General Orientation to the Study

The study of the individual is one of the most facinating, intriguing and illuminating subjects in psychology (Schachter, 2004). Generally, psychobiographies deal with the life of an extraordinary individual, focusing on the inside of the person, as far as on the outside of him/her. A psychobiography is defined as “the study of historically significant and extraordinary individuals over their entire life spans with the aim to uncover and reconstruct their lives psychologically” (Fouche & van Niekerk, 2010, p. 2).

Psychobiographies have gained international recognition in psychology during the past decades (Alexander, 1990; Fouche, 2015; Fouche & Van Niekerk, 2010;

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

C.-H. Mayer, The Life and Creative Works of Paulo Coelho,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-59638-9_1

Schultz, 2005a; Van Niekerk, 2007), including studies on famous politicians (McAdams, 2011; Sharma, 2011), actors, religious leaders, psychologists, artists and writers (Eliastram, 2011).

This study[1] focuses on the life of Paulo Coelho, one of the most famous and most published contemporary writers in the world. Paulo Coelho is a world-known and extraordinary individual, whose work is read by millions of readers across cultures, influencing their lives in his role as a novelist and writer. His writings, such as stories, thoughts and reflections, novels and autobiographic books have been published in more than 70 languages and have impacted on the life and mindset of many readers (Morais, 2009). Although Paulo Coelho’s creative work has been studied extensively (Martin, 2012; Mertel, 2000), no psychobiography could be found that reconstructs his life and creative work systematically on the basis of psychological theories.

This study focuses on and explores the life and work of Paulo Coelho based on the holistic wellness model (Chap. 4) and the stages of faith development (Chap. 5).

In this chapter, an overview on the life, theories and research methodology is outlined to provide the reader with orientation to this psychobiographical study.

  • [1] Previously, this study was submitted as a PhD research study, Department of Psychology,University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. This previous version of the manuscript remainedunpublished.
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