The Kavanaugh Rorschach

ford IINo one knows whether Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations describe an event that actually happened, or happened exactly as she describes it. We may learn more, from the FBI investigation, or not. Whatever the result, the lurid circus that is the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation process, and now the hearing into Dr Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh, (when she was 15 and he was 17) is a Rorschach screen to the American mind.

For those who don’t know, the Rorschach test is a series of inkblot prints used to explore unconscious thinking, or bias. Since the black-ink images represent nothing in particular, the interpretations given to them by subjects can only come from the mind of the subject. It was popular in the early twentieth century when psychoanalysis held sway, but is very seldom, if at all used these days.  It survives best as a prop for jokes, like the one where the frustrated subject, looking at image after image of meaningless black smudges, berates the psychologist: “I don’t see how showing me pictures of my parents having sex is supposed to help me with my problems.”

And the famous Get Smart sketch where the doctor testily upbraids Smart for crassly remarking that all the ink blots look like a man and a woman having sex:

Doctor (with German accent): “You’ve got a very one track mind, Mr Smart”.

Smart: “Well doctor, you’re the one with the all the dirty pictures.”

You get the point.

There is nothing in the Kavanaugh matter about which we can be certain. He may be all of the things said about him, or none. So, the bitter partisanship, exemplified by the ABC’s predictable panegyric about how Blasey Ford is “the symbol of a generation of women”, together with the hysterical and self-indulgent overreach that paints Kavanaugh’s ordeal as the coddling of male indignation, tells us a great deal about the authors and nothing about the Kavanaugh or Blasey Ford. If Blasey Ford is not telling the truth or is mistaken she is not a symbol of courage but of calumny, and Kavanaugh is perfectly entitled to his sense of outrage.

Equally, those who say they “know” Blasey Ford is a liar and that the possibility of sinister motives with respect to the timing and handling of her story mean that it didn’t happen (or that, if it did, would not have been terrible to endure), are no better. They are probably worse. If Kavanaugh assaulted Blasey Ford when they were teenagers, as she insists with “one hundred percent certainty”, then he did a terrible thing. It would have traumatised anyone to a greater or lesser degree. Whether it has any relevance to his confirmation is a debate worth having. If he didn’t do as has been alleged (or, dare I submit, even if he has), then those misandrists who mocked him and used his angry and anguished rebuttal to make a larger point about men should be ashamed of themselves. But they won’t be. He doesn’t matter to them. Because this is as much a gender war as it is a partisan political one. The stakes are high and so is the nastiness.

There are many ways to think about Kavanaugh and his testimony. Some speculation is, of course, reasonable. But, in the absence of any special insight, and these people have none, to label his torment the phenomenon of coddled masculine indignation is ineluctably cruel. The capacity to project the vulgar entitlement of the patriarchy onto a man they know nothing about is a bias not exclusive to, but predominantly the domain of the ubiquitous female journalist and blogger. These women are almost never older than fifty. Many are under forty. They are tertiary educated, at least medium-income earners, and very few have ever encountered any substantial sexism or classism in their shortish privileged (go on, say “coddled”) lives. So, the cognitive and emotional biases required to promulgate this peremptory tripe are hard to understand, unless they are vicariously grafted from the weirdos, liars and assorted personality disorders who inhabit social media.

Their apparent lack of lived experience betrays an astonishing naiveté about the pathologies of femininity, including the blindingly obvious: Women lie, just like men. They make things up, get confused and exaggerate, just like men. Women become furiously and embarrassingly indignant, just like men. None of this should need to be said.

It also invites the question: Where have these women been in the last 20 years? Don’t they have enough female friends and colleagues to at least have come across a memorable minority of liars, careless exaggerators and manipulators?  Have they not worked for female bosses, seen female indignation, feminine fury, emotionally incontinent agitators, even barking-mad crazies?

Have they never met a decent, successful man who has worked hard and is angry about unfair treatment? Don’t they have sons, or be capable to imagining they might have sons, or have empathy for the strivings of little boys and young men? And why don’t they grasp that if these boys grow up to be successful in the careers, like Kavanaugh, that they might look and sound like Kavanaugh — proud of themselves and angry when their reputations and life’s work are being undermined. Is this unthinkable without reflexive and arch contempt?

The gendered condescension of the commentariat would be intolerable if the roles were reversed and female stereotypes were mocked: under-confidence as craven and pathetic; emotional reasoning and empathy as tortuous, disorganized, muddled and inane; female hierarchical tendencies as bitchy, sly  and blackmailing? Quelle horreur!

As it stands, we don’t know how the Kavanaugh story will turn out. And it is precisely because we don’t, and can’t, that the projections of these opinionistas tell us much more about them than they realise, or, lets face it, than they care.

