Exner’s Comprehensive System: What It Is And What Parts It Has

Exner's Comprehensive System

The Rorschach test is probably the best-known projective test of all. The black or colored ink stains that make it up may seem arbitrary and completely subjective in interpretation, and in fact it is a test that without proper training is very complex to evaluate, but the truth is that it is an evaluation instrument. which may reflect information of great interest regarding the subject evaluated.

Interpreting it is, as we have said, complex, and although initially there were a great variety of ways of doing it, today there is a very elaborate systematization that allows us to obtain unified criteria when evaluating and interpreting results. This is Exner’s Comprehensive System.which we are going to talk about throughout this article.

What is Exner’s Comprehensive System?

It is called the Exner Comprehensive System. an interpretive model and methodology of the Rorschach testwhich is currently used as the main system to interpret this projective test and which makes this process much less subjective, to the point that it practically eliminates its subjectivity.

The system in question focuses on a quantitative and operable interpretation of the information reflected by the test in question, and is also based on criteria obtained empirically and based on the research generated from the application of Rorschach by both the patients as well as on the part of the systematizers.

The Exner Comprehensive System emerged in the eighties, at a time when the Rorschach test had multiple possible interpretations which, although they did not always contradict each other, often did not coincide with each other, yielding inconsistent data depending on who interpreted it.

In view of this problem, which generated great concern at the Rorschach Research Foundation (founded in 1968), John Exner and other professionals carried out in-depth research on the different interpretations of the Rorschach test existing at the time, making comparisons between the five main ones. methodologies that were used at that time in North America: those of Klopfer, Beck, Piotrowski, Rapaport and Hertz.

Exner generated from all of these a comprehensive system that could be used to code and interpret the results obtained by the Rorschach test, giving rise to his Comprehensive Exner System. Although the system was created to help interpret this test, the truth is that some authors have ended up validating it to do the same with other projective tests, such as the Zulliger Test.

What aspects to value?

Exner’s system can come into play once the test in question has been applied, and it first provides a common framework in which to configure large categories of elements to be valued (which will be interpreted later).

You may be interested:  Supernormal Stimulus: What it Is, Characteristics and Examples

In this sense, Exner integrates the elements that Rorschach himself and some of the later interpretive systems generated to propose that when passing this test the professional should pay attention to the following elements.

1. Location

One of the factors to evaluate is what parts of the stain make up the subject’s response. That is, if the element that the subject claims to see is found in the entire stain, in a detail that others also frequently find, in parts of the stains that are infrequent in most cases that are identified as such or even if the subject’s interpretation is based on or partly uses the blank spaces on the page (i.e. outside the spot.

2. Determinants

This is the type of elements or aspects of the stain that have determined the response emitted. One of these determinants to evaluate is the shape, which is the most relevant determinant and the one that the subject most often explains when he tells what he sees.

Another of them is the movement, understood as an action that the subject imagines is being carried out (whether of a person, animal or object and whether it is an active or passive movement). Color should also be assessed, whether chromatic (in color plates, they are often used together with the shape to identify what is being seen) or achromatic (in black and white plates).

Another determinant is the shading (which can give an idea of ​​texture, insubstantiality or depth). In addition to this we can find the dimension form, according to which something is identified because in a specific position in space it has that shape. Also pairs and reflections, which occur when a person sees two identical elements or when the existence is interpreted that one is a reflection of the other.

3. Content

This aspect, fundamental in the assessment, is based on identifying the type of content that the subject claims to see in the stain. In general, it is considered that the most common responses or types of content include human figures, plants, animals, anatomy or parts of people or animals, objects, organs or sexual elements or artistic elements, among others.

4. Evolutionary quality

This aspect may seem difficult to determine, but it is based on assessing the level of concreteness and use of the various parts of the stain to form a stimulus when giving a response.

5. Formal quality

Appreciate the precise formal quality of the use of concrete tables in which we can check if the patient’s responses are justifiable based on the elements and shapes of the stain.

6. Organizational activity

Mainly, this aspect to be assessed refers to whether the set of elements that the subject may have seen in the stain They are related to each other.

You may be interested:  How to Learn to Get Out of the Loop? The 8 Most Important Steps

7. Frequency

Finally, it is necessary to assess whether the patient’s responses are relatively common in the reference population or, on the contrary, are original and unusual.

