation Bornstein, It is also to be remembered that the respondents have the ability to manipulate language to elaborate certain consciously chosen aspects and to suppress others, especially those respondents who are at the high end of functioning. The cognitive-motor tendencies expressed for example in Rorschach through location and determinant however are less well understood by the respondent, because such pattern comes out of the habitual immediacy of perception.

Also, it is less easy to distort perceptual tendencies. In fact, our challenge is perhaps greater with a content oriented approach, while unfortunately we seem to be more careless with content than with form.

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But if we look at the mode of perception and presentation, and scrutinize how its flow changes, we may be in touch with the here and now, the process of construction. Probably something akin to this was attempted by Rapaport, Gill and Schafer , , who tried to release projective tests from the ordeal of standardization and reinstate its position within psychoanalytical theory, especially ego psychology. Theoretical grounding of the protocol to personality and cognition was deemed to be of importance in this system.

Schafer furthermore highlighted the determining role of testee-tester relationship in the structure of the elicited responses. In case of TAT, while Murray and Bellak emphasized content, the formal aspect was highlighted by Rapaport, Gill and Shafer , so far they focussed on the organization and mode of delivery of the content.

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Later on, Holt and Schafer , demonstrated through clinical example, how the organizational pattern of the story helps the clinician to derive meaning. In line with Knoff I also find the claim that projective tests reveal the unconscious a bit problematic, and feel the need to illustrate what exactly we mean by unconscious. If the unconscious implies repressed material that requires elaborate effort to unearth, it is unlikely that they would emerge so easily and systematically by mere presentation of ambiguous stimuli.

More likely, these are not unconscious, but non-conscious habitual tendencies that are not clearly recognized during everyday transaction by general people, though available to those with an introspective bend of mind. The unconscious, in its classical sense defies mere introspection.

Projective personality measures

So may be, there are many meanings of the unconscious also. On the basis of the above discussion, we might consider two kinds of projection. One is based on the perceptual-motor tendencies, and belong to a deeper than semantic level of processing, but these are not repressed in the true sense of the word. The other one is content based, and more often tied to less ambiguous stimuli, like TAT or sentence completion.

About reliability and validity of projective techniques, we may draw upon such issues discussed in the context of qualitative research grounded in empiricism.

Before taking into account the matter of validity, we must resolve the earlier concern regarding what the projected material represents. In the context of qualitative research, we often talk about triangulation, where measures from different angles collate in support of each other. It is in this sense that the non-corroboration of projective test findings with diagnostic categories posit problem of validation for some critics.

But before we agree with this criticism, we must ensure that we choose our measures for triangulation on the basis of what is being measured by the ambiguous stimuli. If we emphasize the formal aspect of perceptual-expressive function, then we should corroborate it with similar functions. For example, in case of the Rorschach, the preponderance of whole perception may be compared with the capacity of analysis and synthesis measured through other kinds of cognitive tasks.

The sequential analysis of the Rorschach may be corroborated with longitudinal changes in task orientation. When emphasis is given on content, the productions should be taken as cues to conscious and non- conscious streams of thoughts and therefore may serve as guide to interview. While some degree of inter-rater reliability with similarly trained raters may occasionally be useful, it needs to be kept in mind that the very nature of projective tests allows multiple response orientations of comparable merit.

Test retest reliability would be inapplicable, as prior exposure should always have impact on the subsequent responses, both in terms of content and formal characteristics, and the direction and degree of change would be unpredictable. Internal consistency of some kind may be considered, although if we emphasize diversity of responses, especially within a creative perspective, internal consistency may have a negative bearing.

Thoughts on training and utility of projective techniques Thus, there may not be only one way to train students in doing and analysing the specific test. Responses to ambiguity are equally ambiguous and posits a challenge to the interpreter for projecting her own bias.