The Evolving Self

By Robert Kegan

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 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 is the drawing and redrawing of the distinction between self and other. 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.

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

“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., author, Treating the Self: Elements of Clinical Self Psychology

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