WATERMAN – Amy Wackerlin and her 12-year old-daughter, Brooke, weren't sure what to expect when a man offered to analyze their handwriting.
"We just wanted to try it and see what it is like," Amy Wackerlin said.
The two were among nine people who attended a handwriting analysis program by Chris McBrien at the Clinton Township Public Library in Waterman on Wednesday, July 9. According to library director Nancy Radtke, it was part of the library's summer reading program.
"We wanted something for teens and adults," she said.
According to the Handwriting Research Corp., graphology, the formal name for handwriting analysis, is "the study of handwriting shapes and patterns to determine the personality and behavior of the writer." McBrien, who is also a comedian, ventriloquist and children's puppeteer based in Lisle, has been analyzing handwriting since he was 9, and says he picked it up from his grandmother. He said graphology has been passed down from one generation to the next in his family.
A graduate of Western Illinois University, McBrien said graphology dates back to the Roman Empire. Although Nero, the emperor of Rome from A.D. 54 to 68, generally gets credit for it, McBrien said it was "his lackeys" who actually developed the technique so Nero could learn about his enemies.
"Nero wasn't a nice man," McBrien said.
McBrien asked each of the nine participants to write something other than their name on a board using a colored marker. It didn't matter, he said, if they printed or used cursive, since the same tell-tale signs are in each.
"Everyone's signature is like a fingerprint," he said. "You can't mess up; it'll always be the same."
After looking at their samples, he told each person something about themselves, mainly personality traits. He concluded the two-hour program by analyzing his own handwriting. He said his "entire brain" is involved in analyzing handwriting, and it can be exhausting.
"My mind is like mush," he said at the end.
Amy Wackerlin said McBrien's analysis was better than she expected. Neither she nor Brooke were surprised or embarrassed by his revelations, she said.
"It was emotional when he was talking about my family, because it was spot-on," Sara McAllister said. "The rest of it was oddly familiar. He was accurate."