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What’s in a (Handwritten) Name?

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When articles pass across my desk every day, marked up with the squiggles of my coworkers, am I seeing hints of their most secret selves in their handwriting? Are they seeing hints of mine?

When I read Living’s story on handwriting in the September 2013 issue, I was skeptical about graphology but curious. A friend of a friend is married to a professional graphologist named Dorit Wallach. When the issue came out, they were living in Israel, where human resources departments and prospective couples use graphology to determine compatibility issues—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I introduced myself to Dorit, a 15-year-veteran of the field with her own practice, Guiding Lines Graphology. Dorit’s work deals with using handwriting to help people identify what really motivates them, and then tailor their work and professional lives accordingly.

She told me about assisting one client to embrace a desire to leave the business world and pursue a career in professional photography. Several years after they completed their readings, she said, she got an invitation to his opening at a big London gallery.

Another of her regular clients in Israel has been a large bank, which provides its managers with handwriting analysis in order to improve their interpersonal skills.

“For me, the most rewarding part of this work is the people who say that they learned how to communicate better, or that they learned how to be better parents or partners,” she told me. “I just want to make people better at living their own lives.”

Dorit sent me eight pages of handwriting exercises, which included several prompts to create drawings. The directions were particular (“Use three sheets of paper under every page you’re working on … ballpoint pen is preferred.”). At no point was I asked to write anything that would reveal my personality via content. The whole thing took about two hours.

Frequently used by graphologists, the Wartegg Test instructs subjects to complete the drawings in each box however they like. The Wartegg was one of several tests graphologist Dorit Wallach used to analyze my handwriting after we ran a graphology article in the September issue.

I mailed the papers back to Tel Aviv (“Dorit Wallach, Suchandsuch Kibbutz, Israel”—could that really be the whole address?), and two weeks later, Dorit gave me a reading over Skype.

Beforehand, I feared that the analysis would employ the broad, meaningless generalizations you find in bad horoscopes (“You are the kind of person who likes funny animal videos and dislikes people stepping on your toes”), and that I would be embarrassed for her and reluctant to write this blog post.

Now, as I look over her notes from my reading, I am reticent to share what she said, because a good portion of it stings with intimate, unflinching recognition. I’d heard quite a few of her more specific comments before, from people who know me well. Some of them I’d even heard consistently from teachers and counselors as a child.  It was as if she was reminding me who I was, at my core, regardless of age.

I was also impressed that Dorit had been able to hold up certain sheets of my test and point to the exact things that made her draw certain conclusions—all of which made logical and intuitive sense. ”With graphology, there are so many things working together—it’s like a puzzle with 10 million pieces, and you have to find a way to put them together,” said Dorit, who recently moved to the States with her American spouse. (She doesn’t have an English website yet, though you can reach her through LinkedIn.)

Though graphology has been popular in countries including Israel, France, Germany and Switzerland, it has drawn mixed reviews here in the States. Some have argued that it’s a soft science that can’t re-create its results in testing.

I’m not a clinical psychologist, so I can’t speak to that debate. However, my reading with Dorit has made me a believer in what an adept graphologist can deduce.

 

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