I consider myself to be very fortunate these days! As I develop the Wellbeing…unlimited digital platform, I get to spend my time meeting other people in the Wellbeing arena. So far, I’ve met an NLP practitioner, Reiki healer and teacher, and a Nia dance instructor. I didn’t anticipate adding a handwriting analyst to this list. However, at a recent networking event I had the great fortune to meet a fascinating lady, Bernadette Hunt, who is exactly that. Knowing nothing about the profession, I was fascinated to learn more about Bernadette and her Graphology work. I duly submitted my own handwriting sample and, with more than a little trepidation, waited for the email telling me my report was ready.
Graphology – a brief overview
I had a vague idea about Graphology before I met Bernadette, but what I was to discover astounded me.
Check its dictionary definition and you’ll find something along the lines of:
- the study of handwriting, for example as used to infer a person’s character.
- LINGUISTICS the study of written and printed symbols and of writing systems.
Handwriting has developed over many centuries. It changes and evolves as we grow, from the standardised uniform handwriting taught at school into our own individual styles. And they ARE individual. The British Institute of Graphologists website states: “handwriting is the pattern of our psychology expressed in symbols on the page and these symbols are as unique as our own DNA“.
As we get older, and develop our personalities, we move away from how we learned to write at school. Subtle changes in our writing style happen over time. Letters may become taller or longer, more joined up (or less). Thinner or thicker. Our writing may become more “flowery” or extravagant as we discover who we are, especially with our signatures. Our writing can change daily depending on our circumstances or mood. When we write matters – if we’re in a hurry, or in a bad mood, for example. What we write on too is significant – a Post-It vs. A4 paper. And this is where the Graphologist’s work begins. Noting the differences between the “copy book” style (how we were taught to write at school) and its evolution to the present day. This in turn reflects how the personality has evolved over time.
Graphology has a multitude of applications, including recruitment or career guidance, forensic analysis, or personality profiling for self-awareness and self-development. It was the latter that intrigued me!
Graphology – profiling a personal journey
I was keen to go through my Personal Profile report, which also included a Star-Wave drawing I had done (more on both later). But first, I wanted to understand more about what had taken Bernadette down such a diverse career path.
Bernadette’s journey into the world of Graphology didn’t begin until she was approaching her 40s. It started fairly innocuously with an item on a morning News programme about handwriting and handwriting analysis. Bernadette was instantly hooked! However, it took several years before she was able to find a course in the UK. Once she did, it was a revelation. Every step of the journey was an awakening, and Bernadette says she still feels that same initial sense of awe today. And this is evident in the way she talks about her profession.
How Graphology works in practice
There are so many variables that need to be considered when doing the analysis. For instance, it’s not just about how the writing looks on the page, it’s about how it moves on the page. The spacing – between letters, words, the margins. Letter height and depth. The pressure of the writing on the page. Even the choice of pen has significance. And understanding and interpreting the intricate relationship between all of these variables is what makes Graphology such a complex art. Every nuance has significance and nothing can be considered in isolation. It’s understanding all of these intimate relationships that is key to producing an accurate profile.
The content of the piece of writing is not important, other than using it to make comparisons with letters and words. As Bernadette explained, the analysis is always conducted on the original piece of handwriting. However, she might be looking at a piece of writing up to 200 times as she works through the analysis, so she starts with a typed out version of the writing as a simple reference point. She will then repeatedly refer back to the original piece, often uncovering new features each time. It is then a case of bringing all of this together into a comprehensive profile of the individual. The process is highly complex and requires a great deal of skill and attention to detail. It is also a very personal experience, as you are uncovering intimate elements of a person’s character and personality.
The Star-Wave Test
In addition to my handwriting sample, Bernadette had also asked me to do a “Star-Wave” drawing during our previous meeting. I was keen for her to explain more about this.
It was during a seminar that Bernadette came across a book that changed her life. She was drawn to the book immediately and knew she had to have a copy. She was not yet fully qualified, and took the decision not to read it until she had finished all of her other studies. That book was “The Star-Wave Test : Across the Life Span : Advances in Theory, Research and Practice” by Dafna Yalon. When she did eventually pick it up, she read it from cover to cover.
In a nutshell, the Star-Wave Test involves the participant drawing a picture of a starry sky and the sea. There are no guidelines or rules. It is left to the individual to create their own drawing, under observation. Developed in the 1970s by Educational Psychologist and Graphologist Ursula-Avé-Lallemant, this technique was originally designed to test children entering the school system. The drawing simply determined whether children could draw straight lines (the stars) which corresponded to certain letters of the alphabet (eg. b, h, l etc), and a curly or wavy line (the sea) to demonstrate other letters (like w or u). It also tested cognitive ability – the ability to recall what a star looks like and what waves look like, as well as deciding where they go on the paper.
