Rhythm – Manner of channeling and expressing the psyche’s energies


Why the movement creates development and psychological identity

The first characteristic associated with life is without doubt movement: whether it is understood as development influenced by heredity or as learning due to a process of interaction with the environment, the process of individual maturation is closely linked to the personality’s ability to move – in both a physical and psychological sense – from one situation to another, from one level of understanding to a consequent level.

Movement, understood as the ability to responds to what life puts in front of us, is an extremely complex individual characteristic, one that can be classified according to highly diverse quantitative and qualitative criteria that combine together to give life to what in graphology is called graphical rhythm. For example, the quantitative criteria that respond to the question “How fast is the movement?”require a qualitative definition able to specify whether the rapid movement is organised, or conversely impatient, unstable and unstructured. Therefore many evaluation criteria have to be integrated in order to identify the typology, structure and efficiency of the movement under analysis.

We should also bear in mind that the movement has a direct repercussion on the principal components of the personality, firstly on the intellectual component. For example the old saying “If I do, I understand” sums up what we think about the relationship between individual mental development and the movement. Psychological research has demonstrated in many ways that intelligence requires a series of operational steps, made from an intense manipulation of the material world, thanks to which the brain gathers the basic information that allow it to create its cognitive structures. In other words it is the movement, under the form of experimentation, which maintains a continuous dialogue with the thinking Self and the outside world, and it is this duality which is the basis of the mental development that created the scientific revolution which is still underway. It’s clear, therefore, that a slow movement from birth creates fewer development opportunities for the personality compared to a faster and more structured movement. And it is equally clear that the initial disadvantage tends to increase exponentially during development.

A limitation of the movement, whether caused by unfavourable environmental conditions, such as a lack of appropriate stimuli, or by emotional inhibitions, or by a vaguely defined reduced inner disposition, creates not only less mental differentiation, that is to say fewer empathic abilities, since in order to understand the feelings of others a form of identification is necessary, based on the ability to translate the actions seen outside into something similar to what we have experimented in our lives. So in a similar yet opposite way an excess of movement, for example one which in psychology is defined as hyperactive behaviour, does not foster intellectual or emotional development because the time necessary for the stimuli to be transformed into integrated cognitive structures is reduced.

Therefore we are dealing with a category encompassing graphological signs that are essential to the understanding of the human psyche. Graphology could not comprehend the personality if did not appeal to the indicators able to quantify and qualitatively define the movement it belongs to. Since this is such a complex and basic evaluation, the fact that we find ourselves examining a large number of signs, that differ widely from each other also with regard to the significance of their impact on the Self, comes as no surprise.

In general, we can say that in the Morettian system all the graphological signs have to be understood and classified according to the movement they express. For example, the Sinuous sign, a substantial indicator of insinuation and penetration into the minds of others, may properly be attributed only if the handwriting in question shows a spontaneous movement. Spontaneity, understood as movement without inhibiting brakes, without rushes forward or slowing down, belongs to the Fluid sign, analysed in this chapter, and constitutes a kind of basic prerequisite, without which insinuation would not be possible. This understanding of the underlying movement applies to all the Morettian graphological signs, which have to be captured in their dynamic meaning.

In this section, however, movement does not constitute the interpretation background, but rather it is the principal focus of the investigation that answers the following questions: how fast is this movement and – always bearing in mind that speed is a distinctive criteria – what are the other possible criteria that can be used to describe more appropriately the individual experience connected to being alive and responsive on the material plane.

Bearing in mind this perspective of investigation, we present a complex series of graphological indicators aimed at quantifying the speed of the movement (Slow-Calm-Quick), specifying its spontaneity (Fluid-Jerky), the indecision that it can express (Hesitant-Wavering), impetuousness (Springing, Rushing) or, conversely, the deliberation (Pondered) that can characterise it, the need to show oneself to the world (Daring, Stately, Austere), conclusive abilities that belong to an integrated fast movement (Dynamic, Cut Off) or disintegrated (Impatient), and even a tendency towards the weakening of the initial impulse (Diminishing sign). This is not a mere list of qualities, because the psychological differentiation implemented by Moretti allows us attribute these signs with the ability to reveal some true personality traits that affect the intellectual and emotional level, merging into a unified movement of the expression of the Self in the world.




Objective criteria for measuring graphical speed

Handwriting belongs to a form of expressive behaviour which, though apparently static since it is materialised on a piece of paper, has numerous characteristics that allow us to reconstruct the initial speed of writing. The ability to make deductions of this type at intuitive level is rather common in the sense that it is very easy to distinguish, for example, calm handwriting from quick handwriting, or impatient from pondered. While the ability to enter more subtle distinctions, such as those that separate, for example, the Hesitant sign from the Wavering sign, and subsequently grasp the precise contextual significance, requires long training.

Fig. 1 – Calm-Pondered handwriting: Italian physicist Enrico Fermi


Fig. 2 – Quick-Impatient handwriting: Napoleon Bonaparte


We are undoubtedly dealing with the most difficult of all the sign categories to learn, because it is subject, inevitably, to a subjective distortion which depends on the psychological characteristics of the observer. In this regard, the classic example is that of the boundary between the Calm sign and Slow sign, which can move quite a bit depending on the margin of individual tolerance: for a personality dominated by the Rushing sign, even the Calm sign can be exhausting, much before this enters true slowness.

