The Redemptive Self

The Redemptive Self : Stories Americans Live by

4.26 (49 ratings by Goodreads)
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Based on 10 years of research on the life stories of especially caring and productive American adults, The Redemptive Self explores the psychological and cultural dynamics of the stories people tell to make sense of who they are. Among the most eloquent tellers of redemptive stories are those midlife adults who are especially committed to their careers, their families, and making a positive difference in the world. These highly "generative" men and women embrace the negative things that happen to them, for it is by transforming the bad into good that they are able to move forward in life and ultimately leave something positive behind. Unconsciously, they find inspiration and sustenance in the rich store of redemptive tales that American culture offers - from the autobiographies of Massachusetts Puritans, Benjamin Franklin, and escaped African-American slaves to the stories of upward mobility, recovery, fulfillment, and release that come to us today from Hollywood, 12-step programs, self-help experts, religious stories, political speeches, and business gurus. But can all lives find redemption? Some people seem unable to make their lives into redemptive tales.Instead, their stories show contaminated plots and vicious cycles. Moreover, might there be a dark side to the redemptive stories people love? While these stories can sustain a productive and caring approach to life, they can also suggest a peculiar kind of arrogance and self-righteousness. For all their strengths, redemptive stories sometimes fail, and sometimes suggest important failings in the way people see themselves and the world. The Redemptive Self encourages us to examine our lives and our stories in full, to apprehend both the good and the bad in the stories we live by. By doing so, we may fashion better stories and better lives for the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 162.6 x 241.3 x 25.4mm | 657.72g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 31 halftones & line illustrations
  • 0195176936
  • 9780195176933
  • 1,659,425

Review quote

"In a book that beautifully encompasses imagination and civilization, eminent psychologist Dan McAdams has fashioned a lively and persuasive account of the manner in which we Americans account for our lives. McAdams shows that our personal identity is founded on the stories we tell about our own lives and on our shared membership in the American community, which itself leads to a broad cultural story about enjoying an early advantage in life, being aware of the suffering of others, and transforming our own and others' adversity into an ever more positive future. The Redemptive Self is an elegant masterpiece that dramatically integrates psychology into the realm of human affairs - a memorable book that readers will recommend to their friends." --Bertram J. Cohler, William Rainey Harper Professor, The University of Chicago"The Redemptive Self" by Dan McAdams is part cutting-edge psychology and part American history. Drawing on his rich research examining people's life stories, McAdams explores how successful people look back and describe their lives. He finds that the successful or generative life story is one characterized by overcoming adversity, connections with others, and a belief in the future. This common story is, in many ways, the story of America itself. It is the story we like to tell about our past, our leaders, and ultimately ourselves. McAdams constructs a compelling story of his own by drawing on philosophy, history, neuroscience, religion, and psychology. As with his other books, this is a great read." --James W. Pennebaker, Professor of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin"McAdams has produced a book that shows what is distinctive about Americans' stories--and what is wonderful and also not so wonderful about that distinction. It is a book that can be read for pleasure and insight by psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, and historians, but also by just about anyone who would like to know what it is that distinguishshow more

About Dan P. McAdams

Chair and Professor, Department of Psychology, and Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern Universityshow more

Table of contents

A LIFE STORY MADE IN AMERICA; Chapter 1 Redemption and the American Soul; Chapter 2 The Generative Adult; Chapter 3 Life Stories; Chapter 4 The Chosen People; Chapter 5 My Good Inner Self: From Emerson to Oprah; Chapter 6 God Bless America; Chapter 7 Black (and White); Chapter 8 Contaminated Plots, Vicious Circles; Chapter 9 When Redemption Fails; Chapter 10 Culture, Narrative, and the Self; Epilogue - An Americans Confessions and Final Thoughtsshow more

Rating details

49 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 43% (21)
4 43% (21)
3 12% (6)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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