Graphology, this mysterious and intriguing word ... I guess there are still many biases, myths and confusion about graphology …
Forensic Graphologist, Director of Morettian Graphology School in Padua (Italy) and Writer
Lidia, for example, what do you think about the dialogue (1) where Sherlock Holmes pontificates about the psychological analysis of handwriting (in Guy Ritchie’s movie “ Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”)?
Indeed, Alessandra, there is still ambiguity around graphology!
Despite his elegant tone, what Sherlock explains are, in my opinion, only fanciful assertions because none of his sentences corresponds – not evenly slightly – to the
graphology methods of which I am an expert. I wonder whether the scriptwriters gathered information about graphology upfront …and, if so, from which sources.
Then, Lidia, what exactly is graphology? What is its purpose? What does it help explain?
Graphology is that discipline which allows - through the analysis of an individual’s spontaneous handwriting - to insight to their personality in terms of intelligence, emotions, affective dimension and of the personality defense mechanisms that individuals adopt to protect themselves.
In other words graphology permits us to discover somebody’s view of the world; for example if individuals have a positive vision of the world, if it is a hospitable environment rich in stimuli, then their handwriting shows spontaneous movements opening outwards.
If individuals are convinced – due to their personal history – that the world is a very dangerous place, where everything has to be fought for, then their handwriting reflects their cautious attitude and the defense mechanism they activate to protect their personality.
As you talk about “personality”, it sounds interesting to explore the connection between graphology and psychology ...
Graphology is mainly a diagnostic method to investigate personality, actually we could compare graphology to a “complex and articulated set of personality tests”, which can be effective and correctly administered under two conditions:
- The goal of the test is clear
- The administrator of the test has a background in psychology and in test management, which provides them with the appropriate competencies to decode the personality aspects revealed by the test (such as: intelligence, feelings, emotions, affection) and with the appropriate knowledge of the psychological concepts (such as projection, suppression, dissociation, etc.).
The graphology method created by Girolamo Moretti (which is one of the most important and diffused methods) satisfies the necessary psychometric requirements to fully enable graphology to be included in the category of psychological reactive tests. Indeed graphology complies with the following prerequisites:
- Sensitivity, the capability to measure the differences between individuals
- Reliability, meaning that the relevant test measurements are accurate
- Effectiveness, meaning the capability to test exactly what the tests claims to assess.
Based on my studies and hands-on expertise I truly believe that graphology can be considered as a “branch” of the personality assessment tests, which are commonly used by psychologists to investigate people’s personality in combination with other projective tests.
Having said this, it would be logical to classify graphology in the domain of psychology, but unfortunately it’s not the case: even though psychology and graphology have a common period of origin – the 1800s –, the psychology has been broadly and successfully developed, building a body of knowledge which has been accepted as a science.
The latter, on the contrary, is still struggling to be recognised as a scientific human discipline and I believe that in order to overcome this stalemate it would be necessary that graphologists gain a degree in psychology, which should represents the foundation of a graphologist’s education. If all graphologists were also psychologists, then there would be a tremendous benefit to the graphologist profession: first the frictions between psychologists and graphologists will have no reason to exist any longer; second graphologists would improve their training and increase their credibility.
How can graphology concretely help people? Do you have any anecdote to share with our readership?
Graphology reveals a great knowledge: this asset could be valuable in different fields in order to reveal the uniqueness of an individual and to detect the causes – even the most hidden – of psychological problems. Graphology also helps to clarify the relationship issues between two very different people, who struggle to understand each other due to their differences (for instance, a logical and rational individual connecting with a person driven by their feelings, or an intuitive person in a relationship with a person interested in their outward appearance).
I am glad to share a concrete case: last week I was consulted to clarify a serious personality conflict between two sisters. Thanks to the analysis of their spontaneous handwriting I could immediately identify the differences in their personalities that were creating the conflict between these two high talented women, who were pursuing opposite life strategies. The first lady has identified herself in her professional role as a welfare worker, very professional, always striving for pragmatic solutions, but not too keen to listen to her inner being. The other sister, instead, is very focused on her inner being and her fears, always looking for new life visions, unable to enjoy any achievement because she is immediately pushing herself toward a further target. On the basis of these two different life visions the two sisters cannot understand each other.
