THE THEMATIC APPERCEPTION TEST (TAT)
‘It is not so much I read a book as that the book reads me.’ (W.H.Auden)
Psychiatrists and therapists have long used their patients’ or clients’ responses to images or pictures as the starting point for the discovery and analysis of their inner thoughts‚ hidden feelings‚ private fantasies and unacknowledged hopes and fears. The so-called TAT is a ‘projective test’ of this kind. In psychological parlance‚ ‘projection’ is defined as perceiving in an external object (such as a painting) or person what is in fact in one’s own mind or attitude.
Images used in the TAT leave open any number of possible interpretations. Similarly‚ a picture such as this by the American painter Edward Hopper (1882-1967). which seems fraught with implication‚ enigma and ambiguity‚ gives much scope for individual interpretation and unpremeditated revelation. The themes and narratives that occur to the viewer provide rich material for insight and analysis on the part of the clinician.
In Hotel Lobby (1943)‚ as in other paintings by Hopper‚ the artist’s powerful abstract design and his distinctive use of indeterminate colour serve to intensify the mood of the picture.
From: PSYCHOBOX‚ A BOX PSYCHOLOGICAL GAMES. Edited by: Mel GOODING. Shambala Publication . 2004