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Sex, Lies, and Handwriting: A Top Expert Reveals the Secrets Hidden in Your Handwriting Paperback – July 22, 2008

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About the Author

Michelle Dresbold, a graduate of the United States Secret Service's Advanced Document Examination training program, is considered one of the top experts in the nation on handwriting identification, personality profiling, and threat analysis. She consults to private attorneys, police departments, and prosecutors throughout the United States. Dresbold writes a syndicated column, "The Handwriting Doctor." She is also an accomplished artist. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information visit

James Kwalwasser is the cocreator and editor of "The Handwriting Doctor" syndicated column. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

When I first got a call from Commander Ronald Freeman, my heart started pounding. "Oh, no," I thought, "I knew I should have paid those darn parking tickets!" But Freeman didn't even mention the tickets. He said that he had heard through the grapevine that I could "read" people, and asked me to come in for a chat.

At division headquarters, Commander Freeman had a stack of old case files involving handwriting piled on his desk. For hours, he showed me suicide notes, confessions, threatening letters, and other writing, and asked me questions like: "Is this person male or female? How old? Is the writer violent? Suicidal? Honest or dishonest? Straight or gay? Sane or insane? Smart or stupid? Healthy or sick? Go-getter or lazy bum?" After every answer, he smiled. Although he never said so, this was a test.

I must have passed, because a few days later, I got my first assignment: To profile an UNSUB (police lingo for unidentified subject) from a bank robbery note.

"This is a stick up," the note said. "Put $50's, $20's, $10's in bag."

After scanning the note for a few minutes, I turned to the detective in charge of the case. "You're not gonna find this guy's prints in your files, because he probably never committed a crime before. He's not a hardcore criminal. Under normal circumstances, he'd never rob a bank. But he's feeling really desperate." The detective nodded his head politely, but I could tell that he was skeptical.

A few days later, the bank robber was in police custody. As I had predicted, he was not a hardened criminal. In fact, he had no previous arrest record. He was a 52-year-old bus driver who tearfully confessed that he needed money to pay for his son's liver transplant. "Without the operation my son will die," he said.

One day, a woman walking her dog on Aylesboro Avenue in Pittsburgh found a mysterious note on the sidewalk. Printed in purple crayon were the words: Ples rascu me. Thinking it could be a desperate plea for help, the woman brought the note to a police station.

The detectives wondered if the note was a hoax. It appeared to be the writing of a child, but was it? And did the writer really need to be rescued?

"It's not the writing of an adult pretending to be a child," I told the lead detective. "It was written by a girl between the ages of five and seven. And I see absolutely no signs of stress or danger in the handwriting, so the writer is definitely not a kidnap victim." Then I added, "It's signed Kealsey."

But who was Kealsey? And why did Kealsey write the note? We turned to the news media, hoping that someone might recognize the handwriting, or something in the note, that could help us unravel the mystery.

That night when I turned on the six o'clock news, a reporter was interviewing another handwriting analyst who proclaimed that he could tell from the handwriting that the note's author was in "grave danger."

"What if I'm wrong?" I thought.

The next morning, a man and his daughter walked into the police station. They had seen a photograph of the note in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 6-year-old daughter, Kealsey, timidly stated that she had written the message to her teddy bear. Her father explained that Kealsey often played detective with her teddy. Somehow the note must have blown out the window and landed on the sidewalk.

Copyright © 2006 by Michelle Dresbold and James Kwalwasser --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743288106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743288101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Dolen on December 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book because of the credentials and acumen behind the author - which are as high as credentials can get in the field of graphology and/or handwriting analysis. Her book is not marketed as a complete course - nor should anyone expect that. However, she does cover a lot of basis and any principles you do learn are SOLID and a result of many experts, (teachers) in her educational profile and not just theory of one or two self proclaimed experts (who are best avoided.)

I say this because if you really want to enter the world of graphology and/or handwriting analysis, you need authors who have studied as a team player and from good sources to learn the right way. It is very hard to be any good if you learned from theories that were never streamlined or just interpretations concocted by an author. Unfortunately, some authors proclaim they have "the only book you will ever need," and this is so not true. This is a science and an on-going education. So, whether you are moderately interested in graphology and/or handwriting analysis, or want to be a master someday - this is a great book to have in your collection.

