Integrating Psychobiography Into Psychology’s Mainstream: Introduction to the Special Section

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Psychobiography, the intense study of a particular person, has long existed at the fringes of mainstream psychology. This special section is comprised of two articles that take important steps to integrate psychobiography into the mainstream of psychology. Schultz and Lawrence (2017) do so by reviewing recent examples of how contemporary psychobiographers have used empirically supported methods and theories to reach conclusions about the individuals under study. Ponterotto and Reynolds (2017) do so by articulating important ethical issues relevant to the practice of psychobiography, a topic on which the American Psychological Association’s current ethical code provides little guidance (American Psychological Association, 2017). This introduction closes by proposing that mainstream psychology might better appreciate how psychobiography contributes to psychological knowledge and practice if psychobiographers also clearly articulated their criteria for “good science,” better explained how psychobiographical methods complement more mainstream methodological approaches, and empirically tested whether training in psychobiography helps clinicians better understand and treat their clients.

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