Graphology in all Its Glory!

The aim of this article is to enlighten people who are new to the science of graphology/handwriting analysis and to those who would wish to gain an insight into that science and to the many uses of graphology, especially in forensics and litigation. Most solicitors, I would imagine are familiar with graphology but may not have acquired a deep knowledge in terms of its versatility and of how valuable it can be to their practice.

Here follows a brief history of graphology/handwriting analysis. Although there has been references  to graphology from as early as 120A.D.; it wasn’t until 1622 when Camillo Baldi,a professor at the University of Bologna, produced the first known major work on handwriting analysis. However, most scholars agree that Abbe Jean Hippolyte Michon (1806-81) of France was the true founding father of modern graphology and it was he who coined the word graphology from the Greek words grapho (I write) and logos (theory/doctrine). An emininent pupil of Michon was Jules Crepieu-Jamin who moved from Michon’s system of definite signs to a more elaborate system of a co-ordination of dominate signs and this system still holds sway in the modern French school of thought. (Signs, I must add are the various stroke formations that indentify the character traits present in every individuals’ unique handwriting.)


In 1897, a quest for graphological research was pursued and two notable contributors were Doctors ‘Georg Meyer and Ludwig Klages. Meyer was a psychiatrist and Klages an eminent research worker and the acknowledged high-priest of the German theoretical school.  Klages’ achievements and those of Michon form the real basis of graphology. In time as with all theories, Klages work was questioned, especially by Max Pulver, a Swiss graphologist and he began to link graphology with the discoveries of psychology pertaining to the subconscious  mind.  The last part of the 20th century has witnessed tremendous changes in the field of graphology in North America and Europe. The rise in popularity of the internet has brought a renewed interest in graphology and graphology is now popular rather than obscure. A google search unearths a vast knowledge of graphology and rather than graphology living in the dark ages, the globalized world can now avail of graphology in a way that was denied before.

Professor Alice Coleman in her article ‘Explaining Graphology to the Laity’ from the Graphological Magazine 2008/09 reports that Graphology is a university subject in countries as diverse as Italy, China, USA and Argentina. She adds that it is taught in Spain in five universities. Further, she states that research shows that writing reveals the same traits as psychological tests and in cases of doubt, graphology is as likely accurate as psychology. Sadly, in this part of the world, graphology would appear to be somewhat neglected and overlooked. Surely, the time has come to embrace graphology and to avail of the wonderful solutions it has to offer. Today, it is unusual for anyone to dispute the merits of psychology. However, graphology originated long before psychology and it is fundamentally allied to psychology, yet psychology appears to be suspicious of graphology which begs the question: ‘Is graphology a threat to psychology and for what reasons?’ There has been a long standing view that graphology is not accepted by mainstream psychology.

What can graphology contribute in terms of litigation and forensic science? Recently, there is evidence to suggest that solicitors are offering work to graphologists on a more constant basis than before. Why this is so is debatable in that is it possible that graphology is at long last gaining credibility or is current forensic s beginning to acknowledge it as a valuable tool in that domain? Let’s take for example the comparison between fingerprinting and handwriting analysis.

John Wetton, consultant graphologist explains in the Direct Analysis course of Handwriting Analysis the difference between fingerprinting and handwriting analysis as follows: ‘generally speaking, fingerprints present definite and unvarying patterns which either positively match the known fingerprints of a suspect or positively fail to match them. He goes further by claiming that there are little or no grey areas between the two probabilities.’ In the case of handwriting however, the question of authorship is complicated by the fact that no-one writes a word or phrase (not even their signature) exactly the same way twice’. However, obtaining as many exemplars of the questioned writing as is humanly possible is a way around this problem and can definitely minimize the variables involved.

The area of graphology which interests law enforcement agencies worldwide is in the field of questioned documents. Mr. Wetton believes that this field of analysis stretches an analyst’s powers of observation to the limit. Often it is impossible for the analyst to arrive at definite conclusions .He is of the opinion that an analyst is consequently forced under certain circumstances to offer an expert opinion rather than an unequivocal statement of fact. However, experience, as in all professions stands the analyst in good stead as he/she progresses along the path of expertise.

It will be interesting to see how graphology evolves in the coming years as people become aware of it, especially through the new technologies and the information society and perhaps it will take its place as a rightful contributor to psychology and to forensics and litigation. The AQG (Association of Qualified Graphologists) reports that more members are being offered work in forensics and litigation as was mentioned above in general.  Perhaps a new day is dawning in terms of graphology/handwriting analysis breaking new ground and growing as a valued and reliable professional service to forensics and litigation. An expert witness in graphology can now avail of training in courtroom procedure with Bond Solon, leaders in expert witness training. They can receive training in report writing, courtroom skills, and in law and procedure.

Two work assignments that I was involved with recently were an allegation that a doctor’s secretary forged her employer’s signature on prescriptions whereas another concerned a piece of writing in a diary belonging to an immigrant woman. The judge believed that someone other than she wrote the final entry in the diary. However, the immigrant in question had suffered a stroke prior to writing the final entry which could explain the difference in the writing style, although at first appearance, the two pieces of writing bore no resemblance. Such is the complexity of graphological tasks that can herald remarkable results. Yes, graphology is alive and well and looking forward to the future!