In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life 44593rd Edition
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“[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
- Publisher : Harvard University Press; 44593rd edition (July 21, 1998)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 396 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0674445880
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674445888
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.14 x 1.07 x 9.21 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #198,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I would describe this as almost a "spiritual" book. Except while most spiritual and new-age self help books out there work on the "transcending" of the structure, this book helps one to understand that structure that one is attempting to transcend with traditional spiritual work. And I think that understanding this aspect of ourselves as just as important as detaching from it, as the structure plays a large role in our lives whether we strongly identify with it or not, and simply dis-identifying it does not necessarily help it move along, become better at handling tasks, or develop greater complexity.
And oftentimes that makes the difference. Truly a great book, by a great author and thinker!
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.
Top reviews from other countries
However, there are far too many points at which the writer follows his thought process without bringing the reader along. Regularly, he discusses a multi-part idea using ambiguous language that doesn't follow the language in other discriptions of the same idea. He then mixes things up by talking in a random order. Some simple editing could have cleared this up really easily and made the book far more readable.
It is a text book which can start you off on journey that can shape your life in a manner unimaginable previously. Am surprised/shocked that I came across this book so late in my life. Our educational systems need to be bringing such understandings our way early on.
Growing up does not end with achieving adulthood is the teaching that Kegan brilliantly explains.