Stress and burnout have become a part of everyday life for most people as work and family demands constantly increase.

Stress can be defined as the response to what the individual perceives as challenging events in his/her life. Stress varies with the type of situation and the personality of the individual, e.g. a Type A personality may respond to a situation very different to a type B or C personality.   The person may respond either by fleeing or fighting the situation, i.e. ‘flight or fight’

The response can be physical, mental, emotional or behavioural and for the graphologist, the interest is how stress is exhibited in the handwriting.

Saudek’s research into handwriting identified frequent stroke impulses in the handwriting of stressed individuals.  Stroke impulses are jerky movements of the hand while holding the pen or pencil.

Stress Sample A

Irritability shows up in excessive pressure put to bear on the pen and the paper and little hooks found throughout the writing.  See sample.

An individual who is harbouring a lot of anger may have other features in the handwriting, including dagger strokes in the lower parts of letters called the lower zone, eg Y

When the individual reaches the burnout stage, the handwriting will show other signs such as the lines falling, the pressure becoming lighter.   Depression and suicidal tendencies are revealed by yet other graphological features.

The comprehensively trained and skilled graphologist is able to identify the extent of stress which the writer is experiencing and draw the writer’s attention to it.