Is graphology still relevant?

Some may say it never was; they lump it together with card tricks, astrology, palmistry and other trivial pursuits. But handwriting analysis as practiced by serious, well-educated professionals is neither a party-trick nor trivial. At its best, it can help identify forgeries and questioned documents, and serves as a worthwhile complementary tool in personality evaluation. At its worst, when practiced by charlatans, it is indeed worthless; when practiced by professionals it might fall short of expectations.

And who am I to make such statements about graphology? Years ago, I worked for one of the best, if not the best, handwriting analyst that ever lived in Israel: the late Dr. Aryeh Naftali. [Photo copyright: the Naftali family.]

I got to thinking of him last weekend, when the J. Post carried an interview with his daughter and successor, Michal Naftali. Not that I needed any reminding. Things that I learnt from Dr. Naftali, affectionately called "Abba" (Dad) even in the office, are with me constantly. For example, the relaxation exercises which he taught me, and which I practice nearly every day. What does that have to do with handwriting analysis? Probably nothing; but Dr. Naftali was far more than a handwriting analyst; among other things, he was a doctor of medicine who believed in the healing power of relaxation exercises, sphincter muscle exercises (the Paula Garbourg method), breathing and developing proper vocal technique.

I'm sorry I can't give you a link to the article by Larry Derfner; searching for it shows that it's in the paper's Premium Zone, i.e. for paying customers only. As an aside: I have no idea whether Derfner interviewed Michal in Hebrew or in English; I assume his Hebrew is good by now, and Michal (a classmate of mine at Tel Aviv University) always had a good command of English; nonetheless, a few expressions in the text sounded very much like literal translation from Hebrew. But that's neither here nor there.

Back to graphology. Dr. Naftali, bless him, hired me on the strength of a sample of my handwriting, and despite what he saw in it. As he dictated to me (remember, this was way back when, well before personal computers), he used to sometimes comment half-jokingly on my handwriting: "I gather you had a good night's sleep? You're very focused and relaxed today." Or: "What's wrong, Nina? Aren't you feeling well?"

When I was agonizing over my separation from Husband No. 1, considering divorce, Dr. Naftali examined my husband's handwriting, and gave me the straight dope: This man is (a), (b) and (c). He's not very likely to change in this respect. It's up to you: are you willing and able to live with these aspects of his personality? He didn't really tell me anything I didn't know about my husband. But he sure put things in perspective.

And now for my question: Is graphology still relevant? I ask because to some extent, I feel it has lost its power, through no intrinsic fault of its own. The reason is our addiction to typing… Most of us hardly write by hand anymore, aside from scribbling a note here and there. We use our fingers to "text" (SMS, or "lesames", to Israelis) and to type. When we do occasionally have to hand-write anything, our fingers feel stiff, and the handwriting comes out sloppy, the letters not as well-formed as they used to be.

This isn't true, of course, of all people. Some are less affected than others. If a graphologist is analyzing the handwriting of a hi-tech person or a university professor, chances are their handwriting has deteriorated. But if the analyzed sample belongs to a person whose vocation and avocation don't call for much writing, be it by hand or by keyboard, then I suppose his/her handwriting is the same as it ever was or would be.

I assume professionals like Michal Naftali and her brother Jonathan are well aware of these factors, and compensate for them, to the extent possible, in their analysis. What is "the extent possible"? I have no idea. Maybe I should pick up the phone and ask Michal, since the issue did not come up in the interview.

Naftali Institute of Graphology (Hebrew only)
Naftali Institute of Forensic Graphology

7 comments:

Patricia said...

My handwriting has deteriorated to the point that I can hardly decipher it myself. Is it a consequence of getting older or because my fingers can move over the keyboard so much quicker than they can to formulate letters? Being an impatient person, I tend to believe it's the latter. It's not only the characters that have become unrecognizable, but I'm incapable of keeping within the lines (perhaps another personality glitch) and maintaining straight left-hand margins - my writing is all over the page. Good thing I'm typing this...

Nina R. Davis said...

I'm quite sure it's more keyboard than age related. Though old people's handwriting does often change and reflect changes in their health and physiology, I don't think we've reached that point yet :-)

yaeltranslation said...

I'm sure experts can still learn something from the ways people try to compensate for not writing as much: how neat is their handwriting, how much stress they're applying etc.
I also thought of this article while reading your post, Nina:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7907888.stm

"When your great-great-grandchildren find that letter of yours in the attic, they'll have to take it to a specialist, an old guy at the library who would decipher the strange symbols for them," says Ms Florey, author of the newly-published Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting.

Nina R. Davis said...

Thanks for the link, Yael; seems like a fascinating article.

Graphologyindia said...

According to Graphology my hand writing indicates that I'm separate, cultural and sometimes too sure of myself. Also I'm very delicate and nice. I'm assured and focused, too. Lastly, I'm quite sincere and devoted companion.

Nina R. Davis said...

Well, if your comment brings more business to your company -- Graphologyindia -- I only hope that you are indeed a serious company and do professional work!

Graphologyindia said...

Awesome and useful content. Thanks for publishing this. It’s useful and useful. Keep up the fantastic....


How to do Handwriting analysis

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