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Home arrow Psychology arrow The Life and Creative Works of Paulo Coelho : A Psychobiography from a Positive Psychology Perspective
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Stage 1 - Intuitive-Projective Stage

Stage 1 occurs between the ages of four and seven and is labelled “intuitive- protective faith”. In the pilgrimage, the stage is represented in the aspects of autonomy, shame and doubt, as well as self-control and willpower that become more relevant (as described by Dell & Duncan, 1998). Coelho mostly obeys Petrus, but struggles to give up self-control and autonomy, for example when climbing the mountain for Petrus (Coelho, 2003b, p. 144) or when carrying a cross on his back (Coelho, 2003b, pp. 178-180). Coelho re-experiences Stage 1, living through issues of power and powerlessness. He realises: “I either had to obey Petrus or I had to forget my sword. (...). So I decided to obey him” (Coelho, 2003b, p. 180). Only after having experienced what it means to obey, is Coelho strengthened and he regains power in the end. The issue of power is reflected along the journey and described, for example, in the eye contact between the dog and Coelho (2003b, pp. 77-78), which symbolises the fight of good and evil, light and shadow.

In his narration, Coelho plays with symbols and images of visible power and size (Fowler & Dell, 2004, p. 23), such as the recurring image of the dog or the cross he carries. However, the most important symbols are the sword and the journey itself: the sword symbolising the “good fight”, the journey symbolising life. The symbolism highlighted by Fowler and Dell (2004) as an important part of faith development in Stage 1 is strongly reconstructed in the narration, particularly with regard to the antagonists of good and evil. The messenger is introduced as a symbolic supporter of each individual, a messenger between good and evil, reunifying God and the devil whom Petrus calls a “fallen angel, too, but he is a free, rebellious force. I prefer to call him the messenger, because he is the main link between you and the world” (Coelho, 2003b, p. 64).

This faith stage is the magical world stage (Croucher, 2010), which is strongly reflected in the creative work through, for example, magic as represented in the dog that hypnotises Coelho (2003b, p. 77), or the shepherd and the sheep described as mystical figures (Coelho, 2003b, p. 137). Coelho chases away the dog by developing faith in himself, speaking an unknown language that is a symbol to an unknown world, beyond consciousness (Coelho, 2003b, pp. 78-79). Coelho describes his magical ability to shatter glasses with the force of the mind or make objects move by themselves (Coelho, 2003b, p. 179). He is fascinated by the concept of magic and the mystic realm, which is shown in his reflections on astral displacement, suggestions or overcoming the force of gravity (Coelho, 2003b, p. 179).

The use of symbolism, imagination and the blurring lines between magic and reality are repetitively constructed in the narration and used until the end, in which the lamb (chosen as a biblical symbol) conveys the mystic massage (Coelho, 2003b, p. 226). The symbols represent Coelho’s intuitive access between consciousness and the subconscious, his outer and inner self. They are part of Coelho’s images of faith. As is usual for this stage, the person experiences a growing need to distinguish between reality and fiction (Fowler, 1981, 1986). Coelho seems to struggle with this differentiation in the book while leaving the reader unsure about the fictitious and real part of the autobiographical account.

During the journey Coelho’s need to create a new reality develops and twice he is unsure about what is real and what is fictitious: did he really see a nun passing by while looking into the dog’s eyes and feel positive support? Petrus breaks the magical moment by explaining that the nun was just a “normal” nun (Coelho, 2003b, pp. 117-118). The perception of realities blurs: Which perception is real, which is unreal?

On another occasion, Coelho is guided by a little girl into a church where he meets a dog and feels immediately pulled back into the fight with the dog. Coelho creates tension and the little girl resolves the situation by sending the dog away (Coelho, 2003b, p. 209).

Both of these incidents show that a person creates the situation and its impact by him/herself. What is inside becomes reality on the outside - the intrapersonal attitude is reflected by the environment and thereby manifests as reality. The reader learns that reality is constructed through the person and that there is a need to distinguish between fantasies and realities, representing concrete and operational thinking processes, as indicated by Fowler (1981, 1986).

 
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