Friday, April 30, 2010
HANDWRITING ANALYSIS OR GRAPHOLOGY
My friend Kari posed some questions and issues about handwriting analysis and I was going to just reply and thought I’d do a post on it instead. It’s much too big a topic for a simple reply. Hope this helps, Kari, and everyone else. It’s very important to be accurate in our facts in novels and stories (and screenplays, but no one much pays attention to facts in movies…)
My lovely wife Mary, as seen through my big feet. (Us professional photogs call this "framing." I trust you caught the irony there...) You'll meet Mary further down in a little story about felon's hooks and vacuum cleaners...
First of all, to establish the bona fides of handwritiing analysis or graphology--it's a reputable and acknowledged science. It's accepted in courts in all 50 states, and courts don't allow anything that isn't provable or scientific. They don't allow tea leaf reading or horoscopes, for example, or allow dog whisperers or horse whispers to take the stand and present evidence. There are several leading teaching medical schools that have a graphologist on hand to diagnose various diseases and illnesses. I had an interesting experience years ago with a teaching colleague when I noticed a trait in her handwriting and said to her that her handwriting showed she had pain and disease in her shins. Shocked, she looked at me and said that no one knew this, but that she had severe shin splints. It showed in her handwriting through a trait called “stasis.” There are four leading universities at present that offer accredited courses or degrees in the U.S. In many western European universities, if you get a degree in psychology, you're required to take a course in graphologhy to obtain your degree. It's a bona fide, legally-accepted science. There are provable tenets, in other words. And, there are three things you cannot tell by handwriting analysis: age, sex, and handedness. Those are all old wives' tales. Also, I'd beware of Internet sources for facts, particularly Wikipedia. Those are notoriously unreliable. Anyone can post anything on resources like that and most are just opinion and not to be trusted.
Everybody's handwriting is different. Within a family, a son or daughter's handwriting will often resemble the parent or guardian who was the most influential (not necessary the most loved), but it's still unique to that person.
What most people "think" looks like "male" handwriting is that it's larger or perhaps "sloppier." The fact is, there are just as many women as men who have large or sloppy handwriting. More accurately, large handwriting is a trait of being an extrovert. Sloppy handwriting is often a trait of higher intelligence than average. Small handwriting is a trait of being an introvert. No one trait defines a personality. It takes literally dozens to produce a reliable picture.
“Waverly” handwriting can be an elderly person’s handwriting; it can also be the result of disease or ill-health. It can also indicate emotional illness. By itself, it doesn’t indicate age at all. It also doesn’t matter what cursive system a person was taught by, Palmer or otherwise. It really isn’t “handwriting” analyasis. Properly, It is graphic movement. A person doesn’t even have to be able to write to have their writing or doodles or drawings studied and by the same elements as handwriting is accessed. Children who haven’t yet learned to write can be analyzed with the same traits as those can do write, just as easily.
Your handwriting is your handwriting and it is unique to you. Even if it resembles your dominant parent, it’s still unique to you. There are dozens and dozens of traits that need to be analyzed to give an accurate picture. Just a few include: slant, baseline, margins, spacing, pressure, size, speed, zones, printing vs connected writing, connecting strokes, signatures, the personal pronoun I, and many, many others. No one trait can identify the three things mentioned and even with all the traits analyzed, those three things can’t be told.
If a person is say, right-handed, and loses that hand and learns to write with his left hand, his handwriting will, over time, become the same as the right-handed writing. If he loses that hand also and learns to write with his foot or even his teeth, the handwriting will eventually become the same. Handwriting is a function of the brain and exhibits personality traits. I had a student years ago who had suffered a stroke and had lost the use of her right hand. She learned to write with her left. About a year before I had her in class, her feeling returned and she reverted back to her right hand to write. When I told the class that about it doesn’t matter which hand you write with, if you write long enough with the other it will become the same as the original hand. She gasped and said I was exactly right. The next day she brought in samples from before when she wrote right handed and later samples she’d written just before her feeling returned from her left hand, and a sample of her present writing. All three were exactly the same. That doesn’t mean the day after she lost use of her right hand, her left-handed handwriting was the same—that’s impossible. But, after about a year of writing with her left it had gradually returned to the same handwriting she had produced with her right hand.
The thing I felt was wrong in the book I mentioned was that the character professed his take on handwriting as “fact” and it was absolutely wrong. That this guy was a detective compounded the error. He didn’t say he “thought” his dead girlfriend’s hair seemed longer; he stated it as an absolute fact that it was. That’s different than a character giving an incorrect opinion. He observed the dead woman and reported what he “saw.” Which was impossible. Hair does not grow after the body dies. Impossible. And, what made it worse was that he didn’t say it grew a tiny bit—he indicated it had grown a lot, had been growing for the two years since she had died. And, then, this same character interpreted a handwriting example as being “male” and then from an “older” person. Neither are possible to determine. This ruined this character’s reliability for me and ruined the book as well and probably will keep me from reading any more of this writer’s books. These are extremely easy facts to research and verify (not from Wikipedia, sorry!). In fact, if anyone’s interested a good source to begin a study of the science is Andrea McNichol’s Handwriting Analysis: Putting it to Work for You. It’s very accessible and easy to understand. Andrea teaches the subject at USC and has solved hundreds of crimes for law enforcement agencies through graphology, including the legitimacy of the Howard Hughes will, the Ted Bundy murders, the Hitler Diaries, and the Billionaire Boys Club case. She’s regularly called in to solve in-house theft by Fortune 500 companies.
