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Graphology and psychiatric diagnosis: Is the writing on the wall?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2014

Mary Davoren
Affiliation:
Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin 14, Ireland
Natalie Sherrard
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Eccles Street, Dublin 7, Ireland
Eugene Breen
Affiliation:
Mater Misericordiae, University Hospital, Eccles Street, Dublin 7, Ireland
Brendan D. Kelly*
Affiliation:
Department of Adult Psychiatry, University College Dublin, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, 62/63 Eccles Street, Ireland
*
*Correspondence E-mail brendankelly35@gmail.com

Abstract

Objective: To review the role of handwriting analysis in psychiatry.

Method: Case-report and review of key papers.

Results: M, a 27-year-old man, presented with incoherent speech, palilalia, logoclonia, incongruous affect, paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations. M was diagnosed with schizophrenia and cannabis misuse, complicated by speech and language difficulties. M spent long periods writing on pieces of paper; towards the start of his admission, his writing was unintelligible but became more intelligible as his psychosis resolved. M's handwriting demonstrates clinical features of psychosis (e.g. clang associations) and graphological abnormalities associated with schizophrenia in the literature (rigidity in letter-formation, mechanical expressions, and tendency toward over-use of straight lines).

Conclusion: Analysis of handwriting is likely to play a limited role in psychiatric diagnosis but may prove useful in monitoring clinical improvement in certain patients.

Type
Case Report
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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References

1.Lewinson, TS. Dynamic disturbances in the handwriting of psychotics. Am J Psychiatry 1940; 97: 102135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
2.Sulner, HF. Mental disorders: their effects upon handwriting. Am Bar Assoc J 1959; 45: 931934.Google Scholar
3.Hilton, O. Handwriting and the mentally ill. J Forensic Sci 1962; 7: 131139.Google Scholar
4.Privat, S. Contribution de la graphologie au diagnostic et au pronostic des psychoses. Gaz Med Fr 1965; 72: 25012523.Google Scholar
5.American Psychiatrie Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition, Text Revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.Google Scholar
6.Lewinson, TS. An introduction to the graphology of Ludwig Klages. Character and Personality 1938; 6: 163176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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