J. Herman Kleiger

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Born and raised in Denver, I journeyed from the Rocky Mountains to the New England coast and eventually became a psychologist. While practicing in the Navy, at the Menninger Clinic, or in my private practice, I've always found time to write. Writing about people, their struggles and courage, has been an integral part of what I do. I have authored three professional books – Disordered Thinking and The Rorschach, 1999, followed by its cousins Assessing Psychosis, 2015, and Rorschach Assessment of Psychotic Phenomena , 2017. Unable to resist the play of imagination, I completed my debut novel, The 11th Inkblot, published in 2020.

People and their stories amaze and inspire. As a practicing psychologist and psychoanalyst, my passion for listening to people tell their stories ripens with time. The process of discovery through listening and writing – be it clinical, nonfiction, or fiction – is a deeply satisfying endeavor.



BY J. Herman Kleiger

The young son of a watchmaker with a fascination for art begins creating inkblot drawings in this engrossing debut novel by Kleiger.

Anton, the son of great Russian Jewish horologist Herman Zellinksy, narrates this novel about a family in the turn-of-the century village of Zastavia. The young Anton dreams of following in his father’s footsteps, but his “golden brother,” Chaim, has been chosen by his father to learn the craft. Anton is ignored and spends time drawing in the company of his mother, Marina, who is of Hungarian ancestry. Marina uses inkblot cards to foretell futures. When Herman discovers this, he throws the cards in the fire, calling her a “gypsy witch.” Anton salvages one inkblot and attempts to re-create more. Marina then disappears, and Chaim reveals a desire to join the Russian army. Herman begins to teach Anton watchmaking, but a discovery causes the younger man to leave home only to be forcibly conscripted by the army. The story tells of Anton’s being reunited with his brother on the Eastern Front, searching for his mother in Hungary, and continuing his education in Zurich. One of the most compelling elements of this well-written and lovingly embroidered novel involves if or how Anton’s life will intersect with that of the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, pioneer of the eponymous inkblot test. Kleiger is a master of fine detail, found in Proustian moments such as when Anton describes an aunt who “always saved extra sweet breads for me”: “To this day, whenever I smell cinnamon or cardamom, I think of Aunt Nadya.” Kleiger also carefully captures the intricacies of watchmaking: “The mechanism consisted of a crown wheel, the rencontre, which was rotated by the power of weights.” The author’s lack of dialogue is unnatural and unnecessarily grandiose when representing a village boy such as Chaim: “I seek the path of triumphant warrior. I will lead men with proud sounds of trumpets announcing the charge.” Still, this is a spellbindingly measured narrative that entertains and enthralls.

A unique and captivating story of a young mind torn between science and art.

Pub Date:

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Awards, Press & Interests

Day job


Favorite author

Richard Powers

Favorite book

Echo Maker

Favorite line from a book

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of desp



Passion in life

Family connections

Author Interview, 2020


Assessing Psychosis, A CLinician's Guide, (Co-author, Ali Khadivi)

Offers a practical and comprehensive clinical resource for a broad audience of mental health practitioners seeking to sharpen their understanding of diagnostic issues, clinical concepts, and assessment methods that aid in detecting the presence of psychotic phenomena
Published: March 5, 2015
ISBN: ISBN-10: 0415715133, ISBN-13:

Disordered Thinking and The Rorschach

A comprehensive text that covers the entire range of clinical and diagnostic issues associated with the phenomenon of disordered thinking as revealed on the Rorschach Inkblot Test.
Published: July 1, 1999
ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0881632323, ISBN-10

Rorschach Assessment of Psychotic Phenomena

An updated version of the 1999 classic, "Disordered Thinking and the Rorschach," Kleiger's new text reviews current research and introduces a conceptual framework for using the Rorschach to organize our thinking about psychotic phenomena
Published: Feb. 3, 2017
ISBN: ISBN-10: 0415837685, ISBN-13:
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