Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
The Evolving Self

The Evolving Self

Problem and Process in Human Development

Robert Kegan

ISBN 9780674272316

Publication date: 08/15/1983

The Evolving Self focuses upon the most basic and universal of psychological problems—the individual’s effort to make sense of experience, to make meaning of life. According to Robert Kegan, meaning-making is a lifelong activity that begins in earliest infancy and continues to evolve through a series of stages encompassing childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The Evolving Self describes this process of evolution in rich and human detail, concentrating especially on the internal experience of growth and transition, its costs and disruptions as well as its triumphs.

At the heart of our meaning-making activity, the book suggests, is the drawing and redrawing of the distinction between self and other. Using Piagetian theory in a creative new way to make sense of how we make sense of ourselves, Kegan shows that each meaning-making stage is a new solution to the lifelong tension between the universal human yearning to be connected, attached, and included, on the one hand, and to be distinct, independent, and autonomous on the other. The Evolving Self is the story of our continuing negotiation of this tension. It is a book that is theoretically daring enough to propose a reinterpretation of the Oedipus complex and clinically concerned enough to suggest a variety of fresh new ways to treat those psychological complaints that commonly arise in the course of development.

Kegan is an irrepressible storyteller, an impassioned opponent of the health-and-illness approach to psychological distress, and a sturdy builder of psychological theory. His is an original and distinctive new voice in the growing discussion of human development across the life span.

Praise

  • Kegan’s great contribution is his description of the powers and difficulties entailed in each of these bases for conducting relations with self and others and his systematizing of considerations involved in changing from one basis to another… Kegan’s is indeed a provocative contribution!

    —Guy E. Swanson, American Journal of Education

Author

  • Robert Kegan is William and Miriam Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 6 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

From this author

Recommendations