In fact, most people are unaware of this but the majority of Fortune 500 companies employ handwriting analysis of their candidates for middle- and upper-management hires, and increasingly for routine hires. They just don’t tell the applicant. There’s a large firm in Louisville who has the lion’s share of this business, analyzing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of handwriting samples for the business world. If you ever interview for a job and the ask you to just “jot down a paragraph or two about your life goals” or “where you see yourself in five/ten years,” it’s almost certain they’re going to send that sample to the Louisville firm or another like it. They won’t tell you that’s what they’re doing, but it usually is.
Here in Ft. Wayne years ago, I interviewed Barry LaBov for his international company, LaBov and Beyond. Barry’s company pioneered on-hold phone messages and does all kinds of advertising business, such as create jingles for companies for advertising. Among their clients are Disney, Chrysler, Ford, G.E… in short, just about all of the major corporations. Their business is unique, in that their employees not only have be to salespeople, they also have to be musically-gifted. They don’t hire “off the street,” and Barry told me it takes an average of two years to train an employee to where they begin contributing to the bottom line. Who they hire is extremely important to them. He said that because of that, they used to use all the best personality tests and profiling and all the best sophisticated tools available to make sure they hired the right people. Even with the best scientific tools there were, his retention rate for employees was less than 60%. He was talked into hiring handwriting analysis on his hires and was skeptical. But, he swears by it now. His retention rate today is almost 99%. In fact, he said at the beginning they were going to hire a woman who was at the top of all their scientific charts as to personality, prediction of success, etc., and it was between her and another woman who didn’t test nearly as high, but seemed qualified. The second woman exhibited a much higher score than the first one and Barry said he almost didn’t hire her, but he did and he said she’s turned out to be the single best employee he’s ever had. She was promoted to senior v.p. and still is. The other woman went to a competitor and did great for a year and then the negative traits the handwriting analysis had predicted surfaced and the competitor was not only forced to fire her, but pressed charges against her for intellectual theft. Today, Barry says he wouldn’t hire a janitor without a handwriting analysis. It’s so much more accurate than anything else.
Here are some traits that stand out. Keep in mind that some handwriting is occupation-determined. For instance, most folks think doctors have terrible handwriting, barely legible. Well, it is, many times. It’s occupation-related. They write so many prescriptions that their handwriting deteriorates. Engineers, many times print everything (doesn’t matter for analysis if it’s printed or cursive or even what cursive method they learned). That’s because they write lots of memos and they have to be clear. That’s job related. Although, there’s another factor at work with engineers. Many of their personalities tend to be “things-oriented” rather than “people-oriented.” That makes a person who is or has learned to be wary of other people Therefore, many of them print in their casual life as well, and that’s considered a negative trait. People instinctively realize that their handwriting reveals their personalities and when a person prints, you have to make sure it’s not just a job-related habit. It may also indicate a person who doesn’t want others to know the “real” him. A person who not only prints, but always prints in all capitals, is really a person who doesn’t want others to know the real person he is. Doesn’t mean he’s a psychopath or anything; just means this is a person who will probably not reveal his inside self to others until after a long time when he finally feels he can trust them.
Most people hide their real selves. The thing is, they can hide it from others, even close relatives like a wife or husband, but they can’t hide it in their handwriting.
There are several extremely negative traits. One that always stands out is the “felon’s hook.” I can’t reproduce it here, but it’s a writer who doesn’t write the descenders on letters like y or j, for instance. Instead of a loop, like most of us use, it’s more like an upside-down U in the descender. Studies show that over 87% of those incarcerated will exhibit a felon’s hook in their writing while they’re incarcerated. My wife has one that appears in her handwriting when she’s fibbing or lying about something. (She won’t handwrite anything for me any longer, but she doesn’t realize I can tell just as much from her printing. Hope she doesn’t read this!). A few years ago, we had to spring for a new vacuum cleaner which we really couldn’t afford but had to have. She bought one and then spent the first week cussing at it as it didn’t perform like she thought it should. “Take it back,” I suggested, but she said she couldn’t. She got in a no-return clearance sale. “Well, I guess we’re stuck with it then,” I said, and she reluctantly agreed. But, it was clear she hated it. Well, the next Monday which was both of our day off, I went to get coffee and when I got back, Mary was gone. She left a note saying she was just running out to the mall for a little bit. That was all it said. Very innocuous. When she got back, I said, “What kind of vacuum cleaner did you buy?” She was absolutely shocked. That’s exactly what she’d done. She was going to tell me… when she figured out a way to do so without having me have a cow. “How’d you know?” she asked. I showed her her note… and the felon’s hook she’d used for the g in running. That told me instantly she was fibbing about something and since that was the logical thing—the thing we’d been discussing intensely, I knew that’s what she’d done.
