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Aberrant Rorschach perceptions of alcoholics

, : Aberrant Rorschach perceptions of alcoholics. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 28(2): 255-266

A number of studies designed to discover the "alcoholic personality" through the use of the Rorschach test have yielded a variety of psychopathological labels at variance with one another. To investigate an empirical finding, not reported in the literature heretofore, of fabulized combinations in the Rorschach responses of alcoholics, protocols of two groups of hospitalized patients, 35 neuropsychiatric patients and 35 alcoholics, were studied. The two groups were well equated in age (mean, alcoholics 45, controls 40 years), sex (18 women in each group), socioeconomic status and intelligence. They fell mainly in Class II and III of the Hollingshead 2-factor socioeconomic index and were of bright normal or better intelligence as measured by the Verbal Scale of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. All were voluntary admissions to either a private psychiatric hospital or to the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital. No patient had a neurological disease, and none of the alcoholics had a history of head trauma, delirium tremens, psychosis or evidence of intellectual impairment. Three expert Rorschach interpreters judged each response for fabulized combination. Samples of these are given. The 3 hypotheses tested were confirmed: (1) 26 alcoholics and 7 controls had 1 or more fabulized combinations (chi square = 18.5, p<.001), indicating that fabulized combinations reflect the effects of prolonged alcoholism rather than personality disorder; (2) no significant differences between the total number of responses produced, nor between high- and low-response subjects, indicated that fabulized combinations are not a function of the length of the protocol; and (3) 2 alcoholics produced more achromatic- and 18 more chromatic-card fabulizations (p=.001), indicating that fabulized combinations predominate on chromatic cards. The findings are interpreted as demonstrating an impairment in judgment and critical thinking attributable to psychological alterations which may reflect neurophysiological changes or, perhaps, early anatomical pathology in the brain particularly in the frontal lobes. The impact of chromatic cards in the experimental situation was compared to the effects of inebriation in the social situation.


PMID: 6058335

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