Posts tagged: Rorschach


Business Logo for Psychological and Neuropsychological IssuesThe theatrics surrounding the George Zimmerman trial call to mind an oft used psychological term.  The term is called “projection.”  The Freudian notion of projection is that a person rids themselves of unwanted thoughts and emotions by attributing them to another person.  Their ego is unable to cope with the unwanted thoughts, and blames them on others, in an effort to maintain a consistent self-concept.  As with most aspects of Freudian theory, his concept of projection does not readily lend itself to experimental validation.  It has remained an interesting concept that awaits proof.  It should be noted that projection is often used by graduate students of clinical psychology, or rather it is hurled between said students of psychology.  Upon initial exposure to this concept, it becomes addictive to label fellow students as projecting; especially if one does not agree with their viewpoint.

Thankfully, there are scientific underpinnings to the psychological concept of projection.  The famous Rorschach Inkblot Test is based upon the concept of projection.  Perhaps difficult to believe, it is the only test on Earth that can differentiate a psychotic from a normal person.  People will project their inner experience more readily when the stimulus field is ambiguous.  This is a fancy way to state that when unsure, people tend to reveal what is actually on their mind.  People that are confident in their environment may lean on old thoughts to guide their lives.  When faced with situations that are ambiguous or completely novel, one cannot lean on old thoughts to explain the new situation.  A person must generate novel thoughts to explain the new or ambiguous situation.  This generation of novel thoughts to ambiguous stimuli is the  kernel of psychological projection.  These thoughts need not be unwanted or forced upon another, as Freud theorized.  It is a morally neutral cognitive process that helps any person organize their thoughts and master unusual situations.

In a related manner, the recent George Zimmerman trial has draped the public under a pervasive cloak of ambiguity.  The legal details do not, however, appear very ambiguous.  The conservative author of the law readily admitted it was not intended to defend provocation.  The “Stand Your Ground” law was intended to assist in the defense of random victimization.  It is precisely Mr. Zimmerman’s motivation in confronting Mr. Martin that is highly ambiguous.  His stoic appearance during the trial accentuated the ambiguity.  The lack of evidence supporting a personal racist history heightened the confusion over his possible motives.  Furthermore, consider the very day Mr. Martin was killed.  Mr. Zimmerman’s thoughts during his first glance at Mr. Martin are completely unknown, and will remain so.  His thoughts at the moment of killing Mr. Martin will also remain clouded in mystery.  There does not appear to be any evidence for or against a racist agenda in the targeting of Mr. Martin.  The racist motivations of Mr. Zimmerman are, hence, perfectly ambiguous.

Due to this ambiguity, Mr. Zimmerman may be considered a projective test of the populace.  Given the lack of evidence as to his racist motivations, people are free to project their thoughts and emotions onto Mr. Zimmerman.  People are free to project hatred as well as sympathy.  They are free to project anger and sorrow.  They are free to describe their inner experience through the ambiguity of George Zimmerman.  So do not be deceived by experts and pundits who claim to know the racial motivations of Mr. Zimmerman.  What they know is their own beliefs regarding racism, and that is exactly what they are espousing when talking about George Zimmerman.  Perhaps in addressing the law that created this nightmare, some good may be extracted from the bad.  Addressing the competence and motivation of zealous prosecutors may assist in separating the ripe from the rotten.  To address the racial motivations of Mr. Zimmerman is to reveal the racial beliefs of those who address him.  It is Zimmerjection.

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