Tag Archives: World War II

The Rorschach testing of Nazi war criminals

28 Apr

Neuroskeptic has the details this amazing episode in the history of psychology.


Interestingly the responses of the Nazi leaders were used in an experiment that raised questions about the validity of the Rorschach procedure. Here is the abstract of the relevant paper:

“The Rorschach records of 17 Nazi war criminals (administered in 1946 by Kelley and Gilbert) were subjected to an experimental procedure wherein eight Nazi records and eight controls (matched for levels of mental health potential) were assessed blind by ten Rorschach experts. Multiple choice options allowed for classification on the basis of group characteristics or degree of potential. Nazi records were not identified as such; selection related to the cross-section of adjustment or inadequacy as reflected in both Nazi and control groups.”


Pioneers of memory improvement

10 Sep

A central purpose of this blog is to help you use the science to improve your memory. Thus, it straddles the space between research and self help.

There have been a number of people who have contributed to both memory scholarship and the self help literature on memory.


My model here is the work of the couple Chesley and Morris Young.

Chesley Virginia Barnes served as a cryptographer in World War II, She met Morris while they were both stationed in Naples. He was serving as an army physician.

As a boy growing up in Lawrence, Massachusetts Morris Nathan Young saw Harry Houdini escape from a strait jacket while suspended upside from the tallest building in town. Young got to shake Houdini’s hand and developed a life long interest in magic.

By age 17 Young was himself performing as a magician and his act impressed Houdini.

Young studied at MIT as an undergraduate and earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Harvard. He later attended medical school. He chose his specialty, opthalmology, because of his interest in how the eye could be fooled by misdirection and sleight of hand. His friendship with and admiration of Houdini led Morris to become interest in body control in general and memory improvement in particular.

Both of the Youngs wrote popular memory improvement books. Morris Young also published an extensive scholarly bibliography on memory. They amassed one of the largest collections of books and pamphlets on memory, which was eventually donated to the University of San Marino. Their writings blended insights from the practical experience of memory improvement techniques and from the scientific literature on memory. This blog tries to follow their example.


Martin, D. (2002) Morris N. Young, eye doctor and collector, dies at 93. [New York Times, November 24, ]

Tanne, J. H. (2002). Morris Nathan Young. BMJ, 25, [December 14, 2002, p. 1424]


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