The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live by

Dan P. McAdams, Author Oxford University Press $37.95 (390p) ISBN 978-0-19-517693-3
Making extensive use of his clinical studies, McAdams examines the stories of highly generative Americans-people with strong commitments to the well being of their country, community and family. A narrative psychologist, McAdams is not concerned with diagnosing his subjects or deciding whether the events they describe actually happened. His purpose, instead, is to understand why his subjects tell the kinds of stories they do, which makes the book feel more like social history or literary criticism than clinical psychology. ""It is to the best-adjusted, most fully functioning, and most productive and caring adults...that I have turned to to discern some of what is most characteristic and problematic in American culture."" McAdams draws on a vast range of sources to provide the context for this effort: Puritan confessions, slave narratives, Horatio Alger success stories, 20th-century self-help classics, developmental psychology, the lives of Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and Oprah Winfrey, as well as back issues of People magazine. Although the first half of the book, where McAdams argues for the existence of his redemptive paradigm, is repetitive, the second half is a delight, particularly his chapters on race and on nongenerative life stories. Sociologists and psychologists will undoubtedly find this book appealing, but McAdams makes complex topics accessible to the nonspecialist, so the book will likely interest anyone looking to learn more about American culture or McAdams's obscure branch of psychology.
Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Show other formats
Hardcover - 394 pages - 978-0-19-996976-0
Digital Format - 978-0-19-978678-7
Hardcover - 401 pages - 978-0-19-803930-3
Paperback - 371 pages - 978-0-19-996975-3
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