Altering Fate: Why the Past Does Not Predict the Future

Front Cover
Guilford Press, 1998 - Psychology - 238 pages
1 Review
Daring to challenge prevailing models of child development, this provocative book from eminent psychologist Michael Lewis persuasively argues that childhood experiences neither determine who we later become nor limit what we can do. Just as our world, with its randomness, catastrophes, and chance encounters, is unpredictable in nature, Lewis shows, so too is the course of our lives. What enables us to survive - and sets us free from our pasts - is our astonishing adaptability to change, shaped by the uniquely human attributes of consciousness, will, and desire. Bringing a fresh perspective to the work of Freud, Piaget, and theorists of mother-infant attachment, Lewis disputes the idea that we can define identity based on past events or fixed stages of growth. Our pasts themselves, the book demonstrates, gain meaning only through our present consciousness, and their meaning changes as we negotiate between our values, our goals, and our present circumstances. Elaborating the author's contextual approach, chapters explore topics as wide-ranging as the surprising twists of individual life stories, the philosophy of time, the correlation (or lack thereof) between childhood abuse and adult violence, and the effects of environment on mental illness. Lewis convincingly argues that programs to help children should be designed not to prevent something that may occur someday, or to cure something that has already happened, but to foster health and alleviate difficulty now, when it counts most. Throughout, this compelling book calls into question many of our basic assumptions about causes and effects in psychological development.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

CHANCE AND NECESSITY
1
THREE FIXED IDEAS
17
TRADITIONAL MODELS OF CHANGE
31
DEVELOPMENT IN CONTEXT
51
PROGRESS AND THE METAPHOR OF DEVELOPMENT
71
BEHAVIOR SERVES MANY MASTERS
83
EINSTEIN PIAGET AND THE SELF
98
CONSCIOUSNESS AND BEING
120
ADAPTATION AND THE NATURE OF SOCIAL LIFE
137
TIME SUDDEN CHANGE AND CATASTROPHE
163
CURE OR CARE
184
NOTES
205
INDEX
227
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1998)

Michael Lewis, PhD, University Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Director, Institute for the Study of Child Development, UMDNJ--Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Bibliographic information