With the publication of our new and comprehensive textbook on Psychodiagnostic Chirology there was no longer much reason to keep the website in its original (1996) format. With the ever increasing sophistication of Psychodiagnostic Chirology in analysis and therapy, virtually all the articles required considerable rewriting. This revised material, along with all the critical hidden syndromes that define individual personality, and which did not appear on the website, are now described at length in this textbook.

We are grateful to the many thousands in over 80 countries who have visited and revisited our website over the years. Our thinking at present is geared to having this website serve as a forum for those who identify with PDC. Your ideas in this regard would be most welcome.

Psychodiagnostic Chirology (PDC)

In PDC is the promise of true short-term therapy. No test or battery of tests available to the therapist today is the equal of PDC with regard to reliability, validity, speed and scope. It is entirely non-aggressive and wholly unthreatening to the client/patient.

It is first and foremost a scientific discipline. All the material ahead of you has been tested under laboratory conditions. Everything will find a foundation in science - in the main the sciences of Psychiatric Biology and Medical/Genetic Dermatoglyphics.

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A Comprehensive Overview
The Clinical Application of PDC
Foundations in Science
Laboratory Testing
The Center for PDC
PDC and the Web

Psychodiagnostic Chirology has, at its foundation, the theoretical conceptualizations and clinical orientation of Sigmund Freud, Donald Woods Winnicott, Abraham Maslow and Heinz Kohut, in the main. Freud's introspective psychoanalytic constructions integrates and gives common ground to Winnicott's Object Relations theory, Kohut's Self Psychology and Maslow's Humanist position (where the gravitation to self-fulfillment and self-actualization are the central constructs).


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.

Clinical psychologists... owe it to themselves and their patients to utilize (Holtzman's) system of analysis in tandem with more accepted practices. Eventually it may replace them.
-The Jerusalem Post

The Clinical Application of Psychodiagnostic Chirology.

Psychodiagnostic Chirology, or PDC, is the discipline of Handreading in Psychological Diagnosis. It is designed primarily for use by the professional behavioral specialist to be applied in his or her clinical work.

It expresses, in large measure, the principles and philosophy of Object Relations theory (per Winnicott and Fairbairn, in the main) and Kohut's Self Psychology. Maslow's Humanistic Psychology contributes in no small way to our fundamental references and points of departure. Behaviorists, I suspect, will not feel at their most comfortable here. Dyed-in-the-wool Freudians will have to tolerate a measure of relabeling and this might also be asking rather much of them.

Its most powerful expression would be in those instances where the client's/patient's representation of himself or herself is deemed suspect and unreliable. It accurately identifies structures in personality and possibilities in behavior. It identifies particularly stressful and traumatic experiences and their points of origin (even from earliest infancy and such as may be quite lost to consciousness for whatever reason). It would focus on a subject's "unfinished business" with his or her past and differentiate between psychical circumstances which are open to psychotherapeutic intervention and such as may be deterministic and resistant to intervention. It will identify a range of personality disorders with virtually 100% accuracy. (You may want to read that last line again).

There is nothing at all magical here. This is not an esoteric New Age medium. Quite the contrary. Its scientific foundations are beyond question and extend, in the main, from the neurosciences. Whoever would deny the validity of this discipline and its legitimacy as a science are quite uninformed of recent advances, particularly in the field of psychiatric biology.

Psychology is a science.

We strongly question the pervading currents of thought regarding psychology in general and which hold that psychotherapeutic intervention is an art and fundamentally intuitive. It doesn't have to be this way if guesswork, however educated it may be, can be held to a minimum. There is a very real correlation between cause and effect. Nothing in the constructions in personality or patterns of behavior is accidental, arbitrary or spontaneous.

