cover of book

The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation
by Robert Jay Lifton
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Paper: 978-0-226-48098-5

"We are becoming fluid and many-sided. Without quite realizing it, we have been evolving a sense of self appropriate to the restlessness and flux of our time. This mode of being differs radically from that of the past, and enables us to engage in continuous exploration and personal experiment. I have named it the 'protean self,' after Proteus, the Greek sea god of many forms."—from The Protean Self

"A fascinating and appealing book. . . . As he revises the psychology of the self, Dr. Lifton is subtle, even profound, in drawing a line between multiplicity and fragmentation. To those who are nostalgic for the age of the unitary ego, his message is that it is better to be fluid, resilient and on the move than to be firm, fixed, self-assured and settled. To those who worry that the post-modern age is an age of shattered selves, dissociative states, multiple personality disorders and identity diffusion, Dr. Lifton brings the good news that discontinuity can be a mirror of reality, and the standard for a reasonable life."—Richard A. Shweder, New York Times

"Lifton has challenged the conventional social-scientific wisdom of the last half century. . . .He has called attention to the emergence of a new form of self and considered it in a bold and imaginative light."—Howard Gardner, Boston Book Review

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