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Oklahoma City Bomber

Timothy McVeigh: Case Study

McVeigh was put to death for masterminding the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 168 people were killed and countless others were maimed in the blast.

      McVeigh remained unrepentant to the very end, refusing to express remorse. Referring to the children and babies that were killed in the devastation as "collateral damage."

Weapon-Shaped Letters - Click Here for D-11 Indicator Explanation Wide Line Spacing - Click Here for I-6 Indicator Explanation Wide Line Spacing - Click Here for I-6 Indicator Explanation Wide Line Spacing - Click Here for I-6 Indicator Explanation Wide Line Spacing - Click Here for I-6 Indicator Explanation Wide Line Spacing - Click Here for I-6 Indicator Explanation Muddiness - Click Here for D-15 Indicator Explanation Wide Line Spacing - Click Here for I-6 Indicator Explanation Erratic Midzone Size - Click Here for F-7 Indicator Explanation Unique Structures - Click Here for F-64 Indicator Explanation X Formations - Click Here for D-8 Indicator Explanation Unique Structures - Click Here for F-64 Indicator Explanation Wide Word Spacing - Click Here for I-7 Indicator Explanation Wide Word Spacing - Click Here for I-7 Indicator Explanation Wide Word Spacing - Click Here for I-7 Indicator Explanation Wide Word Spacing - Click Here for I-7 Indicator Explanation Wide Word Spacing - Click Here for I-7 Indicator Explanation Wide Word Spacing - Click Here for I-7 Indicator Explanation Wide Word Spacing - Click Here for I-7 Indicator Explanation Muddiness - Click Here for D-15 Indicator Explanation Unique Structures - Click Here for F-64 Indicator Explanation Dot Grinding - Click Here for D-10 Indicator Explanation Dot Grinding - Click Here for D-10 Indicator Explanation Distorted Midzone Letters - Click Here for D-32 Indicator Explanation Distorted Midzone Letters - Click Here for D-32 Indicator Explanation Disintegration - Click Here for D-5 Indicator Explanation Erratic Midzone Size - Click Here for F-7 Indicator Explanation Unique Structures - Click Here for F-64 Indicator Explanation Unique Structures - Click Here for F-64 Indicator Explanation Weapon-Shaped Letters - Click Here for D-11 Indicator Explanation Exaggerated Upper Zone - Click Here for F-58 Indicator Explanation

Handwriting Sample of Timothy McVeigh


A Behavioral Profile Through Written Communication

When we first begin to examine McVeigh's page of writing, dated 1992, we are struck by the apparent discrepancies between the signature and the body of the text, revealing immediately an individual in great conflict with himself. Later we will establish the similarities, which are not so obvious at first glance, but nevertheless show the consistent pattern of thought and behavior.

      Taken alone the signature fairly screams for attention, while hiding the writer's identity. It reveals the major precipitating factors that resulted in the destruction McVeigh later provoked. He has an organized design in his signature, beginning with the first stroke, the "T" for Tim, that symbolically curls into a fetal position, indicating his looking to the past and reaching for it hungrily. The central stroke of the signature divides the past from the future. The final and third stroke, which is made with powerful and forceful energy, indicates a dominant and tremendous power which culminates in an explosion of superfluous dots that grind in his unconscious. This represents the explosion that occurs five years later.

      McVeigh's entire signature is symbolic of his inner need, his drama and myth, which is is acted out in total in the body of his writing where his text portrays how he proceeds in his daily activities and habits. Overall McVeigh's writing depicts his intelligence, his consistent patterns, his ability to be shrewdly manipulative and controlled and his ability to control his behavior and carry out his missions within his own defined parameters. He sees himself as sane and behaves and talks normally. His inner conflict is hidden from others as he goes about his everyday life, but in fact that turmoil is reflected in his handwriting.

      McVeigh further shows an arrogance, a need for recognition and status. This attitude coupled with feelings of omnipotence, could catapult him to the point where he could be convinced that he could kill and escape detection by being more clever than government officials or law enforcement personnel.

      The writing also shows that this is a man who feels deprived of intimacy. Of course, there are reports that McVeigh may have experienced psychological damage from environmental deprivation caused by parental absences. In his writing, as we will observe in the specific characteristics, he has not developed the ability to establish and maintain deep and significant interpersonal relations, proper bonding and attachment. He may not have developed bonding at an early age, as he certainly has not learned the elements of trust. In fact he expects and anticipates the worst and guards against the perceived threats by authority/parental/governmental figures. He therefore became suspicious and doubting of the motives of others, another characteristic exhibited in the writing. Other feelings of withdrawal, fears, and loneliness are exhibited.

      We will expand upon this as we begin to explore the specific elements of the writing that provide clues to these behaviors.

      Certain patterns predominate and repeat in the body of the writing. For example certain structures reveal McVeigh's obsessions with his dependent needs for a nurturing figure. We note the particular strokes in the "g"'s that curl into a fetal position, as the capital "T" does in the signature, that represent this need. The "g"'s reflect the emotions, the feelings of sexual intimacy, again that fetal position bends into the past, indicating McVeigh's looking for the mother figure that was missing. Specifically the circular part of these "g"'s reside in the lower zone, representing the unconscious need for that nurturance and the significant void that is felt at that level.

