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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

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   For decades social scientists have observed that Americans are becoming more selfish, headstrong, and callous. Instead of lamenting a cultural slide toward narcissism, Transcending Self-Interest: Psychological Explorations of the Quiet Ego provides a constructive framework for understanding—and conducting research on—both the problems of egocentrism and ways of transcending it. 

   Heidi A. Wayment and Jack J. Bauer have assembled a group of contributors who are helping to reshape how the field of psychology defines the self in the 21st Century. In the spirit of positive psychology, these authors call us to move beyond individualistic and pathological notions of self versus other. Their theories and research suggest two paths to this transcendence: (1) balancing the needs of self and others in one’s everyday life and (2) developing compassion, nondefensive self-awareness, and interdependent self-identity. At the end of these converging paths lies a quiet ego—an ego less concerned with self- promotion than with the flourishing of both the self and others. Readers will find in this volume inspiration not only for future work in psychology but also for their own efforts toward personal development. 


This wise book brings the ego back from the precipice of caricature to its rightful place at the core of psychology. Bringing together mental health perspectives, cultural insights, and common sense, it achieves a balanced view of ego that is certain to attract scholars of science and students of life alike.

–Shelley E. Taylor, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

How do we tame the destructive aspects of human ego? This book comprehensively and insightfully addresses this question and, in doing so, should be of much value to scholars, practitioners, and the general public who are interested in the many facets of ego-charged activities in American and other societies.

–John H. Harvey, PhD, Professor of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City

Kudos to Heidi Wayment, Jack Bauer, and their contributors for shining psychology's light on a fundamental issue for the future of Western cultures and the global culture: how better to balance "me" and "we," independence and interdependence, egoism, and communalism.

–David G. Myers, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Hope College, Holland, MI

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