Schachtel on form: Once more, with feeling

Charles A. Peterson, Nina A Sayer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Form (F) response is based on the shape-form-outline of the inkblot, and is generally considered the 'simplest' of the Rorschach determinants because it is easy to score, understand, and interpret. F is one of the very few concepts about which Rorschach, Beck, Hertz, Klopfer, Piotrowski, Rapaport-Schafer, and, later, Exner, have found consensus. Allegedly, it represents affect-free, pure-picture perception and, psychiatrically, is used to assess the capacity for accurate, consensually defined reality testing. However, Schachtel's 1941 (modified, Schachtel, 1966) article, 'Dynamic Perception and the Symbolism of Form,' was the first to challenge this view by expanding the understanding of this determinant; his contributions are explored here. Schachtel explored the psychological function and meaning of the F response, offering 6 issues for consideration: (a) the role of form perception, (b) the perceptual attitude underlying the F response, (c) perceptual hold, (d) delay and the F response, (e) the development of the F response, and, most important, (f) the Dynamic Form response (DF). This article focuses on the DF response. The DF response recasts some F responses to include the presence of affect. When linked with Rapaport's (1958) concept of the autonomy of the ego, the DF response provides information on the ego's ability to hold, tolerate, and neutralize affect. In short, the DF response carries affect (both nutriment and discharge) that is otherwise blocked in the pure F response. We build on Schachtel's work by offering suggestions for the clinical identification and use of the DF response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-171
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Personality Assessment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1998

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