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The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live by

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  9 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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Sep 18, 2016 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By won the American Psychological Association's William James Award for best general-interest book published in 2006. It also won the best book for Psychology and Cognitive Science from the Association of American Publishers. Well-deserved.

Redemptive Self is both readable and thought-provoking – and a good book in this genre should be both. McAdams writes about our stories, but also tells good stories – from his own life, from his research participant
Nov 28, 2010 Rosemary rated it really liked it
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.
May 12, 2007 papasteve rated it really liked it
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
Aug 21, 2013 Kony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Josh Liveright
Mar 17, 2010 Josh Liveright rated it really liked it
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
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.

Jan 01, 2010 Kendall rated it it was amazing
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...
Jun 30, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
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
Oct 14, 2010 Josh Hetherington rated it it was amazing
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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