How anorexia or bulimia can be seen in handwriting sample


According to a recent study published in Archives of General Psychiatry, of all the Americans who will eventually die, the 24 million suffering from eating disorders are a whopping five times more likely to die prematurely.

Researchers at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom used data from 1,000 patients with eating disorders to determine the effects of eating disorders on the likelihood of death.

Of all those studied, subjects with anorexia nervosa had the highest mortality rate. To compound this tragedy, those suffering from anorexia are also more likely to commit suicide–about 20% of people with anorexia will take their own lives. (Read the report)

Sounds alarming, isn’t it?

In medical terms, anorexia means lack of appetite. Wikipedia says anorexia nervosa (wherein appetite is intact) is an eating disorder coupled with fear of gaining weight, as well as distorted body self-perception/self image. It involves excessive weight loss through food restriction and is usually found more in females than in males.

Anorexic girl

Though it may start during adolescence, it can affect men and women of any age, race, and socio-economic and cultural background.

Likewise, many suffer from Bulimia nervosa, which, according to Wikipedia, is an eating disorder characterised by binge eating and purging, typically by vomiting, taking a laxative, diuretic, or stimulant and/or excessive exercise, because of an extensive concern for body weight. Some individuals may tend to alternate between bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.

Those suffering from anorexia often view themselves as “too fat” even if they are already underweight. They may practice repetitive weighing, measuring, and mirror gazing, alongside other obsessive actions to make sure they are still thin, a common practice known as “body checking”.

Along with many abnormal levels of hormones or brain chemicals like dopamine or serotonin, media portrayals of an ‘ideal’ body shape are widely considered to be a contributing factor to anorexia and bulimia nervosa. That is why, many past and present celebrities are suffering from these disorders to be on limelight.

How does it show in one’s handwriting? Combination of few of the following traits may be seen in the handwriting. Especially the first two are most common traits in the above cases.

  • Highly self conscious (second hump of letter m will be higher than first)
  • Inferiority complex (curving inside shape of letters especially final strokes of a letter)
  • Guilt (flat top of upper loops)
  • Low self esteem (low t bar and small sized capitals)
  • Sensitive to criticism (loops in letter d and t)
  • Self castigation/suicide tendency (back strokes and falling words, letters and sentences)
  • Jealousy (small, tight loops from right to left in the beginning of a letter)
  • Extreme space, size and pressure variation (hysteria)
  • Dignity and perfectionism (retraced d and t and steady base line)
  • Emotional turmoil (angular arcade connection)
  • Desire for attention (45 degree or more raised ending strokes)

The handwriting samples below contain many traits other than the ones marked below. These are for representational purpose only.

Figure 1 – Illustration of Anorexia – Case 1

Anorexia and handwriting

Relevant strokes have been encircled in the text colour



Figure 2 – Illustration of Bulimia – Case 2

Anorexia in handwriting

Relevant strokes have been encircled in the text colour



Figure 3 – Illustration of Anorexia – Case 3

Anorexia in handwriting

Relevant strokes have been encircled in the text colour

(The author is a graphologist based in Bangalore. She may be contacted at noothan.rao@gmail.com)

© 2013 – 2016, Write Choice. All rights reserved.

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  • Sweta Singh

    Very informative and useful..

  • monica

    excellent information given here…now I am fan of yours…thanks for giving us best information about Graphology