Richard W. Coan is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology and resides in Tucson, Arizona.
As a child he began composing music and writing stories and poems. Though drawn to the arts, he was also intrigued by the puzzles of human consciousness, the sense of personal identity, and the varied idiosyncrasies of the people he knew. His search for understanding led to a career in psychology. At both the University of California and the University of Southern California, he pursued graduate studies leading to a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1955.
As a professor at the University of Arizona he specialized in personality theory and measurement. His published articles and books cover such topics as the evolution of consciousness, the optimal personality, masculinity/femininity, child personality, patterns of orientation among psychologists, and trends in psychological theory. His interests include Jungian theory, the psychology of religion, Eastern thought, and archetypal symbolism in myths, tales, and dreams.
As a psychologist, he came to appreciate both the value and the limitations of scientific theory and research as tools for understanding. He recognized that poets and novelists can often highlight questions and puzzles of human existence that psychology as a discipline avoids dealing with directly. At times poetry and fiction provide deep insights that complement and augment those offered by psychological research.
Throughout his academic career and in retirement, he has continued writing poetry and composing music. In recent years he has written three novels:
(1) A Princess for Larkin
(2) Shaul of Tarsos: The Man Who Came to be Known as Saint Paul
(3) Horatio: The Loyal Friend of Prince Hamlet