Still reading Dan McAdams The Redemptive Self. Great book, really enjoying it. I get the impression that he’s the Hugh Gusterson of the Psychology world, in that he’s transcended his specific discipline and is now fully an Academic. At least this is the impression I get from his written work. But his notion of redemption has raised at least one question for me: what about the struggle for recognition? Isn’t the struggle to be recognized fundamentally at odds with any inner or lifelong narrative of redemption? George Bush had a story of personal redemption; Barack Obama gives the polis as a whole a redemption story. But recognition is something different – the desire to have someone acknowledge you, to acknowledge your inherent and essential worth as a human being. This is not the same as redemption, but people construct lives around this too. It’s the difference between Cinderella and an Underdog. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but there is a difference. To “give one what is due” or to “move from a place of darkness to light”. Perhaps the answer is simply that this is an overwhelmingly American book, written for Americans about Americans. The Germans need not interfere.
McAdams provides a very useful lens through which to understand the inability of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich to gain any traction with their base or nationally. Mitt doesn’t need redeeming; New is simply irredeemable. The absence of a narrative means the absence of any traction.