Psychology is a science the legitimacy of which has largely been undermined because of the gross neglect in academia of the diagnostic disciplines. Intellectualizations reinforced by a singularly sophisticated, somewhat esoteric and seemingly professional language (read buzz words and psychoblabber) mask ignorance, uncertainty and impotence. Here is psychology's weakest link. Intuition replaces logic and disciplined thought. The emphasis on empathic understanding and emotional symmetry replaces a concrete, thought out therapeutic program. Ostensibly created to correct this circumstance, the DSM, with each new version, increasingly falls victim to prevailing uncertainties and undermines the very discipline it purports to support.

Psychodiagnostic Chirology is conceived, fundamentally, as an extension of the medical/genetic Dermatoglyphics which has been almost universally incorporated in cytogenetic laboratories in hospitals around the world for close to 70 years. It would also share a conceptual foundation with the Constitutional Psychology of Ernst Kretschmer and William Sheldon. They provide the foundation for a language which may be grasped not verbally but visually. Herein is the breakthrough which investigators since Gall and the biological thinking of the 19th century have sought. Psychical circumstances have their visable, physical expressions in the morphology, constitution and dermal patterns in the human hand. Psychical constructions now have a rich, new, and powerful medium of definition - very much a language which lends itself to learning and application.

Dermatoglyphics identifies scores of disorders which are, in the main, of an inherited nature. Its origins go back to the early 30's when a single transverse line on the palmar surface was linked to Down's syndrome. Today the literature is extensive and research is still undertaken in major medical and academic institutions around the world. Until not too long ago when it was suspected that a neonate might carry an organic, genetic disorder, a medical person from the cytogenetic laboratory would study the newborn's distal upper limb dermal configurations and have the diagnosis recorded immediately.

The question which must be put before the establishment of behavioral scientists is this: if we are increasingly aware of the contribution of inherited factors in psychopathology (schizophrenia would be a perfect example) and other psychical disorders (such as borderline and other personality disorders), why has the academic establishment in particular not attempted to extend the application of Dermatoglyphics from the identification of organic disorders to disorders of the psyche?

This investigation has been our central enterprise since1968.

"But soft! what light through yonder window breaks..."
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Julliet, Act II, Scene II

What are its foundations in science?

The hands are an extension of the brain. We know this today to be fact.* The constitution, morphology and dermatoglyphics describing any pair of hands will realize adjustments in line with physical and entirely measurable adjustments in the brain. This is also fact.** No feature in the human hand is accidental or arbitrary. Everything has meaning. This too is fact. The evidence comes from a number of sources. Medical/genetic Dermatoglyphics (which provided the theoretical foundations for PDC) is one. There are others.

*The following is an excerpt from an abstract which appeared in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry in 1991 (vol. 30: pp. 719-725). Prepared by H. Stefan Bracha et al it is entitled Subtle Signs of Prenatal Maldevelopment of the Hand Ectoderm in Schizophrenia. A Preliminary Monozygotic Twin Study. (Reprints of this paper may be acquired from H. Stefan Bracha, M.D., Veterans Administration Medical Center, Neuropsychiatric Research (116A1-NLR), North Little Rock, AR 72114-1706.)

"The second trimester is a critical period of massive neuronal migration from the periventicular germinal matrix to the cortex. A peripheral appendage developing simultaneously with this neural migration to the cortex is the distal upper limb. The ectodermal cells of the fetal upper limb migrate to form the hand skin during the fourth and fifth months of gestation (first two-thirds of the second prenatal trimester)."

What we are given here then is the fact that (1) from the very same cytological material (the germinal matrix), and (2) from the very same outer layer of the fertilized egg cell (the ectoderm) and (3) in perfect symmetry with regard to timing (the start of the second trimester), we have the simultaneous development both of the brain proper and the hands.

In the body of the paper focus is on evidence which suggest that "genes that predispose to psychosis may act by making individuals more vulnerable to the disruptive effects of various prenatal insults." The following are the morphological and dermatoglyphic features of the hand which the author notes as identifying psychosis (in this case schizophrenia). The features are listed in order of percent prediction accuracy.

**Perhaps more dramatic in its presentation but certainly no less significant with regard to the information which it provides is the film The Reactive Brain (1989) prepared by the WGBK Educational Foundation in Boston in association with the American Psychological Association. It is presented by Philip Zimbaro, Ph.D. of Stanford University.

