The Eyes Have It

Post Four In A Six-Month Series On People Reading

I’ll save you the typical rundown of clichés about the meaning of the eyes, and instead jump into some simple, to-the-point tells that can be found in and around the eyes.

The Pupils

Dilated pupils mean one of two things: pleasure or stress.

Pleasure as in something the subject enjoys looking at (experiments have shown women’s pupils dilate the most when looking at pictures of a mother and child) such as someone they hold affection for, an object they admire such as a painting or something of value. Pretty much strong positive emotions = dilated pupils and an easily read facial expression. Your pupils will also dilate when you’re on drugs and experiencing a ‘good trip’.

Stress can mean hatred towards someone, or simply stress from a situation. It’s obviously very easy to distinguish why someone’s pupils are dilated. You’ll never find yourself looking at someone with dilated pupils and thinking, “Hm, I can’t tell if they like me or want to strangle me…”

Though someone may have a false smile and dilated pupils, in which case figuring out if the smile is fake will not be challenge, as I will show you below:

It’s All In The Orbits

In medicine and body language alike, the area around the eye is referred to as the orbit, or, if you’re referring to both eyes, the orbits. The muscle that controls facial expressions of emotion around the eye is called the orbicularis oculi (I’ve heard it pronounced every which way, but the most common is simply ‘or-bick-you-lare-is oke-you-lie’).

Orbicularis oculi seen around the eye. Directly above it you see the muscle that covers the forehead, known as the frontalis.

When a smile is genuine, the lower outer corners of the eyes raise, sometimes causing tiny lines around the eyes.

Genuine and false smile shown by the master himself: Paul Ekman.

In case you’re wondering – no, you cannot make the orbit muscles imitate a genuine smile, you’ll see too much action around the nose and it’ll be downright obvious to any observer who knows where to look.

Remember: some facial muscles cannot be sufficiently activated unless they are expressing genuine emotion.

Therefore, you can temporarily display ‘smiling eyes’ by thinking of something that makes you happy, but only momentarily, because you can only hold onto the happiness from a memory for so long before you must endure the present reality and the muscles have no choice but to tell the truth.

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

Countless times I’ve seen on television shows, in blogs, in books and in magazines a common gargantuan lie. A lie about the eyes and how they reveal deceit. In a nutshell, the notion goes that if someone looks down and to the left while they’re speaking, they are fabricating their story and therefore lying.

Noooooooooooooooo!

But, there is a factor of truth in this – you can get an inkling of where someone’s thoughts are as they speak by noting eye movements, but it will never never never never be as simple as ‘Down + left = lie’. This inkling of truth comes from a concept known as neurolinguistic programming, or NLP. NLP is really much more than a guide to eye tells, but for this post, we’ll only be looking at NLP’s explanation for eye movements.

The basics of NLP go like this:

Someone remembers something they saw: eyes go up.

Someone remembers something they heard: eyes go to the side.

Someone remembers an emotion: eyes go down and to the right.

Someone is talking to themselves: down and to the left.

The problem: while we are speaking, our mind is bouncing all over the place, retrieving information, organizing thoughts, planning on what vocal inflections and volumes to use to get our point across. When we talk, our eyes will bounce around no matter what. So while NLP may be accurate and useful, remember that these signals come in clusters and happen in a fraction of a second. I can tell you from personal experience that after three years of attempting to master these signals, you just have to focus and eventually develop an intuition for it. You may not catch a lot of the signals (they are extremely difficult to catch as they’re happening, more difficult than micro-expressions), but eventually your subconscious will start looking out for them for you and you’ll find you get a lot more ‘gut feelings’ about people and what they say.

But! A note about lying and eye contact:

Despite popular belief, people who are lying will maintain eye contact longer than someone who is telling the truth. Like I said, someone who is talking will have a million things happening at once, one of these things is information retrieval, while a liar will be watching your reaction and will not require certain cognitive functions that a person telling the truth will be using.

