Learn The Truth About Your Personality With These Stunning Inkblot Tests


I’m a sucker for personality quizzes, as my Myers-Briggs book recommendations demonstrate. And the MBTI is not alone: the history of psychiatry and psychology is peppered by many other personality quizzes and tests, that are taken extremely seriously by

professionals, and others that are just fun. Psychobook: Games, Tests, Questionnaires, Histories edited by Julian Rothenstein with an Introduction by novelist Lionel Shriver of We Need to Talk About Kevin fame, gathers many of those quizzes in one spot, and is being released today.

We’re lucky at Flavorwire to be publishing a series of gorgeous inkblot tests from the book that will get you staring and wondering at your desk. Do you see sex everywhere, or death, or perhaps your mother? Read on.

“What Do You See? What Does It Mean?” is excerpted from Psychobook: Games, Tests, Questionnaires, Histories edited by Julian Rothenstein with an Introduction by Lionel Shriver, history by Oisín Wall, and commentaries by Mel Gooding, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016) All images from “What Do You See? What Does It Mean?” courtesy of Redstone Press collection. Readings imagined by Will Hobson.

What Do You See? What Does It Mean? Image credit: Redstone Press collection

(Whole image) Aerial view of a roast chicken Like anyone, you can have doubts about what you’re doing, but essentially you feel very centered and clear about what you need. Alienation is not your thing; passionate engagement is. Speculation about the meaning of life bores you. As Chekhov said, “That is like asking, ‘What is a carrot?’ A carrot is a carrot, and nothing more is known about it.”

(Whole image) A screaming, slightly cartoonish cat that has seen something shocking You like to get stuck in and work things out as they come up, hence your loud, tempestuous side. It is very important for you to be listened to, to feel someone is on your side. Negotiation and conflict are facts of life as far as you’re concerned, so although you are not abrasive at heart, you can come across that way. You can sometimes remind people of the old joke: How many New York cab drivers does it take to change a lightbulb? What’s it to ya?

(Upside down) Someone in a wig, a judge, or a faceless woman You set yourself high standards and expect others to do the same. You’re unconvinced that patience is a virtue. As Picasso said, “You do it first, then someone else does it pretty.”

(Upside down) A woman has clubbed her husband to death with a pair of frozen hams Like the Neapolitans, you think, “Un amore non è bello, se non che la fizzaricello” (Love’s no good unless some sparks fly). All the fun is in the kissing and making up, although you try not to go to sleep on an argument.

(Whole image) Someone’s jaws being approached by the forceps of a sinister doctor Life isn’t meant to be easy, and people can’t always be expected to get along. You feel you just have to be yourself and if people can’t handle that, well, as they say in Barbados, “The eggshell have no right at the hard rock dance.”

(White space inside image) A rocket or tower, specifically the dark tower of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings You work extremely hard, constantly setting yourself new challenges in an attempt to become stronger. You get a lot done and are highly appreciated professionally. The message in your private life may be that you need to lighten up and not be so controlling. You file this neatly in your “To Do” folder.

What Do You See? What Does It Mean? Image credit: Redstone Press collection

(Whole image) A strong man flexing his muscles You are highly capable, to put it mildly. Running marathons, reconditioning bicycles, cultivating new strains of plants, raising money for social causes—you master everything you turn your hand to. Like a competitive athlete, you are naturally gifted and extremely determined. Having the bar raised is a familiar experience, and you pride yourself on always being equal to the challenge.

(Top of image) A pair of rams at the top, butting with heads lowered You’re self-disciplined, reliable, good at seizing the initiative, and, in general, a whirlwind of activity. You always come across as very certain about what you’re doing, which inspires confidence in clients and work colleagues, despite your suffering from raw nerves. When you’re feeling threatened or under pressure, you can feel very stressed, but only those close to you tend to notice.

(Whole image) A scorpion You are highly tuned, like a gymnast or ballerina. Things like diet and sleep can be issues, since you are physically very sensitive. Sometimes you wonder whether there’s a connection between this and how you feel about yourself, your self-worth, but anything that smacks of therapy tends to get on your nerves.

(Whole image) A lobster, shrimp, or langoustine A romantic at heart, you nevertheless have quite a lot of defenses in place. You work so hard and life can be such a struggle that you sometimes wonder if you can sacrifice your peace of mind for the unpredictability of a relationship. Someone can innocently, unthinkingly, mess up the order you’ve created, and you can become completely discouraged. The whole notion of kindred spirits suddenly seems a joke.

(Whole image) Fallopian tubes You have a sense of stalled potential, of putting an enormous amount into life and yet still waiting for it to start. Your idea of how things should be—who you should be with, what you should be doing, etc.— is very vivid, and if reality falls short of expectations, your considerable achievements provide little consolation. A philosophical approach such as Rimbaud’s “Ô saisons, ô châteaux, quelle âme est sans défauts?” (Oh seasons, oh castles, what soul is without blemish?), strikes you as trite at best.

What Do You See? What Does It Mean? Image credit: Redstone Press collection

(Whole image, including white space) Person praying A cerebral soul, you have a great capacity for imaginative, rigorous thought. You know all too well the concentration and patience required to do anything good, and can’t see why anyone would settle for anything less if they care about what they’re doing. You want to feel like the New Orleans piano player Allen Toussaint, who said of his mentor Professor Longhair, “A rule breaker is a rule maker. He blew my socks off, and I haven’t worn any since.”

