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    The Transformative Self explores three of life’s perennial questions: How do we make sense of our lives?

What is a good life? How do we create one? 

      The Transformative Self synthesizes an extensive range of scholarship, from scientific research in psychology to work in philosophy, literature, history, cultural studies, and more. The result is a cohesive framework for understanding how personal and cultural stories shape our development and how, through those stories, we might cultivate the growth of happiness, love, and wisdom for the self and others. 



"This is a breathtaking and courageous book—perhaps the most original work in personality psychology in the 21st century. Building on developmental psychology, philosophy, and literature, it explores an enduring dimension of human nature—the search for growth in the pursuit of both happiness and wisdom. Not since Maslow has a psychologist so effectively portrayed the inner lives of individuals who organize their life stories around the search for self-understanding. Simultaneously scientifically rigorous and deeply felt, this magnum opus is invaluable to any reader interested in how we strive for and make meaning in our lives."

–Jefferson Singer, Dean of the College and Faulk Foundation Professor of Psychology, Connecticut College

"Jack Bauer’s conception of human lives is both scholarly and deeply humane. His central subject is growth – the manifold ways human beings can grow good lives and create good life stories that affirm the growth of happiness, love, and wisdom. Drawing deftly from philosophy, literary studies, history, and cutting-edge psychological research, Bauer builds a generous and thought-provoking theory, articulating a vision that grows in intricacy and beauty, step-by-step, chapter-by-chapter, over the life course of this extraordinarily insightful book."

–Dan P. McAdams, the Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University

"Jack Bauer’s magisterial book of a life-time addresses the probing and ever-timely question of what constitutes a good life. Injecting a glimmer of optimism into today’s troubled and uncertain times, Bauer argues that we all have the capacity to craft a narrative of personal growth that unlocks the door to happiness and wisdom."

–Paul Wink, Nellie Zuckerman Cohen & Anne Cohen Heller Professor in Health Sciences, Wellesley College



Section I: The Transformative Self as a Good Life Story

1. Introducing the Transformative Self

2. The Cultural Master Narrative of Personal Growth

3. Growth and the Good Life

4. Growth and a Good Life Story

5. Growthy Tones in Personal Narratives

6. Growth Themes in Personal Narratives

7. Growth Structure in Personal Narratives

Section II: The Person Who Has a Transformative Self

8. Transformative Traits, Motives, and Experiences

9. Transformative Self-Regulation and the Quiet Ego

10. Growth in the Hard and Soft Margins of Society

Section III: The Development of the Transformative Self

11. Nature, Nurture, and 'Ndividuality

12. The Transforming, Transformative Self: Identity Development

13. The Aging, Transformative Self: Growth Isn't Just for the Young

14. Stages of Transformative Self-Authorship

Section IV: Shadows and Illumination

15. The Dark Side of the Transformative Self

16. Authenticity, Self-Actualizing, and Self-Authorship

17. The Self Beyond the Story