Dennis G. McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Researcher, Statistician, Author

Professional Overview

Professional Overview: Dennis G. McLaughlin, Ph.D., Researcher, Statistician, DBTL Co-Author.
Dennis G. McLaughlin, Ph.D.
As the head of a research unit I was asked to evaluate the prospects of using handwriting analysis to predict dangerousness of psychiatric patients. It was decided to use existing handwriting samples of psychiatric patients which gave no clue as to the dangerousness of the authors, and correlate their average rating, have two handwriting analysts blindly rate the degree of dangerousness of the patient authors, and correlate their average rating of dangerousness with the average rating of two psychologists who had the clinical records of the patients available. It was reasoned that if the handwriting analysts could statistically significantly predict the dangerousness of the clients, the traits which they used in their judgments could be identified, measured, and combined in some form of mathematical model which would estimate patient dangerousness with a yet higher correlation. An important side benefit would be that the handwriting traits identified should be clinically useful in the treatment of the clients.

      While the efforts from this endeavor were generally successful to a significant extent, several years passed from this initial formulation to the final publication of this manual. Hundreds of handwriting characteristics were evaluated empirically to determine they correlated with dangerousness ratings. Both the frequency and pronouncement (intensity) of the handwriting characteristics were evaluated. By using a theoretical formulation and combining the handwriting characteristics into a model based on classifying handwriting characteristics into signs of dangerousness and signs of inhibitors of dangerousness and multiplying some of the signs by handwriting characteristics which indicated that a person was capable of carrying out a behavior (called facilitators), the best prediction was achieved. Each handwriting characteristic was evaluated for its theoretical impact on prediction of dangerousness and the end result was a better fit of the predictive equation to dangerousness.

      The handwriting characteristics which follow are the characteristics which were discovered from the research project to be related to dangerousness. While it was found premature to combine the characteristics into a predictive model of dangerousness due to the heterogeneity of the patient populations, the potential for successfully doing this is quite reasonable.

Dennis G. McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Honolulu, Hawaii