The Curved-Angular Dyad


1. An essential interpretative category for understanding the personality

 When we talk about the curved movement and its opposite, the angular movement, we are dealing with a principle of interpretation on which agreement is unanimous. On an analogical level it is the association that is most taken for granted, as confirmed by many authors, graphologists and scholars of children’s drawing or spontaneous scribbling: the curvilinear stroke is a sign of adaptability and sociability; while the angular stroke is an indication of tension and aggressiveness.

Fig. 1 – Curved writing


Fig. 2 – Angular writing


The deduction is based on a general premise to the effect that the curvilinear movement is such precisely because the Self prefers to go round what it perceives as external to itself, whether this is an object of love or even an obstacle, thus maintaining a soft approach, which at the same time – due to fear – avoids too direct a contact. While the angular movement deals with life, and therefore also obstacles, using a more focused movement, concentrating on more specific aspects which it expects to be heard. And this is why the angular movement, if particularly intense and frequent, creates an automatic reaction that triggers confrontation, because the personality seeks direct contact, which can also be stinging, and does not allow others to escape or slip away until they have responded to its requests.

This play of opposites between the curved movement, seen as an indication of the tendency towards adjustment, and the angular movement, seen as the drive to brusquely break – also in a metaphorical sense – the established patterns, is the starting point for subsequent extensions of meaning.

Many graphologists have grasped the fact that both Curved and Angular, as described, represent unilateral tendencies, therefore if one of them becomes dominant in the psyche to the point that it overwhelms the opposite movement, it creates easily predictable imbalances in the personality. For example, an excess of curved movement, according to Ania Teillard, «can also reveal a particularly weak and spineless person» (1); Robert Saudek positions himself on the same line of interpretation, and he associated rounded forms with the ability to adjust, but if curved is combined with slowness of execution it becomes «a sign of laziness, indolence, acquiescence, that set of qualities usually described with the term sloppiness». (2) This is because if the adjustment is based on the ability to place oneself within a larger social context, without creating even the smallest disturbance or breaking action, will undoubtedly favour the ability to relate, within a static model, as there are no transformation movements except for those due to the spontaneous and contemporary evolution of all the parts of that system. Therefore an excess of curved movement indicates that the personality has stabilised on a movement that only includes the adaptive component, since every act of self-expression is seen as an action that breaks the established order and as a «selfish» act because it breaks the balance built on taking everyone into account.

If the handwriting shows a clear predominance of angular movement we face the opposite danger: the personality is unable to relate sensitively to the boundaries of others, but attempts to penetrate these boundaries in a direct and focused way. The interaction movement is not therefore directed towards preserving the existing balance, but instead it becomes an indication of a personality that is not afraid to attack those external elements it is interested in or sees as obstacles to its vital expression. For this reason, the Angle belongs to those «people who do not seek decisive compromises, but prefer confrontation with difficulties». (3) It is clear, however, that if the Angle becomes the only movement available to the Self it indicates «a person who, driven solely by the impulse to exaggerate every conflict, refuses any form of compromise» (4), «even if it transmits a sense of strength and zest for action» (5), as well as the ability to mobilise all «the willpower and discipline» (6) necessary to achieve the goals it set itself.

Fitting within this interpretative framework is Moretti, who, while not knowing the two authors mentioned above (and translated into Italian quite recently), attributes a similar meaning to the two basic drives given by the curved and angular movement: the former is considered an indicator of adjustment which, if excessive, inevitably results in a real surrender; while the latter represents the defence implemented by the Self which, through the angles, becomes able to draw upon assault and resistance so as not to back down from its point of view. A greater variety of interpretation is introduced, with regard to these two basic tendencies of the psyche, which allows Curved and Angular to be used even for handwriting which is not excessively biased one way or the other.

Firstly, Moretti extends the meaning of these two movements by attributing them the ability to signal whether the personality is more oriented towards altruism or selfishness, understood in the psychological rather than moral sense. From this point of view the origin of the curved movement, which determines the drive towards altruism, is linked to the inability to create clear boundaries between the self and others, so that the personality adheres to the demands of others as if they were its own. This is an instinctive disposition of sentiment which goes beyond reasoning, and is therefore implemented automatically. In contrast, the angular movement stems the tendency of sentiment to adhere entirely to the point of view of others because it employs snags (angles), that is to say more or less frequent and intense stopping points which prevent the Self from surrendering immediately. In this sense it is an indicator of egoism since it provides greater protection to the needs of the individual.

This particular interpretation of the curved and angular movement leads directly to the second innovation introduced by Moretti, the fact that his psychological vision does not envisage a game of mutually exclusive opposites, but rather unites them, in the sense that he takes into account the fact that each human being should be able to manage both movements. Just as physical life is based on the contraction and relaxation movement of the heart, in the same way the Self learns to alternate between these two phases on the psychic level. On the one hand, it develops the ability to implement a rather complex series of opening movements, which start from sentiment but also represent a prerequisite for the mind: we continually nourish ourselves with what we learn through our ability to adapt to the world’s changing conditions; while we consider the rigidification of a personality which has lost the elasticity necessary to do this as an unmistakable sign of aging or unease. On the other hand, it is also absolutely necessary to know how to close, in the sense that the Self must allow the data acquired to settle so that it transforms into integrated cognitive and emotive structures that have the stamp of individuality. This closure phase, which comes under the Morettian concept of egoism, is as important as the opening phase, or else we have depersonalisation or the loss of contact with one’s inner uniqueness.

This is an extremely original and organised system, since in this research perspective each personality must be considered in its specific opening or closure movement, and it is characterised by the particular space it devotes within itself to one tendency and the other. Furthermore, the correct interpretation of the curved and angular movement linked to each specific graphic individuality also includes the ability to grasp the supporting or opposition movement brought by all the other signs to expand or contract sentiment. In the Morettian system there are other graphological signs that indicate the opening of sentiment and others that signify we are dealing with a closure movement which differs from the angle in the strict sense. Therefore, measuring the tendency towards selflessness or selfishness requires verification based on the quantification of the two signs – Curved and Angular – integrated with an evaluation of the dynamic game played by other important emotional and intellectual drives, as we shall see later.

In addition to these extensions of meaning of the curved-angular dyad, the Morettian theoretical system differs because it is based on a more detailed interpretation of the angular movement, as it is capable of measuring the intensity of the two components that characterise it: the level of reactivity that characterises the personality, directly connected to aggressiveness, deduced by the A Angles sign; and the tenacity it possesses, in other words its resilience in the face of obstacles, deduced by the B Angles sign.

This chapter also introduces the subtle egoistic movement based on the capacity to manipulate others for the personality’s own benefit, which corresponds to the C Angles sign.

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