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by Betty Fullard-Leo
Jan/Feb 1995

"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 depressed."

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 homicide investigations.

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 Professional.

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 1984.

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.

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