Is Change in Handwriting Evidence of Multiple Personalities & Dissociative Identity Disorder?

English: Cournut_handwriting_and_signature_25_...

Image via Wikipedia

I updated this article because Dr. Yank, whose research was sited, stated that I misunderstood her research study from 1991.

I am grateful that she came here and gave me this opportunity.

Dr. Yank submitted the following (an excerpt):

I happened to stumble upon this website and noticed a comment about my research. The research was rigorously performed and evaluated, but it seems that the blogger may not have understood the intent of the study.

I am a handwriting researcher. My goal in this study was to determine whether individuals could write different styles so consistently over time that it would make it difficult to ascertain authorship on documents. This question is relevant in the case of questioned signatures and writings (wills, forgeries, written statements, and others). That goal was clearly stated in the article.

I do not have an opinion on whether or not DID exists. My research showed that in some rare cases, alleged alters wrote in unique and consistent patterns over the time that samples were gathered (several months). These situations were very rare and were verified by people who knew the writers (I did not).

Original article:

Is a change in handwriting proof that an individual possesses multiple personalities or has dissociative identity disorder as many expert believe?

Different and/or changing handwriting styles has been used as evidence of the existence of multiple personalities for decades. It is argued that an individual, either believing in or having a diagnosis of MPD/DID, can have alter personalities who write and express themselves differently on paper. It is furthermore argued that each personality can be identified by their handwriting.

I won’t argue the point that any given alter personality can be identified by their handwriting as Jane Redfield Yank, M.S.S.W. did in “Handwriting Variation in Individuals with Multiple Personality Disorder, 1991. It’s easy enough to create a character with all types of personality traits that can be reenacted and recreated over time. It occurs in films, theater, novels, and television every day. It would be interesting, however, to have a handwriting expert analyze writing samples of someone who believes they have multiple personalities. I know of no such study, but my guess is that there would be consistent inconsistency through all personalities.

I was researching the life and work of  Dr. Wallace Nutting, a minister who was also a photographer and interested in preserving antiquities. Nutting (1861-1941) became interested in photography after ill health forced him to retire from ministry. His photographs were sometimes hand-colored and often signed by the colorist, rather than Nutting himself. As a result, there are many authorized signatures on file at the Wallace Nutting Library.

Here are quotes from the Library website that address the multiple personality/handwriting theory:

“Wallace Nuttings career spanned several decades so it would reasonably be expected that his signature style would change to some degree.” Of course, my handwriting is not the same as it was when in high school is yours?

“During the several decades that the Nutting Studio was in operation, several head colorist were authorized to sign Nutting’s name to his work. For this reason the signature style will vary depending on when and in what studio the picture was made.”

Wallace Nutting Library Authorized Signatures

The library shows illustrations of Nutting’s signatures over the decades of his life. They are most interesting as they changed considerably as the culture changed, his health failed, time constraints on his art grew, colorists entered his work, and daily life moved on.

While I was in treatment, and diagnosed with multiple personalities, my former doctor used my handwriting changes as evidence that I had alters inside me that wanted to have a voice. I was initially shocked. His observations and analysis were enlightening because they quelled my doubts, and his observations were terribly frightening – leaving me with increased feelings of unreality, disconnectedness, and loss of control. Upon further thought, however, I found the statement odd for several reasons.

First, I was a prolific journalist in the early 1980s before I met him and wrote for many hours daily  – easily filling a blank book in a few weeks with tiny letters and tight use of space. When I told the doctor, he chose to ignore me.

I also knew that at times I got tired and my hand hurt – so of course my handwriting changed. When I told the doctor, he chose to ignore me.

When I was mad, or in a hurry, my letters were larger, as were the loops. The script in general was more intense, bold, and forceful. When I told the doctor, he chose to ignore me.

I savored the joy of the physical act of writing, the texture and smell of different types of paper, the feel of fountain pens or plastic ones off an assembly line, and enjoyed watching how the ink flowed as I wrote. I liked the colors, the feel of a pen in my hand and how the right combination of pen and paper could keep me writing for hours. And how the wrong texture of paper and pen could keep my journal entries short. I wrote at my desk, on my lap, while on a bus, and any other place whether or not I was stationary – so of course my handwriting changed. When I told the doctor, he chose to ignore me.

