By Robert DePaolo
This article sidesteps the usual rigor or scientific inquiry in order to engage in a novel, hopefully interesting endeavor. It applies a methodology more often used in the field of clinical psychology to address issues that might be of interest to both psychologists and paleoanthropologists, specifically by analyzing the ancient cave paintings at Lascaux as though they were responses on a projective test. This analysis is not intended to meet standards inherent in social sciences research. It is speculative, and offered as grist for the mill regarding the roots of human nature. Under the best of circumstances it might provide answers to tantalizing questions not yet answered. To wit: What were the ancient cave people really like in terms of temperament, cognitive range and personality? How did they conceptualize their world? Was their mindset at all similar to ours and how did they adapt psychologically to the dire circumstances of the most recent Ice Age? While the following discussion is conjectural methods typically used in the clinical assessment of projective test results are employed. In that context, this article aspires to, at the very least, a face validity regarding certain functional aspects of the Cro-Magnon personality.
The Projective Hypothesis…
While a number or psychological tests are defined as “projectives,” this analysis adheres to interpretive standards typified by the Rorschach, Thematic Apperception Test and House-Tree-Person (or Human Figure) Drawings. Each of these tests has separate scoring standards as well as interpretive peculiarities. The Rorschach provides information that includes content, spatial location, sequence of responses, size of percept, use of determinants such as color, movement, shading and textural features (Rankin 1997).Kleiger 1997), (Rorschach 1942), Acklin 1996). The TAT relies more on factors such as “press” and character identification, as conveyed in the client’s narrative response to picture cards.(Holmstrom 1990). Meanwhile the House-Tree-Person utilizes size, symbolic features such as the posture, placement of hands, vigilance as purveyed through the eyes of the figures and structural detail as indications of social need gratification and ego functions. (Cantlay 1996).