Face value

What does your mug say about your personality, work style and life experience? Quite a lot actually, says attorney turned professional face reader Mac Fulfer ’71, who reveals some tricks of the trade and how it changed his life.

Face value

Mac Fulfer '71 has horizontal “Einstein” lines on his forehead, known as mental development lines. They are a sign of one who has worked hard at using and enhancing their own natural mental abilities. (Photos by Carolyn Cruz)

Face value

What does your mug say about your personality, work style and life experience? Quite a lot actually, says attorney turned professional face reader Mac Fulfer ’71, who reveals some tricks of the trade and how it changed his life.

The human face has 43 muscles, most of which are controlled by the seventh cranial nerve, also known as the facial nerve. This bundle of sensation-feeling fibers exits your cerebral cortex and emerges from your skull just in front of your ears. Then, it splits into five primary branches, each reaching a different area of your face. Those nerve branches send and receive signals that tell your muscles to twist and contort into a variety of expressions.

Joy, sadness, annoyance, surprise – we not only use our mugs to distinguish one another, we also recognize emotion, intention, even whether someone is lying or telling the truth.

It all works, even for infants, because of a tiny area in the temporal lobe of our brains called the fusiform face area, which specializes in making fine distinctions between well-known objects, most notably faces. As we get older, it becomes like a Rolodex of people and features. Bob from the office. Grandma Edna from St. Louis. A frown denotes disapproval. A smile generally indicates happiness. Angled eyebrows mean anger.

We even make these body parts famous (or is it infamous?): Jay Leno’s enormous chin, President Obama’s extraordinary ears, Angelina Jolie’s luscious lips, Michael Jackson’s incredibly shrinking nose, or whatever became of it.

* * *

“At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”
– George Orwell

The first feature you notice about Mac Fulfer ’71 is the horizontal “Einstein” lines on his forehead. Deep-set and broken, they crack like fault lines in jagged rows above his brow and rise and fall as he speaks or lifts his bushy eyebrows. Interspersed are diagonal crevices, equally cavernous, forming rays that spread out near the top of his head. Fulfer is not shy about them, proud actually. They are a reminder of his former life.

The grandson of an attorney, Fulfer spent much of his teen-age years working in the downtown Fort Worth law practice of his mother’s father, Hal McConnell, who built a reputation as a convincing litigator and eventually settled behind the bench as a county judge. Fulfer’s mother was his legal secretary and wanted her sons in the law business too.

PhotoBut young Mac, whose birth name is Hal, same as his grandfather’s, was more interested in investigating the world around him. Raised on Lake Worth in northwest Tarrant County, he enjoyed a rivalry with some neighborhood boys in a fishing contest they kept going for years. He also spent blazing-hot afternoons tromping the shoreline, head down, hunting for arrowheads. Or with his uncle who walked the oil and gas lines in Palo Pinto County, where he’d find even more of the stone artifacts or an occasional rattlesnake rattle. Mac’s collection, which is displayed in frames around his house now, was bested only by his mother’s. She had introduced him to the solitary pastime. Like fishing, it gave him time to think.

The joy of hunting arrowheads is that the hunter never knows where a treasure will be uncovered, but he knows what to look for and must be focused on looking, completely present in the moment. When he finds one, he just washes it off and has a trophy in hand.

“I wanted to be a scientist or a nuclear physicist,” Fulfer recalls. “But my parents sat me down and said, ‘Look at Granddad. Follow in his steps.’ So in a way, my law career started when I was 13.”

Fulfer was a dutiful son, oldest of four siblings. He was valedictorian at Northside High, where they didn’t win many football games but won a lot of the fights after. He stayed home to attend TCU and was salutatorian, majoring in government and history and minoring in psychology. By then, it was no one’s surprise when he left Fort Worth in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and enrolled at University of Texas at Austin for law school.

It was the family destiny.

