Back in 2004, I attended a writer’s conference and attended a presentation about handwriting analysis, formally termed “graphology.” The target audience was mystery writers, which is a genre I have not tackled, but none of the other sessions held appeal.
The presenter was a former FBI agent and a leading expert in the field. After a few opening remarks, the man got into the meat of his talk. He flashed up a few handwriting samples from signed confessions. He suggested that people that wrote in the page margins often had no respect for rules. He showed samples of Richard Nixon’s signature before and after Watergate. Before he left office, the former President’s handwriting resembled a series of rickety lines. He went on to state that people who tended to write vertically, without slants, tended to be very objective and able to consider all sides of an issue. Many CEOs had that handwriting trait.
The man then shifted focus to show how gaps in simple sentences could reveal guilt. One poor soul had left enough space that an entire word could have fit in the blank area. It looked something like this.
“I did not commit the robbery.”
I was intrigued. What did my chicken-scratch reveal about me? Mr. FBI man then indicated he would reveal a sample of someone he would consider likely to be an unreliable witness. Before he expanded on this statement, he added that many of the people he addressed in this very room might recognize similar patterns in their own handwriting. He also said that graphology was not a precise science and that handwriting analysis was only a guideline, one step in understanding the psychology of criminals. I was starting to get nervous.
The example he posted up on the big screen was a letter from a young woman who claimed to have knowledge about a crime that had occurred. Her flowing handwriting was riddled with loops and curves. Her “i’s” were dotted with flowers. Her letters were enormous.
The presenter went on to state that people with loopy handwriting tended to be very creative and imaginative. They tended to enclose spaces in large loopy. I looked down at my notes. I had scrawled my name at the top of the page, an ingrained habit from my middle school years. The cursive “J” had three enclosed loops. My “l’s” were elongated and loopy. Even the top of my “d’s” and “k’s” which could easily have been a straight line, were accentuated with a loop. Guess he nailed my inner psyche. Good thing I’ve never been called to the witness stand.