Also, a fun trick that I use when I’m addressing a group of people or trying to hold someone’s attention while I explain something (and Heather, if you read this, I wasn’t manipulating you – just attempting to anchor your admirable, occasionally cocker-spaniel-esque attention span…you know I love you!), is using a pen, stick, pointer or any like object when explaining an idea (only when a visual aid of some sort is nearby, like a map, article, object ect.,). It goes simply like this – when explaining an idea, using the pointer to, well, point to the article, and when explaining an important part, bringing the pen up to near eye level, which automatically causes the other person to give you direct eye contact. It works every time, and no one can deny the first few times are extremely fun and amusing and sort of make you feel like the Mentalist. (I learned this trick from books by Bernard Asbell and Allan Pease.)

The Mentalist.
Must…steal…suit…and hair product…

Blinking

The average relaxed blinking rate is 6-8 blinks per minute. When we’re under pressure, feel stress and anger, or otherwise a sudden burst of emotion, our blink rate will increase dramatically.

Darting Eyes

As I mentioned in my post about Harold Camping’s body language during an interview directly after the passing of one of his latest dooms dates, eyes darting from side to side can indicate someone looking for an escape route. I’ve had this happen to me on several occasions, and understanding what the signal meant let me know it was time to wrap up the conversation, lest the image they have of me in their mind become slightly negative and unpleasant.

Gazing

Social Gazing:

Experiments have shown that this area is the area most commonly focused on for 90 percent of the time during social encounters. Some researchers believe this is because we feel that not looking directly into someone’s eyes will make us appear nonthreatening.

Power Gazing:

This gaze is often used in power plays among businessmen – sort of a tool of intimidation. The effect of this gaze, according to Allan Pease, “…has to be experienced to be believed.” It creates a serious atmosphere, and if used unwaveringly, can make the subject feel very uncomfortable.

_______________________________

Like anything in body language, in order to really be able to get accurate reads, you need to:

1. Not read too much into signals.

and 2. Practice, practice, practice. Eventually you’ll develop a reliable ‘spidey sense’.

And, apologies for not giving you much to think about for this one. As I said last time – I promise the next post will be better!

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Viewing People As Structures

Post Two In A Six-Month Series On People Reading

Pre-Post Ramble:

Sometimes when I’m in a public place, I stop seeing the people around me as human beings, and instead see them as a living pattern.

The image above is from one of my 'little black books' I've mentioned - small notebooks that I use to record random observations.

You may have already realized something similar to what I mentioned in my notebook. When Heather Madame and I took zumba classes last year, I noticed that when we started the class, we wanted to stay in the back and blend in. But the more comfortable we became, the more we wanted to be on the edges of the group and eventually ended up near the front-middle of the group. It was about this time that I was wrapping up my Rorschach inkblot experiment at The Center, so my mind was still spinning with random psychological information.

When you analyze the results of a Rorschach inkblot test, the one thing you look at first is certainly not what the subject saw, but where. Because the exact content of what the subject saw may be from a TV show they watched the night before, or from a song they heard on the radio that morning, an article from a magazine, ect., exactly what you see in an inkblot will change hour to hour, sometimes minute to minute, I’ve realized. Sometimes in phase two of the test (when I had the subjects look over the inkblots a second time and speak in about greater detail what they saw) when I would remind the subject of what they originally found in the blot, they would look at the paper, flip it this way and that, and say “I’m sorry…I just don’t see it anymore.” But what never changed was where their eyes darted when they looked at the inkblots. Take a look at the image below:

This is a rather basic inklot. The way Rorschach arranged his inkblots when he interviewed his schizophrenic and depressed patients, was the same arrangement that he used to test children and mentally healthy adults. The blots start out basic and colorless, and gradually become more intricate and more color is added until you are shown a blot entirely in chromatic tones. The same interpretations always apply for every blot:

If you look more in the middle/bottom of the blot, you are likely predominantly introverted depending on how many blots you view this way, but if you find yourself paying more attention to the outer edges/top of the blot, you are more likely to be extraverted. (Though it should be taken into account that the subject will probably pay more attention to the top of the blot due to the lack of ink at the bottom of the blot posted above.)

I saw the zumba group as a giant Rorschach inkblot. This idea cannot be used for every group of individuals, because, as Rorschach himself said in Psychodiagnostik (1921), the inkblot test, in purest terms, is truly only a test of how well a human being can respond to the tension of a completely unfamiliar  situation. At the zumba class, nearly every woman there was middle-aged and very insecure. No one knew what to expect to come up on the playlist or the dance routine. A perfect situation for a living, breathing Rorschach inkblot to form.

