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ON News WEINBERG SPRING /SUMMER 2014  7 CAMPUS WHAT’S YOUR STORY? BY REBECCA LINDELL Professor of Psychology Dan McAdams is the author of The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By and numerous other books about personality theory. PHOTO: HCEO uman beings are natural storytellers, Professor Often, we don’t Dan McAdams says. And the most important story each of us tells is the one about our own life. discover the McAdams is the creator of the “life-story theory” of human full meaning of identity: the notion that we infuse meaning and purpose into our stories until our lives by developing our own personal myths. From childhood onward, we introduce characters and develop themes. As our later in life. stories continue, we engage in a process of “autobiographical reasoning,” drawing inferences about ourselves from the events in our lives. Often, we don’t discover the full meaning of our stories overcome some sort of adversity to achieve an enhanced state. until later in life. These types of stories are particularly popular in American “If you listen to people narrate their life stories in their culture. “In Hollywood movies, commencement speeches, and 30s and 40s, there is so much going on: conficting concerns everyday talk, Americans love redemptive stories,” McAdams regarding family, work and leisure, goals for the future, vivid says. And with good reason: “The research does show that memories of the past, confict and dreams,” McAdams observes. people who are highly generative and psychologically healthy “The stories are exciting to hear and read, but as people tend to see their own lives that way.” get closer to retirement age, some of that complexity dies down. It’s not always possible to make a positive out of a negative, They focus on a few key commitments and themes, usually McAdams notes. “But I think people should be keen to the around the importance of friends and family. They also develop opportunities in their lives whereby they are able to fnd meaning more sophisticated and, I think, more insightful ways of drawing in suffering,” he says. “When you see your life as a redemption conclusions about themselves from their stories.” story, it is easier to sustain hope and commitment in a challenging McAdams has noticed something else: that the most caring world. Your story tells you that you have overcome adversity and productive adults he has studied tend to see their lives as in the past, giving you confdence for the future.” “redemption narratives”— tales in which the protagonist has Bringing a Renaissance Undergrads Gain Free The Secret History Treasure to Life Entry to Art Institute of Las Vegas Emeritus Professors A generous gift Professor Chris Dan Garrison and from Shirley Welsh Abani’s latest Malcolm Hast spent Ryan ’61 establishes thriller sets an more than 20 years a new partnership intricate crime translating a revolu- between the museum story against the tionary textbook on and Northwestern backdrop of Sin City. human anatomy. University. PHOTO: CHOOSE CHICAGO Read more: Read more: Read more: i i i
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