How has handwriting changed over the centuries? What phenomena and trends do the handwriting of young people reflect nowadays?
Graphology allows comparison of handwritings from different centuries and countries, therefore across ages but also handwriting of individuals from various countries belonging to the same age.
In the past handwriting was much more angular and more accentuated because this reflected harder life conditions: the necessity to overcome material difficulties forced people to develop higher physical strength and anger, characteristics that were eventually transferred to their handwriting.
The same principle is valid for contemporary handwritings on a geographical level: handwriting reflects the hardness of the conditions in which individuals grow-up: in the Western countries the handwritings of young people show more softness than their peers from poor countries, who reflect a more rigid personality structure.
I recall a consultancy case I was presented from a multinational corporation, who asked my opinion about the opportunity to recruit an Indian engineer for a managerial position in their Italian branch.
Even though the engineer’s résumé was exceptionally good, it was clear from his hand-writing that his psychological profile was very distant from the typical profiles of Italian personalities. I am not saying he was better or worse than the target profile, but the psychological gap was so profound that it would inevitably end up in a lack of communication and poor understanding with the other employees, which would be perceived as poor leadership. This example reflects the intercultural issues of our era and how graphology makes it possible to detect them.
Lidia, in general does the handwriting of an individual change during ageing?
Alessandra, let me make an important premise: handwriting is analyzable only if the writing capability is a spontaneous movement showing that the individual has integrated this ability. A person’s handwriting ability does not just correspond to their schooling, but also to their overall evolution as human beings.
In my seminars and classes I often tell the story of my uncle, a very successful entrepreneur, who had such a bad experience at school that he had to repeat his first elementary class three times. I have analysed his handwriting: although, as an adult, he did not spend much time writing, his traits were similar to the handwriting of many entrepreneurs who have the same qualities, such as intuition in business. This is an extreme case, but it illustrates a general principle: the handwriting traits reflect the physical and cerebral movement. The handwriting of older individuals appears more rigid probably due to the stiffening of their mental framework.
In which fields is graphology applicable?
Frankly the only “socially accepted” application of graphology nowadays is the area of the forensic sciences and forensic graphology. This is a necessity as courts need the contribution of experts able to discriminate signatures and to spot forgery in handwritten documents, or to identify the author in crimes when falsification is used to commit a crime.
Much less diffused and not yet accepted at the social level is the profession of a graphologist, the expert able to compile the personality profile of individuals from different perspectives: for personal interests to know themselves better, for clinical reasons and for company recruitment.
What is the relevance of a graphologist’s report in court?
I believe that graphologists have a great responsibility in providing courts with their assessments and that they must demonstrate impeccable ethics …
The forensic graphologist’s role, in my opinion, can be performed with serenity only in case of an adequate professional preparation, which results in objective truth. Based on my personal experience every time graphologists can demonstrate on a technical level the truthfulness of an signature, both sides in the lawsuit accept it in the majority cases.
Of course ethics are fundamental, Alessandra, but the major responsibility of graphologists, I repeat, is their professional expertise and their ability to be more empiric than theoretical in their assessment of evidence. The professional background of a forensic graphologist must also include a number of other competencies and abilities such as:
Lidia, what inspired you to become a graphologist? How has your career evolved?
- The knowledge of the law (civil and penal)
- The ability to interact with clients, judges and lawyers
- The ability to observe with a scientific aptitude
- The ability to argufy and debate
- A balanced personality able to bear the high court stress, therefore emotional individuals are not recommended to join this profession.
My interest in graphology started when I was a psychology student at the university, for me psychology and graphology walked hand in hand, though psychology was my main passion in all its aspects (social psychology, personality tests, clinical tests, etc.)
