The scientific study of handwriting analysis has only been practiced for about 150 years, but people have been intrigued with the shape and form of their writing as long as there have been letters.
The Ancient Roman book, Lives of the Caesars, for instance, discussed ties between handwriting analysis and personality. And one of those Caesars, Nero, is said to have been seriously interested in the subject.
A theory of handwriting and personality was first stated by the Frenchman Francis Demelles in 1609. In the years that followed handwriting analysis became a huge fad.
Such famous authors as Robert Browning, Baudelaire, and John Keats all dabbled in handwriting analysis. And the German master Goethe wrote that “in every man’s writings, the character of the writer must lie recorded.”
Another famous writer who became convinced that handwriting analysis held secrets was the poet Sir Walter Scott who once said “…I could not help flunking, according to an opinion I have heard seriously maintained, that something of a man’s character may be conjectured from his handwriting.”
The true birth of this science, however, came around 1860, when two French monks, Abbe Flandrin and Abbe Jean Hippolyte Michon, began collecting huge files of handwriting samples and studying them for common characteristics. Abbe Michon invented the word “graphology” to describe their work and published the first major books in the field.
At the end of the 19th Century, Germany took over the lead in graphology through the work of Dr. Ludwig Klages, a philosopher whose five books on handwriting analysis form the basis for the modern science.
Germany remains the center of graphology today. Handwriting study is included in many German medical school courses. Psychologists and doctors can become certified graphologists through a tough three-year study program.
In America, on the other hand, handwriting analysis has not been so widely accepted. To many, it has seemed merely a clever parlor game, not a true science. Still, graphology has played an interesting role in American criminology and business.
Graphologists have become involved in many of this century’s most celebrated court cases. During the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping case, for example, a major newspaper chain hired graphologist Milton Bunker to examine the writing of Bruno Hauptman. Hauptman had been accused of abducting and killing the child of flying hero Charles Lindbergh. He swore he was innocent.
The paper wanted to see if his handwriting revealed any clues. Bunker’s study convinced him of the strong possibility that Hauptman was telling the truth. But he was convicted and electrocuted for the crime, anyway.
In the more recent Son of Sam killings in New York and the Zodiac murder spree in San Francisco, handwriting analysts were employed to help create pictures of the killers’ personalities from notes they had written.
Courts sometimes use handwriting analysts to compare signatures on important documents and to testify about a person’s state of mind while he wrote a particular passage.
In business, handwriting analysis is becoming an important tool for selecting employees. Some 2,000 American companies use graphologists as consultants.
Companies also use handwriting analysis to uncover crooked workers. In one case, Father Norman Werling, a graphologist and priest from New Jersey, was called in to investigate widespread credit card fraud at a gas station. His examination of a worker’s handwriting convinced a judge to issue a search warrant which led to the arrest of a night manager for the crime.
You probably won’t be able to achieve such dramatic results to begin with, but you should realize that examining handwriting is more than a game. It is an age-old tradition which has important modern applications.
If you practice hard and become very good at graphology, you might even be able to make a living by using handwriting analysis.