With only a handwritten paragraph before him, Rafiullah Baig can tell you all about your key personality traits in just about ten minutes.
The words mean little to Baig, founder-president of the Handwriting Institute of India at Yediyur; he finds meaning in the pressure applied while writing, the size of alphabets, the slant, the variation and where a person starts and ends the stroke.
“It is an established science — a branch of psychology called graphology where the handwriting is analysed to gain insight into the subconscious,” said Baig.
“The pressure of your writing is a direct indication of the intensity of your emotions. Writing of small size generally signifies a reserved and focused personality. Big writing is an indication of a vibrant personality. A leftward slant is a sign of an introvert. Straight letters indicate logical and analytical behaviour and a rightward slant indicates an emotional personality,” explained Baig.
Further, each letter is linked to a trait. “For example, crossing the ‘t' at a lower level indicates low self esteem and a high ‘t' bar indicates high self-esteem,” he said.
He then pulled out handwriting samples of Sir M. Visvesvaraya, Thomas Alva Edison, Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein to point out where they crossed their ‘t's while writing — right on top.
“The letter ‘t' alone could give you 22 different interpretations,” he added.
Like the body, alphabets can be divided into three categories: the upper, the middle and the lower. Letters ‘l' and ‘t' have upward strokes corresponding to the upper part of the body while ‘y' and ‘p' have lower strokes; ‘m' and ‘o' fall in the middle order.
It is after years of practice that Baig can judge a piece of writing and talk at length about the person who wrote it. Apart from a basic function of personality assessment, the science, he explained, could also be used in therapy, crime investigation, recruitment and health. “The kind of therapy differs with different age groups. We help children write clearly, legibly and fast. With adults, the focus is on personality development.” Psychiatrists, Baig explained, work closely with handwriting analysts to influence, change, and heal illnesses of the mind. “But what we cannot understand from the writing is sex, age, right or left handedness and it cannot treat a disease completely,” he added.
Prescriptions and personality
So why do doctors have such bad handwriting? Largely illegible and unreadable are doctors' prescriptions but Baig said it was a misconception that they write illegibly.
“We were wondering the same and did research that involved close to 3,000 doctors. The writing on the prescription is unreadable because first, the names of drugs and their spellings are unknown and second, doctors would like to keep the name of a drug secret to prevent misuse,” he said. “Outside of their profession, doctors write very artistically.”