Mahatma Gandhi was an independent thinker who didn’t need people for comfort or validation. He was of ascetic nature. How do I know this? Not because I mugged up all the history books available to Indian students but because I took an online graphology course with a man named Mike Mandel, whose oft-repeated mantra throughout the course was that “the handwriting never lies”.
The letter ‘y’ in Gandhi’s handwriting did not have a loop in the lower half. Neither did the ‘g’ or ‘q’. People with large loops in the lower half of their letters have a sensuous disposition. Gandhi’s sentences also galloped across the page with the left margin veering right with every line. This shows an enthusiasm and urgency to get things done. When you look at cursive writing, the top parts are considered the intellect, the middle portion deals with the day to day, and the lower portion with unconscious desires—the ‘naughty bits’ as Mandel says. Gandhi’s lower portion was absolutely straight, lacking flair or imagination. His middle portion that dealt with the daily was vibrant and active.
Graphology, depending on where you sit is a science or a pseudo science. The same applies to numerology but that doesn’t stop countless people from naming themselves “Abymahnyew” or “Aeshvaryhaa”. Graphology though does not pretend to change your future. It merely illustrates your personality. Police departments sometimes call in graphologists to identify criminal behaviours and whether a person is lying.
Mandel teaches a whole host of things about handwriting. There are 88 different strokes, each of which says something about the person. There are differences in the way people manage their borders, the spaces between words and the spaces between lines. Every dot and dash says something about you. Your signature is interesting because it is your ‘public face’ not your actual personality.
There are websites that compare the handwriting of a number of celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Nelson Mandela, and others. The question is of course the future of handwriting in the age of typing.
Every culture has a fantasy that revolves around mystics, healers, savants and saints—people who can pierce through the mundane minutiae of daily life and look into the future. People who can see into other people’s souls and predict their personality with confidence. Call them astrologers, tarot card readers or palmists. Ancient Romans called them augurs—people who could look at the sky at how the birds flew and be able to read into the future. Some cultures called them soothsayers. Others call them shamans or healers who can examine a person’s pulse and describe their predilictions, predispositions and biological humours.
Reading such symbols requires a certain openness and expansiveness of mind. Some cultures including ours call such symbols as omens. Graphologists predicate their practice on telltale strokes in the handwriting. In modern parlance, these folks are called mentalists or human lie detectors: people who can look at a person’s face and actions—or in this case handwriting-- and tell if a person is lying.
Mike Mandel could well be a mentalist. He has worked with forensic and police departments to catch criminals. What he is though, is a world-class hypnotist who has learned a whole lot of techniques that form part of the arsenal of modern-day self-help techniques. This Englishman based in Toronto, Canada has trained in hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and many other techniques, methodologies and therapies—that depending on who you are, might seem admirable, alternative, offbeat or completely whacko.
Here is the thing though. Today, even economists like Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahnemann have written books on how irrational we humans are and how our brains can be ‘framed’ through suggestion or for that matter simply varying your tone. What is also known is that the unconscious mind plays a huge role in our behaviours and choices. Just read Predictably Irrational, by Ariely for an illustration of how grocery stores “play” consumers by placing chocolate at the cash counter.
I first came to hear Mike Mandel through his “Brain Software” podcast, where he talks to his colleague and partner, Chris Thompson about a range of topics that seamlessly and humorously blend in all the methodologies that he has mastered. What differentiates Mandel from the countless other folks who now hawk self-help tools over the Internet is the sheer breadth of his interests and knowledge. He mixes up graphology, public speaking, emotional freedom techniques, aphorisms, wit, metaphors, and many others—and then distils them all into a simple usable formula. He begins with hypnosis.
Hypnosis began with most ancient cultures with shamanistic exorcism rites in which people fell into a trance. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Indians all used such practices, usually in connection with the church or temple. Buddhists and Native Americans were masters at this. Modern hypnosis began with a German called Franz Mesmer who gave it the name, Mesmerism. Today, it falls firmly in the alternative spectrum of practices. Silicon Valley may hypnotize you with their smartphones but the geeks and engineers who inhabit it will scoff at what they consider a dubious science.
It should actually be products. The website has a whole host of options ranging from hypnosis to memory improvement. The coursework is vast and touches on posture, meditation, speech patterns and mental states. Mandel talks about all this in his nifty course called “Personal Development Academy.” In short videos, he describes a variety of ideas and techniques that can help you improve your memory, reduce anxiety and influence others.
Many of his techniques are simple and easy to follow. Take one example. Borrowing from hypnosis, Mandel says that when you want to influence someone, you say the phrase that is aimed at them in one pitch lower than normal. If you want to hypnotise someone into falling asleep, you would say, for instance, “It is easy to (drop tone and reduce voice pitch a little) fall into a relaxed sleep.”
I tried this with a friend who was stressing out before a speech. I told her, “There is no need to (and I dropped my voice) worry about public speaking.” For some reason, it calmed her down and she didn’t even register what I had done. Mandel calls this an embedded command.
He teaches other useful techniques, particularly for parents. A great one is the ‘double bind.’ When you want your child to eat their vegetables, you don’t get into an argument about whether they will or won’t eat their cabbage or beans or whatever. Instead you offer them a choice that is not really a choice: do you want to eat your cabbage now or later along with your curd rice?
Another technique, corroborated by economists is that you can get people to do anything as long as you follow your request with a ‘because.’ Try it. “Sir, can I go ahead of you in the line because I may miss my flight?” Studies show that it really doesn’t matter what reason you give. As long as you give a reason, people will accommodate you. There are tons of cool techniques like this that can be easily incorporated into your daily life. They are short, specific and easy to follow. Best of all, they are fun to try out.
The one aspect of graphology that seems to be a stretch is that you can change your personality by changing your handwriting. For instance, if you want to be a more creative person, you use more flowery strokes, particularly in the letters “m.” Another thing that Mandel suggests is that writing the letter “s” as a figure 8 centres and calms the mind. Immediately, I took up the ‘kolam’ or ‘rangoli’ designs that are full of such s-curves and aesthetic flourishes. I will let you know in a few months if my imagination has grown by leaps and bounds.
Available online for $349 at mikemandelhypnosis.com/handwriting
The Personal Development Academy, which costs $197 is available at mikemandelhypnosis.com/personal-development-academy
In it are included several mini courses including ones about overcoming stage fright, getting a good night’s sleep, reducing stress, improving memory and cultivating peak performance.
If you are even a little interested in hypnosis, graphology or neuro-linguistic programming, you ought to experience this man who speaks in whole paragraphs with nary a pause or stutter. A good option would be to start listening to his free podcast to see if you like his tone and method of teaching. Then, you can decide if you want to pay for the online course.
For details, visit mikemandelhypnosis.com.
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org