Those of you who completed the DAP (from the introduction) will refer to those renderings. Everyone else should use Figure 3.2 which was completed by a "healthy" female who works in the mental health field (see disk to view these figures in color). If you completed your drawings when first reading this book, you may not have any free associations at hand, but with a client these are of the utmost importance. How we approach a new, requested task is central to how we approach anything original and unknown in the environment, and it is the clients' spontaneous statements that offer us a glimpse into their ego strength.
In addition, you will notice in the sample write-up that there are responses behind select structural and formal aspects. You will find these
responses in Appendix A (for the structural components) and Appendix B (for the formal aspects of the human figure). Once all three areas (structural, formal, and verbal) have been completed, a clear picture will emerge.
If you are assessing your drawings before reviewing the sample cases, please retrieve them now. At this juncture write down what you see as you look at the completed renderings. What do you like? What stands out? What immediate visceral response do you have to the drawings?
Now refer to Appendix A and assess the drawing from a structural perspective for both the male and female separately.
Before returning to Figure 3.2, I would like to take a few moments to introduce the formal aspects of the human figure drawing. When you are assessing a projective test, these signs or details take on great significance, for "details are believed to represent the subject's awareness of an interest in the elemental aspects of everyday life" (Buck, 1948, p. 49). In view of that, when you draw information regarding a client's personality and his or her reaction and behavior in the environment, you must combine any structural assessment with a qualitative interpretation of the signs. A study by Goldstein and Rawn (1957) focused on seven symbolic details and two structural aspects to assess whether aggression could be deduced from drawing style using the DAP. The seven signs comprised the following: slash-
lined mouth, detailed teeth, spiked fingers, clenched fists, nostril emphasis, squared shoulders, and toes on a nonnude figure. The two structural aspects were heavy line pressure and large figure size. In the end the structural aspects did not yield significant results, yet "the seven specific drawing details, as a group, did in fact relate to aggression" (p. 171).
Through studies and observations completed by various clinicians, a body of interpretive details has become available. Appendix B is offered as a guide when assessing the human figure in any projective test. These interpretations, as with Appendix A have been compiled from numerous sources (Buck, 1948, 1966; Burns & Kaufman, 1972a; Caligor, 1957; Cir-lot, 1971; DiLeo, 1973, 1983; Freud, 1950; Hammer, 1958; Jung, 1964; Klepsch & Logie, 1982; Machover, 1949; Matthews, 1986; Ogden, 1977; Oster & Gould, 1987; Reynolds, 1977). However, I caution the reader to not take these signs individually, but as an inter-related abundance of ideas. It is only in this manner that a complete and accurate picture of the underlying personality dynamics can be appraised.
When assessing the formal aspects found in Appendix B it is best to begin at the top of the drawing (head) and work your way toward the bottom (feet) for each rendering. In so doing you will be describing each detail and adding the interpretive data (from the appropriate appendices). When you have illustrated each rendering in this way you should find that certain themes will not only emerge but repeat. These notes make up the symbolic abundance of ideas that will be the foundation for your assessment.
After you have completed this step, read the written responses to the questions that were posed in the introduction and take notice of any verbal statements that tend to recur. Finally, compare these responses to the structural and formal aspects of each drawing to arrive at an overall symbolic abundance of ideas.
The sample case given in Figure 3.2 will serve as a guide toward formulating all the disparate aspects (structural, formal, and verbal) into one cohesive whole.
In Figure 3.2, drawn by a "healthy" female, the artist undertook the directive with multiple self-deprecating statements. She emphasized that she was not a good artist, that she could not draw, and that she was doing a terrible job. She drew the female, her first drawing, two times before this, her third attempt (threatened by the content and needing to draw a safer image). Her first drawing was named Jen (the name was changed for confidentiality). The person fills the entire page, is centered (self-directed) and is outlined in orange. The artist used long strokes (apprehensive, requires support and reassurance) to draw the outline and short bursts of tensional intensity shading (anxiety) to fill in the figure detailing. The total number of colors used was seven (excessive use of color-emotional responses). For the male, named Mat, she did not start over (not threatened by the content of the projection). He too is in the center of the page and is the same size as Jen, yet he does not appear as large (less intimidating). His body is drawn with short, sketchy strokes, especially in the arm region. She spontaneously commented, "I'm doing much better with my male. He's much more proportionate." The total number of colors used was three (well within average use). As the drawing progressed, she had far fewer verbal complaints about her ability.
Thus, from a structural point of view we see increased apprehension with the female rendering. She has used excessive color and shading, which has made the figure larger and more imposing. Drawn with long strokes, the projection conveys apprehension, while the male figure is the same size yet appears less intense and intimidating. In fact, all interpretation of the male figure points toward a less intimidating viewpoint. She did not begin the drawing over (as she did on the first drawing), and the number of colors is within normal range. The shading appears anxious, as does the use of short strokes, yet this figure's expression in contrast with that of the female is confident. At this juncture interpretive focus is placed on the imposing female figure.
Now we will assess the image from a formal point of view. In this portion we will be looking at how the image is drawn, from head to toe. This part of the assessment will provide us with information on conscious feelings regarding body image and self-concept.
From a purely formal viewpoint, Jen's hair is multicolored and flows down the front of her body (anxiety, overthinking). Her face is round, with a quizzical look to the mouth. The mouth is reinforced (conflict relative to that part) on the upper lip and has a dimple mark on the left side. Due to the flowing hair, her neck is almost nonexistent and gives the overall impression of a head floating above the trunk of her body (organ that joins control area with that of impulses). Her arms are thick, dangling at her sides (views self as dependent and helpless) and overly long (overambitious striving, desirous of isolation and withdrawal, rejection of others). They extend toward her feet, have four fingers (helplessness), and are bulbous and ineffectual in shape. Her shirt is well decorated and billowy, and you can see trunk lines through the shirt (thought pattern disturbances). Her pants and shirt are colored in anxious strokes, with her legs being significantly out of proportion to the rest of her body (emotional immobility). Her shoes are resting on the bottom of the page and colored in with black.
In contrast, the male's head is rounded, with no pupils in his eyes (immaturity, egocentrism). The schema is the same for the mouth in both drawings, but there is no reinforcement on Mat. He exudes a confident look toward the viewer. His neck is proportionate to the rest of his body. He wears a tight-fitting T-shirt and stands with his hands behind his back (interpersonal reluctance, evasive). The transparency we see in the trunk lines visible through the shirt on the female is not present in this drawing. His legs are colored in with brown pants, and his feet appear clubbed.
From a formal aspect the symbolic abundance of ideas points toward feelings of helplessness and emotional immobility. Interestingly, the reinforced area, or conflict, surrounds the mouth. In contrast, however, the male figure shows little to no conflict, with the only details of concern being the lack of pupils and placement of the hands behind his back. Once again, interpretive focus is placed upon the female.
At this point we will review the artist's verbalizations about the two drawings. The questions should always remain the same, but prompting or elaboration is fine once the initial questions have been asked. It is exceedingly important that the interviewer does not impose interpretations or projections onto the drawing. Any inquiry should be based on what one has noted in the formal and structural aspects of the test. It is important to form questions from your instincts, and once you have interpreted a fair amount of artwork, with the aid of the appendices provided, you will begin to notice more aspects of each drawing and your questions will then be tailored more specifically.
When I asked her to tell me something about the two figures, the artist started with Jen. "I patterned her after me. She's smiling and has curly hair; she doesn't dress like me, though. .. . She has funky arms. What does that say about me?" In response to my silence she stated, "I feel big and gangly and wear loose clothes." When asked about Mat she said, "He's athletic, built, good upper body. He's the outdoorsy type. He's wearing a muscle shirt." When I asked her to elaborate she stated, "I can't tell you about them because they're not real. I'm so concrete" (laughter). When I asked her to try to say more about Jen, she said, "She's a nice person, I should have drawn her embarrassed because I get embarrassed easy. I would have added red cheeks" (nervous laughter). When I asked her why Mat's arms are behind his body, she stated, "I learned from Jen and put the arms behind. I can't draw arms."
As we interpret the drawing from a verbal level, it is apparent that the female subject feels highly threatened by her feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment at feeling "big and gangly." In fact, while drawing she commented on how "proportionate the male was over the female." However, it must be stated that in real life she is in no way "big and gangly." Her weight is appropriate and balanced. This exaggeration of physical features was a clear projection of internal issues. Thus, if we return to the structural aspects, her apprehension at drawing the female becomes all too clear. Her preoccupation with her imagined defects in appearance and her subsequent embarrassment were symbolized by the inability to begin and her need to start twice (only for the female). Her use of excessive color, as compared to an average use in Mat, is also a symbolic repetition of her need to hide behind an expansive camouflage. However, this camouflage, instead of helping (in the drawing), has made her appear imposing and large.
From the formal aspect, the symbolic abundance of ideas that was noted with regard to feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and immobility is apparent in her body image feelings. It also becomes clearer why the mouth was emphasized on the female and not on the male figure, as the mouth is the means by which food is brought in. In addition, the transparency that was noted in the female's trunk is not a thought disorder as in schizophrenia but certainly a thought disorder in her own body image and dysmorphic thinking. Finally, the apparent lack of neck (due to the way the drawing was colored) symbolizes her issues with control (wanting to be thinner) over the inner desires (wanting to consume food/nurturance).
On the whole, the interpretation from a purely structural and formal standpoint directed us toward an emphasis on the female figure and a de-emphasis on the male figure. However, it was the verbal comments after the drawing that allowed the full understanding of the projection to fall into place by giving us a picture of the individual, her fears, and her anxieties. In the end, this information can be of assistance to the therapist in the formulation of treatment planning goals and objectives.
This single example has been replicated time and again. Whether with a difficult client or a volunteer, the blank page is a safe and nonthreaten-ing forum to project the worries and anxieties, real or imagined, that a client hides from view.
At this time I would like to present a selection of art projective tests that have been used for assessment purposes in a variety of settings and have proven effective with a wide range of clients.
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