I came to know the graphology system created by the Italian Girolamo Moretti in the 70s: it was a real brainwave due to its psychological depth (while before I had read something about graphology but without interest). This method is very complex, based on the interpretation of about 80 signs (described in my book Tratti di personalità nella scrittura
Concurrently I met Giovanni Luisetto, director of the library of the Saint Anthony Cathedral in Padua and the main student of Moretti. Luisetto was very famous in Padua for being a man of great culture and for his astonishing graphology skills. Thanks to this encounter, crucial for my life, I was able to enjoy the best preparation and become a recognised expert in the Moretti method.
What is the difference between the Moretti method and the other graphology methods? Why do you favour the Moretti one?
The beauty of the Moretti method is due to its psychological complexity, each sign refers to a specific intellectual quality, which is reflected in an individual’s behaviour. Moretti’s genius lies in his ability to decode the personality traits in 80 handwriting signs and through the decoding of these signs to identify the core structure of a person’s personality. Additionally this method allows the detection of trends or the early signs of progressive psychological problems such as depression or the inability to manage interpersonal relationships in the family, at school or at work.
You are the director of the Moretti graphology school of Padua, what types of courses do you provide and who are your pupils?
The school has been founded to meet the requests of people who, after visiting my website (3), asked to learn the Moretti’s method of graphology.
It is a three-year course for people who want to really know human nature and to see beyond appearances.
Among our students, who are normally over thirty, I recall psychologists, lawyers, teachers and people employed in various companies and in the technology industry.
You said that a degree in psychology should be part of a graphologist’s professional preparation. So, what about the students who follow graphology schools or courses without gaining a degree in psychology?
You are right, Alessandra, graphology classes are open to everybody, but for the students who have not gained a degree in psychology, I do not see the possibility to practice as professional graphologists in the short term, mainly due to the following reasons:
- It’s necessary an extensive and specialized knowledge to correctly and fully understand the complexity of the human personality
- Graphology requires a type of knowledge, which cannot be acquired without a consolidated practical experience of life and of highly complex human behaviour.
The training that is required to be a registered psychologist is long and complex, while people assume there are shortcuts for candidate professional graphologists. Therefore, the three-year graphology courses that promise an immediate professional solution, in reality they generate an inner blockage because students, though deeply fascinated by this discipline, realise by themselves that graphology is much more complicated than it looked like at the start…
What impact has graphology had in your life?
An enormous impact, because thanks to my knowledge of graphology, I learnt to see beyond appearances.
Luisetto wrote in one of his books “The scandal or the wonder of people towards other people’s behaviour is the measure of misery
”: if we do not understand the other, then we are scandalized or we wonder about what the other does. On the contrary, if we have a mind able to go beyond appearance, we would understand the weakness or the genius of his/her personality, which drove him/her to do what he/she has done.
Let me make a practical but resounding example of what Moretti meant with “misery
”: please see below a hand-writing sample by Eric Robert Rudolph (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Rudolph
), the American terrorist, perpetrator of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, amongst other terrorist crimes in the States.
Hand-writing di Eric Robert Rudolph, American terrorist
With this handwriting we can identify his state of psychological dispersion, in which his mental and emotional vacuum prevails. Then, for him the only way to show his presence in the world is a strong and explosive action. When we think of a terrorist, it’s natural to imagine a violent and aggressive individual, while in this case we find a person psychologically empty and dissociated. Of course understanding all this about this terrorist does not mean justifying his actions.
I have read and enjoyed some of your books; could you please share which topics you write about and what link they have with graphology.
Please share with us something about your beautiful book I “Why opposites attract each other and why likes understand each other?”
My books reflect my desire to share the graphology system created by Girolamo Moretti in order to highlight its areas of potential usage. For this reason I mention first my graphology manual (2012) (2), which suits graphology specialists and new beginners. Each chapter focuses on a specific dimensions of the psyche and it explains how each personality trait is analysed at graphological level (4).
After the manual I started to write books on specific topics, for example a book about love bonds and the book you have just mentioned. A typical example is related to the extroverts and the introverts: most people have some traits of an introvert and some of an extrovert, but only a few are total introverts. In a similar way only a few individuals are so attracted by the external world that they ignore their inner voice: they are the extroverts. Every love relationship follows this principle: the other attracts us because he/she represents a challenge to our own kind of being.
