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The Redemptive SelfStories Americans Live By$
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Dan P. McAdams

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176933.001.0001

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The Redemptive Self

Dan P. McAdams

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the psychological concept of generativity and its place in the human life course. Introduced to psychology through the writings of Erik H. Erikson, generativity is an adult's concern for or commitment to promoting the well-being of future generations through parenting, teaching, mentoring, leadership, and engaging in a wide range of behaviors aimed at leaving a positive legacy of the self for future generations. The extensive research literature on generativity is reviewed, and an extensive case study of the life story of one especially generative midlife woman — a mother and nurse — is provided. The woman's life story illustrates six key themes in the redemptive self, themes that are also apparent in aspects of the life stories of American social reformer Jane Addams and former American President Jimmy Carter, as well as in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Keywords:   generativity, stages of development, Erik H. Erikson, Jimmy Carter, Jane Addams, Gettysburg Address

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