Post-Ramble Post:

Viewing human beings as structures can give us, incredibly enough, greater insight into human nature than viewing human beings as, well, human beings.

Think of a pointillist painting: thousands of tiny dots are used to form an image that can be seen clearly when you back away from the canvas and view the image as a whole. Too often people want to read people by first looking at the finer details and then building upward, when really the opposite method should be applied. In this way, learning to read people is the same as learning to analyze handwriting. You must start with the basics, the framework, the big picture before looking for signals that will give you more specific information. Why? Because it’s easier to interpret. The big picture never lies unless that is the intent of the subject (as for spotting lies, we’ll discuss that in a future post.)

Remember – you already know how to read people. I’ll prove it to you, take a wild gander at what facial expressions these are:

 

We know instinctively what facial expressions such as the ones featured above mean. While some facial signals vary from culture to culture (as in deliberate facial expressions or movements such as a wink or sticking out your tongue) all natural (involuntary) facial expressions are the same throughout the world, even blind people use the same facial expressions, so we know we are born with not the ability, but the involuntary feature of expressing our emotions as a way of protecting ourselves by showing we have good intentions (smiling is seen as an unthreatening expression, even in animals,) or intimidating an enemy (when we see the facial expression of intense anger, or ‘fury’, fight or flight kicks in and starts up our autonomic nervous system (think: automaticThe ANS controls all involuntary functions,) and prepares us first to leave, and if we cannot, for an altercation.)

The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, the sympathetic nervous system controls fight or flight and the parasympathetic helps us recover afterwards.

I tell you all of this because, while I do not encourage always reading someone by intuition alone (you will always be biased subconsciously when you try to read someone,) when you can’t read someone from clear signals, you should trust your instincts. You’ve been reading people since the day you opened your eyes and saw your mother smiling at you, causing you to imitate her facial expressions and associate her smiling with positive circumstances.

We Are All Empathetic

 Experiments have shown that we automatically imitate whatever facial expression we are viewing, even if we don’t completely mirror the other person, our brain responds to their expressions and subtly activates the muscles creating the expression. Some researchers believe that there is a ‘mirror neuron’ in the brain that causes this imitation. Psychopaths, who lack empathy completely, cannot understand facial expressions on an instinctive level like healthy individuals can. They instead have to teach themselves what facial expressions are acceptable, and consciously imitate them to manipulate those around them.

Just a side note: if you want a more positive mood or to feel more confident, then even if you don’t feel the emotion, imitate the signals! Paul Ekman (the man who is responsible for nearly all major breakthroughs in our understanding of facial expressions) found that we’re attracted to people who smile often because when we see them smile and our muscles imitate the expression, it causes a release of endorphins that we would have gotten if we had been the one smiling in the first place! In a nutshell, smiling, even if you don’t feel happy, causes the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain and improves your mood. As for feeling confident, the same principle applies, if you stand with your shoulders back, chin level and walk with purpose, your brain is going to help you out and make you feel the emotion you portray, so within minutes you will actually be confident! I’ve tried this out myself on many occasions when I’ve felt uncomfortable in social situations or unsure of myself in the middle of a test even, and without fail this has improved my mood and self-esteem… ha, and that was supposed to be just a side note…

 Now, for the actual point of the post, viewing people as structures.

I’ve noticed four similarities to the method of analyzing handwriting and body language:

  1. The Lean
  2. Framework
  3. Amount of Expression
  4. The Use of Basic Intuition

For this section, we’ll be looking at the lean.

A lean in handwriting analysis refers to which way letters seem to ‘sway’ on the paper. According to Confucius, you should “Beware of the man whose handwriting is like reeds in the wind.” And, so it turns out, Master Kong was thinking up the right alley. Quack handwriting analysis books and sensible texts alike explain that handwriting with a frequently changing lean (on average, two times per paragraph) suggests an emotionally unstable individual. As for leans in body language (when the subject is sitting down), they tell us:

  • How the subject feels about who they are speaking with
  • How the subject feels about the current situation
  • & how the subject feels about the current conversation

I’ll try to keep the explanation brief, because it really is very simple.

