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Handwriting & The Bully

by Kathryn Boughton

David DeWitt stumbled onto the efficacy of handwriting analysis when he was a young man in the U.S. Army. A member of the Intelligence Corps, he had been asked to substitute in the mail department during the regular clerk’s absence. While there, he noticed that one soldier was receiving letters from his sweetheart, but that the man’s name got progressively smaller on the envelope.

“I had a book on handwriting analysis—which I really didn’t believe in at the time,” said DeWitt. “But I had read that when you like someone you tend to embellish their name. I said to the soldier, ‘Have you noticed that she is writing your name smaller and smaller. I hope you don’t get a Dear John letter.’” A few weeks later he told me he had received the letter.”

DeWitt went on to a successful career as an insurance underwriter, but never lost his interest in graphology (handwriting analysis). He became a certified graphoanalyst and since his Army years he has lectured and written on the subject and will return to the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Sunday, March 19th, at 2PM to sign copies of his new book, Bullying: Applying Handwriting Analysis to Detect Potential Danger Signs and Effects, in which he explores the links between handwriting and human behavior, specifically in relation to “aggressive and dishonest behavior.”

In a February radio interview, DeWitt said he became interested in bullying after he heard a “powerful talk” by John Halligan, father of Ryan Halligan, a youth who committed suicide as a result of recurrent bullying by his peers. Halligan recounted that he had gone into his son’s computer looking for clues as to what had happened, but found no suicide note.

Approaching the father after the talk, DeWitt asked if he had found other pieces of paper with writing on them. He explained that he is a handwriting expert and said the boy’s handwriting might hold clues to help him understand what happened.

DeWitt, who had already written “Handwriting Analysis: Discover Your Own Vocational/Career Potential,” to help people find careers that match their personalities, began to ponder writing about bullying to help parents decode the signs of anger or fear in a student. The resulting book presents easy step-by-step analyses to spot behavioral patterns in handwriting.

“When you are looking at handwriting, you are looking at the different parts, looking for emotional trends, emotional depth, how people think. When were are thinking about bullying, we are looking for aggressive handwriting, people who are sympathetic—we can see strengths and weaknesses,” he says.

The history of handwriting analysis stretches back to the 3rd century BC when Aristotle noticed the correlation between handwriting and personality. The Chinese simultaneously observed the connection between character and writing. The first treatise on the subject was written in 1612 by Italian physician, Camillo Baldi, and the first formal system to study handwriting was created in the 1800s by French monk, Jean Michon.

Two major schools of handwriting analysis have developed, the Gestalt Method—called graphology—which looks at handwriting as a whole; and the Trait Method—called graphoanalysis—which focuses on individual strokes to determine the character and personality of the writer. The study has been used in many fields from criminal investigation, to hiring new employees, to psychology.

A graphologist will look at such things as the size of the writing; whether it slants right or left; where “T’s” are crossed and how “I’s” are dotted; the spaces between words and letters; whether lines slant up optimistically, are even, or slant down with depression; whether the pressure of the pen on the paper indicates aggressive tendencies or timidity, and many more factors. What emerges is a cumulative portrait of the writer and, as no two persons have the same handwriting, the portrait will be unique.

DeWitt’s Hickory Stick appearance in Washington CT is free and open to the public. Those unable to attend this event, can reserve a signed copy of Bullying: Applying Handwriting Analysis to Detect Potential Danger Signs and Effects by calling 860-868-0525. For further information about the event please visit the link below or email