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Alfred Kinsey

Portrait: Alfred Kinsey


Zoology teacher, appreciated researcher in the field of small insects such as the gall-producing bees: such was the academic background of Kinsey who decided to give a new turn to his life in 1938 at the age of 44, changing the focus of his attention from insects to human sexuality.

His research work led him to study in depth 17.000 cases and in just 10 years he could publish the first – explosive – Kinsey report about male sexuality and further increase the emotional temperature with the following report focused on female sexual behavior.

It is true that a trifle was enough to create scandal, in the prudish America of the Forties; but Kinsey’s work was not trifle matter, but actually outrageous matter, in the sense that his subject of study – sex – got more and more out of hand. Kinsey became more and more obsessed by his persisting in documenting, proving, measuring, widening his research field, embracing also animal sexuality, pornography, paedophily, by quantifying every kind of data, sectioning and specifying to the smallest detail every kind of sexual behavior in order to identify statistically significant trends.

Even now, Kinsey appears borderline between the behavior of a researcher, a pioneer in the modern clinical sexology and the behavior of a man who has become overwhelmed by his obsessions.

Some facets – pointed out both by supporters and opponents – are very interesting to a graphologist:

  • as a good point, it is recognized he could perform a sociological research work involving a very numerous sample and he could also understand how important the preliminary stage of interviewers’ preparation was from a methodological point of view in order to guarantee neutrality of the questions, attention to the non-verbal communication, etc.
  • As a bad point – referring to the reliability of his statistics – it was pointed out that the very high number of examined cases did not imply that the examined samples were representative too, as it is clear that people ready to refer in detail about their sexual life ought to be an already self-selected group – of course not average people.

Not to be forgotten the fact that Kinsey’s training was a zoologist’s.

A movie about Kinsey – played by Liam Neeson – recently provided to stir up new attention from the public, though the figure of such a contradictory man was quite cleaned out of any strange characteristic, maintaining the image of a scientist who could – though in the middle of the turmoil caused by the object and methods of his research work – keep impersonal, clear-minded, detached and always objective.

The image emerging from his handwriting is not like that:

Handwriting sample: Alfred Kinsey

Kinsey’s personality exhibits a marked contradiction between his tendency to technique – therefore to the analysis of what is impersonal in itself – and the pressure of very personal elements creating such a strong a disturbing effect to patently disarray his clear mind’s constructions.

His technical intelligence can be deduced from his proneness to precise observation-aimed to the exteriority in things (Accurate) which are effortlessly analyzed, reassembled and classified (Connected, Disconnected, Fluid, Essential) with quite an original approach (not homogeneous Methodically Uneven). He shows proneness to contradiction, to embarassing questions (Backward Slant) impersonally presented (Accurate, Essential) together with ability to cut away any element unrelated to the aimed goal (Straight Extensions, Short Cut)

The dispositions listed above identify an individual suited to statistics, as his personality tends to technique so that he can manage outer observations of phenomena and long-term classifications, whenever he feels free to choose the methods and organization of his research work. On the other side, a deep understanding of human sexuality is really lacking.

However, highly disturbing elements are clearly shown in his handwriting, such as the extreme dilation in both length and width characterizing the lower area of small letters F-G-Y and the upper loops (especially in H and F) fold on top of the minor small letters instead, getting exceedingly long as well.

The first consequence of such a movement is a graphic overlapping of different traces, producing confusion because of a lack of distinction (graphological sign “Confused”). At a psychological level the evident meaning is the lack of clearmindedness, confused ideas and feelings. This is a substantial sign for intellect – not very common, especially when so intense – which belongs to people unable to identify the real motivations for their behavior, confusing cause and effect and prone to an easy projection of what actually belongs to themselves.

Moreover, it should be considered that – from a graphological point of view – all that allows us to discriminate between substantial and accidental and between part and whole is a support to clearmindedness: however, in this case the part – represented by the loops  – is expanded, as the personality cannot break free through the action of contents which evidently urge from inside to manifest their importance. But which contents are these?

In order to answer such a question – whose answer ought to be quite predictable in the case of Kinsey’s personality – it is necessary to enter the field of symbolic interpretation (not according to Morettian graphology) of the meaning of:

  • extreme dilation of the lower area
  • dilation and folding of the upper area

Both characteristics can be analyzed through the interesting studies made by Pulver about the lower area-instictual and upper area-ideal; from this point of view, Kinsey would have been prisoner of sexual imaginations which he tried to control in a “scientific”way.

The date he wrote on his manuscript “Sept. 20, 1929”, before deciding to leave Zoology for Sexology, makes it clear the turn he gave to his life, an almost imperative turnpoint. Kinsey made an effort to widen his time’s view of “normal/abnormal” making several individuals who believed themselves monsters or perverts feel less lonely. His “impersonal” analysis of sexual behavior-both extended beyond the narrow-minded, limited border of his age and, at the same time, deprived of its symbolic dimension through a reductionist – to the end – point of view (i.e., sex is just a physiological reflex) – focused upon an extreme segmentation in behavior analysis, to give it a precise final definition . However, his handwriting shows something completely different: a dangerous, obsessive presence inside him could not be reduced, controlled or classified, but was to invade actually all the rest.

On the other hand, all this is understandable: if he had not been a prisoner of his sexual phantoms, he would not have found the strength to persevere as a pioneer in such a path and in a field that deeply prudish America fought hard against.
It should also be considered that each “normal” man tries to control his sexuality between well-defined borders, as he understands perfectly the power of psychic absorption of this force.

Kinsey progressively destroyed these protection borders -n ot because he was clearminded, detached and emotionally master of the field he explored – but because he could not help it, since the inner pressure was so strong to let such dangerous contents emerge, in a form close to the verge of social acceptance.

But was it science or bordering on pornography propaganda?

Actually, it was Kinsey himself: partly perfectly suited to statistics, but also continuously close to losing control of himself because of such fantasies that often got really out of hand.