Thursday, December 7, 2017

Handwriting: Under Pressure

(This blog was originally posted on April 26, 2016)

Image courtesy of Microsoft

The April 25, 2016 installment of The Family Circus cartoon strip featured one of the characters, Billy, working on a homework assignment. When his mom asks why he is pressing so hard, the little boy explains that he wants his teacher to know that he means what he is writing. I knew right away that I had the topic for today’s blog. In addition to addressing what is literally meant in the written word, this scenario also addressed the (literally) unwritten part of communication that is so often ignored: what we mean by the words we use and what the reader understands or infers.
Let’s start with handwriting. As I have explained in my previous blog titled What I Look for in an Informal Handwriting Sample, handwriting—a manifestation of what we consciously think—is motivated by a subconscious ideomotor (automatic physical) response. In addition to the various characteristics of writing such as the form of the letters, letter slant, and straightness of the lines of writing, pressure of the sample is also very important. In fact, this is one of the first things I consider when I analyze handwriting. The presence or absence of significant pressure of the writing suggests that the person invested more or less “feeling” in what he or she wrote. This is identified by checking for the presence or absence of indentations on the opposite side of the page. These are comparable to reflections of the writing sample that can be seen and/or felt on the reverse side. Sometimes you can see the deep formation of the letters or even pin-holes of light where the pressure was so strong that it actually made tiny tears in the paper.
The second feature that interested me about this cartoon is about suggestibility. In the cartoon, Billy tells his mother that he wants the teacher to know (see) that he means what he has written by the amount of pressure he used to write his essay. This is a trait of a Physical Suggestible: I mean what I say and I say what I mean. His apparent emotional investment in writing this assignment is to appear honest or, at least, that he has completed the assignment to the best of his understanding when he answered the question. (By the way, all young children possess Physical Suggestibility.) However, the teacher may not equate the pressure of the pencil on the paper the way he intends her to do. For example, if she is an Emotional Suggestible she might infer that the deep indentations in the paper indicate that Billy was frustrated or even angry about doing the assignment in the first place. Or, she may interpret that the force of his writing reflects his deep interest about the essay topic or questions. If Billy’s answers are wrong or if he misunderstood the question he was supposed to answer in the assignment, the teacher may believe that her student was expressing frustration about what he has been asked to do. Then again, she may not even notice or care about this feature of his writing and grade the assignment simply on the accuracy or correct interpretation of the boy’s answers.
Finally, when I ask someone to provide a handwriting sample for analysis, I instruct the person to write about personally meaningful topic to get a good sense of the ideomotor response being activated. Copying information off of a document or providing the rhyme used to memorize position of letters on a keyboard activates only the conscious mind and does not reveal very much about the person’s subconscious behavior and personality. I don’t know how old Billy is in this sketch, but he looks very young. Even if he is writing an essay, the amount of original thought and analysis he puts into what he is writing, versus stringing related facts into a series of sentences, would depend on his age. It is more likely that Billy’s writing sample constitutes parroting back information versus sharing a new idea that would bear more insight into his subconscious mind. Finally, you can see in that he is writing on lined paper. Ideally, a handwriting sample is done on plain (unlined) paper so I can get a good picture of the natural slant of the person’s writing and width of their margins, etc.
For more information about handwriting analysis, check out the following blogs: Handwriting Analysis for Hypnotherapy; And Your Handwriting Says; And Your Handwriting Says, Part 2; Handwriting Analysis: Doodles; and When Illness Shows Up in Your Handwriting. If you are interested in getting a formal analysis of your own handwriting, please contact me at (661) 433-9430 or send an e-mail to me at

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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