An Exploration of Language-Based Multiplicity in Fluent Bilinguals

  • Johanna Tiemann Private Practice


This study used projective tests to explore the language-based shifts in aspects of personality observed in fluent bilinguals. The Rorschach Comprehensive System (RCS) and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) were administered in Spanish and in English to 26 fluent Spanish/English bilinguals, and protocols were compared based on measures of affect, self-perception, cognitive complexity, and object relations. No significant differences were found between language protocols for most measures, nor did these measures relate to age of second language learning, relative use of English and Spanish, or participation in therapy. However, cognitive effort was significantly greater on English RCS protocols, and a strong correlation between level of acculturation and freedom of expression in English was found. Further exploration of the data revealed very important differences between most subjects’ Spanish and English protocols. Most notably, in 73% of the cases, RCS protocols differed so extensively by language that different key variable for cluster interpretation and diagnosis were indicated, and 42% of subjects’ modes of decision making (EB style) varied according to language. These findings are remarkable because these key variables are believed to measure constant, dominant and trait-like features of an individual’s psychology. The findings underscored the need for norms based on this population, and development of culturally-based constructs for interpretation of the RCS. 


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How to Cite
Tiemann, J. (2012). An Exploration of Language-Based Multiplicity in Fluent Bilinguals. Language and Psychoanalysis, 1(1), 42-67.
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