Approximately 40 years ago I was in the middle of my very first real existential crisis. All of my attachments to belief systems were being jettisoned. Nearly every single category of my California New Age conditioning was set out to the curb.Out the door went books on Astrology, Numerology, Tarot, dream analysis, and several other miscellaneous topics. It was a liberating sensation to let go of it all.
Well, nearly everything was rejected. The one subject I held onto for another couple of years was graphoanalysis.
In many ways, it seemed like crock. Yet there were aspects of it that had the ring of truth. New Age authors who wrote about graphoanalysis claimed that it was a psychological and physiological tool we could use to diagnose people. Usually, samples of handwriting were presented in order to bolster the claims.
Of course it is easy to use hindsight in order to assign certain personality traits to different aspects of someone’s handwriting. Common examples were manuscripts from Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Mahatma Gandhi. Generalizations about whether a person wrote cursive or printed were presented. The direction of slant said something else about a person’s proclivities. Letters with “tails” like the letter “j” and “g” that extend below the line were of special interest.
On the one hand, handwriting styles were broadly categorized in a manner that seemed similar to the astrological divisions of the horoscope. On the other hand some features of graphoanalysis seemed intuitively accurate. I had plenty of reservations about the subject of handwriting analysis but not enough to judge it as pseudo-science. I didn’t have the expertise to do such a subjective, complex subject any justice.
At around the same time I was ready to put graphoanalysis on hiatus, I stumbled across a library book about graphology. It presented a subject that seemed much more respectable. Graphology is closely linked to legitimate psychology while graphoanalysis is associated with pop-psychology.
I wish I had known about graphology much earlier. Perhaps I would have chosen it as a career. Graphology is an important forensic tool that certain professionals use to help understand people’s motivations and personalities. It is an important part of personnel hiring and placement, especially in sensitive jobs in security and intelligence agencies.
When we encounter someone’s handwriting in a letter, greeting card, or a memo, we instantly understand a little bit about that person’s personality, intelligence level, and how honest he or she is.
Graphoanalysis takes the leap into the generalized formulae of popular psychology books. Graphology is more nuanced and cautious.
Whereas graphoanalysis is more concerned with the appearance of individual letters like “j”, graphology concentrates on the entire page of text. How legible is it? Is the script jagged or smooth? Where is it located on the page? Generally speaking, graphoanalysis categorizes according to character while graphology considers handwriting as one clue to character.
Some parts of the two subjects are in agreement. An important aspect is whether a person writes on an inclining line, a declining line, or a level line. If the direction of writing is slightly inclined, it suggests an optimistic or happy attitude. If it is slightly downward from left to right, the person may be unhappy or stressed. An exaggerated upward or downward line is negative. A person who writes a level, horizontal line means that she or he is reasonably happy and content.
Due to the fact that so much of our daily communication is no longer written out by hand but is electronically transmitted or printed, opportunities for handwriting analysis have become more scarce.
I enjoy using a layman’s level of graphology whenever I get the chance to read a letter or other handwritten document. Handwriting tells the reader more than just the content of the message. Understanding the basics of graphology helps us read between the lines more effectively.
I cannot say graphology is pseudo-science.