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The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live by

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  24 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Who are we as Americans? What is our deep identity? How do we make a good life? Renowned psychologist Dan P. McAdams suggests that the key to American identity lies in the stories we live by. And the most powerful life story in America today is the story of redemption. On a broad societal scale and in our own private lives, we want first and foremost to transform our suffe ...more
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published November 10th 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Terrific psychological study about a very American way of framing our life stories. Turns out that "highly generative" people in midlife -- those most concerned with giving back or providing for future generations -- most often see their life narratives in terms of redemption (not necessarily a religious word in McAdams' study, but certainly one with rich religious overtones). Many anecdotal stories of real people -- fun to read, and mostly inspiring -- back up McAdams' conclusions.
I'm not sure if this is the same book by McAdams that I wanted to review, only under another title. The book I have is titled: The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making Of The Self. This is a great book that talks about how we all live by a story that we create in our mind. We live out our lives according to the themes and events of that story. It might be the loser story, a hero story of some sort, or some other theme. We project the image of our self according to the story we think ...more
Josh Liveright
This was a book with themes I found trite and hard to accept as I was reading it but surprisingly it resonates deeply in retrospect. I recommend it for writers, storytellers, actors and anyone who has experienced redemption in their own lives. Perhaps I was still on the righteous path when I read this book back in 2010. Now I'm on the path toward living a humble life. I've learned how to listen. I've put an end to the anger I once felt. I am no longer a victim. I guess I've discovered the true m ...more
A smart summary of social science research that explores human nature from multiple angles, zooming in on individual differences while illuminating societal patterns.

McAdams explores the "redemptive self" narrative that adult American do-gooders use to describe their lives; he also explains the psychological and cultural contexts that enable this narrative to thrive, both shaping and justifying choices. In the most brilliant chapter, he compares and contrasts the redemptive self narratives of O
May 23, 2007 Fiona marked it as to-read
from an article i read in the nyt that seemed pretty interesting on how people tell stories about their lives and why

exerpt from the nytimes article and author of the book (prof of psychology at northwestern) -
"Well, we find that these narratives guide behavior in every moment, and frame not only how we see the past but how we see ourselves in the future.”

could be interesting? i'll let u know.

loving this book. such good information for any aspiring storyteller. the personal myth can be so powerful...maybe too powerful. still i'm trying to decide if it's of value to decipher one's own story and what it means about their life thus far and future, or if it's wiser to just forget one's history and exclusively live in the moment. nah, that sounds either too selfish or too new-agey...
McAdams made me laugh out loud many times, which I wasn't expecting in a psychological treatise. Very interesting evidence that Americans who are active in their communities tend to use similar patterns when telling their life stories. I wonder how much research has been done on how people learn the patterns for the stories they tell.
Josh Hetherington
This is an amazing psychology book. It's extremely readable and provides a lot of interesting insights about America's collective psyche. Check it out.
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