A New Psychology Tool
As time went on, it was discovered that other psychological theories could be applied to this process, such as those of Carl Jung and Freud, meaning deeper analyses of the drawings were possible. Positioning of the stars, differences in the star shapes, what kind of waves were drawn, anything out of the ordinary being added to the drawing could form part of the analysis.
This test is now widely used alongside Graphology, but not in the UK. As far as she is aware, Bernadette is the only Graphologist currently using the Star-Wave Test in this country as part of her work. She believes that the concepts feed extremely well into Graphology, adding an additional layer to her analysis. For example, there can be extremely powerful indicators of what Bernadette calls “silent distress” and “noisy distress“. Indicators of deeper underlying issues that are present in that moment when the participant is creating their drawing.
In what is already a very intense, in-depth process, the Star-Wave Test brings out even more of the unconscious elements of personality. Something she is clearly very passionate about.
The (Hand)written Word – death of an art form?
Taking a break from the specifics of Graphology, we turned to the impact of modern technology on the decline in handwriting today. I was keen to know whether Bernadette saw this is an issue, particularly to her profession. For her, it is a concern. And not just for Graphology. People no longer write letters, birthday wishes are mostly sent electronically. We both agreed there is a place for technology, but as we become more reliant on computers and phones, and less so on handwriting skills, we could be facing a communication crisis. In the event that we no longer have access to technology (we’re all too aware of the proliferation of cyber attacks) and had to rely on handwriting, how effectively would we be able to communicate?
Bernadette also explained that over the last century, spacing between words has increased. In Graphology terms, this suggests that people are becoming more isolated than, say, in Victorian times. Generationally, we are becoming more disconnected from each other and this is evident in our handwriting!
Studies by the National Handwriting Association suggest that most teenagers today don’t have a pen or paper in their house. And yet, they said they loved receiving a handwritten note or letter as it felt more personal and showed that somebody cared enough to make the effort. I’m still a huge fan of a handwritten birthday card!
We both agreed that it would be a sad day if the art of handwriting died out. Perhaps a concerted effort to promote the handwritten word is in order. But that’s for another article.
What My Profile Revealed
OK I teased you with the heading. Whilst I don’t want to reveal specific details of my analysis (I’m sure you’ll appreciate it’s very personal to me), I can testify to the incredible amount of detail that can be gleaned through this process. I was pretty open-minded prior to getting my Profile. However, I was not prepared for the level of information Bernadette extracted. It was only after I’d read my report (twice) that I really appreciated why the process takes as long as it does (around 2 weeks on average to do a full analysis). And just how much work had gone into producing my report.
Because of the depth of information that Graphology can reveal, it might not be for everyone. Parts of the analysis were hard to read – it revealed elements of my personality that link back to childhood, not all of which were positive, and that I have known for some time require attention. It revealed my strong, average and weak traits, all of which have differing influences on my personality. The accuracy of Bernadette’s findings, around my strong traits in particular, made my jaw drop!
What I Learned
I believe handwriting analysis is a tool to be used by the participant however they choose. Such a lot is revealed that some might want to explore deeper into certain elements. In my case, for self-improvement and personal development. Or it might raise more deep-seated issues that require further intervention. Bernadette will offer advice or give recommendations if she thinks it appropriate. However she won’t instruct anyone to seek further medical intervention or therapy. It has to be the individual’s choice to decide what happens next.
For me, it gave me incredible food for thought. It highlighted areas of my personality and character that I was already aware of, but had up to that point not fully addressed (or chose to ignore!). Aspects that I knew were holding me back from being truly successful in my business life, and from being completely comfortable in my own skin.
Without doubt, this has been an incredibly positive and enlightening experience. Graphology is an art as well as a profession, and I believe a true calling for those who do it because it requires such dedication, commitment, time and passion. I am so grateful to have met Bernadette. From a few paragraphs about a tennis match, she has taken me on a journey of self-discovery that I didn’t think was possible.
Leading the Way
Bernadette is a tutor for The Cambridge School of Graphology and also a member of The Association of Qualified Graphologists. She has been invited to speak at The British Institute of Graphologists in London, to present on her pioneering Star-Wave work. Attended by some of the most eminent minds in the Graphology arena, she hopes that this will ignite real interest in this fascinating form of analysis here in the UK.
Having had my own Star-Wave drawing analysed, alongside my handwriting, I too hope that she succeeds. The connection between my handwriting analysis and my Star-Wave Test is remarkable. But then again, knowing what I know now…perhaps not so surprising!
For more information on Graphology, visit The British Institute of Graphologists