Imagine you have just walked into a Starbucks and you see two people sitting down in those rather extremely comfy leather seats next to each other, and both people are leaning towards each other. (Assuming that it isn’t just loud inside of the Starbucks and they’re leaning forward simply because it’s difficult to hear each other,) from this single glance we know that both people are on some level emotionally invested in the conversation.

Remember, just because one signal can represent a specific message, does not mean that the opposite signal represents the opposite message.

On the other hand, if both people are leaning away from each other, this does not indicate resentment towards the other person or disinterest in the conversation. They may simply be comfortable with each other and are talking about nothing of emotional concern. (Just a note: you will mainly see negativity expressed by leaning away from each other only if the individuals are in business attire and not casual dress. Obviously, two casually dressed individuals willingly sitting next to each other in a Starbucks are probably on good terms, meanwhile, businessmen holding meetings/job interviews – my father, a small business owner, does this often – will not be in the brightest mood, and if a superior is having lunch with a subordinate, you can be sure to see a lot of judging and discomfort.) Interpreting signals can always be helped along by noting clothing and gender.

If one person is leaning towards someone who is leaning away, often the person leaning forward is trying to ‘reach out’ or persuade the person leaning away. It may be they are trying to win them over emotionally (they don’t feel that the person leaning away is really friends with them, or they are uncertain whose ‘team’ they are on and are trying to win them over in this way,) or romantically (I have yet to see a female try to ‘win over’ a guy, it’s always the fellow leaning forward,) in this case you’ll notice the person leaning forward is closely watching the facial expressions of the person leaning away (Bernard Asbell, author of a wonderful book called What They Know About You, explained that couples who are secure in their relationship will not watch their spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend’s facial expressions often, while couples who are insecure will frequently note each other’s reactions.)

One mistake that even professionals make, is to forget the possibility of complete and total error. There is always the possibility that Person 1 is leaning forward because Person 2 is talking too quietly and Person 1 doesn’t want to be rude and say anything. Even Paul Ekman has said that real-life people reading is not as wonderfully accurate and quick as it seems to be on the show based on him, Lie to Me.

Always consider the obvious! Someone may be crossing their arms because they are cold, not because they are comforting themselves or feel defensive. Someone may be rubbing their nose because of a fiber or cat hair, not because blood has rushed to their nose out of the tension of the conversation and they are trying to come up with a lie. (In case you’re wondering, rubbing their nose while someone is lying does happen! When you lie, chemicals called catecholamines are released, causing the tissue inside of your nose to swell, and your nose actually expands with blood! Allan Pease, author of The Definitive Book of Body Language calls this ‘The Pinocchio Effect’.)

End-of-the-Post Rant:

There is no such thing as speed-reading. Not unless you’re one of Paul Ekman’s ‘wizards’ or ‘naturals’ (people who were born with the ability to instantly read and interpret microexpressions.) The reason a lot of us pick up books on handwriting analysis and body language, is because we like the notion that we can become super spies in our own homes. We can become the Mentalist, we can become Columbo, we can become James Bond. While basic signals can be easily read in an instant, the popular notion of actually ‘speed-reading’ someone so deeply that you might as well be reading their mind, is simply impossible, at least, if you’re one of the 99% of people who aren’t Paul Ekman wizards.

Allow me to sound like an arrogant bafoon for a moment and say that I am good at reading people. Very good. But here’s how I know that I am excellent at people reading: I came to the point in my studies where I stopped looking back at all that I had read and witnessed and how much I knew, and realized how much I had yet to read and witness and hear. I came to a place where I had to ask ‘Am I wrong?’ and stop justifying bogus interpretations. I won’t lie: it feels like a superpower when you learn enough to view people in an entirely new way, but after the high wears off, just remember that the best of the best truly are the greatest, because they know what it means to swallow their pride and throw away a perfectly lovely theory. A perfectly lovely read. A perfectly lovely explanation. You’ll know you’re good at something, very good, when you realize how horrible you have the ability to be.

