A psychobiography is the answer to the question, “Why is this person like he/she is?” Psychobiography uses explanation and interpretation of the events, relationships, attitudes, beliefs, and experiences of a person’s life to explain the person they are today (or the person they were before they died). In other words, psychobiography looks at the person’s whole life in an effort to understand their personality.

Psychobiography is not only biography—biographical information is included, but as part of the whole. In biography the aim is to tell the story of a life; in psychobiography the aim is to make sense of or understand a life.

Another important point—psychobiography is NOT about diagnosing a person. While you may report a diagnosis they were given by a qualified physician, you are not to make diagnosis of mental problems the point of your paper.

Section 1

• Write a short biography of the person from childhood to his or her death. This should include the high and low points of the person’s experiences. This section should clearly set the stage for the theory that you choose in Section 2. This section should be no more than two pages.

Section 2

• Choose one of the personality theorists from your text book and using specific concepts and ideas from his/her theory, trace the personality development of the person you have chosen.

o Being specific about the concept or concepts you are using is important….For example, if you are using Freud as your theorist, you might trace the resolution of the Odedipus Complex for the person you have chosen.

**Please be very clear when you are moving from section 2 to section 3 in your paper–use section labels. If it is not clear that you have moved to section 3, I can’t give you credit for it.**

Section 3

• Choose one of the following psychological concepts and trace the development of this concept from the person’s childhood to adulthood. In other words, you should take the concept and trace it from it’s roots in childhood to its culmination in adulthood. You should use specific examples from the person’s life AND different theorists to explain how this concept has developed in the person. Remember that you are tracking these as an aspect of the person, not as an aspect of an environment.

• Please note that you will be unable to trace the development of this concept if you cannot or do not find out information about the person’s childhood. If you can’t establish a basis for the concept in the person’s childhood, then perhaps you should choose a different concept or a different person to write about.

o Aggression

o Honesty

o Achievement

o Aspirations

o Anxiety

o Motivation

o Coping

o Delay of gratification

o Humor

o Sexuality

o Creativity

o Spirituality

o Masculinity/femininity

o Shyness

o Extraversion

o Altruism

o Conformity

o Peacemaking/beneficence

o Empathy

o Competition

o Inferiority

o Sociability


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