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The Evolving Self

Problem and Process in Human Development

Product Details


$38.00 • £33.95 • €34.95

ISBN 9780674272316

Publication Date: 08/15/1983

Academic Trade

336 pages

6 x 9-1/4 inches

6 line illustrations, 12 tables


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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

Kegan acknowledges a debt to Piaget, Kohlberg, and the psychoanalytic object-relations theorists. He regards his theory as a synthesis and extension of their views, resulting in a developmental theory that presents a unified conceptualization of affective, cognitive, and moral development. Individual chapters are devoted to each of six developmental stages—their growth and loss. The last chapter explores the implications of the theory for psychotherapy and for implementing growth in everyday life… The theory is elegant… There is much food for thought and many hypotheses for research in Kegan’s book. If one has not appreciated the importance of meaning-making as a central concept in personality theorizing, the book might even propel one into the next stage. More likely, the reader will…obtain some important new insights. All in all I recommend the book highly.—Seymour Epstein, Contemporary Psychology

A landmark book… [It] proposes to integrate thought and emotion in human development and I responded to it on this double level. Breathlessly I encountered all the disparate ideas I had had about human development in the last ten years, all under one single solidly constructed theoretical roof… It is a book about meaning-making which revises one’s own meaning-making in very profound ways.—Sophie Freud Lowenstein, Review of Psychoanalytic Books

Replete with literary allusions and personal anecdotes, this scholarly and appealing discourse represents a fascinating appraisal of the evolution of the self, devoting particular attention to the role of environmental forces which may have crucial impact on the individual. It evaluates, compares, and contrasts the contributions of Piaget, Erikson, Freud, Kohlberg, and others in a refreshing and informative fashion. Written by a clinician, the book also proposes a thought-provoking metatheory of therapy and considers the topic of depression from an evolutionary orientation. [This work is] well articulated and comprehensive in scope.—Lucille F. Halgin, Library Journal

Robert Kegan has created a new perspective of personality development, focusing on the dynamics of the evolving self. The perspective integrates two universal human processes—meaning-making and social development—into a scheme that can be used to derive testable generalizations and simultaneously inform the practice of therapy. A very tall order which he fulfills admirably.—Chris Argyris

Kegan has written a vigorous, exhilarating, and brilliant book. If it is read with the same grace and modesty and aliveness with which it is written, it could make psychotherapy more useful, psychology richer, and speculation on the nature of being human infinitely more rewarding.—Robert L. Grossman

A major contribution to the human development literature. Like Freud, Kegan’s literary style matches the brilliance of his insights.—William R. Torbert, Boston College

If one could only buy one book on child development, The Evolving Self would bet the book to buy… It reflects the state of the art.—George E. Vaillant, M.D.

Here is a bright, ambitious mind, integrating old ideas from such diverse sources as Freud, Piaget, Erikson, and Kohlberg into an original synthesis. Kegan seems to be the first Neo-Piagetian who is able to look at the evolving person as more than a succession of systems but as a whole human being.—Ernest S. Wolf, M.D.

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