Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 75.djvu/159

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155
VARIATIONAL FACTOR IN HANDWRITING

ficially, by means of hypnotic suggestion or provisional deceit, changes in the mood or even in the personality of a given reagent have indeed been tried in France. The results, although striking and interesting are somewhat general in nature nor is the method beyond criticism.

The dependence of style of writing upon suggestion has already been spoken of in emphasizing the rôle social suggestion plays in determining writing-types. Experimental work may investigate the influence of this factor. An incident in which a friend of the present writer, in signing the latter name to a lecture-ticket, unconsciously imitated the writer's signature shows how extensively suggestion may operate. Reports of the character of writing during hypnosis offer material for study. Detailed reports as to the characteristic appearance of such writing are, however, wanting.

Professor Janet, of the Collège de France, urges, and with reason, that experimental graphology should begin with studies in pathological graphology, studies on the effect upon handwriting of diseases of motility and sensibility, or of specific diseases, such as those of respiration and of circulation. From the more pronounced modifications of handwriting transitions may then be made to its more delicate inflections.

This recourse to pathology bids fair to prove increasingly fruitful. Physicians have long been aware of profound modifications of handwriting through disease and have utilized such modifications in diagnosis. Considerable material has been collected and published by them in connection with their discussions of insanity, hysteria, epilepsy, paralysis and the like. Their interest has been, however, often practical rather than theoretical, and it is only with the increasing interest in the specific problem of handwriting that the full value of their documents becomes evident. Moreover, the failure to record in a particular instance specimens of the normal as well as of the perverted writing is often regrettable. Experimental work upon pathological writing has, however, already been resorted to in the attempt to determine the changes in writing induced by the use of alcohol and various other drugs.

A highly interesting case of pathological writing is that known as automatic writing, writing of which the writer is either not conscious at all or else conscious only of the movement and its result without feeling in any way responsible for the act. In connection with such automatic writing one would like to have not only an analysis of the mental state, but also detailed information of the variation from the normal in terms of speed, amplitude, alignment and pressure of writing. It is worth noting that Professor Janet has published examples of mediumistic writing, and that Dr. Prince, in his recent book on "The Dissociation of Personality," has reproduced the handwriting of a secondary personality.