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In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life
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In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  330 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
If contemporary culture were a school, with all the tasks and expectations meted out by modern life as its curriculum, would anyone graduate? In the spirit of a sympathetic teacher, Robert Kegan guides us through this tricky curriculum, assessing the fit between its complex demands and our mental capacities, and showing what happens when we find ourselves, as we so often d ...more
Paperback, 396 pages
Published July 21st 1998 by Harvard University Press (first published January 1st 1994)
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Feb 21, 2014 Laurie rated it really liked it
I picked this book up after a psychologist said it was an incredible read, one that made her do a lot of thinking. She was right; Kegan presents some ideas that I’ve not encountered elsewhere. He proposed that there are stages of human development; this isn’t new, but his idea of what these stages are is new.

His five stages start with very young children in the first order; older children (about 7 to 10 years old) in the second; the third order is teenagers and the majority of adults (most neve
Mar 17, 2008 Michael rated it liked it
The follow up to Evolving Self, twenty years later. Read this after Evolving Self.

I found some of the early parts repetitive, and some of the case studies a little too drawn out. It seemed clear to me that his purpose for writing was all tied up in the last few chapters... where he revises the later stages of his system from Evolving Self to allow for this idea of "postmodern consciousness." Which I think is totally fascinating, I'm on it so hard right now. But Kegan's interest in postmodernism
Aug 07, 2016 Morgan rated it really liked it
This book is a mental demand all on its own. The text is overly complicated. It has sentences that go on for paragraphs, and average word length at least double that of many other books. At the chapter level, the structure is easy to follow; within a chapter, the content doesn't seem disorganized so much as it seems like the organization is purposefully hidden. Despite all that, this book is amazing. The content and examples are well worth the effort it takes the read the book.

In Over Our Heads
Olivier Compagne
Feb 02, 2010 Olivier Compagne rated it it was amazing
Who said our psychological development stopped when we reach 18-20 years old?
Kegan makes the case of the contrary. He uses everyday life examples to illustrate the different stages of development; and he approaches this sensitive topic with a very humane touch.
Definitely a favorite.
Erica Mauter
Dec 04, 2012 Erica Mauter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: maol
This is a really dense, heavy book. But it builds on itself on itself in a way that results in a spectacular payoff. It has changed the way I think about intellectual development and personal growth and it has given me new appreciation for my higher education experience.
Nov 21, 2009 Willa rated it it was amazing
Brilliant... this book gave me a completely new view on developmental psychology, teaching me to look with much more subtlety, humanity and inclusiveness, dropping many of my negative judgments that arise from my own opinions rather than a truly higher view. It also casts new light on the big question: What is Postmodernism?, suggesting that Postmodernism is more a transition between Modernism and what-comes-after-Modernism, which we haven't sufficiently sorted out yet. This creates a much more ...more
May 12, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cultural_studies
Really enjoyed this book particularly because I got to take his class at the same time. Anything that felt a bit dense could be discussed.

I enjoyed how I could relate 'orders of consciousness' to people in my life and kind of guess where they were at (and where I am at). In any case, it helped me realize how I (heh) make meaning and create my world and how others are doing the same. Basically the book made me more open/understanding to people in my life who generally frustrate and disappoint me
Jan 27, 2015 Durwin rated it it was amazing
Kegan is an outstanding communicator of relatively complex research on adult developmental processes. He makes the case that the modern world is requiring an ability to handle complexity that is difficult for many of us, and thus that we need to continue to grow in our capacity to be inclusive in our thinking and behaviors. I highly recommend this book for people who are serious about understanding the modern world and how we can relate to it effectively.
James Burraston
I'm still thinking a lot about this book. The model presented here has provided a new way for me to understand just about everything I deal with in life.
Nov 05, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
A dense and convoluted approach to constructive-developmental theory. There must be better resources that involve less of the author's ego.
Aug 14, 2014 Goodlife rated it it was amazing
It changed my life. Incredible read. I look forward to reading more books from the author.
Ron Hurst
Aug 15, 2015 Ron Hurst rated it it was amazing
incredibly deep and complex. a must read if you want to "get" people
Feb 01, 2008 Spencer rated it really liked it
It is pretty dense, but it is the book that changed my life and opened my eyes to being truly self-reflexive. This is another book that no one should get married, have kids or start a career without going through. It'll just make things a lot clearer, I think. Really well written. I give it four stars because it's not the most accessible book for everyone. But if you get yourself to stick through it, your life will change.
Jessica Hall
Mar 11, 2010 Jessica Hall rated it really liked it
one of my first books in grad school - i highly recommend it! it helped me realize that all too often we demand more of our partner, children, co-workers, ect without considering their stage in development. from this book a learned to think about age, stages of cognitive and psychosocial development before i act - mostly with childern and young adults. hopefully it has made me a better practitioner, coach, mentor, and one day parent!
Jul 27, 2010 Ronda rated it liked it
Interesting book about developmental psychology that argues that we expect our bosses/managers and other people around us to be at higher levels of development than is reasonable considering the percentages of the population that actually reach the higher levels. I gave it three stars because it is written a bit too dryly and bogs down in places.
May 06, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
There are some great insights in this book but I feel like I'm slogging through to reach them. I am putting this book down. Perhaps it is easier to read if you are a psychologist familiar with the jargon. I found it difficult.
Prof Jake
Apr 14, 2013 Prof Jake rated it it was amazing
This book started me on an important journey to understand adult development. It is not an easy read, but this is because it is not an easy subject to get your head around. I think it well worth the effort.
Sidney Luckett
May 04, 2012 Sidney Luckett rated it it was amazing
Evolving Self - updated and more accessible with illustrative real-life examples
Just like the Evolving self a must for all who are interested in human development
Sep 16, 2012 Janet added it
A book for my student development theory class. . . I don't mind the book, but I sure don't agree with everything the author says
Oct 20, 2013 JustVelina rated it it was amazing
The book that changed my life! I've given it to a few of my close friends and hope to recommend it to many more in the future.
Natpat Mon
Jul 02, 2010 Natpat Mon rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Read this one in grad school. It changes my thinking about adult development radically, but some parts are difficult to read.
John Hilton
Nov 24, 2010 John Hilton rated it it was amazing
Kind of deep, and a little hard to read at times but if you're willing to go through it, there are very good nuggets.
Lauren Tenney
Jul 15, 2008 Lauren Tenney rated it it was amazing
knowing about ourselves is a good idea. this book will help.
read on, grasshopper.
Aug 04, 2007 amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
Very dense but the ideas are definitely worth the struggle.
Jan 29, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
the evolving self put to practical example
Andrew Lightheart
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“Finally, subject-object theory makes operational the criteria for determining whether one position is actually more complex than the other or merely fancies itself so. A status-conferring or judging relationship to difference is still a relationship: it does not have to create a discounting of what is less advantaged; it creates instead a connection to it. If one position is actually more complex than the other, it should be able to understand the other's position *on the other's own terms*, to extend empathy for the costs involved in altering that position, and to provide support for, rather than dismissal of, the prior position. If the positions are of equal complexity, each may be able to understand the other, but neither can build the bridge between orders of consciousness its false claim to superiority would imply. If one position is actually less complex than the other, it should not even be able to understand the other on terms that allow the other to feel that its being is adequately understood.” 0 likes
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