By Akber Ayub
Handwriting is our character frozen on paper. The art and science of Graphology.
Ever wondered why many corporate offices ask for a handwritten text from candidates during interviews? The ploy here is not to find if the candidate has a good handwriting, rather, to find if he has a good character, and other desirable or undesirable qualities.
Handwriting taking the place of a personality quiz. Enter the science of handwriting analysis or graphology. It is the technique of unravelling the personality of an individual by examining the characteristics, style and strokes of his handwriting. It is amazing how a trained graphologist can gather an astonishing amount of information about the writer merely by analysing his handwriting. The information is not limited to just a personality profile, but many other personal traits and qualities such as past experiences, mental problems, health, intelligence, inherent talents, even honesty and morality. Says J Mahadev, a retired marketing stalwart from a reputed tobacco company, “Faced with a serious problem of pilferage from the lower ranks in sales and distribution, I resorted to handwriting analysis to identify dishonest personnel. After weeding out the swindlers, and shifting yet others outside marketing, I used the same technique to pick new, honest recruits. The results were amazing. I solved the problem of pilferage and revenue loss literally by the stroke of a pen.”
How does one’s handwriting pack so much innate information about one’s character? The answer is simple – handwriting is our character frozen on paper. Moreover, graphologists demystify that aphorism with this simple explanation: our brain guides our hand while we write. There is a constant flow of signals between our brain and the reflex muscles of our hand. A person’s handwriting is therefore the result of a natural psychological process and a projection of his subconscious. So quite simply, handwriting paints a picture of the person behind the pen – in much the same manner as the tone, speed, emphasis, inflection, hesitations and loudness of a verbal communication and the body language of the speaker reveal a lot about his character and personality.
Called variously as graphology, and later mind writing, handwriting analysis has evolved over time into not just a soft-screening technique for corporate offices but also an instrument of change for individuals in what is called as grapho-therapy that alters personality traits merely by altering handwriting. It has also branched off into criminal, matrimonial, stress management, and selfdevelopment territories and is a tool to detect stress and illness.
The term ‘graphology’ is derived from the Greek words ‘grapho’ meaning ‘to write’ and ‘logos’ meaning ‘theory’. Interestingly, Southern India stakes claim to the science of graphology, which originated here centuries ago, and later spread to the rest of the world. Although it later fell into obscurity in India, the last reference to it was found in the works of Shri Ramdas Swami, the great Maharashtrian saint who was guru to Shivaji.
In his text, Dasabodha, he wrote in detail about handwriting revealing mindsets and also how a bad handwriting could affect the mindset. He also prepared charts of ideal scripts.
So how does a handwriting analyst read a scrawl and reveal personality and character traits?Different aspects of handwriting are observed to gain insights about the writer. It begins with an initial general look at the handwriting, much as you would look at a painting. Then the analyst makes mental notes of the most outstanding traits like slant, size, and shape of letters, loops, dots and the cross on the ‘t’. Experienced graphologists can usually put the writer in a category right away. People who dot their i’s and cross their t’s precisely, tend to be more meticulous than those who don’t. In addition, the slant indicates the writer’s emotional response to external stimuli. A right slant indicates someone who responds strongly to emotional situations and who is caring, warm and outgoing – the heart ruling the mind. A vertical slanted writer endeavours to keep his emotions in check – mind ruling the heart. A left slanted writer, on the other hand, will conceal emotions and could be cold and indifferent. Moreover, varying slant indicates a person who is ambivalent, unpredictable and self-conflicted. Similarly, the size of the letters indicates whether the writer is an extrovert or an introvert – in much the same way as someone’s attire reveals an aspect of the personality. Large bold writing typically indicates an ego-driven, action-oriented socialiser, while medium size indicates a practical, balanced individual with a desire mind ~ growth to fit in, small writing indicates a modest, self-actualised person while very small size indicates a low-key, cerebral introvert with no desire to be noticed.
Next, the analyst tries to decipher the emotional energy of the writer. This is an important factor, since it has a direct impact on every other trait displayed in the handwriting. Emotional energy is determined by observing how much pressure the writer uses when he writes – simply by turning the page over and feeling the underside and by noting if the writing is dark and solid or light and feeble. This reveals both the physical and mental energy levels of the individual. Understandably, heavy pressure denotes lot of vitality and a domineering personality who would also be very success oriented. Average pressure denotes moderately successful individuals with enough energy to make it through the day, while light pressure indicates a tendency to avoid energy draining situations.
Handwriting generally has a mix of various such characteristics, or indicators, and an analyst will consider interpretation of all of them together. For example, a writer with heavy pressure and a vertical slant would mean some- one with strong emotions who generally keeps them in check –someone who is not very emotionally responsive. There are many such steps involved in putting together a complete personality profile. The more indicators considered the clearer will be the picture. A professional graphologist looks at hundreds of indicators. Little wonder the accuracy rate is claimed to be as high as 98 per cent by practitioners and clients alike. Little wonder too that many American and European universities have now included handwriting analysis as part of their psychology and psychiatry courses.
Whereas handwriting represents a person’s true personality, the signature represents the public image the writer wants to project. Therefore, a big difference between a person’s writing and his signature indicates a big difference between his private and public self. For example, small writing with a large or flamboyant signature indicates a person spending significant energy to overcome his private quiet nature to gain some limelight. When the writing and the signature are identical, however, the person is identical to his public image.
Rafiulla Baig, graphology expert and director of the Handwriting Institute of India, Bangalore, explains why the corporate world has accepted graphology as a reliable screening tool. “Handwriting analysis,” he says, “can be used to discern falsehoods from the written statements. Handwriting also reveals key qualities like honesty, intelligence and many other hidden traits.” How does handwriting provide so much insight into a person? Look at a simple indicator that the analyst uses to judge a writer’s emotional stability and disposition, the baseline. A straight baseline unwaveringly points to someone who is determined and who stays on track. An ascending baseline points to optimism and a positive attitude. A falling or descending baseline is a sure giveaway of a pessimist, while an erratic or wavering baseline points to what else, but lack of definite direction, somebody who is unpredictable, indecisive and emotionally unsettled. Even the simple matter of how letters are connected to each other to form a word reveals the attitude of the writer towards others: emphatic, diplomatic, cautious or evasive, and the loops of letters like ‘y’, ‘g’ and ‘j’ determine social skills.
Handwriting analysis is thus an indepth study of the subconscious mind revealing many deep-rooted aspects of a person – the reason why consciously altering aspect of your handwriting alters aspects of your personality. Says Rafiulla, “Altering your handwriting even slightly would mean creating a new belief system and a new you. We coach upcoming cricketers and aspiring actors among others, to develop positive traits and attitudes merely by changing their handwriting.”
Akber Ayub is a mechanical engineer by profession, an ex-marine engineer, ex-industrialist, member of a college faculty, and finally following his heart, a writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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