It should be said, however, that several interpretation difficulties can be overcome by referring to the experimental studies on graphical speed carried out by many authors, in order to highlight the constants that govern the relationships between graphical forms and the speed of the writing movement. Such investigations, used in the sphere of writing analysis since they aim to identify, for example, the difference between a spontaneous graphical movement and contrived writing, have allowed us to arrive at a statement of important laws of physics and writing physiology which allow the graphologist to grasp the type of graphical movement by referring to objective interpretation principles. Thanks largely to cinematography, the graphical act has been broken down into its basic constituent movements in order to arrive at unequivocally defining the potential individual speed and slowness. The Italian graphologist Bruno Vettorazzo gave a rather clear history of these discoveries in his book Metodologia della perizia grafica su base grafologica (1), to which reference is made for those interested in a more detailed view of the problems connected to a strict definition of graphical speed, that decisively concerns many problems related to the verification of private documents in civil litigation. Here the applicable principles in the field of graphology will be summarised as a tool to investigate the personality, attempting to provide objective criteria allowing us to comprehend the relationship between form and movement.

First, we have the fundamental qualification given by Robert Saudek, according to whom “Every angle requires an interruption of the act, a pause, followed by a resumption of the graphical act. This interruption and pause, which naturally imply a graphical slowing down, can be avoided only by departing from the model in the points where angles are required and substituting them with curves” (2). This statement leads us to conclude that writing characterised by rapid movement favours curved connections. At graphological level this distinction has immediate repercussions on the definition of the characteristics that qualify a spontaneous movement: fluidity, understood as the ability to let one’s interior flow outwards in a free movement, without bottlenecks or sudden releases, implies a handwriting which is substantially curved, one that tolerates just the presence of A and B Angles under 5/10. Conversely, the continued presence of large or small angularities creates a graphical movement that is continually subjected to interruptions, which corresponds to the continued interruption of the psychic movement. Underlying this basic distinction in graphology we find the Fluid and Jerky signs, which will be presented in this chapter, indicating respectively spontaneity and the clogging of the expressive movement. This is a fundamental distinction, which also contains important evolutionary implications connected to gender, since there is no doubt that even from the first years of school there is a differentiation between feminine handwriting, which is rather evenly distributed around the Fluid sign, and masculine handwriting which fairly frequently displays indicators of graphical jerkiness.

If we want to identify the structural characteristics of a movement which is not just spontaneous but also rapid, we should consider that acceleration inevitably entails the occurrence of the following indicators: simplification and shortening in the handwriting, rushes along the lengths, greater cohesion, greater horizontal expansion (3), and less care taken with the forms. If these graphical characteristics are not actually detectable on paper, we cannot assign the Quick sign to the handwriting. Graphic slant should also be evaluated before attributing the Quick sign, given that “quick handwriting increases the lean to the right” and that “slant, next to width and amplification, occurs in moments of greater communication and openness.” (4) Another objective indicator of quick handwriting is the following: “It takes longer to make a dot than to trace a short mark, for example a comma … This is why in quick handwriting we see dots that are written as if they were accents.” (5)

Lastly, we have to bear in mind that the gradation in tenths of many signs that are part of the Morettian method draws implicitly from studies on the relationship between form and movement. The following consideration for example: “Right slanting writing (55-75 degrees) can be traced more easily and quickly than writing slanting to the left” (6), though the experimental implications were unknown to Moretti, this aspect led him to intuitively set different rules for measuring slant in the Forward Slant movement and in the movement belonging to the Backward Slant sign. Based on the assumption that graphical slant to the left is the hardest to do, the value of the Backward Slant sign increases by a third compared to similar slant to the right.

The following experimental result is also extremely interesting: “the average speed can be equal for two individuals, regardless of their structural cohesion.” (7) In other words, disconnection does not necessarily decrease the overall graphical speed, as is amply demonstrated in practice: there are slow disconnected handwritings and disconnected handwritings written with remarkable speed; although, for the above reasons, the Quick sign excludes the presence of the Disconnected sign.


In addition to the difficulties connected with objectively measuring of the signs with regard to movement, particular attention is necessary in order to obtain a sample of handwriting that effectively reflects the inner dynamism of the writer. The problem does not occur with individuals who have slight variations that can be put down to mood and/or different writing circumstances; while it is extremely important when analysing the writing of people with a very broad field of variability. In this latter case the general guidelines are as follows: firstly, we exclude all handwriting where speed has been forced by excess, as occurs for example when we are taking notes, or a rhythm has been imposed externally, when we are writing under dictation for example. Speed is what is felt natural by the writer, and it is not connected to worries about legibility or writing beautifully, nor to haste.

The movement expressed by the handwriting is decisive for understanding the personality and should not be dealt with at statistical level since the whole field of variability is extremely interesting in order to grasp the graphical individuality under examination. For example, when dealing with a frenetic writing movement, an ability to stay at a more controlled or more composed rhythm indicates that the personality, while proceeding at a high speed in everything that concerns it, is in any case able to adapt to a different movement when required to do so at social level. However if this margin of adjustment does not appear, it is clear that we are dealing with a subjective impossibility.

Conversely, when we are dealing with handwriting denoting a high degree of concern for the external, and therefore a consequent slowing down of the writing, we should search for the possible existence of an intimate writing, which is normally not displayed externally, and which has greater spontaneity. If the social mask has become so stabilised as to be the only way of channelling and expressing mental energies, we have further confirmation of the personality’s need to maintain considerable distance from its interior; consequently the exterior control imposed by the Self is always high, in all circumstances even intimate ones.

Individual variations of the movement, whether they are occur over time in an evolutionary or involutionary vision of the personality or as co-existent aspects in the here and now, are the most subtle indicators available to the graphologist for capturing the personality in its inner dynamism (and therefore in its most authentic aspect), because it is more connected to life, which is movement.


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