I’ve been a handwriting analysis buff for many years. There’s just something about studying the size, slant, curves, angles, loops, speed, and spacing of writing that I find endlessly fascinating.
Though quite controversial, graphology is still used by some to screen job applicants, to verify court evidence, even as a tool to shed light on mental and physical health. My interest, though, is purely about personality; I think grading a lot of English essays was what got me hooked in the first place. Sure, I loved reading what my students had to say, but their handwriting provided additional insight about who they were as individuals.
Handwriting is brainwriting — an interesting picture of human intellect, thought and emotion. It’s something wholly your own, like fingerprints, and is controlled by the central nervous system. Even if you really wanted to, it’s almost impossible to consciously erradicate all the traits that make your handwriting distinctive and unique.
All the Michael Jackson coverage on the news recently reminded me of a graphology class I took about 10 years ago. We were given case studies to examine, and one of these was MJ’s handwriting and signature. It made a big impact on me back then, but now it’s even more haunting and poignant.
Take a look:
What are your overall impressions? What do you find most striking, aside from the content? This was written to a reporter from People magazine during his 1987 world tour, when he was feeling particularly maligned and misunderstood by the press.
Here are the most significant impressions, according to three different handwriting experts:
1. The downward direction (descending baseline) of his writing indicates depression, discouragement, and disappointment.
2. The irregular and inconsistent size, spacing, and form show wavering self esteem and erratic emotional response. Note he uses cursive, print, and the print-script combination. This lack of consistency suggests instability in thinking and behavior.
3. Misplaced capital letters show either disregard for conventional grammar or a low level of formal education. Did he simply not know correct form, or did he not care about using it? Usually, a misplaced capital maker’s lifestyle is unconventional, out of the mainstream of society. Since he sometimes uses capital letters correctly, and other times not, this shows he does know correct form, but doesn’t feel compelled to follow it — typical of people who are antisocial or isolated.
4. Using his initials at the end instead of writing out his name, in a size smaller than the note, reveals a need to protect his real self; he doesn’t want to be seen. This is quite consistent with his use of dark glasses, masks, gloves, plastic surgery, and various disguises.
5. Usually, when certain words appear bigger and bolder, these are the thoughts that are foremost in the writer’s mind. In the last 6 lines, he seems preoccupied with blood and bleeding. A quick glance at his random capital letters shows an emphasis on “M” words — Man, Moccosins, Most, Me, Must, Mercy (and ultimately, “Michael”).
6. The letter “T” is often read for work and ambition. In MJ’s case, generally his “t” stems are tall and crossed high, indicating a consistently strong ambition and work drive, high goals, motivation and willpower. These positive traits balance some of the weaker ones.
What about his signature?
The most important thing here is that it’s vastly different from his writing in general. A person’s signature is his public persona — the image he wishes to project to the world. MJ’s signature shows a lot more flash and confidence than his other writing, which reflects his private self. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the signature on the left is from an earlier period than the one on the right. What both have in common is the large size of the initial letters, an indication of vanity due to profound feelings of inferiority.
Overly large initial caps show lots of self-pride, a desire to be prominent, famous, and stand out from the crowd. Apparently, OLC are common in musicians and composers — a curious combination, because in addition to a strong desire for public recognition, the smaller letters in the rest of the name indicate the ability to concentrate alone on small details for long periods of time.
Also, the small size of the other letters in proportion to the initial letters, indicates social introversion, withdrawal, even fear. MJ’s signature has changed through the years; the more recent version slants more to the left (the more introverted you are, the more your writing slants left).
Looping back over his first name indicates self-protection (and protective of his family), possessiveness, and materialism. He is clearly attached to his belongings. In both signatures, the final stroke in “Jackson” signifies defensiveness, and once again, self-protection.
One expert even went so far as to say that because of the evidence of extreme social introversion, withdrawal and reclusiveness, MJ does not fit the profile typical of predators, who possess more aggressive traits. Michael is clearly someone who obsessed over his public image to the nth degree, who harbored feelings of guilt and shame over traumas from the past.
So, there you have it. I think history will be kind to Michael Jackson, and he will be remembered for his musical genius and humanitarian efforts rather than his failings. Tragic and complex, electrifying on stage yet very shy offstage, he will continue to baffle and amaze us forever.
For more about Michael’s personality by another profiler using a different sample, click here.
What does your handwriting say about you? Is your signature consistent with the rest of your writing?