He’d return to Fort Worth, fresh from graduation, and open his own practice. Too independent-minded to work for a big firm, he hung up his shingle and set his mind to making it work as a sole-practitioner. He’d be a lawyer alright, but on his own terms.

“It wasn’t the most financially sound strategy,” Fulfer admits. “I took everything that came in the door — personal injury, workman’s comp, family disputes, grandma’s will, junior’s DWI, divorce. I was the family lawyer.”

Naively, Fulfer figured he’d work five years and retire.

Two decades later, law had taken him down a path — and then revealed a new one. But unlike finding an arrowhead, he didn’t know it when he saw it. Not at first.

* * *

“A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.”
– Oscar Wilde

Today, Fulfer considers himself a “fully recovering” attorney. The bumpy ridges above his brow are called mental development lines and a person who has three or more of them stretching across their forehead likely has worked hard at using and enhancing their own natural mental abilities. Sometimes, they’re called genius lines. The deeper they are, the greater the development. The more they are broken, the more wide-ranging the person’s interests.

Fulfer’s diagonal creases are mental pressure lines, built from years of poring over law books and working with court docket deadlines. A horizontal fold across the bridge of his nose is a burnout line. Mohandas Gandhi also had one, which is a comfort to Fulfer. The spiritual teacher was once a lawyer too.

Fulfer has a new calling, as well — face reading. Scientifically called physiognomy, its study has been around since Aristotle and possibly as early as 6th century B.C. China.

“Twenty years of practicing law has left its mark on me. I am skeptical of most of what I hear and half of what I see,” he writes in his book Amazing Face Reading: An Illustrated Encyclopedia for Reading Faces. “Before I accept something as valid, it must be proven at least by a ‘preponderance of the evidence,’ and in some cases, ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ ”

He first heard about physiognomy when he hurt his knee while skiing with a bunch of lawyers in Colorado. Sitting mind-numbingly bored in the lodge with ice packs and heating pads, he came across a pamphlet about face reading left by another guest.

“I was curious, but I needed more proof,” he remembers.

A short time before, Fulfer had tried his first jury case by himself. He went to the law library to research how to pick a jury. There were no existing guidelines, but the arrowhead hunter thought, if he dug deep enough, he could uncover a trick or two. Anything for an advantage.

“It was so stupid,” Fulfer says now. “One piece of literature advised against selecting people whose professions start with the letter P. I thought what do postmen, pimps, painters and philosophers have in common? The whole search was of no help. It was unbelievable to me for there to be nothing of substance on it.”

Fulfer ran into an Austin friend who had him try palmistry. The reading was “pretty good,” Fulfer recalls, and it opened his mind to unorthodox methods, but it seemed impractical. What would a jury panel think if an attorney asked to see their hands?

Then, he briefly considered handwriting analysis, which has been proven to be moderately effective in gleaning insight. But soon after that pamphlet turned up while he nursed his bum knee.

Face reading, while largely unexplored, had scientific basis. He began to read everything he could on physiognomy. A lawyer must look a jury in the eye. Their faces were easier to see than palms. If this face reading was legit, he might have the edge he was looking for.

Instead, he got something much more.

PhotoAfter collecting his research, Fulfer did what any wanna-be scientist would do — he tested it in the field. He started a small arts and crafts business with a friend, and for more than two years,  spent weekends setting up a booth at festivals, art shows, fairs, even some family reunions. He needed lots of faces to read to practice his new skill.

“I would hang a sign that said Face Reading Guaranteed, and I would read hundreds of faces in a day,” he recalled. “I promised that if the reading was not accurate, it was free. This improved my chances of getting honest feedback. I began to validate the information and develop my own knowledge and understanding.”

Likely, those rows on his forehead traced their roots to those days, too.

After a while, Fulfer changed his sign to Amazing Face Reading because the most common response he’d hear was, “That’s amazing! How do you do that?”

