Overview of Chirology

Psychodiagnostic Chirology (PDC) is a comprehensive diagnostic discipline applied by professional behavioral specialists in their clinical work. We may visualize it as a form of handreading in psychological diagnosis... handreading which has its origins in the medical-genetic science of Dermatoglyphics. The latter discipline identifies in the dermal patterns of the palmar surface of the human hand (and foot) genetic constructions which have a bearing on a wide range of organic and largely inherited disorders. Wholly unrelated to palmistry or any similarly esoteric mode of prediction, Dermatoglyphics, for more than half a century now, has been accepted and applied in cyto-genetic laboratories in almost every major hospital around the world as standard diagnostic procedure.

Its application, reasonably enough, has always been limited to biological and organic disorders. It seemed plausible, however, that the concept of the human hand as a reliable source of information may readily extend to the behavioral sciences and used there to equal advantage. The question asked was why this diagnostic medium should not permit the identification of personality and behavioral disorders which, not unlike certain organic disorders, have also been shown to be linked to inherited factors. Conceivably its singular value in the behavioral sciences would then not fall short of its contributions in the medical sciences. Perhaps because it would recall palmistry and the latter’s historic association with most every manner of charlatanry this avenue of exploration had been ignored. It had never been undertaken in academia nor granted any measure of credibility in the mainstream of professionals in the behavioral sciences. At least not until late.

It is some time now that we have been aware of the hereditary factors linked to such distinctly psychical disorders as schizophrenia, borderline and antisocial personality disorders (among other personality disorders), and certain mood, anxiety and dissociative disorders. We would therefore define Psychodiagnostic Chirology which sought to identify these hereditary factors in the hand as an extension of the science of Dermatoglyphics - certainly of its principles. We shall find, however, that over the years, with increased familiarity with this new discipline and its application in the behavioral sciences... with a more profound grasp of its manifest expressions, its sources of information came to extend beyond volar dermatoglyphics to include the morphology and constitution of the hand as well.

Psychodiagnostic Chirology has now been shown to have a firm foundation in scientific principles and scientific evidence. To begin with, as a diagnostic discipline it lends itself exceedingly well to laboratory testing. Pilot studies have indeed established a reliability factor in excess of 80%! The same tests have established very high validity factors such as would further secure its credentials as a science.

Studies in the field of Psychiatric Biology have linked the brain and the hand in a manner which establishes in the most concrete fashion that events in the brain will invariably be given representation in the hand… indeed, that it could not be otherwise. It has been shown that the start of the second trimester marks the onset of the development of the cerebral cortex. Almost to the hour, in perfect symmetry with this development, and arising from the very same cytological material (the ectoderm of the fertilized egg cell), we find the development of the distal upper limbs. One is virtually an extension of the other. The hand becomes a transmutation of sorts of the brain and events in the latter somehow become manifest in the former with the communication between them extending throughout the length of the individual’s life.

Another interesting phenomenon is the nature of the dermatoglyphic patterns in the palms of the hand which seem very much to duplicate electromagnetic fields. In fact the fingertip patterns (the fingerprints) can often be duplicated using a simple bar magnet under a sheet of paper and iron filings. If we consider the source of electrical activity in the body we may once again connect between the hands and the brain.

Psychodiagnostic Chirology offers the therapist a number of very distinct advantages over more familiar, and possibly more conventional test batteries. The most conspicuous of these advantages is that it totally absolves the client/patient from the need of having to represent himself, or herself, verbally or in writing. In this sense it is the least threatening of the tests. All the client/patient is required to do is to rest his (or her) elbows on a table and show his (or her) hands to the therapist. Nothing more. Consider that as often as not we find that the results of testing with more conventional batteries suffer serious distortions as a result of fears and anxieties which had overtaken the individuals tested. This came about, in part, as a result of their painful uncertainty as to how best to represent themselves. Apart from a host of defense mechanisms such as repression, reaction-formation, denial, and compulsive intellectualizations and rationalizations which all too often grossly undermine the reliability of the results of the testing, the therapist must also contend with the need of some to match the imagined expectations of the tester. Almost invariably then, and often very early on in their professional careers, clinicians learn that a client’s/patient’s representation of himself (or herself) throughout the intake process cannot but be suspect.

