Rorschach’s Psychopathology

Chapter six of “Watchmen” contained many psychological themes, mostly due to Rorschach’s identity aligning with the Rorschach test. To a psychology major this chapter was especially interesting. In clinical psychology the use of Rorschach tests are noted as being extremely unreliable and have no empirical evidence (research) to back up the usefulness of these tests. It is noted that they can be used, and are still used by some, but should only be used as part of a battery of tests. That is not how the Rorschach test is used in chapter six of “Watchmen.”

In “Watchmen” the psychologist uses only the Rorschach test to determine what is wrong with Rorschach himself; the tests are an avenue the psychologist uses to get stories out of Rorschach. That is all the test it good for in real clinical practice however: talking points. Using only the Rorschach test can lead to misinterpretation of a client’s problems and does not bode well as a sole assessment that creates an accurate diagnosis.

The psychologist in chapter six diagnoses Rorschach with misdirected aggression; however, that is before Rorschach tells his entire story. Once Rorschach tells how he became Rorschach the psychologist is so preoccupied with what it means that he loses sight of his client’s problems and relates it to his own life. He uses the dog Rorschach killed to ponder his own experiences of a dead cat he found, which leads him to think about the loneliness of human existence.

The bond between client and patient is the most important factor of therapy, but the psychologist lets his preoccupation with Rorschach take over his life. He not only brings his work with Rorschach home with him, discussing it with his wife and thus breaking confidentiality, but lets it affect his views of the world. That is why he presumably fails to notice the psychopathic tendencies Rorschach possesses.

While Rorschach talks to the psychologist he certainly has a lack of affect, a psychopathic trait, but his psychopathic traits aren’t as clear until he reveals the story behind how he became Rorschach. He was mistreated as a child, witnessed his mother involved in prostitution, and was bullied. All of the aforementioned are risk factors for becoming a psychopath, since it is not purely genetics that create a psychopath. Environment is key in whether a person with psychopathic potential will indeed become a psychopath. Rorschach’s past is ideal for such a transformation. So once he tells how he killed the dog who chewed on Kitty Genovese’s femur before burning the man who killed her, it becomes clear that by telling his story he is outlining the culmination of his psychopathology; since killing animals is a precursor to psychopathology. His therapist, however, misses this key point about his client, because he becomes too involved with the information they shared.

If there had been a more accurate portrayal of a psychological assessment and diagnosis in “Watchmen,” then it would not only help to alleviate some misconceptions about psychology, but further the depth of Rorschach’s character. It would also give a much more in depth explanation for why Rorschach committed such a heinous crime, in addition to his most apparent reasoning: vengeance.

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