      McVeigh has experienced deprivation of sensory imagery which is shown clearly in his "y" structures that also represent his tangible and physical acting out of his concerns, his memory and his actions. The "y"'s are retraced and angled, formed in such a way as to reveal his violent and aggressive mood as well as his hidden agenda. Again, like the "g", this unusual letter structure stands out in the body of the writing. Both the "y" and "g" structures, in their unusual formations reveal McVeigh's improper bonding and his overwhelming need for intimacy and his inability to create it.

      Much of the body of the writing visually appears to slant to the left, but certain letter structures do so in an unusual and dramatic pattern. Patterns of writing that unnaturally slant to the left further reveal the writer's emotional withdrawal, a feeling which is compounded by his need for space and his feelings of alienation and desire for distance from others. While his unconscious concerns are for intimacy, at the same time he needs to separate himself from others. There is therefore a conflict between the conscious and subconscious drives.

      McVeigh chooses to print. This reflects his desire to communicate clearly without revealing his emotional content.

      There is a tension exhibited in the writing indicating a writer that has difficulty releasing feelings appropriately. The pressure of the writing shows greater intensity than the average writer would demonstrate. It shows McVeigh's energy and lasting feelings. The energy is propelled by his will power, demonstrated by the firmness and strength of his "t" bars, that will power which pushes and drives forward and yet reveals control by the downward directional focus of the crossbars.

      We have observed the grinding dots that accompany McVeigh's signature. That similar pattern is interspersed throughout his writing.

      Lack of trust, resistance, and suspicion are reflected in the very unusual angles of letter strokes that dramatically turn leftward. Note for example the "y" strokes that represent his personal standard, which is that lack of trust. McVeigh projects blames onto others, therefore he has a need for self defense. This paramount need is demonstrated in the fact that certain structures, as his "y" formations, are aggressive and weapon like. They thrust rightward, revealing his hidden aggression.

      Location of certain letters, or portions of letters, as well as formation of letters reflect the personality characteristics of the writer. In McVeigh's case his "d"'s are separated by an unusually large space from the rest of the letters in his words and sometimes hide behind the baseline. This characterizes his distancing of his personal ideas and behaviors, the fact that he was able to keep these hidden from others. He has a need to hide, protect, and go about his plans in a covert and oppositional manner.

      We must look closely to see certain subtle characteristics that characterize the special concerns and behaviors of this writer. He reverses the direction of his writing at certain critical junctures in a habitual manner. These occur with unique endings such as the "ht" at the end of words. Rather than end at the usual juncture, as we are taught to form the letter "h" prior to the "t" formation, McVeigh performs an upward stroke to make the "t" which has no terminal structure. ( McVeigh can therefore carry out his activities in a creative, and to the level of his formations, bizarre manner.)

      As we have discussed previously, McVeigh has aggressive impulses. Where do we see these in his writing? There are certain club strokes at the beginning of down structures, as well as angular strokes where they should not be in the writing. These strokes, as they often bend leftward, recognize the writer's clinging to his past and the pressure that it brings to his present thoughts and behaviors. His "i"'s and "t"'s are made in a backward formation and show his need for a protective shield against the world. He is ready for battle. Capital letters, that are out of place at certain sections of the writing, again show where his feelings are particularly defiant.

      We have observed that McVeigh has great self involvement and arrogance. The tallness of certain letters, such as the stems of the "d"'s and "t"'s and similar letters, are symbols of that particular obsession with his own belief system.

      McVeigh connects certain words, in a manner that is consistent, and that subconsciously demonstrates how he thinks and what ideas are linked in his thought patterns. For example the words "murder" and "law abiding" are attached. The vertical slash that occurs between the words "rapist" and "murderer" connect below with the word "law-abiding." "Die" and "live" are also connected as are "life" and "law" which are both underlined. It appears that McVeigh connects the words that symbolic meaning for him.

      The writer is attentive to detail. Every "i" is dotted, and every "t" is crossed. These consistent patterns provide us important information about this man in that he will organize carefully and insure that every detail is considered. At the same time, the exceptions present another message. The "i" dot on the word "police" is missing, an ominous sign. The dot on the "i" on the word "jail" has a sharp, leftward slant, another sign of meticulous detail but on a word of some significance to McVeigh.

      From his writing we would recognize in advance, without knowing McVeigh or his violent crime, that he is an introverted person and an organized planner. He conceives ideas based on his personal belief system. He carefully and accurately puts things together with precision and perfection. His thinking style is obsessive and driven by strong, powerful feelings and a desire to act on them. He needs to communicate, and do so clearly. McVeigh wants to be important, yet feels rejected; and this final rejection brings the retaliation. His writing shows a type of superficial thinking that may have not really considered the women and children prior to the bombing as he focuses on his own personal and safety concerns.


UPDATED: 20 OCTOBER 2004
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