An Abbreviated History of Graphology
the beginning of written communication, from prehistoric cave painting
to the development of alphabets in the various countries, there
has been interest in the relationship between the written symbols
and the character of the writer.
300 years before the Christian era, the Greek Philosopher Aristotle
observed that written words are the symbols of spoken words
and all men have not the same writing. He and
his students dealt with writing and the information concealed within
the writing itself.
Chinese sages in the east and Romans in the west, made observations
about the formations of letters. King Jo-Hau (1060 and 1110
AD,) a philosopher and painter of the Sung Period declared that
handwriting infallibly shows us whether it comes from a
vulgar or a noble minded person.
first known systematic attempts to describe the relationship between
handwriting and personality were made in Italy in the 17th
century. Alderisius Prosper published a study entitled Ideographia.
Camillo Baldi, a physician and professor of medicine
at the University of Bologna, followed him with a treatise presenting
a method for judging the nature of a writer from his letters.
His text is called Treatise on a method to recognize
the nature and quality of a writer from his letters.
after Baldi, curiosity about the possible revelations to be found
in handwriting began to interest poets and philosophers such as:
Shakespeare, Goethe, Edgar Allan Poe, George Sand, Dumas, Zola,
C.G. Jung, Chekhov and Albert Einstein. Fascinated by discovering
the intimate link between handwriting and character, they came up
with sharp observations about personality portraits that were amazingly
the 19th century, French priest and scholar Abbe
Flandrin and his disciple, the Abbe Jean-Hippolyte
Michon of Paris, devoted their lives to the study of handwriting.
Michon, who is recognized as the Founder of European Graphology,
possessed a methodical mind, an extraordinary gift of observation
and a photographic memory. After studying minute details of thousands
of handwriting samples, he defined them as elements of
the handwriting. He regarded each of these graphic elements
as a sign to be interpreted as an outward index
of an inner attribute. After 30 years of study, Michon published
his system of handwriting analysis. He coined the name Graphology,
which became widely known and accepted after his publication of
Les Mysteres de Lecriture in 1872 and La
Methode Pratique de Graphologie in 1878. His basic assumption
was that each graphological sign corresponds to a personality trait,
and that the absence of a specific sign indicates the lack of its
matching trait. Michon is credited with arousing an interest in
Graphology and the thoroughness of observation he introduced in
Crepieux-Jamin (1858-1940), a follower of Michon, broke the
tradition of examining individual signs or traits
and related to handwriting analysis as a whole, thus giving
Graphology its modern orientation. The development of Psychology,
Freudian Psychoanalysis, Gestalt and other approaches also supported
this new, far-reaching direction in Graphology.
the end of the 19th century, several German scientists
began to make important contributions to the field. Wilhelm
Preyer, a professor at the University of Jena, was the author
of Zur Psychologie des Schreibens (The Physiology of Writing.)
He established that handwriting was actually brain-writing
by comparing the similarities in the handwritings of people who
lost their arms with writings they made holding the writing instrument
in their foot or mouth.
psychiatrist George Meyer related individuals writings
to their emotions. As German psychologists and psychiatrists became
interested in Graphology, they soon produced scholars who laid the
foundation for Graphology as it is today. The application of the
Gestalt theory to handwriting analysis is attributed to Dr. Ludwig
Klages (1872-1956) a German handwriting analyst, philosopher
and psychologist who started publishing articles and essays on handwriting
analysis in 1904. Especially significant is Handwriting and
Character published in 1940. He made the study of Graphology
his lifes work and is known today as the father of
Pulver, a Swiss professor at the University of Zurich, applied
the psychoanalytic approach of Freud and psychological methods of
Adler and Jung to handwriting analysis. In Pulvers book Symbolism
of Handwriting (1940), he discusses the interpretation of
handwriting and its relationship to some unconscious mythological
or ancient symbols. He developed the importance of interpreting
upper, lower and middle zones of writing.
stand out for their contributions in refining the principles of
Klages. Robert Saudek, a native Australian who spent much
of his life in England and the United States, studied with psychologists
June Downey and Frank Freeman. Author of The
Psychology of Handwriting (1920), and Experiments with
Handwriting (1929), Saudek conducted many experiments on the
speed of handwriting, which he considered an important indicator
of the spontaneity of the writing and relevancy to every analysis.
Rudolph Pophal, a Hamburg neurologist, established a method
of classifying people into categories based on motoric movements.
Pophal published several books and publications in the field on
recently, the United States has lagged behind Europe in an interest
in Graphology. American Milton Bunker founded a standardized
system of handwriting analysis known as Graphoanalysis.
He began his career as a shorthand teacher and was familiar with
numerous shorthand systems. He noticed that his students, who were
taught shorthand by the same instructor from the same textbooks,
did not produce the shorthand characters in the same way. After
analyzing thousands of handwriting samples and studying various
European sources, he developed Graphoanalysis in 1929 and a school,
the International Graphoanalysis Society, to teach his methods.
Bunker is credited with taking a middle-of-the-road approach, combining
the intuitive approach of the German School with the strict interpretation
of signs. This method, called Graphoanalysis, is a system of identifying
basic handwriting strokes, relating them to the particular personality
traits and evaluating the relative strengths of different traits
of the writer.
died in 1961 and the leadership of the International Graphoanalysis
Society fell to psychologist V. Peter Ferrara. Ferarra stressed
exacting standards for those practicing handwriting analysis and
encouraged research studies.
Stein Lewinson, Werner Wolf and Klara Roman are additional
American contributors of note. Lewinson, who practiced Graphology
in Germany before she came to America, was involved in research
in the field of psychosomatic medicine with physicians. She also
investigated the writings of children and emotionally disturbed
people. In collaboration with Joseph Zubin, Lewinson published
Handwriting Analysis: A Series of Scales for Evaluating the
Dynamic Aspects of Handwriting (1942). They combined clinical
judgments with objective measurements to get a complex score. They
were particularly interested in the rhythmic balance in writing,
which they considered an important indicator of normalcy.
Wolf is another German-trained graphologist who studied at the
University of Barcelona and the Sorbonne in Paris before arriving
in the United States in 1939. His expertise in a variety of languages
led him to be fascinated by both the physiology and psychology of
handwriting. In his book Diagrams of the Unconscious
(1948), he states that man in his handwriting or artistic expression
communicates not only his conscious thoughts but also his underlying
thoughts of which he is unaware.
late Kara Roman, who was trained in Hungary, studied the
relationship between speech and handwriting. She found the handwritings
of those with speech disorders showed poor rhythm, split letter
formations and a general lack of fluency.
1938, Roda Wieser conducted a landmark graphological research
in her ten year study on the writings of criminals. She is credited
with discovering the basic rhythm, and developed theories
concerning criminal tendencies.
Europe, Graphology is one of the oldest psychological approaches
for the study of personality, and it was widely used before the
advent of psychoanalysis, Gestalt theory, social anthropology or
projective techniques. An important step toward acceptance in the
United States was made in 1980 when the Library of Congress
recognized Graphology as a science and changed the Dewey Decimal
System classification for Graphology from the Occult section to
a place in the Psychology section. Now in the 21st Century
more and more businesses and individuals throughout the world are
experiencing the benefits of using handwriting analysis.
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