When this author makes statements she usually explains "why" she came to that conclusion, which also helps you learn. So, she teaches horizontally, not vertically. Meaning the author speaks to you and not at you. She is also a great writer and keeps your attention throughout the entire book and not just parts.

The amount of time she spent on each story really floored me. The author made sure she knew what she was talking about when it came to all the high profile cases and material, and she has more stats and real images pertaining to them, than I have seen in my own studies and writing.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Dewey TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent introductory book on handwriting. Why is it so great? It's because the author analyzes handwriting of dozens of historical bandits, miscreants, and murderers, to try to find out if they're guilty or not. This book tells the sordid details of some of the worst scoundrels of the last 150 years, and everyone wants to know the juicy details.

And are they guilty? Yes, they all are. That's why you should beware--after you read this book, you're not going to have any skills of analyzing normal people's handwriting, but you will know how to analyze a killer's handwriting. For a couple days after reading this book, I would grab people's handwriting, suspiciously eye them and their handwriting, and then after a few minutes of staring them down, say, 'okay, you're safe.' I'd recommend another, more boring book on handwriting analysis right after you finish this book, to balance you out. Beware, and don't just read this one book.

This book is really only 1/3rd handwriting analysis, and 2/3rds whodunit mystery book. That's why it's a great introductory book on handwriting analysis is that it's a fun, quick read that educates you at the same time it entertains you. If you're looking for boring textbook, pick another book.

I've wanted to learn about graphology for a long time, but the other books just seemed so boring, and I never made it past the first chapter. Thanks to Ms. Dresbold for writing a handwriting analysis book that everyone can enjoy, and read quickly!

+Awesome first book on handwriting analysis
+Makes handwriting analysis fun and exciting
+You can read straight through this book and learn while you're entertained, without having to do any boring exercises.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Frederic B. Sargent on December 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a cleverly constructed, highly entertaining book that teaches us what our handwriting style reveals about ourselves and others, including many notables from Jack the Ripper to Elvis Presley to whoever wrote the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note. It is an easy read that has made it around our office quickly and led to some fun-filled discissions about each other's handwritten notes. In a way it reminds us of the popular science we know about body language, although handwriting seems to tell us so much more. Dresbold is an "expert" on this subject who, characteristic of the best of those who are tops in their field, can present it in a way that is understandable and enjoyable for a wide audience. Highly recommended.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By maleka on April 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved it. This book is riveting and will have you turning pages filled with so much information that makes sense. I enjoyed reading each chapter, looking over the examples she provides in the book. It all makes perfect sense. What did you think of the Jon Benet Ramsey kidnap note? Facinating. I was convinced as I read the analysis and saw each example and it matched the mom. It reminded me so much of what Dayle Hinman (an FBI criminal profiler) says when she is forming a profile of the criminal though Dayle Hinman doesn't use handwriting as a tool. The only downfall was that I wanted information and it wasn't there. This book doesn't teach you handwriting anaylsis, it merely introduces you to it. I'm intrigued. I want more. Very entertaining. Facinating. Riveting. You won't be bored.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By IDIGFLICKS on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've read 4 handwriting analysis books so far- this was the first one I picked up. Although I will say it was interesting enough to keep me reading I didn't preen much useful information from it because of the format- or lack thereof. There were introductions into topics one piece at a time and then it would jump to another or say 'you'll learn about this later/we talked about this earlier'. It never seemed like a full-on lesson. And I found it hard to trudge through the pages trying to connect this piece with that part and so on.

It was almost more of a look at what graphology can do rather than a useful tool for learning it. There were plenty of true crime cases and the handwriting profiles that went with them. However, it always seemed to me that hindsight prevailed in these profiles, even though a few times she mentions that no prior knowledge is needed or is better that you don't have any. Many times the author came off as more of a braggart, seemingly using her book as a solicitation for new clients rather than a guide to spark interest in the public about the field.

Also, in every example given, only the highlighted topic for that section was pointed out in the handwriting sample. I would have liked to see all the traits of the sample pointed out. And depending on what page you were on, the translation of a trait would mean something totally different from sample to sample even though the trait stayed the same. I'm sure it's all part of the art of translation, but for learning purposes made it very difficult to pinpoint what to look for and how to interpret it.

Overall, it was insightful into how it can be used in solving crimes and other tasks, but jumpy in lesson topics and lacking in full explanations.
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