The life of Beyers Naudé: a psychobiographical study
In the South African context there have been individuals who have made remarkable contributions to the anti-apartheid struggle and towards the establishment of the democratic society we live in today. Their ‘finished lives’ warrant closer investigation to uncover what these persons may have to teach South African society (or societies at large) today. Dr Beyers Naudé (1915-2004) was such a figure. He was born of Voortrekker stock into the Afrikaner elite, but he vehemently opposed apartheid and became one of the heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle and made a significant contribution to contemporary South African society. Although much has been written on the life and work of Naudé, none of the literature adopts a specific psychological focus and no psychobiographical study of the life of Naudé exists. As such, Naudé was selected for this study by means of purposive sampling. Naudé’s life history was uncovered in this psychobiography through the systematic and consistent collection and analysis of life history materials. Data were collected from both primary and secondary sources of life history materials. Psychobiographical research is qualitative research that involves the investigation of unique and ‘great’ lives as well as the investigation of the lives of contentious or controversial figures. This is achieved through the application of formal psychological theory to the life history of these individuals. Psychobiographical research may investigate the origin, development and nature of constructs such as psychological strenghts, optimal wellness and coping. This is referred to as a eugraphic approach in psychobiography as opposed to the pathographic approach in psychobiography which focuses on psychopathology. This psychobiographical study may also be described as eugraphic in nature. The aim of the study was to explore and describe Naudé’s holistic wellness and faith development. A framework consisting of a wellness model and a faith development theory was employed in order to ‘uncover’ Naudé’s wellness and faith development over his lifespan. The wellness model employed in this study was the Wheel of Wellness (Myers et al., 2000; Witmer and Sweeney, 1992) and the faith development theory employed was Fowler’s Faith Development Theory (Fowler, 1981). Alexander’s (1988) indicators of saliency and McAdams’ (1996) approach to investigating life stories were employed to identify salient data or themes that were investigated in this study. Furthermore, conceptual frameworks or matrices were also presented to organise data, integrate findings and guide the presentation and discussion of findings. The frameworks were derived from the historical periods in Naudé’s life, on the one hand, and the theoretical perspectives of the Wheel of Wellness model (Myers, Witmer & Sweeney, 2000; Witmer & Sweeney, 1992) and the Faith Development Theory (Fowler, 1981) respectively, on the other. Findings in this study regarding Naudé’s holistic wellness indicated that he was able to successfully negotiate the life tasks as outlined by the Wheel of Wellness model throughout his lifespan. These were spirituality, self-direction, work and leisure, friendship and love. Findings also indicated that Naudé progressed through all the stages of faith development proposed by the Faith Development Theory and reached a very mature level of faith development, namely, universalising faith. Furthermore, findings also suggest that both Naudé’s holistic wellness and faith development were influenced by personal experiences, societal forces (life forces) and global events. This study provides a positive demonstration of the value of the Wheel of Wellness Model (Myers et al., 2000; Witmer & Sweeney, 1992) and the Faith Development Theory (Fowler, 1981) to describe the holistic wellness, on the on hand, and faith development, on the other, over an individual life. Additionally, recommendations are made for future research employing the psychobiographical research design and methodology to uncover the lives of ‘great’ and enigmatic or contentious and controversial personalities.