"WRITE ON" ANALYSIS
by Betty Fullard-Leo
"I won't be very popular, but from O.J.'s handwriting, I would say he's covering up or lying about things." Graphologist Kimon Iannetta made that statement even before the jury selection for O.J. Simpson's murder began last November. Iannetta is accustomed to putting her credibility on the line to prove that graphoanalysis (handwriting analysis) is a useful, reliable tool and not simply a "hocus-pocus" act to liven up a party.
She pointed to a letter written by Simpson published in papers
around the world shortly after his ex-wife, Nicole, was found
murdered in California. "His writing shows he was stressed out and
falling apart--it's decompensated (disintegrating). Every time he was
uncomfortable with what he was saying, he left big spaces. When he
wrote, 'I loved her.' Those extreme spaces between the words are like
taking a deep breath, questioning things, and definitely not
spontaneous. Then his handwriting went crashing off the page with the
word 'relationship.' It shows he doesn't plan, he goes all the way
without putting on any brakes. His writing goes downhill; he was very
The fifty-two-year-old Kailua resident has had plenty of
experience in analyzing handwriting for violent and dangerous
traits--as well as for more positive personality aspects. Her
interest in graphology was sparked at age twenty, when her mother
gave her a book on the subject to entertain her while recuperating
from an illness. It wasn't until 1968, however, that Iannetta began
to study in earnest. She explains, "I began studying as a hobby, for
self-knowledge. At first I looked at the writing of my family and
friends, but the more I studied, the more I realized what a valuable
and fascinating tool it is. My interest has always been psychology,
and it validated my hunches. I realized handwriting analysis was what
I wanted to do." She completed a correspondence course from
International Graphoanalysis Society (IGAS) in 1970 and continued to
study on her own.
Iannetta volunteered at Ventura School for Girls in California,
using graphoanalysis to uncover the roots of students' problems. In
1977, when she returned to Hawai'i (where she had spent her childhood
years), she did volunteer work at the Salvation Army Drug and Alcohol
Treatment Center. As a result of doing handwriting analysis for the
residential treatment program, she was hired by the Salvation Army's
Addiction Treatment Facility and trained in counseling.
Says Iannetta, "Two outstanding clinical psychologists, Heather
Cattell and Rene Tillich, were my tutors--my mentors. I gained
insight and training in the use and application of some commonly used
psychometric tests that I never could have gotten elsewhere." She
examined patients' handwriting to help determine what might be the
best therapeutic treatment for each individual and to see if each
patient's mental health was improving or disintegrating.
With more than twenty-five years of research and work in
handwriting analysis, Iannetta can no longer pick up a page of
freehand writing without instinctively drawing conclusions about the
writer's character, disposition and aptitudes. "Anyone can learn the
letter structures if they have a good memory," she says. "It's like
learning a language. Once you get the sounds and the psychological
implications, you can form words, sentences, paragraphs and
understand the whole book--or person. Then it becomes automatic.
Learning to identify the structures and the meanings of the
structures is the scientific part, but combining and synthesizing the
traits into a meaningful whole is the 'art' of handwriting analysis."
For accurate analysis, evaluations based on study, experience and
judgment have to be made to compile a blueprint, or map of a person's
habits, desires and the blocks that hold him back.
Large writing, for example, indicates extroversion--a person who
actively participates, like an actor or politician. Someone with
small writing can also be gregarious, shown by ample spacing between
letters and a forward slant to the writing. This writing indicates a
person who concentrates his mental energy, who is more of an observer
(possibly a watch maker or a scientist).
When Iannetta examines a handwriting sample, she looks for the
most unusual structures--those strokes that deviate from the way the
person was taught to write, especially those that are repetitive. She
notes the quality of the writing as a whole, the organization on a
page, spacing, pressure and size. Heavy pressure and angular writing
indicate an assertive person. Iannetta uses a magnifying glass and an
"Emotion Responsiveness Gauge," a clear plastic tool that measures
the slant of letters, in order not to miss any important clues.
Individual letters are also important. The letter T is one of the
most revealing, depending on where and how the crossbar is placed and
made. A crossbar low on the stem shows low goals. The higher it's
placed on the stem, the more willing the writer is to take risks
because he has more confidence. If the crossbar doesn't touch the
stem, the writer may be a daydreamer or a visionary. If the crossbar
falls to the left of the stem it shows procrastination; to the right,
it shows irritability. Long bars indicate enthusiasm. A crossbar that
ends in a sharp point reveals a sarcastic nature, while one tied on
with a single continuous stroke, is a sign of persistence. Countless
details must be considered. Does a writer close the tops of letters
such as "a" and "o" with a circular loop? If so, he conceals his
inner thoughts. If he makes "a", "o", and "e" fat and round, he
listens receptively to others' ideas.