The film exhibits the chemistries which induce measurable physical changes to the brain. While the brain has within it the programs which may determine (dictate) the patterns of an individual's attitudes and behavior, it is also shown to be acutely receptive and responsive to stimuli originating from sources external to the individual. Communication becomes bi-directional.

Experiences which may have profound emotional significance for the individual may effect physical changes in the brain. These would be changes which may be traced and measured. The central focus in this specific film was the child's need for its mothers touch. It was not just something which was nice to have but something which the brain needed for its own stimulation. The film demonstrated how the brain responded when the mother's touch was experienced and how it appeared when the infant/child had no access to maternal attentions and ministrations.

The importance for our own enterprise in all this is as follows. The morphology, constitution and dermal configurations of hands are constantly realizing adjustments. Sometimes these adjustments appear with remarkable suddenness and coincide with circumstances which may overtake the individual. If the hand is an extension and accurate representation of the brain (as per the preceding abstract) we can now explain why experiences which are emotionally significant and which may influence attitude and behavioral patterns may subsequently be recorded in the hand.

Given all the above it would be fair to say that anyone who would deny the legitimacy and scientific foundations of Psychodiagnostic Chirology is not familiar with the recent advances in Biological Psychiatry and Neurobiology. But the evidence is there and it is available to everyone.

The March-April 1996 edition of American Scientist includes a paper by Professor Kenneth Blum et al pointing to a genetic basis for addictive, impulsive and compulsive disorders. These include alcoholism, attention-deficit disorder, drug abuse and food binging.

Medical-genetic Dermatoglyphics, which has as its foundation the phenomena of genetic and hereditary disorders leaving their very singular imprints on the dermatoglyphic patterns of the palms of the hand, stopped short of applying this diagnostic discipline to psychical constructions. However, with this paper which is entitled Reward Deficiency Syndrome we have further, and very powerful confirmation of the legitimacy of its application in the behavioral sciences.

The March-April 1999 edition of American Scientist includes a paper by Prof. Michael C. Corballis linking the hand and the mind in the origins of language. Entitled The Gestural Origins of Language the author argues that the hand and not vocalizations was the original agent of mental phenomena. We offer this fascinating paper in its entirety to interested readers. CLICK HERE to access it.

"The reliability was particularly high (about 80% agreement)."
- Prof. I. Nachshon, Bar-Ilan University.

Laboratory Testing

undertaken at:

Bar-Ilan University/Dept. of Criminology
Nes-Ziona Government Psychiatric Hospital

(on the stationary of)


January 19, 1993


Dr. Arnold Holtzman

Dear Sir,

This is to confirm the facts as follows:

1. In the years '87 -'88 a program was conducted in the department of Criminology at Bar-Ilan University to test the validity and reliability of your diagnostic system. This system is founded on a study of the hand - psychodiagnostic chirology.

2. The program was a pilot study whose design and method of execution I, then as head of the Department of Criminology, had determined. This was with your agreement.

3. The tests were conducted at the psychiatric hospital at Nes-Ziona with the co- operation of Dr. Natan Karni, director of the out-patients clinic at the hospital.

4. In the first test you were presented with 6 persons for examination. You were to make assessments of each which were to be compared against the assessments of Dr. Karni. You were told that all were patients suffering mental disorders. However, among the six tested one was planted who was completely without pathological circumstances and this person was successfully identified by you.

5. The second examination was to test reliability. Eight of your pupils were invited to diagnose 12 persons with the goal of establishing the degree of concurrence between their diagnoses. The reliability was particularly high (about 80% agreement).

6. The third examination was to test validity. Photographs were taken of the hands of patients at the Nes Ziona psychiatric hospital who were suffering mental disorders, and of other persons constituting control groups (altogether 22 examinees of whom one was disqualified so that the results were based on 21 examinees). Your evaluations were made on the basis of the photographs alone. It was ascertained that the photographer had no background in psychology or any related science.

