Constructive Developmental Theory
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Jun 29, 2021
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This article by Natali Morad is an excellent place to start to get an overview on Constructive Developmental Theory.
  • [[The Evolving Self by Robert Kegan - Book Notes]]
  • [[Kegan’s Competing commitments]]


The shift in CDT stages

  • Is preceded by the reclaimation of authority
  • does this parallel the shift from dyadic to triadic (polar to holonic) thinking

What is the triad in Kegan’s model of self and other

Does Kegan's model have anything to say about

  • choice
  • authority
  • responsibility
  • participation
  • fears
  • desires
  • limiting beliefs
  • identity
"This is an underlying architecture of behaviour and behaviour change: the undifferentiated self which becomes "other" is now differentiated self"
Hypothesis: Each new stage of Kegan's model represents awakening to a new class of choice based on seeing "deeper" into reality (seeing a new dimension).
"You can't choose what you can't see"
The motivation toward evolution or development comes from people’s need “to bring their organization into a coherence that can take account of the greater complexity with which they are faced"
Robert Kegan

Beliefs & identity that filter perception

In the same way that the 3rd force creates?/is-the space to (separate out of experience from the meaning via beliefs) experience does the same thing apply to values?
We cannot be responsible for, in control of, or reflect upon that which is subject” (p. 32). People’s unquestioned beliefs about the world are held as Subject by them.
Object, on the other hand, is the opposite of Subject. Kegan (1994) writes, “We have object; we are subject”


  • choosing how we interpret experience

Its about differentiation

when the whole (of my identity) becomes the (external object) part, my new identity(-let?) is now (differentiated) in relation to what was previously undifferentiated inside of me.
Whilst externally what was ...?
Authority is reclaimed at each level of transformation. Or is it that the act of authority enables a level of transformation.


Identity is the constellation of roles (identity-lets?), values, perceptions, beliefs & behaviours

The beliefs & identity that filters the perception of options

where perception of options is limited. But of course where the perceptual whole is not all. the authority lies in what is already known or what already exists. Imagination has no authority therefore the alternatives are not even seen

Self creating

The transformations are each stages of self authoring. Or at least about disassembling my identity
The self other stages are evident every time we see more choices. Any new awareness of choice
I had the experience tonight of noticing my tenseness and taking responsibility to care for that rather than

What is the relationship between Kegan's notion of Self Authorship and my own. Especially authority

  • For instance I see authority as external in a habit. To the extent a choice is not present in the moment it is "other-authored"
::Authority is implicit in choice wherein the agent/chooser is “centered” in time and being (the “situation-moment). This is to say that they act out of the present-moment (not habituality) and out of solely their own expectations::
The development of authority and authorship is a life-long and never-ending process

at each stage the embeddedness provides essential support for the "containment" of the self's identity
The whole is making the parts

Kegan's model is the transformation of the holon of identity (self hood) within the environment

notion image
Mitch Olson

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Mitch Olson