I gave up trying to tell him how writers love the instruments of their craft and that there was an another explanation to the changes in my handwriting. I let the matter go and choose to ignore him – sometimes.

Back to Wallace Nutting. His plethora of signatures could easily have been used as evidence of severe childhood sexual abuse and, therefore, he could have been diagnosed with multiple personalities had he survived and lived in America during the explosion of the MPD diagnosis in the 1980s and 1990s.

I know some will say Nutting was an undiagnosed multiple. I can’t change that. Those who put weight on changing handwriting using it as proof or evidence that multiple personalities and dissociative identity disorder exist might take a moment and factor into the equation that different handwriting exists just because we are human and change all the time.

Yank, J.R. Dissociation_Vol._4_No._1_p._002-012_Handwriting_variations_in_individuals_with_MPD

<img alt=”Creative Commons License” style=”border-width:0″ src=”http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-nd/3.0/88×31.png” />
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Protected by Copyscape Online Plagiarism Test

Leave a comment

31 Comments

  1. Someone else

     /  07/16/2022

    I learned cursive (strictly) in southern California growing up in the 80’s, then I moved at age 11 to northern California and hand writing (cursive) was no longer critiqued by my teachers. But, what changed was seeing a hand writing style by a friend that I absolutely envyed. So I adopted her style of hand writing (in my own rendition of anyway).
    But why I am researching this subject of different styles of hand writing is because I have recently noticed that my hand writing samples change every time I write depending on the purpose of the text. For example if I write a questionnaire for medical purposes my handwriting is more nervous and shaky and often words are misspelled and child like, if I’m writing a check my writing style changes to more professional and legible usually in cursive but not always, if I write a birthday card my writing is more fun and bubbly and big curves never in cursive but close together with letters touching, if I write in a journal it changes depending on my mood like sadness, if I write a thank you card or sympathy card, that’s when my original cursive delicate and fancy seems to come out in the text, sometimes my handwriting mimics my mothers handwriting…….and so on.
    but it scared me to think that other personalities were controlling my handwriting and so I decided to see what I could find out about the matter. Just for general knowledge and satisfy my curiosity.

    One last thing, I pretty much always remember and recognize anything written by me, it’s not like I just read something and claim I didn’t write it…….so thats not my concern.
    I just wonder why different emotions bring out vastly different styles of handwriting.

    Like

    Reply
    • I don’t know for sure, but when I feel carefree, for example, my lines are flowing. When I’m researching, I keep in the lines. I depends on the diameter of the pen as well. I like the larger one, but using a narrower one enables me to write more on the page. What do you think?

      Like

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

     /  10/07/2020

    Since learning cursive in elementary school, my handwritten signature has always changed. I would say in the last 5 or 6 years I created a new handwritten signature that is simple and similar to previous signatures. Sometimes I write my 2’s differently, sometimes my 7’s and z’s as well. What can you make of this?

    Like

    Reply
  3. Sahana

     /  09/13/2019

    Hi Jeanette,
    I have been struggling with having a constant handwriting too. When I want to write something, I don’t have a standard way of holding a pen. It changes so constantly,but when I begin to write, I often remember a person who had that handwriting. I mostly remember people with their handwriting. It might be possible that I found them interesting as a person and started imitating their handwriting. I can even remember my high school friends with whom I am no longer in contact, by their handwriting. I do not find it particularly frustrating because I change the writing as per situation and it favors me sometimes. However I find it hard to accept that I do not have a handwriting of my own and how such a behavior defines me.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Hey I am veena , I’ve this unique thing in me or dono wt it is…but I too ve a different handwriting n also the crazy part is whenever I see someones handwriting n if I like it , I start to write like dem n it looks exactly as same as the other person written, I dono y I do dis…it’s kinda frustrates me sometimes , but I can write like any1 after a practice.

    Like

    Reply
    • Hi Veena, Sounds like you have a unique talent. It also sounds like you are looking at it as a pathological occurrence. Look into the damage done patients diagnosed with as a multiple having dissociative identity disorder. It can alter the course of your life and that of those you love. Best.

      Like

      Reply
    • Anonymous

       /  04/22/2018

      hi, I can do that too. I do it all the time, and it frustrates me a lot too. My notebook ends up having a lot of different handwrittings and i hate it. But i’m searching which is my actual handwritting and i don’t know. I’ve being changing it my hole life.

      Like

      Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: