The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development [Paperback]

Robert Kegan (Author)

Publication Date: June 3, 1982  - ISBN-10: 0674272315 | ISBN-13: 978-0674272316 | Edition: 1ST

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.

Reader reviews from

The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development, May 14, 2007 - By Steven H. Weinograd (Massachusetts)

A CLASSIC! A complex but excellent treatise by a contemporary star in developmental psychology.

Brilliant, Helpful, October 6, 2008 - By K. Melone

It's hard to exaggerate how good this book is. I am reading it as part of a Masters class in developmental psychology and it is simply brilliant. Whether reading it for personal awareness or insights into client problems, it provides an overview of developmenal theories, while proposing its own elegant understanding of the lifelong spiraling cycle of evolution which is life. It is worth any effort and deserves multiple readings. Buy it and its companion book How The Way We Talk Can Change The Way We Work by Keegan and Layhe. It provides a step by step process that can be used for non work-related areas of growth as well as work-related.