About IIHA


IIHA: The Future: Hypothetical Newsweek Interview:?

?(Hypothetical) Newsweek Interview with Richard Unger, March 21, 2001

This Thursday, I finally caught up with Richard Unger at his Sausalito home. I had been eager to meet him ever since my teenage daughter announced she wanted to start going to school an hour earlier than usual each morning. What mischief is this, I wondered? But that was not the half of it. Not only has my daughter turned into an inspirational model of self-motivation, she has transformed our entire family into a live-life-to-the-fullest miracle. At dinner we even discuss what we have accomplished today and how it moved our Life Purposes forward.

The big day was September 21st, 2000, the first autumn day of the new millennium. That's the day my daughter analyzed her fingerprints (using the LifePrints Teen Mastery Program) and decoded her Life Purpose. From that day forward nothing has been the same. She says she is on a mission, that she can see her own role in the unfolding of her life story. Whatever. All I know is she is excited to go to school each morning and she has a whole new bunch of friends all excited as well.

Sitting on his porch, watching a hundred sail boats circle the San Francisco Bay, I drank Kukicha tea with LifePrint's inventor, Richard Unger. LifePrints is a computer program that analyzes your fingerprints to reveal your Life Purpose, a core element of your character that remains unalterable throughout your life. According to Unger, your fingerprints have an encoded picture of the person you intend to be, a portrait of the highest self-actualized you. "It is like examining an acorn to see the oak tree possibilities. You never see an acorn trying to become a rose bush, nor would it stand a chance of becoming one. That's the difference between acorns and humans," Unger points out.

Richard Unger began his hand reading career in 1969 and since that time he has examined over 50,000 pairs of hands. He made his fingerprint discoveries in the Jessie Jones Medical Library in Houston, Texas a decade later. Since then, he moved to California to found the International Institute of Hand Analysis, teaching his Life Purpose decoding system and attempting to bring his Life Purpose message to the mainstream of Western culture. I don't know about the mainstream, but he reached my daughter and my family. That's no mean feat.

Unger says, "Your Life Purpose is your reason for being, that which brings a sense of meaning and fulfillment at the deepest level. More than a goal or set of goals, your Life Purpose is your Right Life. When someone tells you they always wanted to be a writer, let's say, or a scientist, or a teacher, and they are so glad to be living out their dream, did you ever wonder where that dream came from? If you had a similar dream in you, would you be willing to dream it? To live it? Your Life Purpose dream is frozen in your fingerprints from five months prior to birth and sits there awaiting your discovery. LifePrints unlocks the code."

Medical researchers have been studying hands and fingerprints for the better part of the twentieth century under the title dermatoglyphics (dermato=skin, glyph=carvings). Apparently, different diseases tend to have dermatoglyphic markers, specific fingerprint and palmar line and shape abnormalities unique to themselves. [See Newsweek: Aug. 96 for an article on fingerprints and Alzheimer's disease]. Some psychological disturbances have been studied as well with promising results. "Having read all that both disciplines had to offer on the subject, [palmistry and dermatoglyphics] I was able to forge a marriage between the two," Unger says. "High tech plus ancient wisdom yields useful info."

The Teen Mastery Program is the brainchild of Zen Player, Unger's partner in LifePrints. Using an interactive game-styled computer program, teens analyze their fingerprints and, step by step, decode their life mission. Once decoded, the possibilities are endless. For example, scroll up the list of famous people with similar life missions. Pick from a menu of famous Wisdom Teachers, for instance, and hear their life stories in their own words. What changed their lives, what motivated them; their troubles, their victories. Select the TimeLine option and see what was happening in the lives of a hundred Wisdom Teachers during their teens: how many went to college, how many dropped out of high school, etc. Select the Projects option and see what other local teen Wisdom Teachers in the making are doing. My daughter's best friend Kimberly, along with other teens, has linked up with George Lucas (they share Inspirational Creativity as a Life Purpose). Together, they are working on a film project on the history of the Miwok Indians and what they can teach us about the environment.

What made the biggest impact in my daughter's life was joining the Woman of Influence Teen Circle. Each morning high school students get on-line to discuss world leaders in the news: how they agree and disagree with their decisions, their styles, etc. "Leader with Integrity and Heart. It's my Life Purpose," my daughter informed me. That seems to be the key. The students are curious, excited, and self-motivated because they are doing something that directly affects them. My daughter's current project for her Teen Circle is interviewing her parents and her friend's parents about the bosses they have had. The Circle put together a questionnaire and they are going to review the answers they received at the end of the month.