–Hannah-Elizabeth

P.S. As soon I beat my scanner into submission, I will be opening a new page on my blog and uploading photos of my personal notes so you can perhaps get a better glimpse into my process. Also on this page I will list recommended articles and books.

P.P.S I’m sorry for waiting until nearly the end of the day to finally post this. Honestly I’ve been working on it for about twelve hours now and I’m not very pleased with it. But, I am learning to stay on track! I can assure you the next post will be better!

New Post Series “People Who Read People”

Post One In A Six-Month Series On People Reading

*New posts in the series will be published every other Wednesday*

An Introduction To This Whole Bit

________________________

I remember late one night I found myself flipping through one channel after another (as one does during late nights,) and I came across an episode of Covert Affairs on USA Network, two striking women (who, since it’s television, simply must be the extremely intelligent and sharp-witted secret agents) inside of what appeared to be a glamorized version of the starship enterprise (turns out it was supposed to be the CIA…) were looking up at a massive computer screen that displayed a mans face with various markings and angles supposedly tracking his facial expressions.

“There are no signs of deceit in his orbicularis oris or orbicularis oculi movements.” The raven-haired one said while staring intently at the screen.

It was three in the morning, that didn’t stop grumpy, half-awake me from snapping, “You mean his mouth and eye muscles, Barbie?” It always annoys me when I hear fictional characters complicate the obvious. I know, I know, they are not real people, and the writers need to make the characters seem intelligent, but it feels as though draping cut-and-dry explanations with useless jargon looks down on those who don’t speak the language. This extends past television, it goes into the real world through writers and inspirational speakers and public figures and authors like Joe Navarro, an ex-FBI agent who wrote What EveryBODY Is Saying (longtime readers will recall that I loathe Joe Navarro, and consider him to be my unofficial arch nemesis,) or the author of one of the first body language books ever written, Julius Fast who wrote Body Language in 1970. And so I tell you the point of this post series: there is a lot of hot air out there, in the world of people-reading manuals and how people reading is portrayed by the media. It is seen as some sort of mysterious skill. And we are all unfailingly impressed by people who read people. It’s just when body language experts come on Fox News and state the obvious cloaked in long-winded explanations, or when yet another new book comes out on how to not only read people, but to use what you find to manipulate someone and become a master persuader, that the art of people reading turns into a game for children. I am writing this post to explain to you how to read people in the ways that I know how. And I’ll mention reliable books and authors who will never write the prideful waste that is so common when it comes to the topic of people reading. I’ve been studying people for five and a half years, and during that time I realized that every manner of reading people (handwriting analysis, cold reading (minus the psychic aspect), body language, microexpressions, physiognomy) can be explained in bite-sized pieces that don’t need the fluff and padding and egos that fill the extra space long enough to fill a book and make a few bucks. Also, 90% of all people-reading material out there is nothing but gobbledygook, empty words, crap, intuition without testing and proof ect., I have read every book that I could get my hands on that speaks on the topic of reading people, and out of the hundreds of books and authors, there are only a handful that have proven themselves truthful and compassionate, and whose work has stood the test of time.

You might think that this means I am dismissing authors and experts just because they seem a tad full of it.

You would be correct.

While many authors may be correct with the very basics regarding the brain and how it influences our facial expressions (such as Joe Navarro,) an author that is riding in the clouds on their high horse (such as Joe Navarro) is bound to trust their own intuition far too much (ahem…Joe Navarro,) therefore skewing perfectly good material. I want you to only get the entire truth so you can accurately read people. This is truthfully a place where my heart is, because I do genuinely feel angry at folks who write books flooded with incorrect information, knowing that the public will read it and be misinformed. They may believe their analysis to be correct because experience surely must have given them a good enough spidey-sense to make assumptions with no foundation, but many times as I’m reading a point made from just intuitive analysis (analysis by one’s ‘gut feeling’ alone) I can recall several moments from personal experience off of the top of my head where points certain authors have made are proven entirely wrong (for example, one book claims that if you’re speaking with someone and their legs are crossed towards you while you’re speaking, and mid-conversation they switch their position so they have now crossed their legs away from you, they must suddenly disagree with your point. But, there have been multiple occasions where I shift simply because I lose feeling in the leg that is currently crossed, not because I disagree that Taylor Lautner looks exactly the same as he did in Shark Boy & Lava Girl…am I honestly the only human being who thinks he’s flat-out unattractive? Ahem, anyway…) I can trust an author’s analysis when I see joy in the project and humility in their words. A lovely example of this sort of human being is Allan Pease, who wrote (with his wife, Barbara) The Definitive Book of Body Language. Read, listen, or watch any seminar or interview of his and you can see passion for his work and a childlike amusement for the subject. His book on body language is number one on my list. There are several points in the book that I don’t entirely agree with because they cannot be proven (such as his belief that the movement of shaking our head to signal ‘no’ comes from our days when we would move our heads away from a bottle when we were finished eating as babies,) but without a doubt his book is the best on the topic I have ever read.

