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“Non-existent animal” is a projective drawing test. It is aimed at diagnosing the emotional state of a person, whether he has aggression, anxiety, fears, or the attitude to his life in general. Sometimes it is used to diagnose mental illness. For example, pictures of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia often contain many uniform, stereotypical, and repetitive details. Their animals mostly do not have any organs or parts of the body that are important for normal functioning, and they are very small relative to the leaf (they occupy less than 1/3). Here, for example, a fairly typical picture of a patient with schizophrenia:
For the sake of their own interest and curiosity, the “non-existent animal” technique can be carried out by anyone who wants to be with himself and his relatives. Very often, when interpreting the details of a picture, a person understands what was previously in the area of his unconscious. Such tests help to listen to yourself and realize some of the moments that prevent you from living happily.
For the test will need the most minimal set of materials –blank paper A4 and plain pencil. It is possible to add an eraser to this set, but then it is advisable to follow all the corrections of the painter. In the conditions of clinical diagnosis, you will also need a form for a psychologist to record all aspects of the subject's behavior and his answers to additional questions.
Please note that it is advisable to choose a pencil medium soft. Too soft a pencil crumbles and makes the drawing dirty, and a hard pencil scratches the paper in case of strong pressure on it. A medium soft pencil (H or HB) will transmit both the pressure force and the thickness of the lines in the figure, which is very informative when diagnosing.
Material feed also has some meaning. It is advisable to put a sheet of paper in front of the person passing the test (hereinafter referred to as the subject), diagonally, so that he himself chooses how to position his animal horizontally or vertically.
The paper and pencil should be accompanied by the following instruction: “Please draw an animal that does not exist in nature, i.e. one that nobody has thought up to you before. ” If the subject begins to complain about the lack of ability to draw, you should tell him that the creative abilities and quality of the picture does not play a role at all.
Sometimes a drawing person may have a stupor, and he will sit in front of a clean sheet. In this case, you can advise him to combine several existing animals into one picture. But, if time is not running out, it is better to give the subject himself to form some idea. If the person who passes this test starts asking how and what is better for him to draw, you need to answer that any drawing will be correct. Giving advice and directing a person to any thoughts is by no means impossible!
When the drawing is completed, you should talk with the subject about the resulting creature. First you need to ask the name, age and habitat of the animal. Then, ask what he eats, if he has friends and enemies, how he defends himself, whether he attacks others first, if he is one of his kind, what he likes to do in his spare time and how he spends his leisure time. In the course of the conversation, you can ask your questions, clarifying the story. At the end of the diagnosis, the subject should be asked to name the three main desires and fears of the beast drawn by him. All answers are recorded by a psychologist on the form.
At the very beginning of the interpretation, you should simply take a drawing of the animal and look at it with a fresh look. What is the overall impression it creates? Aggressive, fearful, or, perhaps, radiant and cheerful? The first impression of the picture is very revealing, most often it coincides with the first impression of the person himself who invented this animal. If the leaf is located horizontally, this may indicate openness, curiosity, a desire to know the world around it. The vertical position indicates the concentration on a particular type of activity and the desire to achieve perfection in it.
We draw attention to the most common, organizational issues. How much did the subject press on the pencil? Weak pressure and pale lines may indicate a person’s passivity, psychological or physical fatigue, as well as lack of motivation to take the test. Strong pressure indicates the presence of aggression, impulsivity and tension. If the pressure is so strong that the pencil breaks or tears the paper, then the possibility of a pathological level of aggressiveness of the test subject should be checked with the help of other tests.
We look closely at the nature of the implementation of the figure. If the details are drawn in a clear, solid line, we can talk about the subject's confidence in his own abilities and deeds. If the lines are formed by strokes, then we can conclude that a person’s anxiety level is elevated. Lines that distort the normal shape of body parts can indicate the presence of organic brain damage or mental illness. But here, again, one should not make hasty conclusions. It is necessary to discuss the details with the subject, perhaps they were distorted specifically, as a creative idea.
We look at the size of the animal itself. The norm is a medium-sized beast located approximately in the middle of the sheet in a vertical and horizontal plane. If the animal is too large (takes more than 2/3 of the sheet) – this may indicate the presence of a stressful state of a person, or overestimated self-esteem. A small animal is sometimes painted by people with depression or very low self-esteem.
Next, go to the individual parts in the figure. Large, rounded eyes with boldly traced contours are a demonstration of anxiety and fear. If the subject paints eyelashes, carefully draws the iris and pupils, then this may indicate a penchant for demonstrativeness and hysteria. The ears of the animal show his interest in communication. If the animal has no ears, the person does not want to make contact with other people, or by nature it is too closed. It is the same with the mouth – if the animal does not have this important component of the body, then we can talk about the lack of desire for communication.
Any sharp details in the figure (spikes, horns, canines, needles) indicate a high level of aggression. Some researchers argue that the upward spikes are a manifestation of a negative attitude towards higher people and power, and their orientation downwards indicates a negative attitude towards subordinates, children or younger ones. The decorations on the animal (feathers, wings, tattoos) are mainly drawn by creative and demonstrative people.
The description of the animal's lifestyle in many ways reflects the attitude toward the life of the subject himself. The age of the animal is the psychological age of the person drawing. If the beast lives in some inaccessible and distant places (in the desert, jungle), then the person is by nature inclined to isolation and introversion. If an animal eats its own kind, has many enemies and attacks other animals itself, then additional examinations of the subject's aggressiveness level are necessary. The desires and fears of the animal, as a rule, coincide with the desires and fears of the subject in real life.
Nevertheless, only a specialist can make any reasonable conclusions and make diagnoses. In addition, the “non-existent animal” technique cannot usually be conducted apart from other tests; it should be interpreted based on reliable clinical material and a conversation with the patient. Sometimes the details of the picture, which statistically reliably reflect one character trait, for a single person may reflect something completely different. After all, everyone has their own life experience, and we can transfer our inner psychological state in different ways.
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