(Whole image) A racing car, speed, voluptuousness (Center of image) Two furry little cubs, babies, or devils Your highly developed imagination is one of the first things people notice about you. “Metaphorical” is your instinctive mode. You excel at constructing other worlds, seeing things from other people’s points of view, imagining yourself soaring to great heights or plummeting to your doom.

(Whole image) Dentist’s/barber’s chair You are sensitive and generous, a combination that ensures you get a lot out of life and take it painfully to heart in equal measure. Given the transparency of your feelings, people often want to look after you, which can occasionally confuse your understanding of intimacy. Very formal, conventional environments drain you. You would not thrive in the New England setting the artist Cy Twombly grew up in: “Once I said to my mother, ‘You would be happy if I just kept well-dressed and [had] good manners,’ and she said, ‘What else is there?’”

(Upside down) A woman lying back with her legs open You can get very distracted. Within moments you can go from being completely in the present to looking down on it from a huge height, analyzing it to within an inch of its life. Balance is crucial for you, being able to stay in touch with your physical, sensual side. Life is about sensations as well as thoughts; it is about the texture of concrete particulars, the smell of the Paris Metro or what it feels like to hold a mouse in your hand, as Iris Murdoch once put it.

(Whole image) Two dark forces or figures, perhaps female, about to invade and consume a prone figure/ torso You may progress as you digress, to paraphrase Tristram Shandy, or you may just digress. How many unfinished letters or emails, unmade phone calls trail in your wake? As Philip Roth said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”

What Do You See? What Does It Mean? Image credit: Redstone Press collection

(Whole image) A beetle or scarab, possibly with crab’s claws You are very hardworking, good at handling your career and the “game” in general. Success comes naturally to you. You arrange your pieces on the board, lay your plans, and follow them through. You can be careful or daring as the situation requires. In the end, you know it’s always the cleverest or luckiest play that prevails.

(Whole image, except bottom center) A pair of emus facing one another, wearing feather boas, dancing on stage at the Moulin Rouge You feel the pull of glamour and the high life like gravity. You unfailingly know the place to be and enjoy being there, although sometimes you don’t like how you feel the next day, or what you see in the mirror as you head for the dance floor. At times you wonder why this is; at others you tell yourself not to take yourself so seriously.

(Either side of image) Two pairs of hummingbirds, wings beating You’re a connoisseur, a beija-flor (kisser of flowers), as the Portuguese call the hummingbird. Just as hummingbirds sometimes feed on as many as a thousand flowers a day, you are constantly on the move, pursuing objects of desire, seeking out beautiful things.

(Bottom of image) Sunglasses or a bra; a beard You like dressing up and it suits you, although you can worry excessively about what people think of you and seek external solutions—a new car, new clothes—to internal problems. You are tempted to rationalize this as a Warholian creed— life is just surfaces—but you’re not sure whether this solves everything.

(Whole image) A skeleton (Details) Bones Life can seem like a treadmill or a merry-go-round repeating itself over and over. You worry about feeling drained and hollow, grinding to a halt. Sometimes you think you should take more emotional risks.

(Whole image) A flying thing with eyes or an alien figure with stubby feet and no center, or a bikini-wearing goddess with unnerving face No one could be a more dependable friend in a crunch, but you can appear flighty in the day-to-day. You get huge satisfaction from getting in touch with friends you haven’t talked to for a while, a satisfaction that is mutual.

What Do You See? What Does It Mean? Image credit: Redstone Press collection

(Whole image) Pansies, with attendant connotations of spring; bird of paradise The wind is in your sails, a state of affairs that tends to emphasize your charming, energizing qualities. You believe in discussion, want to learn from others, are attentive, modest, and thoughtful, and like people as a rule. This broad philanthropy may reflect itself either in a strain of nonconformism—the sense that individuals should be free to do whatever they want—or in something more political.

(Whole image) Pressed flowers of various sorts, including orchids, irises, and cyclamen You are very aware of what it’s like to have been the object of a lot of attention as a child. The jury is out as to whether this is a good thing; sometimes you think you may have overly high expectations of yourself. You are not seriously worried about being your own worst enemy, but you can understand what Degas meant when he said, “There is a kind of success that is indistinguishable from panic.”

(Whole image) A moth or butterfly with sting in tail Your affable, sociable exterior may not prepare people for how independent you are, the doggedness with which you revolve in your own unique orbit. Naturally, you’re drawn to the limelight—in many ways, it’s where your talents mean you belong—but you’re dubious about the costs, and, even more than that, you can’t stand anyone telling you what to do. You are profoundly unbiddable; at the first hint of coercion, you disappear.

(Whole image) Eyes in darkness, with blinkers on You have a great capacity for introspection. You go somewhere inside yourself far out of others’ reach, and think things over exhaustively. This is not always easy for other people. As Spencer Tracy says to Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday after she divorces him, “I wish you hadn’t done that, Hildy…Divorce me. Makes a fellow lose all faith in himself…Almost gives him a feeling he wasn’t wanted.”