7. Your evaluations and those of Dr. Karni, which were inclusive of the control groups, were forwarded to psychiatrists Prof. P. Silfen and Dr. A. Levy (who were informed neither of the objective of the test, nor of the origins of the diagnoses).

In line with a questionnaire which I had prepared both psychiatrists were asked to compare both sets of evaluations and, in summation, judge the degree of general correlation between them. (This in line with the scale from 1 - no correlation, to 7 - total correlation.)

The results were:

Prof. P. Silfen

Dr. A. Levy

Yours truly,

Prof. Israel Nachshon

Remarks by Dr. Arnold Holtzman:

The reports prepared and submitted by Dr. Natan Karni were labeled the red reports. The reports I had submitted were labeled the green reports. The psychiatrists Prof. P. Silfen and Dr. A. Levy were not told whether they had to compare the green reports against the red reports or vice versa. For this reason marks were removed when my reports focused beyond diagnosis and the listing of symptoms to include etiology. The psychiatric reports made no reference to etiology and the correlation factor was subsequently lowered because of this "omission". Nevertheless, even as it stands, the correlation factor powerfully supports the clinical validity of psychodiagnostic chirology.

A language like no other.

Where is its center?

The Israel Association for Psychodiagnostic Chirology.
P.O. Box 138
Yehud, 56000
fax: +972-3-5360968

The IAPC is a registered, non-profit association devoted to the advancement and clinical application of Psychodiagnostic Chirology. Its members are psychologists, clinical social workers, those expert in special education, counselors, educators and others. It organizes 3 conferences a year where advances may be described and shared with the members. It organizes courses, workshops and the provision of supervision. It publishes several extended newsletters a year, but, for the moment, these publications are all in Hebrew. As they become translated into English they will be made available on this site.

Arnold Holtzman is the founder and director of The Holtzman Institute for Psychodiagnostic Chirology which offers courses and workshops for professional behavioral specialists and which provides a program of supervision for those who incorporate this discipline in their clinical work.

His ambition, since 1968, to devise a diagnostic tool which could free the patient/client from the necessity of having to represent himself or herself led to what for many years was spoken of as the Holtzman System. Today there is a thriving association of psychologists and social workers (in the main) in Israel who incorporate this discipline in their clinical work.

He is the author of the text Applied Handreading (1983), and his doctoral dissertation was "The Morphology, Dermatoglyphics and General Constitution of the Human Hand as a Comprehensive Reference to Structures in Personality and Behavioral Dynamics."

To distinguish this discipline from the medical/genetic science of Dermatoglyphics the term Psychodiagnostic Chirology was created and formally adopted by the Association. The name "Psychodiagnostic Chirology", or "PDC", identifies the Holtzman System and is synonymous with it. It represents the diagnostic program devised by Dr. Holtzman. The clinicians who represent themselves as expert in Psychodiagnostic Chirology would have a document issued by the Israel Association for Psychodiagnostic Chirology attesting to at least 3 years of study including participation in workshops and the undergoing of supervision.

We would be grateful if you would share your thoughts with us. We do our best to reply to each message. You will find our e-mail address at the bottom of this page.

Why are we on the web?

A personal word from Arnold Holtzman

Psychodiagnostic Chirology had originated in Israel around 1970. Actually it had its roots in experiences I had had in 1968 when I learned of people who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for a number of years only to be "discovered" later to have been, from the start, entirely free of serious pathology. The fault had been with the interpretation of the tests which these people had originally been administered. My feeling was that for test results to be free of all the distortions which fears, anxieties and a host of defense mechanisms effect the subjects would have to be released of the necessity of representing themselves. Herein was the promise of PDC.

Psychodiagnostic Chirology as a comprehensive diagnostic discipline has expanded enormously these 25 and some years. Indeed, it has carried well beyond every expectation and is presently an entirely familiar quantity both in private and public clinics around the country.

We are on the web to bring an awareness of this very powerful and dramatic diagnostic tool to those outside of Israel who may feel that they too could use it to advantage.

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