Saturday, October 11, 2008

the unwritten text in handwriting

I remember Scott asking Alex why he chose to include the sample of his handwritten poem next to his typed one. The reason, i assume, may be that a handwritten piece offers much more information than a typed piece. In a typed piece you have the word connoctaions, the sentence structure, rhyme themes (god forbid a poem that rhymes), literary devices, etc. to narrate meaning. In handwriting, however, there is another form of language beside only the words that communicates with us.
Graphology is the study and analysis of handwriting. It specifically relates to what handwriting shows about the psychology of the writer. The basics of graphology (according to wiki) are

* When we write, the ego is active but it is not always active to the same degree. Its activity waxes and wanes; being at its highest level when an effort has to be made by the writer and at its lowest level when the motion of the writing organ has gained momentum and is driven by it.

* When the action of writing is comparatively difficult, the writer uses those forms of letters which are simpler or more familiar.

* The muscular movements involved in writing are controlled by the central nervous system. The form of the resultant writing movement is modified further by the flexibly assembled coordinative structures in the hand, arm, and shoulder; which follow the principles of dynamical systems. The specific writing organ (mouth, foot, hand, crook of elbow) is irrelevant if it functions normally and is sufficiently adapted to its function.

* The neurophysiological mechanisms which contribute to the written movement are related to conditions within the central nervous system and vary in accordance with them. The written strokes, therefore, reflect both transitory and long term changes in the central nervous system such as Parkinson's disease, or alcohol usage.

* The movements and corresponding levels of muscular tension in writing are mostly outside of conscious control and subject to the ideomotor effect. Emotion, mental state, and biomechanical factors such as muscle stiffness and elasticity are reflected in a person's handwriting.

* One must examine the handwriting or drawing movements by considering them as movements organized by the central nervous system and produced under biomechanical and dynamical constraints. Given these considerations, graphologists proceed to evaluate the pattern, form, movement, rhythm, quality, and consistency of the graphic stroke in terms of psychological interpretations. Such interpretations vary according to the graphological theory applied by the analyst.

* Most schools of thought in graphology concur that a single graphological element can be a component of many different clusters, with each cluster having a different psychological interpretation. The significance of the cluster can be assessed accurately by tracing each component of the cluster back to their origins and adapting the meaning of the latter to the conditions of the milieu in which the form appears.

Some basic examples(also from Wiki):

Slant (handwriting) of the letters:
A forward slant indicates high emotional expressiveness
Vertical handwriting indicates moderate, restrained emotional expression
A left slant indicates emotional withdrawal.

Angle of the lines on unlined paper:
An upward slant indicates optimism and higher energy.
A downward slant or lines with trail off the page indicate low energy or physical exhaustion.
A slant to the right can indicate sensitivity, while a slant to the left can indicate a hardness of the character. Fairly straight writing can indicate a balanced frame or state of mind.

General shape of the strokes:
Circular handwriting indicates an agreeable, easygoing nature.
Angular handwriting with sharp points indicates aggressiveness, directness, and high energy
Square handwriting indicates a real world, practical based approach
Squiggles and irregular strokes indicate an artistic and non standard approach

Individual letters:
The letter "t" has the largest number of interpretations. For example where the horizontal "bar" of the t is placed on the vertical "stem" indicates where one places their goals, while the height of the t stem indicates the potential to accomplish those goals.
A low t bar indicates goals or self esteem set lower than what can be accomplished.
A t bar high on the stem indicates goals set high and a high self esteem.
A t bar that is above the stem indicates setting goals higher than can be accomplished.
A cursive y that has been crossed back over ornately or several times can indicate a perverted state of mind.

Pressure applied on the paper while writing:
The emotional intensity behind a person's behavior. The heavier the pressure, the more intense the emotions of that person.
The pressure on the paper can also indicate the level of stress that the person is experiencing. (The more pressure applied, the more stress the person is under.)

So, in writing, we often say more than we intend.


Scott Abbott said...

I love the whole idea of reading handwriting closely. I'm less enamored of the kind of schematic "reading" that is often done by graphologists, psychiatrists, psychics, and physiognomists.