Panel Presentation:
The Many Roads to Psychobiography: A Multigenerational Panel
Panelists: Inna Rozentsvit (panel organizer), Natacha Bianca Isabelle Gaud, Lentisitse Nkarabeng Mekgwe, Present Raymond Ramalepe, Claude-Hélène Mayer (moderator) (60 min)

Inna Rozentsvit: Introduction to the Many Roads to Psychobiography (30 min)

Abstract: Psychobiography is the intensive psychological study of an individual within their unique socio‑cultural‑historic context. There are many roads to psychobiography: some choose a bottom-up approach to looking into lives of the subjects of research, trying to understand how one’s childhood and child-rearing practices influence this person’s personality, inner emotional life, career path, as well as relationships’ patterns. Others use a top-down approach based on psychological theories, as well as personality psychology, sociology, and anthropology. This multigenerational panel includes presenters from various cultural, professional, educational, and geographical backgrounds united by one aim of examining lives of famous individuals through psychological and cultural-social lenses.

Natacha Bianca Isabelle Gaud: Human Flourishing: The Life and Work of Oliver Sacks (30 min)

Abstract: This psychobiographical study explores the life and work of Oliver Sacks through Positive Psychology wave two (PP 2.0), examining the dimensions of human flourishing in his personal and professional journey. Inspired by Sacks’ belief in transcending daily existence, the study utilizes PP 2.0’s four pillars—virtue, meaning, resilience, and well-being—to comprehensively understand their role in Sacks’ success. Human flourishing, a core concept in positive psychology, encompasses diverse dimensions impacting personal and professional aspects. This research emphasizes the positive effects of flourishing in the workplace, addressing gaps in understanding additional attributes including resilience and virtues. Adopting a psychobiographical approach, the study offers an in-depth exploration of human flourishing over a lifespan. Choosing Oliver Sacks as the subject is motivated by his contributions to literature, psychology, and neuroscience, along with his empathetic patient care approach. Utilizing Wong’s PP 2.0 theory, the study analyses how the four pillars shaped human flourishing in Sacks’ life. This contributes to the research on flourishing and provides insights into its influence on Sacks’ success as a writer, neurologist, and professor. The psychobiographical study uniquely applied positive psychology principles to an individual’s life journey, offering valuable perspectives on flourishing in diverse contexts.

Bio: University of Johannesburg.

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