Before long, Fulfer was invited to speak to companies and teach classes. Some realtors were interested in improving their sales. Members of the North Texas Romance Writers Guild wanted to make their characters more believable. The loss prevention managers of Zales Jewelry wanted to conduct better criminal investigations. The Southeast Car Wash Association wanted to learn to hire better. Mrs. Baird’s Bakery wanted to boost team building. He spent several years in the 1990s teaching a continuing education course at TCU on the subject.

In 1996, he closed his law practice and wrote his illustrated encyclopedia, which he sells at speaking engagements. He still sees plenty of attorneys, consulting on giving better depositions, improving court demeanor and, yes, jury selection. He also talks with doctors, teachers, principals, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and members of the media. CNN and Fortune teamed up to test his abilities in 2008.
It’s taken him to Europe, Asia and South America. He also met his business partner, Ann Marks, through face reading.

Marks had been a successful executive for a sales office in Chicago and was encouraged by her boss to have Fulfer read faces at a regional meeting. She reluctantly agreed but pushed his presentation to the very end, hoping they wouldn’t have time for it.

No such luck. Fulfer hung around and began in his rapid-fire style. Halfway through the group, he observed one man’s drooping left eyelid, which Fulfer said indicated that his intimacy requirements were not being met. The group gasped, and the man broke down in tears. He had lost his wife to cancer 18 months earlier.

There’s no way the face reader could have known.

Marks was the last to be read, and Fulfer fixated on her straight eyebrows and some puffs over her eyelids. She was pushing herself too hard, he told her, and wasn’t taking necessary time for herself. She was on the brink. He could see it on her face.

“I grabbed [Fulfer’s] book afterward and could see that I was on a path to killing myself,” she remembers. “It was a wake-up call, like a cartoon lightning bolt hit me.”

Marks’ job later transferred her to the Metroplex, and she eventually sought out Fulfer. Since then, she has helped Fulfer customize his message by industry and audience.

“Face reading not only changed my life — it saved my life,” Fulfer told a group in Dallas one night in April. “I was headed for major burnout as an attorney and who knows what would have happened to me.”

* * *

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.”
– Hamlet, Act III, Scene I

Fulfer encounters skeptics nearly every presentation. But it’s easy to defend the practice when it works, he says.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with your expression or the mood you are in, or whether you are happy or sad or glad,” says Fulfer “It’s not mind-reading either.”

It’s about how your inner being shapes what you look like, he says. Our mugs reveal who we are, how we feel and the circumstances we encounter. Even when we try to mask it, our faces are a historical record of our lives.

Wrinkles aren’t ugly. They are us.

“Your face isn’t an accident,” he goes on. “The way you’ve been living your life creates the way your face looks. It’s about what is happening on the micro-facial level, how you are hard wired, so that every single time you have that thought or feeling, there is a subtle little movement that occurs in your face.”

PhotoOf course, a single thought or feeling is not going to make much difference — just like picking up a weight once or twice won’t build muscle — but repeated thoughts, feelings or actions will correspond to a mind set, and over time, change your appearance in miniscule ways.

Identical twins look alike at birth because their circumstances are the same. “But by the time they are 50, they don’t look alike,” Fulfer says. “As their lives diverge and they each have their own life experience, their responses to those life experiences, whether grief or pain or joy, starts to mark their face. That’s what individualizes your face.”

Face reading then becomes a tool to help people understand one another and truly see other people.

“I learned things about my own mother that I didn’t know,” he says. “It helps in relationships. It helps people see each other more compassionately.”

What about Botox? Fulfer says face paralysis only confirms face reading.

“They’re trying to cut the communication lines of their face,” he says. “Face reading is a wonderful and powerful tool when used to create understanding and openness. It is a gift that enables you to deepen your communication with every person you meet. To see, understand and accept another individual at face value is a privilege and honor to be respected.”
Face reading 101
Fulfer reads some “TCU famous” faces

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1 Comment

  1. This is an amazing! I bought the book and It’s so full of helpful information. It’s so facinating. More people should learn this. I’m going to learn more.

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