Reading the palm is an enduring – nearly iconic – image of the occult. Most of us imagine it to be a parlor trick, a scam to acquire money;  those of us who know it could be legitimate often nonetheless see it as a system for accessing the psychic powers, akin to tea reading, or tossing the yarrow stalks. Richard Unger offers a ground-breaking alternative in his book LifePrints: Deciphering Your Life Purpose from your Fingerprints. Simply put, he argues, and persuasively so, that our fingerprints are not only unique identifiers they are also a kind of map to our purpose in life.

His findings are based on 25 years of research, personal experience, and – this is the part that got my skeptical side to shut up – 50,000 hands’ worth of data. That is a lot of hands, and a lot of data with which to build a case.

Fortunately, his explanations are not complicated. Unger breaks fingerprints down into four types – whorls, loops, tented arches, and arches. After finding out how many we have of each (because each finger is different, which I found fascinating) we can then identify which of four ‘schools’ we belong to.

  • The School of Service indicates one who must become a master of serving others from a desire to help, not control, in a way that empowers both the giver and receiver.
  • The School of Love (my school) indicates one who must acquire emotional mastery, authenticity and vulnerability while creating and sustaining healthy emotional relationships and displaying the range of emotions completely, in an appropriate way.
  • The School of Wisdom indicates one who must learn to move from evaluating to action through personal exposure and active participation in life.
  • The School of Peace indicates a person who must learn to feel safe in his/her body by finding inner peace and creating a balanced inner and outer life.

Critique time: figuring out the different types on my own hands was more than a little difficult, and I didn’t really want to use ink (images of being fingerprinted!) to make it easier for myself. As well, Unger is almost overwhelmingly positive in his tone and style – very ‘new age’ in that sense of being absolutely sure he is right about what he is saying. It gets a little tiresome (and I frankly found myself skimming whole sections).

But the idea is fascinating, and personal testing indicates that there is a level of correctness in the technique that is highly accurate.

Highly recommended.


~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Richard Unger

Crossing Press, 2007

pp. 286, $16.95

(note: the website is mainly for buying a session with a hand analyst)