Also topics I’ll be covering include a few unusual methods of reading people. Such as cold reading. Cold reading is used by fake psychics to make their customers believe that they know impossible things about them without having met them before. I’m not going to try to explain how to be a fake psychic, but I will tell you about some neat little people-reading tricks that cold readers use frequently. As well as getting to know someone from their appearance, using everything from the size of their nose and cheekbones to the back of their shoes. I tell you now that this is sort of a personal venture of mine, about three years ago I realized that my mother could identify a decline in my mood based on my clothing choices alone, and ever since I’ve become fascinated with the art of profiling people based on their clothing choices. As for the nose and cheekbone bit, that comes from the Taoist art of mein shiang, which associates personality traits with facial features. Obviously, there’s a lot of spirituality in this type of people reading that we shall avoid (did I mention monks are the ones who came up with mein shiang?) but again, looking past the unprovable, we find some gems that can tell us a thing or two about personality.

Also I will tell you here and there bits about the brain…The lovely, lovely brain. Actually, expect me to try to make you fall in love with your central nervous system, because it’s pretty (dare I say it again?) freakin’ awesome when it comes down to it.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

Energy Redistribution

My voice sounds absurd when I’m yelling.

Today was the first time in a while that I had a screaming match with my mother. The good news: these days my temper is nearly nonexistent, so 90% of the time I keep my voice level. The bad news: the 10% of an argument that I just completely lose it, I am the least logical, least agreeable human being on the face of the planet. I just yell for yelling’s sake, because I’m tired of trying to talk someone else down.

I’m not proud of how stubborn I am. Once I have made a decision, heaven help anyone who tries to change my mind. This blog has done wonderful things for me, because many comments have thrown me curveballs and forced me to think about myself in new ways. The very blatant fellow from Kluck It, for example, has always been extremely honest with me on my blog, to the point of actually annoying me on several occasions. But comments such as his that first make me ball my fist, force me to ask myself “What if he’s entirely right?” and every single time I discover, other people see things that I entirely miss. Trouble is, when I’m in the middle of an actual argument, I don’t have several minutes to contemplate every response. I just have a little voice in the back of my mind constantly reminding me ‘Watch yourself, be careful.’

All of those books that I read that annoy my mother come quite in handy in the middle of our arguments. Lately I’ve been applying what I’ve learned from John Gottman, a relationship psychologist who formed the famous ‘Love Lab’ in the 1980’s to study what makes relationships work, and what makes them fail.

I discovered the works of John Gottman through my obsession with Paul Ekman’s books on emotions and micro-expressions.

As I just mentioned, my mother takes issue with the amount of time I spend reading. And when I’m not reading for enjoyment, I’m studying, writing on WordPress or searching for new library books on the library site.  I have no desire to know my classmates or acquaintances at The Center beyond a social level. I can’t pinpoint why exactly. I just know that all of you know me better than anyone else, and Heather knows me better than I know myself, I don’t need anything more. Besides, the library just got in a new book on…get ready for this… the history of typewriters. The history of typewriters!!

I’ve been writing nonstop today. I stuffed my netbook into its case and tried to focus entirely on studying for an exam on Friday, but I kept grabbing pieces of paper and just writing anything and everything that came into my mind. I have no doubt that it’s because of how restless I’ve been as of late. Pacing for no reason, walking up and down the stairs at times to get out some of the energy. Just writing and pacing with a sort of anxious tension in the atmosphere. Like I’m waiting for something to happen at any moment.

