Hermann Rorschach Biography: A Scientist with a One-of-a-Kind Legacy

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Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss psychiatrist and psycho-analyst who became famous for developing the Rorschach inkblot test which is still being used today. This projective test involves 10 different inkblots that are used to reflect the unconscious parts of an individual.

Hermann Rorschach is the founder of inkblot test.
Mr. Rorschach’s life began on November 8, 1884 in Zurich, Switzerland, but he spent his childhood and youth in northern Switzerland. Hermann Rorschach grew up with a younger brother and sister and hard working parents. When he was 12 years old, his mother past away, and seven years later his father deceased, as well.

Hermann was often referred in school as ‘inkblot,’ as he enjoyed klecksography. His father was an art teacher  and encouraged Hermann  to express himself through drawings and paintings. Thus, he lived a very artistic and intellectual childhood.

As his high school graduation approached, he was not sure what career to choose. The two careers that he had in mind were art and science. But after thinking about it and receiving advice from the well-known German biologist Ernst Haeckel, he opted in studying science.

Mr. Rorschach was admitted at the University of Zurich. A particular study that he was conducting had some elements that reminded him a lot of the inkblots he used to paint as a child. On this particular study, he used inkblots to analyze the responses of school children.

Hermann Rorschach also conducted some studies in Berlin and traveling to Russia. He met and fell in love with Olga Stempelin (a Russian classmate) and was engaged with her around the same time he graduated from medicine school. In 1913, they both got married and moved to Russia, but one year later, Hermann Rorschach returned to Switzerland and served as an Assistant Director at a psychiatric hospital in Herisau.

In 1917, he became a father to a daughter and in 1919 to a son. In 1921, Hermann Rorschach decided to share his knowledge with a book about the inkblot test which was titled ‘Psychodiagnostik’  (Psychodiagnostics). Just a year after writing this book, Hermann Rorschach died at the age of 37 of peritonitis on April 1, 1922. At the moment of his death, he was still the Associate Director of the Herisau Hospital.

The inkblot test has often been criticized as being pseudoscience, but it’s a test that is still highly used in various institutions and even used for fun by many people around the world. Also, it often appears in movies and television shows which make it very popular.

Hermann Rorschach is still remembered with much respect and love for his contributions to the society. He died at a young age, but what he accomplished in his life time left a significant legacy to the world of science.
In November 2013, the popular search engine Google celebrated Rorschach’s birthday with Google Doodle; showing an image of an inkblot test.

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