When someone starts to write a letter, he must immediately decide where and how he should form it. In school, we were taught to start with a soft-curving loop and end the same way. This was the Palmer Method. As the writer matures, he usually drops the beginning strokes or develops an individualized beginning stroke, different from what he was taught in school. If he does not, his writing will usually be classed as immature.
Picture writing with beginning strokes. These strokes do not add any significance to the letter or make the word more readable. Adding this unnecessary step to his writing enlarges it, quantitatively but not qualitatively, and thus shows lack of growth.
No beginning strokes shows directness, someone who gets right down to the point without commotion. It is the handwriting of the mature individual.
Picture hooks that are inturned (so much so that at first glance they appear to be c's). This reveals selfishness and greed, for the first letter in a word refers to the writer, the last to his relations with others, and here the hooks are pointing to the first letter. Since the nature of a hook is to hold on, we also see greed.
A script can have long beginning strokes, extended well under the body of the writing. This writer is ambitious-shown by the distance he has come-but he will grate on other peoples’ nerves, for he needs a lot of room for himself and will get in their way.
Handwriting can show a long extension to the left of the body of the writing. It indicates one with strong ties to the past, and a need to stretch out to the left.
Consider the beginning strokes that touch the letters-not in the usual way, but as if there were some unconscious motive in the writer. When these beginning strokes touch the stems of the letters in the upper area, corresponding to the head, this writer feels a mental strain in whatever he does, as if someone were poking something at his head.
The end stroke represents a man's true personality, whereas the beginning stroke represents what he sees in himself and what he wants others to see in him. The end stroke shows the reality of how he relates to his fellowman. The beginning letter demonstrates his self-image, while the end stroke demonstrates his true feelings about the one he is writing to.
In general, a man starts off trying to give the best possible impression of himself, and this shows in the beginning stroke. After a while, he lets his guard down, and at the end he is not so conscious as he was of giving that good first impression. He has asserted himself; he no longer needs to be so conscious of his appearance. Therefore we see his true character emerge. It is always interesting to compare the beginning strokes with the end ones, a comparison that yields a wealth of information.
With the end stroke, the writer has a problem similar to that of his beginning stroke-where to end. It is a social decision, since the end of the word represents his relationship to his fellowman. If his end stroke turns back toward the left, this shows his thinking is directed toward the past, his home, mother and childhood, repression. If it is drawn out to the right, it shows him oriented toward other people, the future, goals. If his end strokes go upward, we will see that his thoughts are spiritual ones, religious, even mystical. If they go downward, his thoughts are materialistic, sexual, implying that he lives a life of pleasure. If he avoids a commitment and simply fades out, without an end stroke at all, it indicates meanness toward his fellowman. Let us examine some end strokes and make these points more vivid.
When the last letter of the line is continued on to the edge of the page, bypassing any possible margin, the writer is trying to occupy a space he fears someone else may. This shows mistrust as well as fear. These are the people who have three and four locks on every door and are always checking up on them, as though expecting someone to intrude.
Imagine the end stroke turning back and actually crossing the first letter of the writer's name, which represents his ego. He therefore has deleted his ego, himself. He is greatly disappointed in himself, to the point where he may commit suicide, since he is stabbing himself (his ego) through the heart.
The end stroke of George Bernard Shaw's signature cuts sharply back through his initial. This end stroke shows that in spite of his achievements, Mr. Shaw had difficulty feeling “important. "
Consider the end stroke completely encircling the name. This writer wants to feel protected, so he encloses himself from all sides. In fact, he often likes to trap others in the spider web he has formed. This type of person is often paranoid as well, fearing the outside world.
Paranoia and lack of trust are traits found in the writing of the French physicist and discoverer of the “Law of volumes, " Joseph Louis Gay Lussac who completely encircles his name.
Imagine the end stroke rolled up into a shape we call a claw. Claws are used to grab, so we perceiver greed, and the fact that the claw points back to him shows egotism.
When the stroke extends downward in a much weaker fashion than the rest of the word, we see fatigue, weakness, possibly ill health. This droopy writing reflects the writer's lack of physical well-being.
Picture the end stroke descending toward the left, in the form of an arcade. An arcade is one of the various forms of connections between letters and generally shows that the writer would prefer to be impenetrable. (Forms of connections will be discussed in a later chapter. )
Besides being on the defensive, this person would prefer to keep away from others. The descending end stroke can be viewed as a stick of some kind, while the writer (represented by the word, which this stroke finishes off) stands safely behind it-thereby keeping the other person at a distance.
Imagine the end stroke that covers the whole word. This shows an urge to protect, as if the writer were putting a roof over his home. The stroke is in the upper zone; this urge to protect was perhaps brought on by spiritual feelings.
Consider the end strokes thickening. Since the end strokes reflect the writer's relationship with other human beings, we can interpret this thickened approach as a club he holds over their heads. This indicates brutality.
If the end stroke were merely turned up, without thickening, it would indicate bravery. It is as though he raised his hands in an urge to go beyond the call of duty.
An end stroke that points down, particularly if heavy and pointed indicates cold-heartedness.