I made the decision, if I get accepted into a university up north, I’m going to go.

I made it all day yesterday without thinking about Josh. I hope that I bump into him one day, look him in the eye, and feel nothing. The pain is nearing a dull ache at this point, and he doesn’t seem to be the bright and shining star in my eyes that he was a month ago. But a part of my mind will not stop nagging me, insisting that I let myself imagine what it could be like if I go back to work at Kohl’s and see him every other day or so. And then a more sensible voice will pipe up and keep me grounded, seeing him wouldn’t be healthy for me, and I need to remember that. I need to remember the pain, and how quickly he forgot about me.

Never again, folks.

Until I Write Again,

–Classic/Hannah-Elizabeth

P.S. Energy redistribution is a body language term, referring to someone trying to contain a strong emotion by attempting to shut down body language signals to the outside world, so the energy instead finds itself in a form it wouldn’t normally be in, such as tapping toes, tapping fingers, bouncing knees, and pacing.

People Who Read People

William James (1890) proposed a distinction be...

Image via Wikipedia

Alright, this is getting sad.

Typically I write because something is on my mind – at the moment I’m writing because nothing is.

William James believed that there is really no such thing as introspection (viewing one’s own mental processes), there is only immediate retrospection. Because of course, I can’t think of what process I’m reasoning in, or exactly what reason I’m feeling something at the exact moment I’m feeling it. Because once I start breaking down my thoughts and feelings, those thoughts and feelings are contaminated viewing material, botched by my own view of them as they occur. All we can do is talk things over or instantly replay our thoughts and review them in this way. But, William James stated, there is no such thing as introspection in the pure form as it is defined – we can’t be logical about an illogical thought at the precise moment we are having the illogical thought, not without the illogical thought being tainted and becoming logical.

Have I mentioned I’m in love with William James?

My favorite book on the face of the planet – the one whose author I have named my blog URL after (good heavens that’s choppy grammar…) has arrived at my doorstep after all of my impatient waiting for three weeks:

Handwriting Analysis As A Psychodiagnostic Tool by Ulrich Sonnemann, Ph.D (published in 1950)!!

Every word is pure poetry, he was brilliant, fantastic, wonderful. Here’s one of my favorite bits ( parts of which I quote often when discussing handwriting analysis):

…all movements carried out by any organism at any time or place can be said to be expressive for the simple reason that their particular manner of execution, even if the purpose and environmental circumstances of the movement are “constant,” varies not only from individual organism to individual organism but, within the scope of activity of a single organism, varies from one occurence of the movement to any other. As no mathematically exact, automatic repetition of the same movement on the part of any organism is biologically possible, the element of uniqueness in every movement cannot be attributed to either the purpose or environmental circumstances of the movement but only to a structural principle within the organism which expresses itself in this very uniqueness.

In other words: you can tell the difference between your mom’s handwriting and your friend’s handwriting. And if this isn’t due to personality and present emotional state, then what? Handwriting, then, must reveal something defining about each individual.

I think there is an awful good reason why handwriting analysis books are found next door to mythology and superstitious material. Because I’ve read every handwriting analysis book out there, and all of the authors are so biased and picky and inconsistent and every single example interpretation just drips of intuitive analysis (when someone just grabs a magnifying glass and off of the gut feelings they get while looking at certain loops and twists, determine the author’s personality – something Sonnemann speaks out against in the first few pages of his book) that of course no one would (or should) take the books seriously. Sonnemann doesn’t nit-pick every sharp corner or garland of any letter. He starts off by looking at the letter as a structure, how strong it is, how bold the ink, if it leans or breaks. Very basic material. Obviously a legible, well-rounded sample of writing is created by someone in a bit more of a patient mood than bent, broken chicken scrawl.

