Data Collection

The first step in the data collection process in psychobiographical research is the decision on the choice of the subject, which is then followed by other steps that are explained and presented below.

Sampling: The Choice of the Subject of Research

Purposive sampling is a form of (Oliver, 2006):

non-probability sampling in which decisions concerning the individuals to be included in the sample are taken by the researcher, based upon a variety of criteria which may include specialist knowledge of the research issue, or capacity and willingness to participate in the research (pp. 245-246).

The subject of this research is Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian writer who was bom in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro. He was chosen as the subject of research through purposive sampling, for a number of reasons that are outlined below.

Paulo Coelho is of particular interest to the researcher for a number of reasons emphasised in Sects. 1.9 and 2.7. However, other reasons can be provided with regard to the choice of the sample.

This research offers the opportunity not only to understand Paulo Coelho’s life, but particularly to try to understand his wellness and the positive resources that support him in retaining or re-establishing his wellness throughout his life and at various stages of life. The research also offers the opportunity to understand Paulo Coelho’s development of (stages of) faith, seeing faith as one of the outstanding positive resources in his life. The research provides the researcher with time to focus on an in-depth, new perspective on Paulo Coelho’s life, which describes, interprets and reconstructs it.

No research could be found that aims at explaining Paulo Coelho’s life as a whole from a psychobiographical perspective by using formal psychological theories and a stringent, systematic and consequent psychobiographical research methodology approach.

A broad variety of material has been published by Paulo Coelho himself as first- person documents. Other individuals have also focused on Paulo Coelho from different perspectives. The material published includes first- and third-person documents and is presented in Chap. 3. Both, the first-person documents and the third-person documents analysed allowed for an in-depth psychobiographical study to be conducted on the life of Paulo Coelho. No study using first- and third-person documents on his life could be found, aimed at reconstructing his life psychobiographically, from a theoretical positive psychology and from a methodologically hermeneutical perspective.

Finally, Paulo Coelho is an exceptional figure and writer. This study offers a new view on the subject from both a wellness and a spiritual and faith perspective. It allows for new interpretations of the life of the world’s most sold and promoted author and aims at discovering new insights in his wellness, faith and success.

In parallel to these rather objective and scientific reasons to choose Paulo Coelho as a subject of research, a number of aspects influenced the researcher’s decision to study this subject. These aspects are described in detail in Sect. 2.7, always keeping in mind the importance of understanding the individual, his life and the findings of this study through the construction of the relationship of the researcher and the researched (Mayer, 2011).

In the following section, the first- and third-person documents used in the analysis will be presented.

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