I RECENTLY CAME across a brief article written on the South African Graphanex web site’s blog criticising the lack of professionalism demonstrated by graphologists.
In particular, how some graphologists post personality assessments of famous people online for all the world to see and use only a few lines of handwriting to form their conclusions. The writer of the article argued that a psychologist would not publish their therapeutic findings of a client online, and so why would a graphologist? Especially without the permission and knowledge of the client or person analysed. They further said that this is the exact behaviour that brings graphology into disrepute.
I agree wholeheartedly with every word written in the article. I felt it a very good reminder to every graphologist. Especially seeing as the AIG had four Study Group Analyses published online highlighting the handwriting of five famous personalities. After much thought, I removed those Study Group analyses, and they will remain once again in the private domain of AIG students and members. I will explain why I did this and also why I agree with the words in Graphanex’s article.
I believe one of the main reasons why people distrust graphology and graphologists is because of the perceived power yielded by someone in a position to psychologically evaluate a fellow human being. Especially if that ‘someone’ is seen as having dubious qualifications or trained in something judged as ‘dubious’.
I sincerely doubt though that graphology is the only field or profession in the world where dubious qualifications and skills exist, or has people asking whether the field itself is legitimate (I will elaborate on this in the last paragraph of this article).
Nobody on this planet enjoys being assessed or judged. The simple fact though is that we are, on a daily basis, by all manner of institutions, traditions and the adventure of life itself, e.g. school, workplace, future parents-in-law, peers, bank manager, employer, etc. Some cultures also handle assessment better than others, as it is more intrinsically a part of their lives.
The ‘industry’ of assessment has been taken to a new level today, courtesy of the Internet which does indeed give any person the possibility to publish their thoughts and feelings, attacks and criticisms without censorship (in some cases) through Facebook, Twitter or whichever social media platform available.
What makes any kind of assessment an easier medicine to swallow is how it is done, handled and delivered. This is the argument of Graphanex and one that I also believe is very relevant to graphology.
When I first started out as a graphologist, I browsed the web to see what was available and what my peers’ activities were. It was typical to see a short analysis online about a famous person or celebrity. The media also called on graphologists to comment on personalities in the hot seat or spotlight. It was easy to deduce what certain graphologists’ political and religious leanings were from the personalities and the handwriting they chose to assess. This was something that I found wrong – not that they had chosen to analyse a celebrity, but that they had chosen to focus only on the negatives of the perceived ‘bad’ guy and the positives of the perceived ‘good guy’. Graphology is a neutral assessment. All aspects, whether good, bad or neutral, are presented in a holistic image.
I offered brief insights into local personalities for the media when I first started out, but for more than a decade I have refrained from doing interviews with newspapers and television. Mainly because it upsets far too many people (and has no gain whatsoever), and secondly, the media has their own agenda. They rarely present graphology as it really is. Today, I try to present graphology through the channel of education, and use my own ‘media’ e.g. social media and the Internet, with the intent and purpose of busting the myths surrounding graphology. I try to use the right voice to highlight issues that need to be highlighted and explain how graphology can be used as an appropriate solution.
My intention behind the AIG Study Group Analyses and making four of them publicly available online, was to give the public insight into how the method and technique of graphology works, e.g. what graphological signs and features are looked at, what are the mechanics of handwriting, etc. The findings, conclusions and judgements about personality were not relevant or the focus. The Study Group Analyses were also the product of several graphologists and students working together. They were published to give others the chance to comment or provide feedback on them.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of public assessment and it is why I have never accepted the invitation to perform so-called ‘ice-breakers’ to a large group of people, where the attendees can laugh and poke fun at each other as the graphologist rips through their personality with about as much sensitivity as a hatchet.
I don’t see this kind of behaviour as appropriate or necessary.
I do think, however, in order to promote graphology, good judgement must be taken in appropriately selecting and displaying exercises or examples which highlight the technique and method of a graphologist. Otherwise, how else is the public going to know and understand what we do?
The point about choosing celebrities and those who have media power and influence, is because much of what they do, does indeed lie in the public domain. But there is a fine line between public domain and privacy. This fine line should at all times be respected, without question. The sensitive graphological handling of a public figure is not without its place or purpose though. But character assassination and personal preferences influencing judgement have no place or purpose in any domain or profession.
Little evidence to go on
One very important point that was brought up in the article on the Graphanex blog was the use of only a few lines of handwriting (which hadn’t been authenticated or approved by the original writer), written years ago, as the basis for a detailed personality assessment.
Again a very important and vital criticism. The development of personality is a temporal process. The study of personality is also a temporal process. It requires a longitudinal approach. Only a very experienced and well trained graphologist can form a conclusion (with the necessary caveats) on the basis of a few lines of handwriting.
Sometimes it is not possible to do a longitudinal study based on the limitations of a case and specimens and/or samples provided. But it is possible to form conclusions and limit them to the time of the writing.
As much as I agree that it is not only inappropriate, but often illegal, to publish information or an assessment on a private client whose report is governed by privacy and confidentiality laws, I also believe that the personality assessment of a public figure – neutrally and professionally handled – is no different to the biographical summation and story of the public figure’s life.
Graphology is often attacked for its credibility. This is an age-old flame war that will probably never lose its heat. Some people simply don’t see eye to eye, no matter how much evidence or facts you present to them. They will always remain skeptical and that’s fine. It’s human nature, and appears in every spectrum of life.
Skepticism and the argument of ‘legitimacy’ is something that is found in supposedly ‘credible’ professions, industries, institutions and fields of study though, such as medicine (Traditional Chinese Medicine vs Conventional Medicine), physics (String Theory vs Holographic Reality Theory), the pharmaceutical and chemical industry (Herbal Medicine vs Synthetic Drugs), politics (Democracy vs Socialism), agriculture (Genetically Modified Food vs Organic Farming), nutrition (Veganism vs Standard Australian Diet), psychology (Brain vs Mind) and sports medicine (Barefoot Running vs Jogging Shoes).
One case that perfectly describes how skepticism and problems of legitimacy exist in every single sphere of life, and still find strong opposition even though clear scientific research has been conducted and concrete evidence found, is in the case of the South African Tim Noakes, MD, who for around 14 years, tried to convince the sports’ drinks lobby (big business) that their modern invention of hydration drinks and the subsequent overhydration of marathon runners was contributing to the death of runners, rather than the ‘established’ idea that dehydration was the cause. Read about this in his excellent book: “Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports”. If it wasn’t for his persistence and belief in what he was doing, the ‘hydration and sports drinks’ lobby would have kept the ‘myth’ of dehydration alive. This clearly illustrates how certain groups financially, morally and politically benefit from perpetuating myths and are quite resistant to change.
I see a similar fight concerning graphology.
Posted by Jasmin on Sep 30, 2011