Nazi Criminals Were Given Rorschach Tests at Nuremberg

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tags: Nazi, Nuremberg, Rorschach Tests



HNN Editor: Few know about the Rorschach tests administered to Nazi war criminals.  Now new attention is being paid to them because of the world of Joel Dimsdale.

Dimsdale’s studies [of the use of Rorschach tests on Nazi war criminals] led to a 1980 book entitled Survivors, Victims and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust, as well as subsequent research. Earlier this year, he published a study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research covering one of the largely-forgotten tests administered to the Nazis: Rorschach inkblot tests.

Dimsdale explains that while the Nazis were imprisoned, American psychiatrist Douglas Kelley and psychologist Gustave Gilber administered Rorschach tests to many of them. The men soon clashed, however, in part due to their different backgrounds: Kelley was a gifted psychiatrist and polymath who was an expert in evaluating Rorschach tests, but he didn’t speak German and had to communicate through a translator. Gilbert, on the other hand, was fluent in German but knew little about the test.

Mainly, though, they began to differ over interpretations of the nature of the Nazis, and of evil deeds in general. Gilbert came to the conclusion that the men were “demonic psychopaths,” whereas Kelley’s view was that “war criminal behavior exists on a continuum, and it’s likely that many people would stoop to such behavior in certain circumstances,” Dimsdale says.




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