- Paperback: 396 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; 4th Printing edition (July 21, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674445880
- ISBN-13: 978-0674445888
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life 4th Printing Edition
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A stimulating tour through the modern mind in society… In Over Our Heads is full of insight; it reflects broad learning and enormous intellectual effort. (David Mehegan Boston Sunday Globe)
[This book] is intellectually exciting and far-reaching in its implications… Kegan’s writing has much to offer developmental psychology, which suffers from a dearth of theoretical frameworks in the area of adult development… This book invites readers to work hard but rewards them greatly. There are foundation-shaking theoretical and research challenges here for mainstream psychology, especially behavioral and social learning approaches that focus on skill training and cumulative (quantitative) change… I thoroughly recommend this exciting book… It has the potential to transform our texts on life span development. It is a book that opens up whole new vistas for developmental researchers, as well as psychologists whose practice includes adult clients. (Marie R. Joyce Contemporary Psychology)
A dazzling intellectual tour… In Over Our Heads provides us with entirely fresh perspectives on a number of cultural controversies―the ‘abstinence vs. safe sex’ debate, the diversity movement, communication across genders, the meaning of postmodernism. (Health and Recovery)
From the Back Cover
As parents and partners, employees and bosses, citizens and leaders, we constantly confront a bewildering array of expectations as well as a confusing assortment of expert opinions on what each of these roles entails.
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Top customer reviews
Every once in awhile, I run across a book that helps me reorganize the way I think about the world. This is such a book. Through the use of examples and detailed examination of various aspects of modern life, Kegan considers what kinds of demands the world puts on us for thinking and relating. He makes a very solid case that cognitive development does not end after one passes through the developmental stages of childhood and adolescence (magical, concrete and abstract).
By carefully considering what it is exactly that we ask adolescents to do in making the transition from concrete to abstract cognition, Kegan sets the groundwork for a careful explantion of what the next order of thought is, what it looks like, and how the modern world demands that we master it. he looks in detail at just what we ask from adults in the areas of parenting, partnering, work, dealing with differnce, healing and learning. In each case, he shows that the modern world is set up so that people thrive best if they can use what he calls a fourth-order way of relating to the world, other people, and oneself.
This book helped me understand observations that had puzzled me, and suggests ways in which adult education theories (which generally drive me crazy) need to be expanded to explain what really happens when adults come together to learn.
One very interesting thing about this book is that Kegan is able to report on research studies that support his theory. Probably the most important thing this book does is to provide a framework for considering people in the context of how they individually construct the world and their relationship to it, which allows me to judge whether a person is authentic, courageuos or generous on his own terms, not on mine.
The caterpillar does not know she will become a butterfly.
The medieval peasant does not know his grandson will become a citizen.
The astrologer and alchemist do not forsee astronomy and chemistry.
The greatest 18th century philosopher could not anticipate Freud and self-awareness.
The greatest 18th century scientist could not anticipate Darwin and the material basis for much of life.
Yet, today we expect the average American throughout his life to function at a level of self-awareness, maturity, mutiple dimensions, consciousness and technical competency beyond the wisest persons alive in 1850 - in all dimensions of life - as a parent, spouse, worker, community and church member. The American tradition idolizes the simple, self-sufficient Jeffersonian farmer and settler. It also provides optimism about the future and the boundless energy and ability of Americans to conquer the West and the future.
Kegan presents a compelling argument and framework demonstrating that science, culture and society have moved beyond the ability of most citizens to keep pace in any meaningful way. It is a tragedy that there has not been follow-up research, solutions and public policy to build upon these important insights. The Gerbil wheel keeps turning faster and faster and faster. We wonder what is wrong. We blame China, terrorists, Arabs, Russia, liberals or fundamentalists. The requirements of our world have outstripped the ability of our cultural institutions to prepare us for competence, let alone success, in the new world.
This is a disturbing account of the modern situation. We ignore it at our peril and the future of our society. 100 years from today, this will be seen as a watershed book - as a wake-up call, or one that was ignored.
I've had the great pleasure of reading this book, many times as well as The Evolving Self. I won't bother comparing them at the moment but say I've loved and learned from this both. I have shared this book with more people than I can recall.
If you're at all interested in a map of our varied "levels" of operating, read this book. Easy it won't be--at first--but trust that you'll get the rhythm and it will carry you away. I know he's a complex writer at times but once you get that, it becomes a strength not an issue.
I'd further add, I've spent some nice time with Dr. Kegan and have found him to be as pleasant, enjoyable, and humorous as he is brilliant.
If you're looking for a Harry Potter sort of view of life, run but if you're "man enough" to take the truth, get this now.
We'll all be better for you having read it.
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