Personality projection in the drawing of the human figure

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Reviews the book, Personality Projection In The Drawing Of The Human Figure by Karen Machover (see record 1949-03217-000). This handsomely printed monograph which contains so many suggestions for clinical research attempts to systematize the clinical insights and experience of the author in the functional analysis of drawings of the human figure. It proceeds from the hypothesis that there is “an intimate tie-up between the figure drawn and the personality of the individual who is doing the drawing.” This hypothesis is based on prior assumptions that the body, or self, is the most intimate point of reference in the drawing of a person, and that the individual's experience with his own organism leads to investment of various aspects of the body with values which are selectively reflected in the drawing. The text attempts to organize and communicate the evidences of personal involvement to be found in drawings of the male and female body. The author divides her discussion into three parts: personality projection in the drawing of the human figure, which outlines theoretical and administrative aspects of her technique; principles of interpretation, considered under two major headings, the content of drawings and the structural and formal aspects of drawings; and illustrative case studies. The least satisfactory part of the monograph is the theoretical discussion with which it begins. While the author manifests a sincere theoretical interest, and indicates that research to answer theoretical questions is in progress, she seems in a hurry to proceed to the technical aspects of her method, and even in the section on theory introduces an illustration of interpretation which is nearly as lengthy as the discussion of theory. It is in the second part of the volume, the discussion of principles of interpretation, that the author hits her stride. Following the customary interpretative methods of study of the content and of the formal aspects of drawings, she suggests on the basis of clinical experience with “thousands of drawings” the diagnostic meaning of such content factors as the various areas of the body and the clothing, and of such formal factors as symmetry, size and placement, and type of line. The seven case illustrations, introduced for didactic purposes, consist of brief clinical histories, reproductions of the drawings given by the subjects, and detailed interpretations. Until validation studies are published it cannot be expected that this simple clinical tool will reach its full usefulness. As a guide for clinical experimentation with a promising and expedient diagnostic method this monograph amply justifies its publication. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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