The act of handwriting is an extremely complicated movement behavior. Some people are born with the ability to write in an uncommon way, and some people develop a unique writing style for a variety of reasons, ranging from natural creativity to adapting to unique circumstances to more devious motives.
Ever since I began my career as a forensic handwriting examiner, I have watched people write at every opportunity, while going about my daily life. When I encounter people with uncommon writing styles, I seize the opportunity and ask for a sample of their writing.
By studying the samples and knowing how the writing originated, I gain an opportunity to study the unique features of the uncommon writing sample with the foreknowledge about how the pen was held. Acquiring this type of knowledge about how the unique writing features originated is a skill that is useful in my work as a forensic handwriting examiner so I am able to make a determination about authorship, ie: who held the pen to write something.
Over the years in my work with handwriting, I have learned that a misshapen letter could have been caused by a variety of reasons such as an impaired muscle movement, a faulty pen or intentional disguise, among other possible causes including the uncommon writing ability that I am illustrating in this blog.
This can be challenging because I want to identify what happened to cause the unique feature as a way of identifying the actual writer. Or, was the unique feature due to someone else doing the writing?
Case Study #1 – Jean: Dominant Hand, Backward Writing
Jean, age 36, and I met at a social function and the subject of handwriting came up in conversation. She shared that she could write sentences backwards and has always been able to write backwards ever since she could remember. She was unaware of the uncommon nature of her backward writing ability. I asked Jean for a sample.
To begin her backward writing demonstration, Jean held the pen in her dominant writing hand, and placed it near the right edge of the paper. Moving towards the left, she wrote each word backwards.
Turning the paper over, the sentence was entirely legible although some letters were misshapen. Jean’s writing demonstration was spontaneous and effortless even though she rarely ever wrote backwards. (See Exhibit A) Observations of the sample revealed misshapen letters and letters with pointed tops that indicate the place where Jean changed the direction that she was moving her pen.
Other people are known to have this uncommon ability, for example, Leonardo da Vinci. You can read his story at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_writing
Exhibit A: Backward Writing by Jean. Case Study #1. “This is a sample of my handwriting. I’m writing backwards”