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Sandler, J. (1955). The Thematic Apperception Test and the Children's Apperception Test in Clinical Use: By Leopold Bellak, M.D. (New York: Grune & Stratton, 1954. Pp. x + 282. $6.75.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:420.
(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:420
The Thematic Apperception Test and the Children's Apperception Test in Clinical Use: By Leopold Bellak, M.D. (New York: Grune & Stratton, 1954. Pp. x + 282. $6.75.)
Review by: Joseph Sandler
The T.A.T. is a psychological test which should appeal to psycho-analysts. The patient is asked to construct a story about each of 20 pictures, and these stories can be studied in the same way as the material brought by a patient to the analytic session.
Bellak views the T.A.T. stories from the standpoint of psycho-analytical ego-psychology, and provides a detailed scheme of assessment. This is a far more rewarding approach than many which have been attempted, and analysts will find themselves on quite familiar ground. Bellak devotes a special section to the study of character and defences, but rightly points out the difficulty of basing psychiatric diagnoses (e.g. of schizophrenia) on the test. There is also a section on the use of the T.A.T. in psychotherapy.
The Children's Apperception Test (C.A.T.) is a delightful one. Pictures with animal figures are used, and typical conflict-situations are represented. Children, being on the whole more naïve than adults, can produce ego-syntonic stories about the cards which show more clearly than in adults their anxieties, defences, and object-relations.
The C.A.T. is an excellent method for eliciting useful and relevant phantasymaterial from children and should prove a useful tool. The pictures also have a place alongside the toys in the analyst's playroom, where stories can be produced as part of the process of play, and can be dealt with in the same way.
As with all psychological tests, it is possible to be too enthusiastic, and the danger of 'wild' interpretations is always present. There is also the fact that the degree of apparent disturbance on the test will often bear little relation to the amount of actual disturbance, although the nature of the conflicts may be indicated. Quite normal subjects can produce the most bizarre and 'psychotic' phantasymaterial, and it is only too easy for an inexperienced psychologist to be misled.
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