Demarcation of Psychobiographical Research and Related Concepts

For a scientific approach to psychobiographical research, psychobiographies need to be demarcated from other related research concepts to gain a clearly defined understanding of the psychobiographical approach applied.

Psychobiography reflects the synthesis of psychology and biography while attempting to discover in-depth insights into the life of an individual and the development of a single person (Fouche & Van Niekerk, 2005b; McAdams, 2006a). Fouche and Van Niekerk (2005b) highlight that - based on the views of personality theorists such as Erikson, Allport or Murray - a psychologically informed biography seems to be the best approach to capturing a human life story. Kovary (2011, p. 740) states that psychobiographies are part of personality psychology, psychoanalytical approaches and creativity research. According to Kovary (2011, pp. 741-743), there are different historical approaches and antecedents to psychobiography: (a) literature and psychology, (b) psychobiography as a medical approach in terms of patho- graphy and finally, (c) philosophy and in particular the “continental Lebensphilosophie” (life philosophy).

Other authors, such as Kornbichler (1994), point out the interdisciplinarity of psychobiographical research, which includes the in-depth psychobiographical approach using biographic concepts, the critical analysis of in-depth psychological constructs and biographies (Schutze, 1981, 1983, 1984) that might be historiographic, anthropologic, historic or psychological and are connected to culture- analytical hermeneutics.

Obviously, various interdisciplinary concepts are closely related to psychobiographic research and/or overlap with it, such as life histories and life stories, life narratives, psychohistories and historical psychology, as well as autobiography and case studies (McAdams, 1988, 2006a, 2006b; Runyan, 1982, 1988b; Schultz, 2005a). In the following section, the demarcation of psychobiographical research with regard to selected related concepts will be described.

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