This present study utilized a mixed methods design to explore the inner emotional experiencing of John F. Kennedy Jr. during the last five years of his life. A large first-person data set culled from JFK Jr.’s letters and interviews was subjected to a qualitative theme analysis and the quantitative Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) program (Pennebaker, Boyd, Jordan, & Blackburn, 2015). Among the major themes emerging from the qualitative analysis were JFK Jr.’s efforts to balance and integrate his public and private selves; navigating the Kennedy legacy and understanding his family’s place in political history; and establishing George magazine with a goal of connecting politics to the general public. The LIWC analysis provided evidence of a highly logical critical thinker who generally carried himself with confidence and who was able to successfully adapt his tone to the needs of different contexts. It also found significant increases in word usage related to analytical thinking, anxiety, sadness, and death across two time periods. Collectively the data suggested that at the time of his death, JFK Jr. was in a period of contemplation, in which he sought to determine whether it was possible to balance a public and private life.


John F. Kennedy, Jr., Psychobiography, Case Study, Mixed Methods, Linguistic Analysis, Politics, George Magazine

Author Bio(s)

Caitlin Ferrer, Ph.D. Candidate, is an advanced Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology Program at Fordham University, New York City. Her research interests include multiracial identity development and psychobiography. Please direct correspondence to cferrer1@Fordham.edu.

Joseph G. Ponterotto, Ph.D., is currently Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University, New York City. His areas of research include psychobiography and multicultural psychology. His most recent book is A Psychobiography of John F. Kennedy, Jr. (2019, Charles C Thomas Publisher). Please direct correspondence to Ponterotto@Fordham.edu.


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