"Oh those crazy cards again": A history of the debate on the Nazi Rorschachs, 1946-2001

José Brunner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This essay provides a critical history of the debate on the Rorschach Inkblot Tests administered to 22 leading figures of the Third Reich who were imprisoned in Nuremberg in 1945-1946. This debate occurred in two stages. The question at the heart of the first stage was whether the Nazi leaders were sane or psychopaths. Despite a strong disagreement concerning the use of these diagnostic labels, there was a surprisingly broad agreement on the actual substance of the discrepant diagnoses. Divisions of opinion, however, arose from political dissension in two areas: the nature of liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes, and the possibility of trust in any political leadership. The second stage was marked by an ideology of convergence aimed at establishing a consensual "scientific truth" on the Nazi Rorschachs. Thus, the politics of the second phase were motivated by interests and ambitions internal to the field of Rorschach expertise, rather than by extraneous political anxieties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-261
Number of pages29
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001


  • Nazi personality
  • Nazi war criminals
  • Nuremberg trial
  • Psychodiagnostics
  • Psychological testing
  • Psychology of Nazism
  • Rorschach inkblot test


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