Category: Psychobiography and Phenomenology - August 2018
 
 

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pdf.png Special Edition on Psychobiography and Phenomenology - Guest Editorial (By Carol du Plessis and Graham du Plessis)  

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This Special Edition represents the first attempt, to the best of our knowledge, to explicitly link the traditions of phenomenology and psychobiography. The decision to call for papers for this volume was based on our belief that the phenomenological tradition has much to offer psychobiographical research. Phenomenology’s emphasis on lived experience privileges individual voices and subjective experiences and is thus commensurate with the fundamental aim of all psychobiographical research, which is the simultaneously simple yet grandiose task of understanding the life of a single human being. This Special Edition sought to bring together scholarship in psychobiography that made use of the phenomenological tradition as a lens through which to view individual lives and experiences.


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pdf.png Kiedis’s Scar Tissue: A Phenomenological Psychobiography - By Tatiana Latilla and Sherianne Kramer  

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This study uses a psychobiographic research method as a means to explore and describe the life of lyricist, Anthony Kiedis. Kiedis’s history is investigated through the lens of Erik Erikson’s theory of identity development. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as a means to platform the psychobiographic methodology, this study explores Kiedis’s creativity and writing as intrinsic aspects of his identity. In addition, the analysis attempts to understand how Kiedis resolved his identity crises, and puts forward a presentation of Kiedis’s subjective experiences of his identity development. Through this in-depth analysis, the study concludes that Kiedis is engaged in an infinite moratorium, and in so doing demonstrates the value of using the combined methods of IPA and psychobiography to understand the human condition.


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pdf.png The Magical Life and Creative Works of Paulo Coelho: A Psychobiographical Investigation - By Claude-Hélène Mayer and David Maree  

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Based on a psychobiographical approach, this study addresses magical thinking across the life span of Paulo Coelho. Paulo Coelho, who was born in Brazil in the 1940s, has become one of the most sold and famous contemporary authors in the world. In his life, as well as in his books, which are mainly autobiographical accounts, magic and magical thinking, spirituality, meaningfulness, and the living of one’s dream, are key themes. The aim of this study was to explore magic and magical thinking in Paulo Coelho’s life and creative works. The study uses a psychobiographical single case study approach within the methodological frame of Husserl’s phenomenology. The author, Paulo Coelho, was chosen as the subject of research. Documents providing both first person and third person perspectives were subjected to content analysis. The findings show that magical thinking played an important role in Coelho’s creative works and in his life, in the form, for example, of ascriptions of magic to key situations in his life, the performance of daily rituals, mystic interpretations of life events, and his deep religious faith. Magical thinking is usually regarded as indicative of pathological and inappropriate cognitive and psychological behaviour, especially when found in adults in a westernised culture. However, the analysis of Coelho’s life and works shows that magical thinking can be utilised creatively and be integrated into one’s life to enable personal development and growth while simultaneously providing fertile ground for creative production. In Paulo Coelho’s case, the intertwining of religion and magical thinking provided deep meaning that guided his personal development.


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pdf.png Emily Hobhouse’s Psychosocial Developmental Trajectory as Anti-War Campaigner: A Levinsonian Psychobiography - By Paul Fouché, Nico Nortjé, Crystal Welman and Roelf van Niekerk  

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The aim of this psychobiography was to uncover, reconstruct and illustrate significant trajectories of psychosocial development and historical events over the lifespan of Emily Hobhouse (1860-1926). The British-born Hobhouse later became an anti-war campaigner and social activist who exposed the appalling conditions of the British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), as evidenced by primary and secondary historical data. Purposive sampling was used to select Hobhouse as a significant and exemplary subject. Levinson’s four eras or seasons of lifespan development served as the theoretical psychological approach. The study was undertaken against the background of Merleau-Ponty’s ontological philosophy that elucidates a human science phenomenology where the individual cannot be separated from her social world. Alexander’s model of identifying salient biographical themes was utilized and a conceptual psycho-historical framework, based on both the life cycle theory of Levinson and significant historical periods throughout Hobhouse’s life, was employed to assist with data gathering, categorisation, and analyses. The findings highlight significant psycho-social and historical events in the life of Hobhouse that shaped her development as an anti-war campaigner. These include: The role of her strong-willed and determined mother; the denial of an opportunity to study and pursue a formal education; her management of painful feelings of abandonment and grief; the care of her father during his illness and his eventual death; the abrupt ending of her failed romantic relationship; her networking capacity; and her open-mindedness and capacity for independent humanitarian thought. Against the philosophical background of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological ontology, Levinson’s theory and eras proved valuable in identifying these particular psychosocial life experiences and historical events as having shaped Emily Hobhouse into an anti-war campaigner.


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pdf.png A Cautious Alliance: The Psychobiographer’s Relationship with Her/His Subject - By Joseph G. Ponterotto and Kevin Moncayo  

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Psychobiography has been a topical area and an applied research specialty in psychology since Freud’s (1910/1989) influential psychoanalytic psychobiography of Leonardo da Vinci. Throughout the last century, psychobiographers have emphasized the importance of anchoring interpretations of life histories in established psychological theories and rigorous historiographic research methods.  One topical area receiving less attention in psychobiography is the critical relationship between the psychobiographer and her or his subject as it relates to the process of psychobiographical writing. The present article explores the phenomenology and challenges of this relationship in order to ultimately propose practical strategies for navigating countertransference issues throughout the subject selection, research and publication phases of psychobiography. Freud’s psychobiography of Leonardo da Vinci is used as a model of the stages of psychobiography, the evolution of the psychobiographer-subject relationship, and the challenges of countertransference.


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Copyright © IPJP 2018 All rights reserved

Creative Commons License [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0]

ISSN 1445-7377 (Online issues)

ISSN 2079-7222 (Print issues)

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