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What is Graphology

Graphology: its value and limitations

WE are all born with a deep need to communicate to share our thoughts, our feelings, our experiences with others. The way we speak, the way we dress, even our most subtle changes of facial expression are all a means of telling the world who and what we are. 

Of course, many of us have thoughts and emotions which we wish to keep secret from our fellow men. But to the trained observer even these hidden feelings are uncovered by certain signs. The psychiatrist senses the undercurrents in a person's make-up and is usually adept in spotting small clues which enable him to evaluate the patient on a level not revealed on the surface. But no psychologist is infallible in his own particular method of uncovering traits of character and personality. A second professional opinion is often valuable.

The bright, cheerful man or woman who radiates charm and good humor may sometimes be hiding morbid or destructive thoughts. An obviously disturbed person may have unsuspected drives and resources for mental health. Only time and thorough and expert testing will uncover the hidden traits. One test which many psychologists consider a useful clinical tool rather than a parlor game is a handwriting evaluation by an expert graphologist.

Graphology has one advantage over other tests: it yields a vivid picture of the subject without him being present in the flesh or without him being asked to speak a single word. Like all approaches to human understanding, it has had to battle for recognition. The fact that today it has become an increasingly acceptable part of the armory of the psychiatrist, the doctor, the personnel officer, the insurance investigator, is due to the diligence and enthusiasm of the pioneers in the science.

It is becoming recognized that our tendency to clap neat little labels on the people we know needs counteraction. We say that Jim is selfish; Mary is a bore; Hugh is a pseudo-intellectual; Jane is an empty-headed prattler; Margaret is anti-social and a prig with a smirk on her face; Bernard is peculiar. But this is the most superficial judgment and we are not digging deep enough. If you are a personnel selection consultant your hasty summing up of a job applicant's character by physical appearance and mannerisms may be sadly out of joint.

To gain a true picture of Jim, Mary, Hugh and the rest, their handwriting will help. You can take a closer look at yourself, too, through your own handwriting. Of course, you will have to estimate very carefully, balance each positive feature against each negative one, each strength against each weakness. You will discover traits and talents you never suspected existed in people you thought you knew well. And by means of your own handwriting you will discover potentials within yourself of which you were hitherto unaware, or personality traits which you may wish to eliminate or perhaps to strengthen.

No two hand writings are exactly alike, just as no two people are exactly alike. A study of graphology may force you gradually to drop your old labels and re-evaluate your friends, your associates, your employees. As your knowledge grows, you will gain more and more insight into what makes people tick. You can select your friends from people you discover to have common interests and common emotional traits. You can learn how to judge compatibility in marriage, how to be more understanding with your friends and relations. You will be better able to judge that new man you were thinking of hiring or that boss you were thinking of joining.

Graphology tells us a great deal about the make-up of a person, but there are two things it does not reveal. No graphological "analysis will reveal with absolute certainty the sex of the writer. In all of us there are both masculine and feminine components which often have nothing to do with physiology. The extreme cases are the men whom we consider effeminate or the women whose manner and dress cause them to be regarded as masculine. In analyzing handwriting we are therefore somewhat in the dark on that score. Thus it is important to learn by some other means the sex of the writer rather than to guess. Even the expert could be mistaken.

Handwriting does not show a person's age either. What it does reveal are signs of maturity or lack of it. We all know people of mature years who have not grown up emotionally. The hard-boiled business executive who makes practical and astute decisions which affect large sums of money may, when his emotions become involved, act like a little boy. A youth of fifteen may possess more poise and sense of responsibility than a man of forty-five who drinks and gambles his money away.

Old age will usually be revealed in handwriting that is tremulous with wavering strokes. But it does not follow that the aged are the only people who write such a band. A person under great tension or a chronic drinker might also do so. Then again, there are many old people whose handwriting shows steadiness, animation and enthusiasm. Thus it is important that we know the chronological age of the writer before we prepare our analysis.

There are many things which spring to mind as obstacles to clear, concise analysis of handwriting. The regrettable effects of the near universal use of the ball point pen, the minor variations to which many people's writing is subject daily, the use of the left instead of the more usual right hand may, on the surface, appear to affect the analysis. But the use of a ball point pen affects only the pen pressure, it cannot affect the margins, the slant, the size of the writing, the space between lines, words and letters, the direction of the lines, nor indeed the construction of each individual letter.

Depression, worry, optimism, happiness—all these moods can alter slightly the appearance of a writing, but these are only temporary moods and indeed the overall concept shows them to be temporary.  Left-handedness may or may not be a psychological symptom or a psychological cause but, to date, statistics have proved little, and we find people of all personality categories among the left-handed.

An expert can make a tentative analysis from a word or a signature-but he seldom does. The ideal sample is two pages of writing or one whole page at the very least. It must be on unlined paper and written with the writer's usual pen. Be cautious and exercise extreme care in making an analysis. One characteristic in a page is a tendency; repeated it is a trait.