The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development

The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development

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 S...

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Title:The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development
Author:Robert Kegan
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Edition Language:English

The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development Reviews

  • Nancymaguire

    I have read this book about five times. It continues to influence my thinking and lead me towards integration, of ideas, theories and the practice of psychology with human evolution.

  • Savanah Gray

    This is not a light read. The book takes awhile to get through but is worth the effort. Kegan presents evolutionary psychology as the outcome of Piaget's stages of development. He carefully constructs and describes the stages of the leaders of the field and then carefully pulls each stage together to describe them as a stage or transition a person is working through in their search to make meaning in their lives. Due to the subject of this book, it is not necessary to be in the field of psycholo

    This is not a light read. The book takes awhile to get through but is worth the effort. Kegan presents evolutionary psychology as the outcome of Piaget's stages of development. He carefully constructs and describes the stages of the leaders of the field and then carefully pulls each stage together to describe them as a stage or transition a person is working through in their search to make meaning in their lives. Due to the subject of this book, it is not necessary to be in the field of psychology to understand the principals within it; although it is fair to say that those within the filed may have a better go of reading this.

    As someone seeking a degree in Biological Anthropology, I was incredibly surprised to the the external cultures one lives in as well as the family and intimate unit, presented with a cultural understanding as well. There is something for everyone who reads this book and I will add this to my shelves to use in my own life.

    I recommend this book to anyone, but want to stress that it requires work and dedicated time.

  • KB

    This is a brilliant book merging the philosophical, psychological and biological ways of understanding human development. It will not be for everyone — its not a light read and particularly for those not already steeped in psychology it requires patience and some hard work. It was worth the work though as Kegan unveils a compassionate and engrossing look at how human beings grow in our ability to make meaning in the world and what it means to really 'meet someone where they are.'

  • Fiona McDonald

    I feel like running a victory lap. This was a really difficult book to read because it was so packed full of ideas and concepts. It’s a work of genus though and thoroughly worth it. So much of this work made a lot things make sense. Like why workplaces can be so dispiriting and why some people more than others are sooooo difficult to connect with. Let alone why personal troughs happen when and how they do. I would be fascinated to find out how much has been validated and how this connects to muc

    I feel like running a victory lap. This was a really difficult book to read because it was so packed full of ideas and concepts. It’s a work of genus though and thoroughly worth it. So much of this work made a lot things make sense. Like why workplaces can be so dispiriting and why some people more than others are sooooo difficult to connect with. Let alone why personal troughs happen when and how they do. I would be fascinated to find out how much has been validated and how this connects to much of the work in positive psychology.

  • Christopher Brennan

    This book took a false start to be ready for but once I committed to it I was hooked. While previously unfamiliar with Kegan’s work and the constructive-development approach to psychology and development this book has reshaped some of my thinking but more importantly given me a language and framework to consolidate meaning I have already been making.

  • Jodi McMaster

    Reading the book is a slog for a non-psych major, but the insights are worth the work.

  • Taylor Pearson

    Kegan spent his career at Harvard studying psychological development. The Evolving Self outlines his model for human psychological development. I found the model insightful and the writing tight which is an unusual combination (you usually get one of the two, at best). The book focuses on the process of meaning-making, a lifelong activity that begins in infancy and continues through adulthood, a contrast to Freudian understandings of psychology which tend to be more static and focus on childhood

    Kegan spent his career at Harvard studying psychological development. The Evolving Self outlines his model for human psychological development. I found the model insightful and the writing tight which is an unusual combination (you usually get one of the two, at best). The book focuses on the process of meaning-making, a lifelong activity that begins in infancy and continues through adulthood, a contrast to Freudian understandings of psychology which tend to be more static and focus on childhood experiences while downplaying the ability for people to continue to evolve through life.

    The heart of meaning-making is the drawing and re-drawing of the distinction between self and other. I picked up the book after reading a summary which explained that many adults get stuck at Stage 3 (communal) where they identify themselves and what is right/wrong with their immediate community and are unable to transition to Stage 4 (systematic) where they can see justice, responsibility, and principles as something systemic and outside of their immediate social group. This rang true as did the observation that many get stuck in the Stage 4-Stage 5 transition and fall into a nihilistic worldview because they can’t transition from a systemic to a more fluid understanding of self and other.

    I’ve found Kegan’s five-stage framework helpful for better understanding my own choices and the choices around me and understanding how to discuss those choices through a lens that makes sense to them.

  • Nick Brown

    I read this book because David Chapman (

    ) recommended it as:

    I read this book because David Chapman (

    ) recommended it as:

    No radical personal transformations on my end but an interesting framework and a few other neat points:

    - Emotional Conflict as a means of internal conversation.

    - Depressive sleep disturbance, people reliably sleep a lot (hypersomniac) or the don't sleep much at all (hypervigilant) as a defence mechanism. If the world is dangerous you need to stay awake if the self is dangerous you need to stay asleep.

    - Also people with eating disorders deriving all their meaning/self-worth from physical appearance so anorexia can be seen as triumph of self control over very basic impulses. an interesting perspective. I certainly don't have that much self control. :)

  • Kim

    Read for my Adult Development class. Not a light read at all but thought provoking if you can get over rereading a paragraph three times.

  • Thomas M

    Would make a great textbook for psychologists/counsellors/therapists with lots of anecdotal examples of differing developmental stages. Never is there a concise or clear description of each stage to work from, instead the reader must draw it out of anecdotes and the prose of kegan. It's like kegan viewed this as more of a novel, needing to string the reader along and give only tidbits at a time so that the reader could stay engaged. Not what I like in my non-fiction books, especially if I'm read

    Would make a great textbook for psychologists/counsellors/therapists with lots of anecdotal examples of differing developmental stages. Never is there a concise or clear description of each stage to work from, instead the reader must draw it out of anecdotes and the prose of kegan. It's like kegan viewed this as more of a novel, needing to string the reader along and give only tidbits at a time so that the reader could stay engaged. Not what I like in my non-fiction books, especially if I'm reading for fun.

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