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Principles of Handwriting Analysis

"There is no doubt that men also express themselves
  through handwriting."
-- Sigmund Freud

The focus throughout this book is very specialized and we have slanted our interpretations accordingly. Although it is not possible in this book (nor is it our intention) to teach readers how to analyze handwriting, we feel it important to present interpretations of basic handwriting features. It is imperative to understand the basics of graphology before considering potential dangerousness as shown by writing. We urge readers to further explore graphology through other publications, such as those listed in the bibliography (Appendix IV in the manual.).

Basic Approach to Handwriting Interpretation

      Initially the observer responds to the handwriting's overall impression, its gestalt. By looking at the page from arm's length, the analyst determines the overall organization, how the writing is arranged on the page, and how much white space the writer uses. Margins, line spacing, word spacing, slope of lines, and rhythm or lack of rhythm, are also seen from the arm's length view. Is the handwriting crude or refined, balanced or poorly organized, spontaneous or rigid, simplified or elaborate?

"It is character which builds an existence out of circumstance. From the same materials one man builds palaces, another hovels; one warehouses, another villas; bricks and mortar are mortar and bricks until the architect can make them something else."
-- Thomas Carlye

      Pressure patterns and handwriting size are other "global" characteristics. These elements of the writing provide a "backdrop" for the personality portrait. Together they illustrate the foundation for the traits that will be uncovered upon closer examination of the writing details.
      The analyst should be informed, before starting the analysis, of the writer's age and sex, and any physical problems or limitations. Whether the writer is using drugs or alcohol or taking medication should also be considered. If it is known that the writer has recently suffered a personal trauma, it would be wise to ask for prior samples as well.
      Often one or two aspects of the writing will immediately stand out. These signs represent the strong traits, the ones the writer automatically or most commonly operates on and which are likely to have the most influence on the personality and on the analysis.

"The psyche is a self-regulating system that maintains its equilibrium just as the body does. Every process that goes too far immediately and inevitably calls forth compensations, and without these there would be neither a normal metabolism nor a normal psyche. In this sense we can take the theory of compensation as a basic law of psychic behaviour. Too little on one side results in too much on the other."
-- Carl G. Jung, "The Practical Use of Dream Analysis" (1934).
In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. P 330. 

      Any imbalance in the handwriting, or any writing stroke that commands immediate attention, is likely to have special significance in the personality. Extreme writing characteristics imply an intensity in a particular area of the writer's makeup. Highly unusual structures and movements reveal unique thought processes — perhaps a special interest, ability or skill — either positive or negative. Examples of such indications are the unusual underscore and consistent word connections in Charles Dickens' signature, the x formations and downward trend in the signature of David Duke, the unique D's and excess spacing of Emily Dickinson's writing, and the phallic A and unusual lower zone formations in Aleister Crowley's signature. Unique formations are symbols with which the writer identifies. Writing strokes that are repeated again and again suggest obsessional thinking and are especially important in the personality due to their frequency. Dominant writing characteristics suggest that strong thought or energy surrounds the trait under consideration. The interpretation of any trait will be affected by the other personality traits, and the writing as a whole must be analyzed before determining how such a trait will operate in the personality.

      To study the writing thoroughly, look carefully at each letter of each word, starting with the first word, noting each trait as it is discovered. To qualify as a personality indicator, a handwriting feature must show more than once, unless it is a particular stylized or practiced movement that shows only in the signature, for example. (See letter A in Crowley's signature.) Accidental strokes resulting from a jarred elbow, crumbs under the paper, poor writing instrument, etc. must be discounted.

      Tracing over the writing strokes with a dry pen or a blunt instrument will help the analyst experience the writer's personal rhythm, changes in direction, unique formations, etc. By identifying the various writing movements the graphologist sees the uniqueness of the personality unfold.

"The basic idea is when a man sees something through a window he can get a correct image of it by tracing its outlines on the window pane, provided that while he does this he uses only one eye and does not move his head."
-- William M. Ivins, Jr.,
Art and Geometry: A Study in Space Intuitions, 1946

      As handwriting analysis testifies, all people are composed of various and sometimes conflicting personality traits. Two opposing features in the same writing do not negate each other, but indicate that the writer has conflicting traits or is making an attempt to balance more than one personality characteristic.

Arrangement of Handwriting on the Page

      The paper represents the writer's environment, his world. His approach to this world — how he responds within it and utilizes its resources — is indicated by the placement of the handwriting on the page. Does the writing have good overall arrangement or is it poorly planned? Writing that is nicely balanced on the page with relatively even margins all around, but without looking perfect, indicates the writer is likely to have a more conceptual understanding than if the writing is placed haphazardly. Balanced placement on the paper shows an ability to see solutions to problems within a broad framework and a penchant for long-term planning. This implies an overall "togetherness" which aids in integrating the various facets of the personality and adds to a sense of organization.

"Art, then, is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end. This esthetic end will be served if the matter is arranged satisfyingly. Beauty will be achieved ... Three things are needed for beauty: wholesomeness, harmony and radiance."
-- Thomas Aquinas

      If the handwriting dominates the page, so that there appears to be more writing than white space, we can expect the writer to be a take-charge sort of person, someone who is confident and in control of his or her world. Such a writer is likely to be active and expressive and is apt to dominate his or her environment by utilizing all available resources.

"They can conquer who believe they can."
-- Vergil

      If the handwriting appears to be lost on the page, so that there is more white space than writing, the writer may be modest or aloof, with little or no need to make an impact on the world. The writer may spend more time in contemplation and observation than action.

You've Seen Two of Thirteen Topical Sections of
'Principles of Handwriting Analysis'

Learn More; Click Here to Purchase the 'Danger Between the Lines' Manual...

Eleven Other Sections
• Personal Style
• Spacing
• Line Direction
• Handwriting Form
• Handwriting Speed
• Handwriting Size
• Zonal Distribution
• Handwriting Slant
• Handwriting Pressure
• How to Collect Handwriting Samples
• Scoring Techniques

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