Limitations of This Study

Although this study is of value and contributes to psychobiographcial research and the theories applied, it does have limitations. These limitations are outlined in the following section.

The study is bound to a single-case psychobiographcial research study. It analyses the life and selected creative works of one single person, Paulo Coelho. The findings and conclusions cannot be generalised in quantitative terms. By focusing on an extraordinary individual, this study follows an elitist approach (Runyan, 1988a) and does not focus on the grass-roots level or on individuals who are unknown or unsuccessful in the global society. This psychobiography is therefore highly subjective, interpretative and non-experimental (Schultz, 2005d, p. 14). It is limited to this subjective-interpretative methodological approach and does not provide objective data on a person, but rather the perspective constructed by the researcher and the researched. Furthermore, this study refers to the quality criteria of qualitative research only (Sects. 6.5 and 6.6) and does not comply with quantitative research criteria or statistical conclusions.

The study is framed and limited by its chosen theoretical and methodological context. According to the study’s theoretical and methodological outline, its relevance (as defined by Schultz, 2005a, p. 5) is also limited. It is relevant in the way of referring to research that is “alive” (Elms, 1994, p. 13); however, it is not relevant for a generalised understanding of human beings. It focuses on a single case, which can only provide information on one single individual. This study is not a comparative study and therefore does not compare the individual with other extraordinary individuals.

Moreover, the study’s findings rely on first and third-person documents (Allport, 1961) and an in-depth analysis of only two selected creative works. Therefore, the study is limited to the selected literature that was analysed. In this way, the study is reductionist. It is also reductionist by relying on selected data for selected life periods and for certain events and relationships that were experienced and noted for this period of life (as emphasised by Runyan, 1982). The data analysed therefore consciously provide a reductionist view on the individual.

Another limitation of this work is that no direct contact with the subject was established. Because of his fame and celebrity status, it was impossible to establish direct contact with the writer. Furthermore, this study is limited with regard to the fact that Paulo Coelho is still alive and his life could only be analysed from his birth to the year 2017. The study is in this sense “uncompleted” since it does not study the entire life of the writer, but only 70 years of his life.

Finally, this study is culturally and disciplinarily biased in the way that it uses Western psychological theories to analyse an individual who was born and raised in Brazil. None of the theories or methodologies used in this study was developed in the Latin American region or Brazil itself. At the same time the entire structure of this study and its qualitative quality criteria are anchored in Western concepts of psychology. Therefore, certain (socio-cultural) aspects of the life of Paulo Coelho might have been overlooked, biased, interpreted in a certain way or misunderstood. The study might further be limited by gender aspects or generational gaps of the researcher and the researched. Connected to the cultural bias, this study is limited to literature and literature searches that were conducted in English, German and French. Spanish and Portuguese literature was not taken into account. The study is therefore limited with regard to literature written or translated into the three above-mentioned languages.

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