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the study of handwriting, esp to analyse the writer's character



the study of handwriting, the investigation of handwriting to discern the characteristics and psychic state of the writer reflected in it.

Handwriting is a type of expressive movement, with the special feature that it is “self-recording” and thus is always open to study. The view of handwriting as a distinct expression of a man goes back to antiquity (Theophrastus and others); the first experiments in graphology date from the period of the Renaissance (the work of the Italian scholar C. Baldo, 1622). As a special discipline, graphology arose in the second half of the 19th century in France (J. Michon, who introduced the term “graphology” in 1872; Crépieux-Jamin); handwriting was regarded at this time as a system of stable written traits each corresponding to a particular character trait. At the end of the 19th century the German school of graphology was formed (G. Meyer, W. Preyer and especially L. Klages); in opposition to the isolated interpretation of separate traits, the concept was developed of the double meaning and even multiple meaning of each separate written sign, the concrete meaning of which could be determined only on the level of analysis of handwriting as a “total form” (Klages). Along with other methods, such as tests, graphological data are used for the study in psychology, medicine, and criminal law of the individual characteristics of a person as a method of psychological and physiological diagnosis.

IU. N. POpov

Graphology in criminal law. The Italian scientist C. Lombroso thought that handwriting was an innate and invariable human function and that it allows one to distinguish the traits which characterize the “criminal type” (this concept became one of the bases of the anthropological school of criminal law).

While rejecting these ideas about handwriting as an innate function of the human organism, contemporary criminologists study the process of the formation of handwriting, which has a specific and habitual character, and also investigate the various correlations between handwriting and the personality of the writer—such as the difference between the handwriting of men and women and between that of children and old people, as well as the professional peculiarities of many elements of the written discourse of the writer.

A. I. VInberg


Michon. J. H. Système de graphologie. Paris, 1875
Klages. L. Handschrift und Charakter, 25th printing. Bonn, 1965.
Pulver, M. Symbolik der Handschrift, 6th printing. Zürich, 1955.
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