In my classes, when I talk about handwriting analysis, I tell my students to write a chatty letter to their best friend and to put in a small lie and I’ll see if I can find it. Just about every time, my batting average is 100% Not 90%. 100%. Ask Sarah F. who’s on here if she’s reading his. We’ve taught together and she’s seen me do this. I won’t reveal how it’s done… gotta keep some secrets. I don’t even read what they’ve written. Don’t have to.
The worst trait in handwriting analysis probably isn’t what you think. The most negative trait is handwriting that looks almost perfect. It looks almost exactly like the cursive writing we saw back in third grade in the books that taught us cursive writing. Now, this can be job-related—if the writer is an elementary school teacher and feels it important to provide a good model for her students’ handwriting, then that’s job-related and normal. What makes it a negative trait is if the writer doesn’t normally write that perfectly and then you observe their writing getting more and more perfect. If you see that happening in a friend or loved one, I’d suggest talking to them. They may well be suicidal. It’s important that you realize that if this is the person’s normal handwriting, it doesn’t mean much. It’s only when it begins to change toward perfect writing. What’s happening is that a person who starts to have thoughts of suicide is a person who perceives their world is out of their control. They feel they can no longer control their world… but they can control their handwriting. And they begin to do so. I told a class I taught this at the University of Toledo a few years ago and a very shy girl I’ll just call K, came up to me and said I was exactly right. (I already knew I was…) She said she’d attempted suicide eight times and had always kept a diary and she knew without looking that every time she got close to an attempt, her handwriting grew smaller and smaller and more than that, it began to get more and more perfect. She brought in her diary to class the next day and shared her story and showed us the places where she’d made suicide attempts and sure enough. In the days leading up to each attempt, the handwriting noticeably got more and more perfect, until the days she tried to take her life (and she really tried—none of them were that “cry for help”) and on that day her handwriting looked like it was traced out of a third-grade handwriting copy book. It was classic. Just passing this on so that if someone you know and love begins writing like this, at least sit down and have a talk with them. You may find you’ll be glad you did.
I can write more on this subject if you guys want me to. If several post interest in learning more, I’d be happy to provide more. It takes about three years of intensive study under an accredited graphologist (there are two nationally-recognized organization, and I was fortunate to be able to study under the national secretary of the most prominent one.). One more story. I taught one time with a woman who was a lawyer and introduced her to it and she was fascinated. The upshot was, she studied the science, became accredited and within three years became a millionaire. How? She formed a company that picked juries for lawyers by their handwriting. She’s more accurate than any other method and she can’t handle all the business. Today, she has three other full-time people working for her and is ready to go national. She’s already well-known in the region she lives in and has more business than she can handle.
I always tell my young students I can give them a way to become a millionaire within three years and I can. So far, no one’s taken me up on it. Takes a lot of work and study. Handwriting analysis is the single most accurate gauge of personality that exists. If that’s so… and it is… then a person who learns the science enough to be certified, could hang out her shingle and cater to one group only and she’ll be swamped with business. An average analysis by a certified graphologist will run from $100 to $500. It takes half an hour to an hour to provide a thorough analysis. What do you think a certified person would make if she opened a business just for women to see what their proposed fiancée was really like? See what his true personality is. See if he’s a liar or honest? All of those things and more are revealed by graphology. Especially women who had been married before and maybe has a child or two and has already been burned? Men, as well, but this is a business I think will attract more women than men. Do the math. How many people do you know would pay to find out the true personality of the guy or woman she or he was considering marrying?
Just going back over your questions, Kari, to make sure I didn’t neglect any of them. You cannot tell a person’s age by handwriting—any age can have wavy handwriting and every age does. You can’t tell sex. Women don’t write a bit differently than men. We think they do when we see writing that perhaps looks bold. Well, just as many women have a bold hand than men. No difference in that population whatsoever. We just think there is, but there isn’t any difference. And, you absolutely cannot tell if the writer is left- or right-handed. We see lefties who learned to write on those desks built for right-handers and we mistakenly think because of the angle they hold their hands that their handwriting is slanted differently. Not in the least. The way the writing slants says nothing at all about which hand they used. If it leans predominantly left, that’s a trait that says this person plays life close to the vest—he doesn’t reveal himself readily or easily to others. Usually somewhat reserved. Writing that leans to the right indicates a person who’s a “hale, well-met” kind of guy. A born salesman. The minute he meets you, he’s your best friend. He’s the social guy. One whose writing is straight up? A person between the other two. Not as standoffish and nonrevealing as the left-slanter and not as forward and as much of a party animal as the right-slanted writer. He’ll become your close friend quicker than the left-slanted one, but not as quickly as the right-slanted one. However, you can’t determine personality by a single trait, but that’s one of the things slant reveals.
Let me know if y’all would like more on this,okay? Those interested in looking at this closer, get Andrea’s book. You can get it cheap on www.abebooks.com. Thanks for posing the questions, Kari. Hope I've covered them okay. I love talking about this stuff!