Introduction internal conflict, coping styles and interpersonal aspects.

Projective testing entails having clients respond to ambiguous stimuli, such as
pictures or phrases, with the intention of uncovering unconscious feelings and
motives. Due to the unstructured and ambiguous nature of the test, the client
can freely project their personality through responses which will then be interpreted
in order to analyse their psychological state (Anastasi, A.,1976). The
underlying hypothesis is to measure personality in a subtle, indirect way, as
the spontaneity of the results reveal concerns, needs, internal conflict, coping
styles and interpersonal aspects. Although this type of testing may be useful
in understanding certain aspects of personality, the literature examined has
lead me to believe that results are tentative at best.

This type of testing is widely applied in the therapeutic setting
or in personnel interviews. Projective testing has a basis in Freud’s
psychoanalytic theory, which proposes that thoughts and impulses hidden in the
unconscious are often the root of problems. Therapists administer projective
tests in order to examine a client’s thoughts and feelings, or to bring certain
topics to the fore. These tests can provide useful information and reveal
conflicts which the psychologist can use as a starting point to address. Freud
sought to explore the unconscious through free association, in which the
individual talks about what comes to mind, revealing basic determinants of
personality. The Islamic concept of the nafs is in line with psychoanalysis
theory personality which comprised of the  Id, Ego, and Superego. Naf’s al Ammara Bisuu
reflects our negative traits and tendencies,controlled
by desires (Qur’an 12:53), similar to the notion of Id, which functions
on the pleasure principle. The reproachful soul(Qur’an 75:2) can be
defined in terms of the Ego and Superego which attempt to mediate teh Id. Therefore, because of the basis of this
concept, projective testing is relevant and may aid in pinpointing one’s
struggles with the nafs.

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Rorschach Inkblot Test, introduced in 1921 by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann
Rorschach, is the most widely used projective test. The
individual is shown a series of 10 inkblots and asked by the interviewer to
explain what he sees. Inkblot. 10 cards with complex inkblot in blakc and white
or coloured, report what they see on the card…ask subject to elaborate
response. scored in terms of location- (does anwer involved s small or entire
section of blot), determinants like shape or colour, or content (wht the
reponse represents) Another factor which is taken into account is the client’s
demeanour while answering.  The Rorschach
test has various scoring methods which aim to provide objectivity, however this
is limited as many psychologists interpret the test according to their
subjective impressions.

Another popular test, and more reliable, is the Thematic
Apperception Test. Thematic Apperception Test, Harvard University by Henry
Murray 19930, less ambiguous than inkblot as it involve pictures of actual
scenes.   Client is asked to observe a series of images
and describe a story in each one of them, try to reconstruct what has happened,
what is happening now and what he believes will happen next. The person also
has to describe how the different characters think and feel. The examiner then
scores the test based on the needs, motivations, and anxieties of the main
character and how the story ends. TAT psychologists look for recurring themes
that may reveal needs, motives or interpersonal relationships. (book, 199)

Projective tests are considered less reliable
than objective psychological assessments, therefore, there is controversy about
its effectiveness in drawing solid conclusions regarding personality. A primary
disadvantage of this type of testing is the risk of interpretive bias, and the
fact that subtle differences in phrasing can influence performance on tests.
These tests may help clarify things person has not yet verbalized and, as
opposed to objective tests, there is a lower chance of faking responses due to
the ambiguity of stimulus. However, the tests are inadequately standardized
with respect to administering and scoring. In spite of the use of Comprehensive
System’s for objectivity, the Rorschach falls short of scoring reliability and
validity (Lilienfeld, S. 2005). Thematic Apperception Test is relatively reliable
in measuring aggression and achievement factors. However, there may not always
be a correlation between expressions of aggression in TAT test and overt
behaviour. (Anastasi, A.,1976)

A primary criticism is that projective tests reveal content
connected to the individual’s most recent experiences, as opposed to their
innermost subconscious. Critics propose that in so far as drawing conclusions,
test results are unreliable and responses are susceptible to the client’s mood
at the time a well as minor signals from the examiner. Furthermore, these tests
look solely at an individual’s behaviour, rather than symptoms.

tests finding trends through drawing, and are mostly used with children. According to psychoanalysis, the animal
represents our unconscious impulses and desires, thus drawing animal allows
client’s to project their inner world into the animal. Furthermore,
the client may be asked to verbally associate or complete phrases or stories
according to certain instructions, an example is the sentence completion test.
The Rorschach and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), have more standardized
methods of interpretation than techniques such as free association and dream
interpretation. The Rorschach is not dependent on a client’s literacy level and
has cross-cultural applicability. However, the TAT may show scenarios that are
not relatable or easily comprehended to those who are unfamiliar with Western
cultures or settings. S. Lilienfeld (2005) maintains that inkblot results
of minorities may differ from the norms, and in addition, TAT administers may over diagnose
psychological disturbance.

Scoring systems do not have much predictive
value (book, 199) so psychologists base interpretation on impressionistic
evaluation as well as responders general reaction. Preoccupation in stories are
not necessarily acted upon in overt behaviour- a shy person with aggressive
stories may never act on these impulses. TAT is a sample of behaviour and particular
story themes are only meaningful when considered in light of other situational


Islamic perspective acknowledged the influences of al-ghayb
(unseen) on the soul. These unseen forces can affect mental state and
behaviour. Furthermore, Islamic psychology takes into account the illness of
the heart and the latent nafs. Projective tests can help see unconsciousness,
encourage self reflection. Muslims would seeking refuge to battle the waswas of
shaytaan and self. Muslim clients may show differences in responses compared to
Western norms. The stimuli on projective tests such as the TAT depict Western
people and settings, thus responses to the images may be based on stereotypes
of Western society as opposed to personal feelings.

Despite the useful information gleaned from these tests, they are not
appropriate to use as a standalone to make diagnosis. This type of
testing is good in detecting conflicts, to get clients to talk about upsetting topics, and to set goals. True to an
extent, however is subject to clinician’s bias. It is not the only way, and the
diagnosis would be more reliable if used in a battery of test for a
comprehensive overview of the client’s personality. However, it can prove
useful in providing a starting point. In addition, if a particular standard of
norms is developed for Muslims or non-Westerners, the effectiveness of
interpretations regarding personality and motives may be more accurate.


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