Iannetta seldom does graphoanalysis for private individuals
anymore. Today, she frequently examines the handwriting of applicants
for employers who are considering hiring, placement and promotion.
She also works for attorneys, alerting them to jurors and witnesses
empathetic to their cases, and assists them in making preemptory
challenges during the voir dire process.
A series of serendipitous events seemed to channel Iannetta's
career in handwriting analysis without any deliberate planning on her
part. She says, "I was just pushing the peanut along with my nose,
doing what I wanted to do." For a time, she taught at Chaminade
University, and she continues to teach introductory classes at the
University of Hawai'i-Manoa.
In 1983, Iannetta's unique abilities were pressed into service
work, launching another aspect of her career.
"A police detective who heard of my skills had a limited time to
track down the writer of a letter who threatened to shoot the police
chief's helicopter when it was flying over (Halawa)’ stadium,"
Iannetta recalls. The writing showed the man was a loner,
mechanically inclined, musical, idealistic, and that he felt his
ideals had been trampled on. It was unlikely he would carry out his
threat. His handwriting indicated resentment, but he wasn't
unbalanced. He'd mentioned getting a traffic ticket. I said, 'Show me
the tickets.' The detective tracked down motor vehicle applications
and brought me forty-eight of them, and I matched one to the
handwriting on his letter."
Within two days, the man was apprehended and confessed. As a
result, Iannetta became a forensic document examiner on a contractual
basis for the Honolulu Police Department. She examined "questioned"
handwriting for purposes of identification in cases involving
thousands of suspected forgeries of credit cards, bank hold-up notes,
checks, disputed wills, written threats, etc. She also evaluated the
handwriting and wrote up personality profiles on suspects involved in
Not long after, something else happened that pushed her ahead in
her chosen field. "The Hawai'i chapter of IGAS asked me to speak
about drug and alcohol abuse and how it might show up in handwriting.
The other speaker was Doctor Denis Mee-Lee, then chief of the Mental
Health Division of the Department of Health. Afterwards, I analyzed
his handwriting on the spot. He was amazed."
Iannetta continues, "Doctor Mee-Lee had me give talks at the state
hospital and to the mental health departments. At the end of classes,
I'd do the handwriting of patients. They (state health officials)
would say, 'We're just finding this out (the patient's
characteristics) after years of counseling. Would you be interested
in doing research?' So in 1984, I was invited to participate in
research that doctors were doing regarding dangerousness (potential
threats to society) with a team that included Doctor James Craine
(then head of Neuropsychology at Hawai'i State Hospital), and Doctor
Dennis McLaughlin (head of research and development for the Mental
Health Division, State of Hawai'i). Later, Mike Compton
(neuropsychologist) joined the group. Doctor Craine loved the project
from the beginning. He was my real mentor, and he and Doctor
McLaughlin did much of the heavy work."
Handwriting samples from patients were gathered, analyzed and
evaluated on a numerical scale for dangerousness, strengths and
inhibiting traits. In 1987, Iannetta published Danger Between the
Lines, a fascinating book with hundreds of handwriting samples from
such famous and infamous figures as Michael Jackson, J. Paul Getty
and Marilyn Monroe, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. The
book also focuses on how handwriting characteristics can help
distinguish potentially dangerous individuals, and serves as a hand
reference tool for security and law enforcement officers. Iannetta
has also published two smaller works titled Ideas from the Think Tank
and Precision Personnel Placement for the Human Resources
Iannetta has come to be known throughout the local legal community
as an expert witness in cases that require forensic document
examination, but this is not her favored specialty. She prefers to do
more creative analysis, to work with businesses to help select people
for jobs that are right for them, or to examine handwriting for
therapists who are looking at family dynamics. "People can even bring
in writing of long-dead relatives, so I can understand what happened
in family interactions in the past. It gives them a peace of mind to
understand why they have certain feelings and attitudes." Fees for
consultations range from $75 for a verbal telephone report to $500
for a written report that evaluates the traits of a high-level
executive being considered for hire or promotion.
In 1983, Iannetta was chosen the outstanding member of the Hawai'i
chapter of the International Graphoanalysis society, and she received
an even more significant IGAS award, Excellence of Performance, in
Last summer she conducted handwriting workshops in Singapore for
NBO (Nelson Buchanan and Oostergard), a company that evaluates and
trains professionals in human resource fields. She also worked with
executives of large international firms in charge of recruitment,
training, team building and promotion.
The overseas jaunt was yet another exciting step for a lady who
began studying handwriting for fun and self-knowledge. No doubt,
Iannetta will continue to make her mark in the field of
graphoanalysis--the handwriting is on the wall.