Uncovering the symbols in handwriting: Head & Hands meets Tracey Trussell
Your handwriting is as unique as your DNA – it reveals a snapshot of your personality, thoughts and ambitions at any moment in time. Tracey Trussell is one of the leading graphologists in the UK and I spoke with her ahead of her workshop in November to find out how she got into it, what it involves, and what the science is behind it.
Can you give us a brief overview of what Graphology is and how long it has been used?
Graphology dates back to ancient China at around 500BC, during the time of Confucius. Handwriting is the complex interaction between the eye, the brain and the hand, and is therefore the unique pattern of our psychology expressed in symbols, and graphology is the study of this handwriting. Graphologists are very fortunate that they have a person's whole psychological profile right there in front of them, in black and white, on the page. In 10 years of practising, I haven’t had a single client that hasn’t been blown away by its accuracy.
What kind of things can you find out from a person’s handwriting?
Handwriting highlights the uniqueness of people's characters.
It doesn't tell you someone's age, because handwriting reflects mental age and maturity; someone's sex, because handwriting reflects your soul; and it rarely reveals if the writer is right or left-handed.
How does it work?
Graphology works quite simply: the fact that everyone’s handwriting is different, and specifically because everyone’s handwriting deviates from the way we were taught to write in school, is the reason why and how a graphologist can interpret that unique ‘fingerprint’. Provided a graphologist has sight of a template copy model of the era and country where the writer was taught to write, the handwriting, in any language, can be analysed. I don’t read the content of what they have written as that could be distracting and doesn’t add anything to the picture. It is literally just the symbols on the page.
What are the main things you are looking for in a piece of handwriting?
I am initially looking at the whole picture of the handwriting on the page - otherwise known as the gestalt - before breaking down, measuring and assessing the shapes, movement, pressure, degree of originality and the overall layout on the page.
Are there things you see frequently or as soon as you look at the page you’re like wow!
Absolutely. I have just reviewed Dennis Nilson’s handwriting, the serial killer and necrophile, which showed a strong undercurrent of buried aggression and violence. I also came across Jonny Benjamin’s handwriting by accident – Jonny was talked down from throwing himself off Waterloo Bridge after suffering with mental health issues since an early age - and I instantly said "Oh my god, he feels invisible, like he isn’t in this world... he has all these ideas pinballing around in his head, but he doesn’t believe he can make any of them happen". I did a 20-page report based on poetry he wrote in hospital and when he read it, he said ‘my psychiatrist would have a field day with this’. I’m not a counsellor but I am always striving to do more to help people understand their underlying behaviours and motives. On this occasion, I was able to identify 25 different mental health indicators.
Who generally comes to you – and what for?
People come for a number of reasons; such as for self-discovery, compatibility, mental health issues or to understand their career options. I've analysed suicide notes, helped people going through a mid-life crisis, advised people on relationship suitability, and given people insight into their ancestor's personalities.
I also work for several companies assisting with talent resourcing. I design and build competency frameworks and pinpoint skillsets, strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal skills, potential and motivation. I have also been involved in a few PR campaigns and written extensively for the press, analysing high-profile people.
Does this mean that people’s handwriting change as their lives / challenges / personality evolves?
Yes, absolutely, that's the whole point. Handwriting is merely a snapshot of the moment, and it changes in direct proportion to a person's evolution. Sometimes these changes can be dramatic, depending on what happens in a person's life, or sometimes subtler as our moods all fluctuate daily, because we're not robots.
Some might say it has similarities with tarot readings or horoscopes. What is the ‘science’ behind it?
The main difference is that tarot readings and horoscopes allegedly predict the future. Graphologists don’t do this - although they can give an idea of someone's propensity to behave in a certain way.
The science is observing methods which have been finely honed over many years of investigation and practice, and which include accurate measuring of every element and aspect of the writing.
As we go more and more digital, are you worried about the lack of writing to study in the future?
A little, but there has recently been a celebration of our humanity with the rise of the low-tech trend. People have begun to recognise the cognitive benefits of handwriting - both composing and receiving - in the digital age.
There has also been a simultaneous resurgence of a desire to create all things beautiful and natural, with calligraphy resonating particularly well in this backlash against technology. People are more inclined to want to tune into their humanity and individuality and find value - personal satisfaction, inner peace, meaning, mindfulness and relaxation - in expressing themselves creatively and personally, and there is nothing more individual and unique than the handwritten word.
What will you be teaching at your graphology workshop in November?
Graphology is the science of deciphering the symbols in handwriting. We will initially look at the whole picture of the handwriting on the page, before zooming in and focusing on some dominant feature movements. There are in excess of eighty items on a graphologist's worksheet so there won’t be enough time to investigate every single movement, but we will be exploring the handwriting of a number of well known people, as well as exploring the dominant features of our own writing, which all contribute to unravelling and revealing personality.
How did you get into graphology – where did you study?
It was a serendipitous moment, days after my father died, when I ended up accompanying my mother to a workshop, just like the one I will be leading, and completely by accident! I was enthralled from the very start by the insights handwriting analysis allowed, and decided to learn everything I could for myself, and ultimately become an expert practising graphologist.
The only way to study graphology is by an email correspondence course, because there are so few graphologists, spread across the globe. I currently have two students in Hong Kong, and in the past I have had students in Philadelphia and Melbourne, as well as Ireland and all parts of the UK.
What are you up to next?
I am currently writing a book exploring how graphology helps people; using case studies of real people that I have worked with. That's the thing I love most about my work - helping people. I'm also an accredited tutor at the British Institute of Graphologists and will continue to offer my three-year email correspondence course.