You know that note you scribbled to your husband this morning — the one reminding him to pick up some fabric softener and a carton of milk at the supermarket?
You might want to take a good look at it. Really study it.
Does your writing slant forward? Is it vertical? Does it lean to the left?
How do you write?
Next time you scribble your grocery list, check this list for what your writing style means
Are your g’s and y’s big and loopy or tight and tidy? Are there large gaps between your words? Do you press so hard on the paper that it leaves an impression on the notepad three pages deep? Perhaps you communicate in a combination of cursive and print?
Bob Suchocki, a Fort Edward-based handwriting analyst who has taught classes on the subject at Adirondack Community College, says much can be determined about an individual’s personality and behavioral characteristics simply by examining the way in which that person expresses himself on paper.
“Since handwriting emanates directly from the brain, it is often called brainwriting,” explained the 61-year-old mental health worker.
While he has come to terms with the fact that there will always be cynics with regard to how much one can really ascertain about someone from words on a page, Suchocki says he believes passionately in his profession, which he describes as a cross between science and art.
The field, he explained, is actually based on a wealth of empirical data.
Neuroscientists have studied the practice extensively, even categorizing neuromuscular movement tendencies as they correlate with observable personality traits. Each trait, research shows, is represented by a neurological brain pattern, and those patterns produce neuromuscular movements that are the same for each person exhibiting a particular personality trait.
The right slant
For example, it is universally recognized among graphologists that someone who writes using a far-right slant is emotional and expressive. A straight up-and-down slant indicates someone very rational, while a left slant reveals emotional issues and a tendency to be withdrawn. A mixed angle, meanwhile, points to one who is unable to face facts, spending much of the time struggling between the heart and the head.
Similarly, how you cross your t’s may give away your achievement level. Those who cross them low — at about the same height as the top of their e’s — may show a lack of confidence. If you cross your t’s high up, you likely possess strong will power. Another example: Those who create g’s and y’s with large loops that dip way down denote someone instinctual.
“This person’s needs are very strong,” Suchocki said. “It could be with money or sex. Their drives are sometimes too strong,” he said.
Printing, as opposed to using traditional cursive, can also be quite telling, according to Bart Baggett, a graphologist who has used his skills for ESPN, Biography magazine, National Public Radio, CNBC and the “Howard Stern Show.” “People who print have put up a barrier to keep the world from getting to know them. They do not easily express their innermost feelings,” he said. Printers, he added, take longer to experience intimacy and tend to have a strong external protective mental shell that can be viewed as confidence.
It is estimated that more than half of men in the United States prefer to print rather than use cursive. “This is the same tendency that says, ‘I’d rather sit here in pain rather than express my feelings.’ Some men learn at an early age to keep their insecure feelings hidden from the world. And yes, they do often have to print because of their messy handwriting, but the answer still applies.”
So, what about people who use a combination of both print and cursive?
These writing types, said Baggett, have a proclivity to be in a hurry and act flexibly given unusual circumstances. Too much printing, however, can indicate an intimacy barrier and an inability to express feelings.
Still, mixing printing and cursive really isn’t an unusual event. “In fact, it is so common that taken by itself, it’s meaning is not terribly significant,” Baggett said. “We must look at the rest of the writing.”
What’s in a name? Baggett said how one creates his signature represents what he wants the world to see or what he wants to be — an image that may or may not be the same as the inner-self. But because signatures contain only a few letters, they do not provide enough information for analysts to devise a complete and accurate personality profile.
What is known is that seriously illegible John Hancocks can point to a desire to be seen but not known and to keep things private.
“You may want to keep your true identity hidden. It could also mean you are in a hurry. People who continually sign their name all day long often do so in a hurry and, therefore, don’t care what their signature looks like. Illegible handwriting in combination with other specific traits may indicate dishonesty, but there are a lot of variables.”
Often, the signature is different from the rest of one’s penmanship because it is an attempt by that person not to reveal everything about himself. “There may be some aspect of his personality that he wants to hide. So he creates a new person by creating a signature with a different look,” he said.
Once considered part of the occult, over the course of the past 20 years handwriting analysis has gained acceptance throughout the country.
Research has found references to handwriting analysis that go back to 4500 B.C. In A.D. 99, the Roman historian Suetonius studied Emperor Augustus’ personality from his handwriting, and the first book on the subject was published in 1622 by Camillo Baldo. Most pioneering research was performed before 1929 in Europe. The modern scientific method of analyzing individual strokes in handwriting began in 1915 by Milton Bunker.
Aside from helping people to gain further insight into themselves, businesses nationwide have used the expertise of graphologists to determine important traits in potential job candidates.
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reports that some 3,000 firms countrywide currently use some form of handwriting analysis as part of their hiring processes. So do countless police departments, the FBI, CIA and other governmental agencies.
In Europe, graphologists are held in higher esteem, often coming from fields of medicine, neurology or psychology. It is quite prevalent in France, where 80 percent of firms employ graphologists and in Switzerland where, according to the International Graphology Conference held in Zurich in 1998, 89 percent of Swiss companies use graphology compared with 67 percent who use psychological testing.
Rosanne MacDonald, a California handwriting analyst and hypnotherapist, said she enjoys making believers out of skeptics.
“When a client sees me for their first session, I always ask for a handwriting sample,” she said.
“After my quick analysis, I tell them what I see in their handwriting that gives me insight into their subconscious mind before they tell me about themselves. Most of my clients are quite surprised as to what I tell them and wonder how I could know so much about them,” she said.
About the only pieces of information a handwriting sample cannot identify is a person’s sex, age and whether they are right- or left-handed, she said.
No parlor game
Though Suchocki has always enjoyed passing his time doing in-depth handwriting readings, he said he is preparing to spend more time honing his skills.
“I haven’t done any in a while. You know, when you do it, you really empathize with the writer and you are using a lot of intuitive ability. If they are depressed or sad, you feel it. You can really get burned out from it. Sometimes, you need to take a break.”
He added that part of his mission has been and will remain helping people to realize graphology is as legitimate as any other science.
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