Where Psychodiagnostic Chirology shines, as it were, is in its ability to trace, virtually from the first hour of life, the most significant formative experiences which may have overtaken the individual. These would have been experiences (often decidedly traumatic) which would have profoundly influenced the attitudinal and behavioral patterns which normally give the design to the adult personality. Yet because of the very early phase in this person’s development these experience(s) would have been lost to conscious awareness. At the subconscious dimension, however, these same experience(s) would have become ingrained as though by a hammer and chisel in stone. Which is to say that this individual would find himself, or herself, driven by (and otherwise responding to) those very early experiences without being at all able to access their sources. If those early experiences were indeed traumatic they would become manifest as neurotic expressions in the adult and powerfully resist therapeutic intervention.

Examples of such experiences are numerous and it would seem appropriate at this point to mention some of them. This delivers us to another singularly unique facet of Psychodiagnostic Chirology and one which sets it considerably apart from every other diagnostic procedure. Psychodiagnostic Chirology is, fundamentally, a language wherein the abstract symbols made manifest in the dermatoglyphics, morphology and constitution of the hand gives representation to the widest range of psychical constructs. Consider that an understanding of these symbols is equally an understanding of whatever it may be that those psychical constructs signify. Consider as well that whatever they may signify, may, or may not, find an echo in our professional literature. This is to say that inherent in Psychodiagnostic Chirology may be references to structures in personality and possibilities in behavior which are unknown and quite undefined in our professional literature.

So it is that those proficient in PDC speak of the Deficit-Father Syndrome which describe circumstances in the child’s relationship with his, or her, father (between the ages of 1 to 3) wherein the child did not record the experience of his father identifying with him , or the father integrating the child’s life with his own, or experiencing intimacy with the father. Inherent in the Deficit-Father Syndrome is also the person’s inevitable compensation for these deficits… compensation which bring many to win public recognition and, in many instances, fame.

The language of Psychodiagnostic Chirology makes reference to the Hollow-i Syndrome (a pervading sense of emptiness and lack of fulfillment); the Focus-On-Me Mother Syndrome (failure to record narcissistic support and gross inability to assume true adult responsibilities especially with regard to marriage and the raising of children); the Pseudo-Persona (translating the will and expectations of another as though it was the person’s own will); Autistic Pockets (inability to be carried away, as it were, by sexual experiences); the Primary Rejection Factor (where the neonate has no address, target, or direction for its object-seeking libido); and the Inverse-Guilt Syndrome (emotional, physical and/or sexual molestation in a child up to the age of seven or eight).

Psychodiagnostic Chirology redefines (relabels) such psychical constructs as the False Self, Fragmentation, the Schizoid Temperament, Negative Oral and Negative Anal fixations, the Life, Sex and Death Instincts, Role-Identity and Ego-Ideals. There are more. Some have it that, by far, the most dramatic contribution of PDC in this regard is that it defines and makes entirely measurable such central systems in the psyche as Will and the Self.

In each instance Psychodiagnostic Chirology brings together the what and the why. The focus is always on the etiology of any specific development so that the therapist is invariably on the surest ground when defining a therapeutic program for any individual. Nothing is without reason and everything originates from something. Consider that the therapist has in PDC a diagnostic tool which delivers, almost from the start, information which, at the best of times, is garnered only after a period of years. Clearly, we have here extraordinary leverage for those who identify with short-term therapy programs.

Yet for all this there is a discernable hostility which the conservative establishment of professional behavioral specialists direct at the very concept of Psychodiagnostic Chirology. There are many reasons for this not the least of which requires having to adapt to references to the human psyche which are, in effect, a language apart from everything studied in academia and experienced in clinical work. Consider also the psychiatrist who may be the head of a department in a psychiatric hospital and who makes his diagnoses. There is no one today between this man and God who could possibly intervene and say that any diagnosis was correct, incorrect or only partially correct. There is no office which may legitimately oversee the diagnoses these professional authorities may make. If we consider only such personality disorders as borderline, obsessive-compulsive and anti-social, PDC provides models which define and identify each with virtually perfect accuracy. Which is to say that a diagnosis, say, of borderline personality disorder of a patient whose hands are unlike the PDC model of this disorder, would, in each instance be recognized as an erroneous diagnosis. Conceivably, this would not be a terribly welcome adjustment to the present regime with which most psychiatric hospitals are familiar.

We would like to think that Psychodiagnostic Chirology will one day earn its full acceptance among professional behavioral specialists. It may well be asking too much today of those with extensive clinical experience, and who would prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar, to be more open to this discipline. Yet this should not be a deterrent to those at the threshold of their careers as clinicians and academicians and who would be amenable to thought, which, heretofore, had been looked upon at best as unconventional.

Source: The article was written by Dr. Arnold Holtzman and it is published on: http://www.chirology.org
Contributed by nunziapr. Posted on December 30, 2006.


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