JANUARY/FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER – VOLUME 6, NUMBER 1

HAPPY NEW YEAR – NEW PROGRAMS

It is the beginning of a new year with new challenges and opportunities.   For Rorschach Training Programs 2014 offers three new training programs.   The first program is coming up soon and by the time you are reading this Newsletter registration will be closed.

We are already receiving registrations for the June Program so don’t wait too long to register because registration is limited so participants will have the highest quality learning situation.

We received enough response for the August Program so that the 2 Day Advanced Forensic Program is now open for registration.   This is an excellent opportunity to learn from two of the most experienced forensic psychologists  – Drs. Anita Boss and Anthony Sciara.

NAZI DOCUMENTARY

In January, my wife and I flew to Disneyland for a vacation.  While there, I flew to San Jose to be interviewed for a documentary on the psychology of Nazi Germany as revealed by the Rorschach test.  During the interview, I spoke about the Nuremburg Rorschachs (16, eventually 21) and the Rorschachs administered during the war crimes trials in Copenhagen, Denmark (almost 200 rank-and-file Nazis).  The interview was conducted by Eduardo Rufeisen, the producer, director, and writer of the documentary at the home of Paula Sozzi Saslow, the associate producer and also a writer.

Eduardo is from Brazil.  He obtained a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Motion Pictures and Television from the Academy of Art University in San Fransisco and his graduate degree in marketing from the Esola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  He has more than 18 years of international experience producing, directing, and managing creative teams and crews.

Paula is from Argentina and obtained her Master’s Degree in Spanish Literature from Stanford University in 2002 and her PhD in Hispanic Literatures and Languages from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011.  She is now pursuing her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Motion Pictures and Television at the Academy of Art in San Fransisco.

I did not meet Boris Zubov who is the editor of the documentary.  He is an award-winning video editor, designer of motion graphics and a sound engineer.  Currently, he teaches graduate courses at the Academy of Art University.

During the interview, I addressed the following questions:

1.  Why was the Rorschach chosen as the main test for the Nazi criminals?

I said that the Rorschach was chosen because at the time, it was the most commonly used personality assessment method.  Many of the Nazis received intelligence tests, and the Thematic Apperception Test also was given to some.  The Rorschach was the only method that was administered to all the war criminals in the samples.

2.  What is the history of the Rorschach test?

I talked about Hermann Rorschach and his development of the test and the further development in the United States involving Bruno Klopfer, Samuel Beck, and John Exner.

3.  If different psychologists read the tests, would they interpret them differently?

I said that there are several approaches to the Rorschach at the current time and while different psychologists might interpret the test a little differently, the main conclusions we drew about the Nazi Rorschachs would essentially be the same because the test has basic interpretive guidelines.

4.   What did the test prove about the Nazi criminals?

I said the tests at Nuremburg did not identify a single Nazi personality.  There were a couple of psychopaths (Quisling and Rosenberg for sure) and some with psychopathology (Rudolf Hess was psychotic and Hans Frank appeared manic-depressive), but the group did not manifest the same psychological characteristics.  Some of the Rorschachs were outstanding (those of Baldur von Shirach and Hjalmar Schacht in particular).  The rank-and-file Rorschachs from Copenhagen showed some psychopaths (about 20%) and some who showed real regret (mostly military personnel, about 10%), but the rest showed very constricted Rorschachs with very few responses involving human percepts.  Our general conclusion was that our results were in line with Hannah Arendt’s theory of the Banality of Evil.  I also said that it had to be remembered that all the participants were on trial for war crimes and many for their lives, so it made sense that they might not say much to psychologists.  Also, the tests were administered after World War II was over in Europe—a fact that may have affected the Rorschachs.

5.   When were the Nazi Rorschachs made known to the public?

I told them that Molly Harrower sent the Nuremburg Rorschachs to Rorschach experts immediately after the war crimes trials, but got little response.  Later, in the early 60’s, she got a bigger response and published the results in Psychology Today.  She thought that the reason she got so little right after the war is that the experts saw little psychopathy or pathology in the Rorschachs and were afraid to make their opinions known so close to the war when many people still thought of the Nazis as psychopathic monsters.

6.   What was the source of the controversy between Dr. Kelly and Dr. Gilbert?

I told them that both men administered Rorschachs to the war criminals at Nuremburg and quarreled over who had the right to publish their findings.  Interestingly, Kelly—a psychiatrist—had worked with the Rorschach before (he is the Kelly of the Klopfer and Kelly volumes) and Gilbert (a psychologist) had never administered a Rorschach before Nuremburg.

7.   What is the relevance of Dr. Kelly’s special relationship with Goering?

I said that the folklore of Nuremburg indicates that Kelly smuggled the cyanide to Goering that allowed him to commit suicide.  This is because a few years later, Kelly also committed suicide with cyanide.  Goering had the kind of personality that enabled him to impress many people—including Hitler.  He was one of the few individuals who were close to Hitler through most of the Nazi years.  He also impressed many people at Nuremburg.  One of his Rorschach responses is of “a chameleon”—a good indication that he could adapt to many different situations.

8.   Can a similar tragedy evolve under similar circumstances today?

I said that Germany in the 1930’s was in dire economic and political turmoil, but the personalities exist today as they did then—individuals who were greatly influenced by external circumstances and who lacked the depth of character to question what they were being ordered to do.  I told them I was concerned about the rampant nationalism of today and the inability of the government to make important decisions.  As Elie Weisel said, we need to be concerned about the possibility of a Holocaust happening again.

I was interviewed because I was a co-author of the book Quest for the Nazi Personality which mainly dealt with the Rorschachs administered at Nuremburg.  I have a chapter in the book which reports the results of Rorschachs obtained at Copenhagen.  The Rorschachs there were administered by Nancy Braat-Oostergaard and were translated into English and brought to the United States by Michael Selzer, a political scientist at Brooklyn College.  Dr. Selzer and I have given the Rorschachs to the Library of Congress.

The Danish Rorschachs are important for several reasons:

1.  There are many more Rorschachs in the sample—nearly 200, compared to only 21 from Nuremburg.

2.  The Rorschachs were primarily from rank-and-file Nazis rather than the upper echelon Nazis tried at Nuremburg.

3.   Most of the Danish participants were from the part of Denmark contiguous with Germany—Schleswig-Holstein.  This means that most of the rank-and-file Nazis shared a cultural orientation with German Nazis.

The documentary will appear after all the pertinent interviews are completed.  I will tell you how to gain access to the film.  After this experience, I thought that a two-day workshop on the Nazi Rorschachs might be of interest.  I could include the Rorschachs of Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz (not Hitler’s secretary), Herman Goering (the most famous Nazi at Nuremburg), Hjalmar Schacht, The Secretary of Economics for the Nazis (who was acquitted at Nuremburg and has a fascinating Rorschach), and a typical rank-and-file Rorschach from Denmark.  We could focus on the coding and interpretive methods of the Comprehensive System, the approach I used to assess the Rorschachs.  Let me know if you are interested.

SPA MARCH, 2014

The next Newsletter will include a summary of the Society for Personality Convention to be held in Arlington, VA,  March, 2014.  I hope to see some of you there.

QUESTIONS

If there are questions concerning the Comprehensive System please know that Tony or I will be willing to respond.