Does It Matter If Rorschach Blots Are Online?

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When an emergency room doctor from Saskatchewan posted the 10 Rorschach inkblots on Wikipedia recently, it sparked a controversy over whether access to the images — and patients’ common interpretations of them — could enable mental health patients to “cheat” on the diagnostic test. What do you think? Should Wikipedia take them down? Or, considering that the copyright has expired, should people freely be able to access them?

The inkblots, first introduced by Hermann Rorschach in 1921, have been used to diagnose conditions such as schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder by analyzing patients’ different interpretations of the images. Yet, while some psychologists and psychiatrists are up in arms over patients’ possible access, others wonder if the fuss is really worth it considering that the images were already publicly accessible elsewhere — in libraries, for example — and that their results have proven inconsistent for diagnosing conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder or major depressive disorder. A review of Rorschach inkblot studies published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest in 2000 found that disagreement within the mental health profession over the inkblots suggest they should only be used in concert with other diagnostic strategies, and that “forensic and clinical evaluations should be based on more dependable assessment techniques.” —By Tiffany Sharples