This book illustrates some gender differences that influence the laws of attraction and compensation. The first main difference – today validated by the neurological research – is the female ability to build relationships and connect, while men are more oriented to develop their uniqueness, a function called identification process. Relationship and identification are psychic opposites that produce a great mutual attraction, which is clearly identifiable in handwriting.
What will your next book be about?
I am about to publish a study about sexuality and graphology; it’s a psychological analysis of sexual attractions in its different forms, that go from passion to eroticism, to languid affection and to attraction to harmony of forms. This book explores through graphology the gender differences in sexual behaviour. I am glad to share what touched me most about my analysis results and some examples of the examined handwritings:
- In our culture we consider that women are inclined to risk everything for love, but the handwriting that shows a total adherence to the passion impulse without any mental brake are all male … for instance Napoleon (5), Marcel Proust, Giacomo Puccini, men who personally experimented with passionate love in all its dimensions (physical, sentimental and emotional) without any protection of their personality
- On the contrary the women who have lived intense physical passion show a concurrent high protection of their own interiority. This means that these women separate their sexual experience from their interiority as they become an internal distant observer. A good example of this behaviour is Anaïs Nin.
With this book I try to demonstrate how powerful it is when the Moretti graphology is applied to such a complex subject as human sexual behaviour: it allows us to identify the different psychological and motivational hues belonging to human beings. I consider this research my homage to the magnificence of creation.
Very interesting Lidia, I hope our readership doesn’t mind this long conversation ... One last question: which of your dreams have not yet come true?
My greatest dream, from which all my desires originate, is that life surprises me again and again, like when I was young: feeling the enchantment of new discoveries and further inner development.
At a professional level I am still fascinated by all the potential applications of graphology in other disciplines such as sociology and psycho-diagnosis (the latter in the field of the forensic sciences).
I hope that one day graphology can be as respected as Freud and Jung are nowadays in psychology: can you believe, Alessandra, that Freud and Jung were not included in the psychology curriculum at Padua University (nor were they in the US universities curricula) because their hypothesis were not considered valid enough according to the scientific standards of that time (6)?
1. Sherlock Holmes: Gioco di Ombre (2011), regia di
Sherlock Holmes: Are you familiar with the study of graphology?
Professor James Moriarty: I’ve never given it any serious thought, no
Sherlock Holmes: The psychological analysis of handwriting. The upward strokes on the ‘p’, the ‘j’, the ‘m’, indicate a genius level intellect, while the flourishes in the lower zone denote a highly creative, yet meticulous nature, but if one observers the overall slant and the pressure of the writing, there’s suggestion of acute narcissism, a complete lack of empathy, and a pronounced inclination toward moral insanity.
2. Lidia Fogarolo’s books have been translated into English and the “Personality Traits in Handwriting” Manual will be published by the year end. Some chapters in English are available on her website: www.graphology.it
3. Website in Italian www.grafologiamorettiana.it
Website in English www.graphology.it
This manual is completed by another book (“Il segno grafologico come sintesi psicologica
” - 2011), more detailed about the Moretti method. This is indicated for readers who already have some basic knowledge of graphology.
4. Lidia Fogarolo’s book on sexuality and graphology ( “Grafologia e sessualità. Un’analisi psicologica, sociale e culturale del comportamento sessuale”). Napoleon. “Whoever has been in love, knows its effect of stupefaction, the feeling of lost borders and the insane obsession towards the qualities perceived in the other.”
5. The concept of the unconscious – Freud’s great intuition – in the early 1900s was considered located in a specific area of the human brain. The unconscious has never been scientifically spotted and located, but it nevertheless became part of the official psychology when it was possible to demonstrate that the unconscious influences our behaviour.
Lidia Fogarolo graduated in psychology and specialised in graphology. She is an expert forensic graphologist and consultant in court. She is also the director of the graphology school in Padua.
She has published many articles and books in Italian. Her books have been translated into English and she is looking for a publisher abroad.