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PROFILE OF THE ANCIENTS: The Cave Paintings at Lascaux as Projective Test

March 31st, 2011 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 622 views | Print this Article

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).

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March 21st, 2011 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Disorders and Pathologies, Psychology | No Comments » | 2,891 views | Print this Article


This article discusses the motives of serial killers from the perspective of behavior theory, implying that notwithstanding environmental, social and familial factors, the offender must ultimately act in terms of a negative feedback-correction paradigm. Diagnostic implications are discussed in that context

The motive of serial killers is a topic that has been discussed from various perspectives ever since 1888, when Jack the Ripper went on his rampage in London’s Whitechapel district. Unfortunately there is still no answer to the question of why certain people commit such deplorable acts. That is not surprising. Over time there have been a vast number and wide variety of violent felons but only a few have been characterized as serial killers. That makes the phenomenon so rare as to be an item of both disdain and fascination. As rational creatures only occasionally disposed to fits of anger, and with legal, social and cultural ways of resolving conflict it is extremely hard for clinicians, law enforcement personnel and lay persons to comprehend why a person would kill at random, and apparently out of sheer habit.

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March 6th, 2011 by Robert DePaolo | Posted in Psychology | No Comments » | 641 views | Print this Article

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The following article addresses human motivation from two perspectives. The first is based on  genetic/evolutionary predispositions to behave in ways that enhance adaptation. The second is uncertainty reduction (neuropsychological resolution) as pertains to  the role of immediate experience in prompting behavior beyond evolutionary influence. The argument is presented that behavioral heritability cannot singularly or even primarily account for human motivation and behavior.


In essence, the theory of natural selection appears to rest on solid ground. The notion that organisms undergo periodic mutations and that such mutations must be either consonant or at least not counterproductive vis a vis the demands of specific environments is virtually a tautology. Indeed given that mutations do occur and would invariably have some impact on structure and function, one could ask legitimately how it could be any other way.

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