Dr Murray Walters is a Brisbane psychiatrist


17 thoughts on “The Kavanaugh Rorschach


    Blasey Ford has refused to release her medical files. I once attended the trial of a person framed for and acquitted of sexual harassment. Three accusers were suborned into perjury by a prominen politician who opened the stitch-up under parliamentary privilege. The accusers were in my medical files. There was a pedophile with a venereal disease. There was a lady of the night with a venereal disease. There was a woman with a drug history. With a skilled barrister it was not necessary to break the files to the Court. The politician later did 10 years for rape. With Blasey Ford refusing to release her files it is not hard to guess what they would reveal.

  • johanna says:

    I think that Dr Walters is being a mite disingenuous here.

    It is true that we will never know for certain what (if anything) happened to Ford 30 something years ago. But, it does not follow that her claims and Kavanagh’s denial should be given equal weight.

    Actions have consequences, and making very serious accusations of a criminal nature against someone absent a shred of proof is at best highly irresponsible. Ford’s lawyers looked under every rock, and all we have is denials from potential witnesses, including Ford’s best friend.

    Meanwhile, Kavanagh has had his reputation trashed even though not a single provable fact supports her story. Why did she do this, and why did she do it now?

    She lied about not being able to fly, and about not knowing that Senate investigators offered to interview her privately anywhere she chose. The latter fact was all over the media, and it is absurd to suggest that neither she nor any of her family or close associates knew about this offer.

    Kavanagh, on the other hand, has not been proved to lie about a single thing. Yet he is the victim of this vicious and damaging sideshow.

    While the comments about her supporters are valid, the real issue is that she willingly spearheaded this attack, and her supposed credibility is solely based on her alleged victim status.

  • Michael Galak says:

    An ordeal , which the distressed, depressed, dispossessed and distraught lady was forced to relive, did not prevent her reaching considerable heights in her profession.

  • Warty says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Johanna, Dr Walters, in that Ford’s testimony ought not to be given equal weight if one pauses for a second to examine the circumstance underlying her revelations and the forces aligned to torpedo Judge Kavanaugh’s chances. The smell is rank to say the least, and remember this was thirty something years ago, only emerging when she insisted on having two front doors inserted into her home, apparently to her husband’s astonishment. I’m sure, with your clinical experience, you’d be able to encompass her own expression of agoraphobia without difficulty, but I would have thought insisting on having an extra front door built into the house would have made her more vulnerable to open spaces, as in the more classical expressions of agoraphobia . . . but that was the reasoning she gave for blurting out the truth to her husband in the course of a counselling session.
    Her testimony has to be put in the light of the pressure put on Kavanaugh when he gave his own voluntary testimony, when they challenged him to request an FBI investigation, having already undergone six such investigations already.
    Ford’s delayed accusation was nothing other than an ambush, and half a dozen more are likely in the week to come, before the senate are required to vote. Politics has become disgracefully filthy in America and we will follow in double quick time.

  • mgkile@bigpond.com says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Senator Graham and Judge Jeanine.

    Both Ford and Kavanaugh are – inter alia – victims of a very nasty piece of political theatre designed to exploit the fact that a Senate “hearing” is not a trial.

    To see Senator Graham call out the Washington Swamp go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Nzg5Bf__V4
    4 minutes

    Also not to be missed is Judge Jeanine with a legal take here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjDD1IeeFWI 8 minutes

  • Warty says:

    ‘ We may learn more, from the FBI investigation, or not. Whatever the result, the lurid circus that is the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation process . . . is a Rorschach screen to the American mind’. An escalation of the #MeToo phenomenon? It has all the hallmarks of this relentless campaign with worse to come.
    This ‘orschach screen to the American mind’ has become the most significant American export to the rest of the world, but it was a long time in coming, and the bleach spraying activist in Russia is yet another manifestation of the underlying misandry fuelling it. The ABC’s ‘predictable panegyric about how Blasey Ford is “the symbol of a generation of women”’ is yet another and the consequence is a growing divide between the sexes and the slow death of Western Civilisation, as intended by the Cultural Marxists in the first place.
    Well, we all know this, though the MSM continues to be fired up by the lures of rampant feminism. We all know this, which is why Victor Orban has banished ‘gender studies’ from the length and breadth of Hungary, with (hopefully) other European countries to follow, once they’ve dealt with their migration issues.
    The old adage that ‘things have to get a lot worse before they get better’ might indeed be playing out in the Senate Kavanaugh hearings. And YouTube along with social media may help lead the charge against the ‘deep state’, or the ‘swamp’ as Trump likes to call it.
    The ride will be rocky perhaps for a generation or so, but hopefully we will dodge the ‘Dark Ages’ bullet.

  • mburke@pcug.org.au says:

    Victor Davis Hanson hits the nail on the head, as usual:


  • whitelaughter says:

    Rorschach tests dropped out due to difficulties with interpretation of what it means; although the test is objective, any ‘expert’ discussing what you see is not.

    The blots though are impressive. A book of mine includes a set at the back; while around at friends I was looking at them quite grimly, seeing skulls, flames and a pile of bones – a young lady present looked at the blots and immediately squee-ed: “what beautiful butterflies!”

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