Recently, our nine-year old son got interested in Albert Einstein's life. "He was an Impactful Innovator doing Service, " he declared. "Just like me." What next? Plenty. Unger wants to see the equivalent of the Teen Mastery Program brought into several other arenas. After all, learning about your Life Purpose is not just for the young. Many of Unger's clients are self-employed people with career questions, but not everyone can come to Sausalito to learn their Life Purpose. A Career Path Mastery Program would allow people to use the same technology to better align their career to their Life Purpose. Although the examples are few, some businesses already use LifePrints decoding programs to help employees make the best use of their talents, to promote team building, etc. Another pilot program is the group of therapists and counselors using LifePrints to help their clients deal with their Life Lessons (one's shadow aspect, also encoded in the fingerprints).

This is not old-fashioned fortune-telling, Unger is quick to point out. If it weren't for the unfortunate association with carnivals, hand analysis might have already received the exposure commensurate with its power to help people understand themselves. The fingerprints are so accurate, so specific, he believes it is only a matter of time before the world embraces them.

Terry Reed, M.D. is not so sure. He teaches a Graduate Class at the University of Indiana Medical School on dermatoglyphics. He grants the efficacy of fingerprint examination as a diagnostic tool, but is skeptical of its use as a psychological indicator. "The research just hasn't been done," he says. "More detailed studies need to be completed before I would make the leap that Unger has apparently made. But I must admit, the early results are interesting." Others are less sanguine. Syndicated columnist Debra Saunders says "This gypsy side show mumbo jumbo is just one more example of what's wrong in our schools. How about sticking to the three RRR's? It worked for my parents and it worked for me." Pat Buchanan wants to make it illegal for school kids to use the LifePrints Program to find their Life Purpose.

But for each detractor, there are equivalent proponents. Guidren Hoy, principal of the Corte Madera Elementary School says she regularly meets with parents to discuss school programs based upon their child's Life Purpose. Several other schools are also reporting positive results.

The fog began to roll in and we moved off the porch into Unger's living room. There, we continued our discussion about the future of hand analysis. Unger's current project is the LifePrints Relationship Profiler, a prototype my wife and I have been playing around with for the last week or so. Even in its early form, it nailed several key aspects of our relationship all too accurately. (At least my wife thinks so, we're still discussing it.) Here's how it works. We scanned in our hands and fingerprints and created a diskette with all our hand's information. We plugged the diskette into our computer and went to a web site with a menu of questions and options. Single? Married? Divorced? Do you have questions about a love relationship, parent - child relationship, etc.? We chose love relationships and selected a series of questions from the menu and the Relationship Profiler revealed strengths and weaknesses, relationship tendencies and how all this fit in with our Life Purposes.

Unger wants to take it to the next level, from relationship diagnoser to relationship trainer. "Imagine this piece of software," he twinkles. "Your challenge in relationship is Issues of Trust, let's say. You knew this already before consulting the Relationships Profiler, but you did not connect this to your Life Purpose as an Artist. The Profiler offers you a series of interactive exercises specific to you. For instance, a movie sequence appears on the computer prompting you to stop the action whenever you feel uncomfortable. Your character is being asked to the Prom by a cool looking guy. On a motorcycle. Do you say yes? If you do, he suggests you meet up with his friends Fred and Clara who are visiting from out of town. You can all go out together after the Prom. They know a rock band that is performing downtown. You show up and everyone is drinking heavily. The scenario goes on waiting to find your breaking point. There are no right or wrong responses. Sooner or later you stop the action and the screen asks you to look at certain key factors affecting your choices. The computer knows your personal profile, memorizes your answers, rates your progress over time and selects from its huge store of exercises the ones best suited to your current level of progress. It's like having a personal trainer for your relationships."

Unger is also working on a medical application of dermatoglyphics. "We are almost finished putting together a software program for use in the doctor's office or at a hospital or clinic. For instance, the dermatoglyphic profile for breast cancer is well enough established to be as good a diagnostic marker as a mammogram. Shouldn't your doctor know this? Imagine a scanner / computer profile as a routine part of any examination. It's cheap and non-invasive. The information is already out there. It's just not in your doctor's office. And we've only tapped the barest tip of this iceberg. As dermatoglyphics come into common practice, the data collected can reap rewards we can't even imagine at this time."

I asked Unger about privacy rights, Big Brother problems, etc. He agreed that this is an area of concern. "We have to be careful here. All our data is strictly confidential, but we can't become complacent. Our tech team works on security a lot. We haven't had a problem yet." As I made my good byes, an interesting mixture of tech-types, marketing pros and mystics were filing in for Unger's next meeting. "We're working on an interesting project I can't talk to you about just now. Call me in a couple of months. I think you'll be interested in this one."
I am sure I will be.

See a 1992 article about the future of hand analysis.

Richard Unger Alana Unger Pascal Strossel Janet Savage Ronelle Coburn Nadia Tumas Roberta Coker