For the longest time I was obsessed with profiling people in any way I could. Through their behavior (I’m still in love with criminal profiling) through their expressions (with the help of Paul Ekman’s Unmasking the Face, Emotions Revealed, What the Face Reveals and Telling Lies I’ve learned to read facial expressions and microexpressions), through their body language (thank you Barbara and Allen Pease!) and through their appearance overall (thank you, Ian Rowland for writing The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading) I was convinced I was going to be part of the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit. Speed-reading people and showing off like Sherlock Holmes or Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Gray. Speaking of people who read people – never read Joe Navarro’s book What Every Body Is Saying, Navarro may be a former FBI agent – but from his book, he knows this fact a tad too well. Also, he is incorrect about 70% of the time in his book. Odds are I’ve mentioned this before. If you mention the name Joe Navarro to Heather Madame she will tell you up-front that I do not like him in the least. I think he’s arrogant, closed-minded and for all that FBI experience he sure shows little for it except for common-sense facts regarding the human brain and body posture. It drives me mad knowing that people are reading that book and being so severely misinformed, when I first read it, I had requested it from the library (a general rule of mine: never buy a book that costs over $10 unless you get a trial-run with it first) it took forever and a day for it to come in because there were so many people ahead of my request in the queue. Now when I recall this I think of the people who have read it (and are reading it), believing that it’s all fact. Bah… I really, really don’t like Joe Navarro. (Especially since he keeps popping up in issues of Psychology Today magazine the past year.)

Alright, I have completed a ramble or two, and ’tis getting late. This would be a rather good place for me to perhaps halt my typing.

Goodnight all,

-Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

I Didn’t Know Where Else To Go

Watch faces

Image by cbcastro via Flickr

It’s late, I’m scared.

12:24AM, everyone is asleep right now. I tried reading a few chapters in some novel from the library, but I saw something from the corner of my vision and couldn’t focus any longer.

I didn’t know where else to go, so I came here. I keep feeling a specific moment of tension. Like a volume gauge, the fear starts very softly, and peaks so sharply I wince and quickly shut my eyes, willing, praying for it to stop. The moment feels like a moment of death – a certainty it is my final second on this earth. And it won’t stop. I’m getting a headache, there’s a ringing in my ears. The room feels stuffy, like the air has been replaced with cotton.

Why can’t I feel peace about dying? I know little about anything, but I know it shouldn’t be this way.

I’m at a loss for words at the moment, they won’t come to me. It feels so loud yet utterly silent in my mind right now, loud enough to not think straight but quiet enough to know I’ve discovered nothing new, that I’m thinking of nothing of value.

I have nowhere else to go but here. Should I call Olga? No, she’ll tell me something I want to hear but don’t need to, it wouldn’t be the truth. Besides, I’ve taken the pills she told me to for treatment for anxiety, and here I am. Heather wakes up early to make it to Fort Worth for her college classes, I’ll leave her be.

I’ve taken a moment to pause and breathe – it’s about 1:00AM now. As it usually goes, I’ll be alright. But I won’t be. It’s just life, so I say. But it can be miserable. I’m tired of saying I’m okay, the thought of saying something to brush it aside has the waterworks started up already. I will be okay, but won’t all of us? Back to reaching and climbing and crawling to get back to a state of semi-homeostasis? I reach halfway before hitting the bottom again and I tell everyone “I’m going to be okay.”

I’m tired, I’m scared, I want to be somewhere safe again.

I’ve let fear rule so much of my life. There are times when I want to be somewhere and do something and I feel an attack come on, and I’ll think about what all of those little panic attacks have stolen from me, and I get very angry. I stare down the fear and paranoia until it leaves me alone, only to lose my courage by the time the next one strikes. And then another, and another, until I get angry at the fear again and chase it away.

One of my favorite behavioral psychologists, Paul Ekman, said that fear and anger are often surprisingly hand-in-hand. I wonder if he even knows how this combination of fear and anger extends to panic attacks and tolerance being lost, little by little, by the patient.

Okay, I’ve started rambling, this is a good sign.

I’ll be alright.

-Hannah

P.S. I’m disabling comments for this post because you are my friends. Many of you think too highly of me and don’t seem to see how I don’t deserve any sympathy or encouragement you’ve always offered me 😉 I came here in a moment of high emotion – of distress, I don’t want a single one of you to feel obliged to say anything to me. And if not obliged to speak then obliged to speak well and say the right thing. I suppose it would feel wrong of me to do anything besides this. I hope you can understand.

I am profoundly grateful to know you all.