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Psychopathic traits in the test of the human figure

Psychopathic traits in the test of the human figure

January 25, 2022

The projective test they are one of the psychodiagnostic tools that more clinical psychotherapists use. The basis of this is based on the fact that at the time of writing, drawing or speaking, we project different aspects of our personality, conflicts and even our aspirations unconsciously.

Usually, these tests have a psychoanalytic base, as we will remember was Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, who made the first explorations about the unconscious and its importance in our daily life.

Analyzing the way psychopaths draw human figures

An intense clinical experience has shown thatThe drawings of the human figure represent an intimate expression of the artist's personality . The Machover test is based on the theoretical foundation of the body schema that we project through the drawing. Today we will talk about this, one of the most widespread projective tests, used and accepted by the psychoanalytic community; At the same time, we will examine the graphic characteristics that tend to indicate some degree of psychopathy .

Learn more about psychopaths: "Psychopathy: what happens in the mind of the psychopath?"

Generalities regarding the drawing

Three aspects are very important when examining the drawing before inquiring about the characteristics projected in the human figure: dimension , the space and the position

It has been found in most drawings of psychopaths very large strokes, characteristic of a personality with remarkable exaltation of the ego . If we also find it in the middle of the page, we can affirm that the subject has a need to control their environment. If it is on the right we can assume that there are problems with authority and antisociality.

Hand in hand with the need to control, we find certain dependence on their environment (since the psychopath has a great need to exercise control) if in the drawing he presents accessory objects external to the human figure. Other generalities that we will find in drawings made by psychopaths are predominance of angles and picks, remarcamientos and intensity in the strokes. In addition, they usually start by drawing a figure of their own sex and usually the head will be the last trait they draw.


How was expressed above, the head drawn by people with psychopathic personality it tends to be the last part of the body to be drawn In addition, it is usually disproportionately larger in relation to the size of the body, which is an indicator of egocentricity, megalomania and overvaluation of his intellectual capacity.

If this is also long it will be indicative of aggressiveness; if it is very marked, it will denote the need for domain; if there is no definite head contour, problems of connection to reality can be suspected. Lines of expression on the forehead and eyebrows that are highly populated or in the inward direction are indicative of latent aggressiveness. Detecting emphasis in the eyes indicates paranoid tendencies, while a penetrating or threatening look and also accentuated is a sign of latent hostility

Very often, in addition, there is a remarkable remark in the nostrils of psychopaths, which are interpreted as evidence of aggression. The emphasis on the mouth usually demonstrates verbal aggression and special tendency to irritability.

If the human figure is showing the language, there is orality at the primitive level in the subject. Undisputed signs of aggressiveness at the oral level are: the presence of teeth (much more if they show edge or expose the canines), angular or pointed features, draw the mouth as a thick line choppy. When the neck is long and also thin, the subject has trouble handling his impulses; the absence of this indicates that the subject is at their mercy.

The log

Another of the very particular characteristics that are often found in particularly aggressive psychopathic personalities that have physically attacked other people are: the exaltation of the chest that indicates narcissism, if it is also discovered adds hostility and arrogance; with muscular features accentuated is an aggressive subject.

In relation to the arms, the emphasis on the musculature and reinforcements in them show us aggressiveness and desires for physical power ; to find in the drawing the arms in "jarra" they show to a arrogant person and with anarchic tendencies; the long arms indicate material ambition. The angular hands are always indicative of antisociality to be parts of the body related to the bond and social contact.

This feature is also reinforced if we find fingers that are pointed or as an expressive claw. Fist-shaped hands indicate a strong pent-up aggressiveness.

Lower part of the body

If the legs are very reinforced, there is aggression; also if the legs are moving or as if they were kicking. Bare feet indicate primitive aggressiveness especially if nails are shown.

When the genital area is exposed, there is exhibitionism and / or lack of control of sexual impulses ; If the drawing is accentuated in the genital area as with excessive retouching, for example or thoroughness in the drawing of the closure there may be sexual disorders.

Other considerations

It should be remembered that you must always ask the subject to express a story about the human figure drawn, this story will complement the projective method will help us clarify some concerns about the drawing or

The clothing and actions performed by the individuals drawn can also provide us with many data that are usually especially compensatory, within the outfits that psychopathic personalities prefer to draw, we very often find that of a neat businessperson (my common in white collar delinquents) or someone who performs martial arts (with greater incidence in those who commit crimes of physical contact).

Finally, we insist that this projective test is complemented with others that allow to deepen the unconscious aspects of the personality of the individual.

Bibliographic references:

  • Portuondo, J.A., The human figure. Projective test of Karen Machover. Editorial New Library.

By the way, Are You a Psychopath? (January 2022).

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