The Holistic Wellness Model

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

Abraham Maslow in Zubko 2004, p. 247


This theoretical chapter introduces the HWM that has been applied successfully in psychobiographical research before to (re)construct the lives of extraordinary individuals (see Sect. 4.7). The chapter provides the reader with basic insights into the definitions of wellness and related constructs and presents the HWM and its development. As one part of the wellness model, the wheel of wellness (WOW) is introduced. It includes the six life tasks: spirituality, self-direction, work and leisure, friendship and love. In the following section, the concept of life forces and global events is described. Finally, the concept of the indivisible self (IS-Wel) is presented, the importance and implications of the HWM in the context of psychobiographical research is explored and its critics and limitations are addressed.


Over the past decades, research on health, wellbeing and wellness has increased (Mayer, 2011). At the same time the importance of positive psychology concepts has been emphasised (Mayer & Van Zyl, 2013; Seligman, 2011). Various wellness models that exist in this positive psychology paradigm are based on different theoretical perspectives, referring to human experiences, the mind, body, spirit, and community (Moe, Perera-Diltz, & Rodriguez, 2012). One of the central concepts in the positive psychology movement is the neo-Adlerian HWM (Myers & Sweeney, 2008; Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000; Sweeney & Witmer, 1991; Witmer & Sweeney, 1992). This wellness model has been successfully applied in psychobiographical research (Burnell, 2013; Fouche & Van Niekerk, 2010; Fouche, Burnell, & van Niekerk, 2015) and has therefore been chosen to reconstruct the lives of extraordinary individuals in a positive psychology frame.

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

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

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-59638-9_4

In this study, this wellness model has been chosen to reconstruct the life of Paulo Coelho in Sects. 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5 to emphasise his holistic life approach in terms of integrating body, mind and spirit, as well as overall life tasks, such as spirituality, self-direction, work and leisure, friendship and love (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2001) by interlinking them with external influences, such as life forces and global impacts. It has been chosen as an integrative model, using a holistic focus that is committed to multidimensionality and a synergetic approach. In focusing on a preliminary view on Coelho’s life, in terms of collected first- and third-person documents, it is assumed that Coelho’s life can be best explored through a holistic and integrative perspective. This theoretical perspective is congruent with psychobiographical research that aims at studying the person as a holistic being. At the same time, the HWM includes various life tasks and life forces that are of interest for the analysis of Coelho’s life. The model has been used in psychobiographical research before and proven suitable and valuable (see Chap. 6).

Before the model is introduced, the term “wellness” is defined.

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