8. Special phenomena

In addition to this, it is also worth assessing whether there are so-called special phenomena, that is, strange elements that make the answers unusual.

Among these phenomena, we must take into account failures (when the subject is unable to respond), the existence of shocks or abnormal behavioral alterations when faced with a stimulus, perseverations, self-references, confabulations, criticisms or contaminations (several interpretations of the stain are combined). .

It is also necessary to evaluate if there are customizations or if you observe aggressive movements (for example they see a stabbing), morbid (dead bodies, wounded…) or cooperative (a hug), or even if they say they see some abstract concept. This aspect is not always valued, but is usually added if there are unusual alterations.

Interpret with the system

We have talked about the main elements to take into account when assessing the patient’s responses to the application of Rorschach sheets. But knowing what to look at is not enough to be able to interpret it once corrected. In order to achieve this, Exner’s comprehensive system proposes to evaluate the data globallythe isolated data not being interpretable.

All the previous information has a meaning: time, number of responses, locations, contents (for example, human figures are usually related to this type of relationships, anatomy to concerns and narcissism, sexual to repressions… but it also depends on the proportion and frequency). with which they appear), determinants such as movement or the level of frequency of responses.

But in order to be able to make a summary or summary of the personality structure of the subject, Exner’s comprehensive system configures a series of groupings or sets of data that, when linked together, theoretically They give an idea of ​​the type of functioning of that part of the subject’s personality.

These groupings allow us to make a structural summary of the subject’s personality. In this sense there are a total of seven groups.

1. Main Core or Controls

The set of variables that make up this group are all those that allow us to analyze whether the person evaluated is capable of organizing himself and staying focused, in such a way that he controls his thought and emotional processes. This is the most relevant element of the structure, since it establishes the ability to make decisions and act.

One of the most relevant indexes in this sense is Lambdathrough which we look at the type of response in affective situations and which can be assessed from the relationship between the pure responses and the total number of responses given.

The experiential type can also be assessed (whether we are introversive, extratensive, ambiguous, restricted or dilated), the accessible experience (resources), the base experience (the internal elements that are activated without control) or the stimulations suffered.

You may be interested:  How to Help an Alcoholic Person? 6 Tips to Make Him React

2. Affections

This set of variables allows us assess the emotional and affective sphere of the subject, giving information about how the discharges of emotions are regulated, the presence of emotional constriction, the interest and value given to the emotional sphere and the proportion of affective, the mental resources to deal with complex situations or the presence of superficiality or oppositionism. It also allows us to see the existence of depressive tendencies.

Shape-color ratio, affective ratio, blank responses, or multiple determiners can be calculated.

3. Information processing

In this case we value the existence of organizational effort on the part of the subject, as well as the way in which he processes and integrates the information. It is also linked to the cognitive (specifically the presence or absence of resources) and the motivational. It is valued if they pay attention to detail or if they make an effort to process the information. In this sense, the number of organizational activities, or the frequencies of the locations used, are valued.

4. Mediation

Medication may be more complex to understand than other facets to be evaluated, but it mainly refers to the way in which the subject perceives reality adequately and adheres to conventional responses.

The interpretation of this point must take into account, for example, the percentage of answers of original and conventional formal qualities, the degree to which the answers are popular, or the use of strange locations, such as the use of blank areas.

5. Ideation

At this point the way in which the person thinks and knows is explored. The cognitive and intellectual part.

In this case, aspects such as intellectualization, the presence of Snow White syndrome (avoidance of responsibilities), rigidity, clarity of thought, orientation and rationality can be evaluated.

It can be seen through various indices, and aspects such as the use of abstract/artistic content, contaminations, inconsistencies or passive and active human movements (and their proportion) among others are used.

6. Interpersonal

This area obviously refers to the way in which the subject relates to others, valuing their interpersonal interest based on self-image, the tendency to visualize cooperative or aggressive scenes. It can also be interpreted based on determinants such as textures, which may indicate a need for closeness, or the use or non-use of certain content in the responses.

7. Self-perception

In this case, the subject’s perception of himself is assessed, based on the egocentrism index (high would imply high self-esteem, low could indicate low self-esteem) and can be seen in the presence of reflexes, morbid, anatomical contents or uses of the dependent. shape-dimension.

Bibliographic references: