Tell Me What You See
July 28, 2009 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Lobster? Spider? Get out of here. It's two Batman / jackal gods in red long johns, kissing and engaging in frottage while they shake cheerleading pompoms with their other hands, and around them there are Peeps™ frolicking.

(That means I'm normal)
posted by fleetmouse at 8:53 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

Number three is definitely a picture of your mother and I having... ahem... carnal relations last night. So am I free to go?
posted by fuq at 8:55 PM on July 28, 2009

I thought they were all of someone's mother getting pleasured like only a real man such as the observer could pleasure. People actually attempt to name visual similitudes?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 PM on July 28, 2009

No, the first one is the pelvis of a mutant woman with some kind of bone disease that's eating away at her. The second link is the last coral reef on Earth, being deserted by blue crabs and various jellyfish, in hopes that they can live in some wedge of old tires we've pitched into the ocean.
posted by adipocere at 9:03 PM on July 28, 2009

Big Secrets did this twenty years ago or so.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:03 PM on July 28, 2009

Whoa, this is better than The Crying Game.
posted by Tube at 9:04 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's clearly a pile of dead puppies.
posted by brundlefly at 9:04 PM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

you get a plus 1 for using the term frottage, fleetmouse. made my day.
posted by mbatch at 9:04 PM on July 28, 2009

What do I get if all I see are inkblots and vintage mountebankery?

(Oh, just for shits, the first image is a pelvis, and the second dancing harlequins. Go ahead, diagnose me.)
posted by Sova at 9:15 PM on July 28, 2009

What do I get if all I see are inkblots and vintage mountebankery?

posted by Burhanistan at 9:16 PM on July 28, 2009

The first is two evil harpies pulling a cat apart.
posted by Addlepated at 9:33 PM on July 28, 2009

Big Secrets (that is, William Poundstone) made sure not to print them in color (although he did describe them in great detail).
posted by yhbc at 9:45 PM on July 28, 2009

A fractal. Also, a fractal. That definitely looks like a fractal to me...
posted by empath at 9:45 PM on July 28, 2009 [6 favorites]

Big Secrets (that is, William Poundstone) made sure not to print them in color (although he did describe them in great detail).

He described the color and gave extensive psychological analyses of what your answers would mean, which Wikipedia doesn't do. The text is available on Amazon. Wikipedia isn't breaking new ground.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:46 PM on July 28, 2009

Somehow, I don't see the Rorschach tests as symmetrical shapes like spiders and bats and lobsters, I see each side as an individual shape and my mind tries to figure out what that is.
What does that mean?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:48 PM on July 28, 2009

People are still taking this test seriously?? Those wacky clinicians...
posted by Avelwood at 9:57 PM on July 28, 2009

No question the first one is the imprint on a rock cliff left by Wile E. Coyote after his Acme Rocket Backpack misfired.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:02 PM on July 28, 2009

Somehow, I don't see the Rorschach tests as symmetrical shapes like spiders and bats and lobsters, I see each side as an individual shape and my mind tries to figure out what that is.

I always see them as two creatures holding hands. The first one is penguins, holding hands and frolicking, naturally.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:05 PM on July 28, 2009

Given the mythological status of the test, is it even relevant anymore? It's parodied in everything from kids' shows (Larry the Cucumber sees lips in everything) to crime dramas. I imagine that most everyone who takes the test has heard of it and thinks the psychologist is going to draw great Freudian analysis from whatever they see.

When I was 13, I went through a particularly melodramatic phase which landed me on a psychiatrist's couch. I claimed the butterfly/bat was Jack the Ripper dancing over one of his victims. Oh, to be that grotesquely self-involved again!
posted by Partario at 10:06 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

Requisite PBF strip: Psychoanalyst
posted by Lush at 10:15 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping...
posted by Artw at 10:32 PM on July 28, 2009 [9 favorites]

posted by boo_radley at 10:34 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

The "Lobster or Spider" one looks like two English bobbies, dressed in pink, about to slap each other with pom-poms.
posted by brundlefly at 10:38 PM on July 28, 2009

I can't believe these are still used in practice. Really? And I've read the stuff on Wiki that says there is data backing them up as a diagnostic tool...but it just seems like shrink cold reading to me. (Oh, and I'm sure what *I* see in the pictures would send some poor Freudian to bed with a stiff drink. )
posted by dejah420 at 10:48 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

They are all pelvi. Umm, right?
posted by spacely_sprocket at 10:53 PM on July 28, 2009

Serious question: how is that any different from having an unwilling / uncooperative patient?
I don't know much about psychiatric procedure, but I'd say many if not most patients would try to give "normal" answers do any question put to them ("What would you save from a burning house? Your bedridden, weak mother or your favorite baseball card?" Hmmm... what would a normal person do... "Of course my mother, because she is an important part of my life and my baseball cards, my precious, precious baseball cards, are merely material possessions and don't whisper in my ear at night.").

Anecdotal: I remember reading the Hannibal Lecter books (the earlier, good ones) where it was repeatedly noticed that Doctor Lecter was especially hard to diagnose because he was a psychiatrist himself and knew all the tricks of the trade; and I remember thinking that if a correct diagnosis relied on trickery and secret cheats it would not work against a reasonably prepared layperson, too.

Lastly, I really don't appreciate being manipulated in any way. I love information about attempts to do so, and I enjoy learning about the psychological tricks used in supermarket design, in police interrogations, in job interviews. I wouldn't think of it as wearing a lead vest to a chest x-ray exam, but rather as not falling for the smell-my-buttonhole-flower trick. Is it unreasonable to do that?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:33 PM on July 28, 2009 [6 favorites]

Out of curiosity, I searched for a place to take an inkblot test online. I was amused to see that one of the top results,, has received a takedown notice from Schluep | Degan (attorneys representing the original Rorshach test rights holders) for copyright infringement... even though their test uses a different set of images (and they're a joke).
posted by Rhaomi at 12:37 AM on July 29, 2009

That takedown notice is pure and unmitigated awesome.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:52 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Other people, down in the cells. Exhavior more extreme than mine. You don't spend any time with them... But then they're not famous. Wont get your name in the journals. You don't want to make me well. Just to know know what makes me sick. You'll find out. Have patience, doctor. You'll find out.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:36 AM on July 29, 2009

A lot of ink has been spilled on this subject, but I don't see the big deal. If their secrets are out, they'll just have to come come up with new pictures of my mother's vagina laughing at me.
posted by pracowity at 1:46 AM on July 29, 2009

Well, since apparently psychiatrists can't distinguish the sane from the insane anyway, I don't see what difference it makes.
posted by nax at 3:51 AM on July 29, 2009

Lobster or spider?

Pft, that's easy. The answer is clear from the soiled lederhosen.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:39 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Login wall or login wall?
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on July 29, 2009

Years ago, as soon as I found out these images were kept a secret I looked them up online. That was before I knew about Wikipedia.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 4:55 AM on July 29, 2009

years ago I saw these in some sort of 'big book of secrets' type book... and it explained what the psychs are looking for and what you should say to avoid some large gentlemen putting you into a jacket that goes on backwards and ties round the back. I can't remember the exact details... but it was bascially 'flowers' and 'butterfly' good, 'a mask' 'demons' 'blood' etc bad.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:18 AM on July 29, 2009

Weird blots of colored ink wants to be free. Free as in beer!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:18 AM on July 29, 2009

OK, point number one. They're inkblots on a folded piece of paper. You can make your own... and, more importantly, run a vastly more rigorous and detailed study on patient and non-patient reactions to them. Which is what should have happened once every few years from the test's inception... if it wasn't voodoo bullshit.

I mean, seriously. When the test was created, counselors were called "alienists." What medical implement has remained unchanged since the '20s? I can't think of a one... everything from scalpels to sterile gauze has been modernized and supplemented by new equivalents. I have no doubt the test was a valuable stepping stone on our way to modernizing the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, but come on. It's time has long since passed.

Any psychological test that requires a secret to be kept indefinitely to be efficacious doesn't understand human nature very well... and is therefore invalid.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:08 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

These could be any random inkblots- the crux of the issue is, if you see only sexual imagery, or only violent imagery, you're more likely to have issues. The Rorschach is one piece of a set of diagnostic tools and not a stand-alone indicator.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:40 AM on July 29, 2009

Anecdotal: a friend once found a complete set of official Rorscharch inkblots set out in the trash on the curb one day when he was strolling around New York; a psychologist in the building he was passing was apparently cleaning out his office or something. My friend's father was a psychologist himself, so he knew exactly what they were.

So he promptly retrieved them out of the trash and took them home and framed them. They are now hanging in his dining room wall in a lovely gallery arrangement. I don't remember him remarking on them to guests except to explain that whole "Rorscharch tests aren't just any inkblots, they have to be these ones" thing. Although I wouldn't put it past some of his other friends to occasionally joke that they saw images of Batman giving Superman head or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:00 AM on July 29, 2009

For some reason this cracks me up. Like, I was reading the article and it all just seemed funnier and funnier. Now I'm going off to make some cheese and crackers for my kid, and I'm still chuckling.
posted by not that girl at 7:19 AM on July 29, 2009

I say! These anarchists and mountebanks are jeopardizing the very cornerstone of our modern alienist's tool-chest! I hope they are dragged off by the constabulary and sentenced to twenty years hard labor.

Now hitch up my gig. I have an appointment for a bleeding, and I fear this whole kerfuffle has put my humors sorely out of balance.
posted by rusty at 7:35 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

It's the damned tests again. OK. Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll whisper "no."

That next one? A field of daisies.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:21 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

But you're not helping...

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:21 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

once in a college psychology class, the prof held up an ink blot and asked what i thought it was. when i said, "it's two hermaphrodites dancing around a cauldron" he just about fell off his stool and declared me some sort of genius.

this incident is one of those reassuring touchstones i stroke in my mind when someone calls me stupid.
posted by RedEmma at 8:40 AM on July 29, 2009

I can't believe people still take this nonsense seriously enough to be upset about it.

Also, with all the bilateral symmetry, it's no wonder people think 90% of them are animals, people, or body parts.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:26 AM on July 29, 2009

They're just questions, Civil_Disobedient. In answer to your query, they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response... Shall we continue?

Now, describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about your mother.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

That Artw. He can breathe okay as long as nobody unplugs him.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:31 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Per some wag on the interblogs, "they all look like vaginas with teeth to me."
posted by GuyZero at 2:09 PM on July 29, 2009

Yeah, I was depressed that the Times article didn't even mention that most researchers do not take them seriously any more and that little data supports them. Or even that there was any controversy over their validity. Sigh.
posted by Maias at 4:03 PM on July 29, 2009

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