Graphology is a science that studies how a person’s handwriting is related to his personality, capabilities and an emotional state. Analysing certain elements of handwriting, graphologists can provide a detailed personality profile.
Although the history of graphology in Europe dates back centuries, in Russia this science has been actively growing only since the start of 21st century. However, in Russia graphology is already used in recruitment processes, vocational guidance, psychology, medicine and other related areas. A handwriting analysis has a number of undeniable advantages (efficient, impartial, distant) over many other psychological tests and studies, and this offers an exciting future for the growth and popularity of graphology in Russia.
Understanding someone is not always easy but sometimes it can’t be avoided.
What makes him tick in certain situations, how can we establish contact and make this relationship as productive as possible? When people had more secluded lives, such questions didn’t seem to be this burning. The fast pace of life, constant business and personal meetings make us turn to personality psychology more and more often. And sometimes, when we face difficulties or have to make important choices in life, we need to understand our own selves. Numerous practices in psychology, the abundance of popular psychology books and training classes clearly reflect the demands of the modern society.
One of the sciences that helps discover the mystery of human nature is graphology.
Graphology is a science that studies handwriting and its connection to personal traits, a character, an emotional state and abilities of a man. Graphology is widely used in both psychology and areas realated to it.
Ivan Sechenov, a famous Russian philosopher, physiologist and psychologist, noted: «Any image that appears in mind, any tendency related to this image, end and are reflected in motion.»
Now it’s not a secret that there is a connection between the brain activity, a nervous system, mental processes and fine motor skills. According to many psychologists, a man’s personality is seen through any physical activity, including handwriting. The nature of movements depends on how certain muscles reflect, which in its turn is directly related to the specifics of the current mental state of a person. The tone in muscles is reflected in handwriting, making it abrupt or round, large or small, smooth or disconnected.
In 1895, a German physiologist William Thierry Preyer analysed a number of handwritings of people that had different hand injuries, after which they were forced to learn writing with their mouths or feet. Their handwritings before and after accidents were identical. Based on this, the scientist made a conclusion that a person’s handwriting is rather related to his brain and state of mind than purely physiological characteristics.
People started paying attention to handwriting long time ago. For example, Confucius used to teach the following: «Beware of a man whose writing sways like a reed in the wind». Aristotle, Theophrastus, an ancient Roman historian Suetonius studied handwriting. The emperor Nero wrote: «I am scared of this man because his handwriting shows his treacherous personality».
The first known book about the handwriting analysis was written by an Italian doctor, a professor of the Bologna University, Cavaldo Baldo, in 1622. The very word «graphology» originated two centuries later thanks to the French abbot Jean-Hippolyte Michon, who wrote «System of graphology» in 1871. In his book, the abbot tried to classify patterns of handwriting and connect them with personality characteristics. Michon’s method highlighted and compared separate elements of handwriting — strokes, letters, words and lines, — each sign meant a certain personality trait, the lack of it meant the opposite trait. And although nowadays this statement is only partially true, Michon is still considered the father of modern graphology.
Many prominent cultural figures of earlier years expressed their interest in the analysis of handwriting. For example, the German poet, philosopher, natural scientist and a public official Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe wrote: «there is no slightest doubt that handwriting is related to human personality and mind and can at least unveil his feelings and actions.» George Sand thought: «Maybe I am totally mistaken as I don’t have the system, but I receive many letters, and the instinct of an observant lets me judge the writer based on the overall impression of the handwriting.»
Culture experts, physiologists, psychologists appreciated graphology a lot. Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung tried to slip into the unconscious of a man using graphology; a famous Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler also appreciated the importance of graphology and analysed handwriting of his patients.
Nowadays, graphology is an officially approved science in many European countries and the USA. In France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries, graphology is studied in universities along with other subjects. Graphologists are highly-sought specialists in such areas as recruiting, vocational guidance, psychology, medicine. A handwriting analysis is actively used in space medicine — specialists analyse notes made by astronauts in the orbit, in order to assess the state of their nervous system.
In Russia, graphology is just in the active development stage. Although at the beginning of the 20th century, our scientists made attempts to present this science to public (by means of a number of works in forensics and graphology in handwriting analysis), the industry experienced stagnation during soviet times. Graphology was denied by the soviet government as a bourgeois pseudo-science, and not only soviet scientists couldn’t study it, they also didn’t have the opportunity to read works of their European colleagues.
In the 21st century, the situation started changing — the high interest to psychology and related sciences, availability of foreign sources of information, opportunity to choose academic interests play an important role in formation of Russian graphology. A lot of Russian books and articles on this subject have appeared.
There are two main directions in the handwriting analysis: forensic handwriting analysis and graphology itself.
Forensic graphology studies handwriting to solve problems of handwriting expertise and helps identify an author of the text, authenticity of signature, etc.
Graphology in handwriting analysis is a science about the relation between handwriting and personality. Graphology is widely used in business, medicine, education and other areas. HR specialists consult graphologists when they look to hire staff — a graphologist can determine whether the candidate suits the role and define his strengths and weaknesses. At the job interview, it is sometimes difficult to predict how an employee will behave in the long term, so the handwriting analysis is the quickest and most convenient way to know about the personality and traits.
Graphology can be of great help in vocational guidance. A handwriting analysis of a child or an employee helps understand what area he will be at his best. Graphologists also deal with family issues by helping understand the source of difficulties and disagreements couples have, find a suitable solution and define the level of compatibility between partners.
Graphology has a number of advantages over psychology tests and consultations.
First of all, graphology helps assess strangers without knowing anything about them except their handwriting. A psychologist needs a lot of time to give an exact and comprehensive conclusion. A graphologist just needs to take a look at the sample of handwriting to provide a full result of analysis in two days.
A graphologist doesn’t need personal attendance of a diagnosed candidate when he does the analysis. As a result, there is little chance that human factors will influence the analysis: the looks, deliberate or involuntary influence on results of diagnosis, no chance to lie or give prepared and socially expected answers.
Moreover, a graphologist can provide a personality assessment regardless of the language the person speaks and writes. A graphologist doesn’t care what language the document is written in, because he pays attention to patterns of writing and not its essence. (This doesn’t refer to hieroglyphics which is rather painting than writing).
Aristotle noted: «Like there are no two individuals speaking identically, there are no two individuals writing identically», and you cannot argue with that. However, graphology became possible thanks to similar elements in handwriting of different people. These similarities are numerous elements and their multiple combinations create that diversity of writing styles Aristotle was talking about.
Graphologists use auxiliary charts based on numerous scientific works and studies. There are charts with signs of different psychological types, other charts help familiarise with graphological signs, and other ones help interpret different symptoms and emotional states. A graphologist’s professional instinct is an important factor, too, as it is worked out via practice during education.
Although graphology in Russia is just at the beginning of its way, advantages of this type of analysis are appreciated by many people.