Picture the last downstroke of the last letter not reaching the bottom of the base line. Imagine a man with one foot on the ground and the other in the air, running somewhere. If this writer witnesses an accident or is placed in a position where he could offer needed help, he will not come forward. He prefers to run away and not become involved; he won't admit things and doesn't want others to know who he really is. If he should be pinned down, he will find a way of concealing what he knows.
Consider the end stroke that turns back to the left in a pointing fashion. The writer is trying to bring attention to himself. It shows egotism.
Note: This is a straight line after the turn, not a claw.
Writing can have no end stroke. Since the end stroke represents the writer's relationship to his fellowman, this person obviously doesn't give a drop of himself to others. He has done his “duty" by barely completing the word (any less and the letter would not have been recognizable as an r). This shows meanness, one who does not relate well to others.
When this downstroke is extended, it indicates a kind of stressed indifference-or even cruelty.
Picture handwriting with a moderate extension of the end stroke. This shows a good, normal relationship with others.
Imagine the end strokes considerably extended. In this, we recognize a generous, giving nature on the part of the writer.
Consider extremely long end strokes. This person is extremely generous, but he will get on other people's nerves because his attitude toward them is intolerant: If he gave, they must too.
Picture the end strokes extended, showing good social relationships; however, it ends in a sharp angle and appears to be saying, “Stop! I've changed my mind. " The writer makes sudden last-minute decisions to break off relationships with others; the angles show the hardness in his personality.
Imagine the end strokes going decidedly downward. Not only does this show no end stroke to the right (for social relations), it also goes down and away from the adjoining letter, and the writing pressure increases as it descends, showing a strong temper. This indicates unwillingness to compromise. This is a person who would rather fight than switch.
Consider the end strokes going upward. They reach into the upper zone, showing spirituality, religious feelings, and often mysticism. This writer is reaching for the heavens. People who do not know such a person well will often get the impression that he is immature.
Picture the end strokes going over and down to the left side of the last letter. It would appear that this writer allows information to go in one ear and out the other. He distorts facts and feels that he is deceiving others.
Examination for Lesson 9
1. When the writer matures, is it ‘usual’ to drop the beginning strokes? (And perhaps develop one that is individualized) Yes _ No _
2. Explain why the writer who adheres to retaining a beginning stroke exhibits a ‘lack of growth. '
3. When the writing has no beginning stroke, what trait is indicated?
4. Does Salvadore Dali's script illustrate beginning strokes or the lack of them?
5. We see ‘greed’ when a beginning stroke is hooked, pointing to the first letter. What is the nature of a hook?
6. Would you expect the writer of the following sample to get on peoples’ nerves? Explain
Yes _ No _
7. Explain why there is a wealth of information, when comparing the beginning
strokes with the end strokes.
8. What does the end stroke of a word represent?
9. What type of end stroke reflects the past, repression?
10. Which type reflects being oriented towards people?
11. What does a downward end stroke reveal?
12. Which end stroke exhibits being mean?
13. Describe the type of writing that displays mistrust, as well as fear?
14. Describe the end stroke that reflects great disappointment, one that may commit
15. What type of end stroke illustrates a desire to feel protected?
16. Greed and egotism are exhibited by a particular end stroke. Which?
17. Describe the end stroke that shows an urge to protect.
18. Explain why thickening end strokes indicate brutality.
19. What type of downstroke of the last letter shows one that prefers ‘not to be
20. Describe the end stroke that reveals (only) egotism.
21. Why do Joan Crawford's end strokes show generosity?
22. Describe the end stroke, which reflects one making sudden last minute decisions
to break off relationships with others.
Answers for Lesson 9
2. This writer still adheres to the use of beginning strokes, which do not add any significance to the letter or make the word more readable. Adding this unnecessary step to his writing enlarges it, quantitatively but not qualitatively, and thus shows lack of growth.
4. The lack of them.
5. To hold on.
The writing has long beginning strokes, extended well under the body of the writing.
7. In general, a man starts off trying to give the best possible impression of himself, and this shows in the beginning stroke. After a while, he lets his guard down, and at the end, he is not as conscious as he was of giving that good first impression. He has asserted himself; he no longer needs to be so conscious of his appearance. Therefore, we see his true character emerge. It is always interesting to compare the beginning strokes with the end ones, a comparison that yields a wealth of information.
8. The end stroke represents a man's true personality. It shows the reality of how he relates to his fellowman and demonstrates his true feelings about the one he is writing to.
9. The end stroke that turns back toward the left.
10. The end stroke that is drawn out to the right.
11. The thoughts are materialistic, sexual, implying that he lives a life of pleasure.
12. No end stroke
13. When the last letter of the line is continued on to the edge of the page bypassing any possible margin.
14. The end stroke turns back and crosses the first letter of the writer's name.
15. The end stroke completely encircling the name.
16. Hooks that are inturned in the beginning stroke
17. The end stroke covers the whole word.
18. Since the end strokes reflect the writer's relationship with other human beings, we can interpret this thickened approach as a club he holds over their heads. This indicates brutality.
19. The last downstroke of the last letter not reaching the bottom of the base line.
20. The end stroke turns back to the left in a pointing fashion.
21. They show generosity by their extension to the right.
22. The end stroke extends, showing good social relationships; however, it ends in a sharp angle.
Joel Engel is the author of “Handwriting Analysis Self-Taught" (Penguin Books)