Reviving Ophelia with Bookflag and Lipcard

ISBN: 0345395034
ISBN 13: 9780345395030
By: Mary Pipher

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Reader's Thoughts

Myria

The author has good intentions and I agree with her on some things but…. This was horrible. I don’t even know where to begin! I really don’t. I understand parents wanting to protect their kids from these kinds of things but I hope any parent does not live by this book. Please do more research. A LOT! I don’t know if it was just me but the way Mary worded some things, it came off as she blamed men for this problem. WHATEVER. This just reminds me of a joke that Katt Williams said about woman blaming their self esteem on men. As he said “It is called SELF esteem! It is the esteem of your M***** F***ing self!” If it wasn’t that then it’s all about the media or peer pressure. Maybe I just don’t get this whole peer pressure and media thing bc growing up, I was too hard headed to be fooled by any of that. Everyone goes through peer pressure through all stages of life but there is a thing called personal responsibility. Being a girl does not give you a free pass at it. She also acts like girls can’t protect themselves or don’t have any inner strength or common sense. And as a parent, you don’t need a book like this to tell you that you should teach your child that. You don’t just pop out a kid and then that’s it. That is the role of being a parent! Giving them a safe, happy home to live in, helping them, guiding them and teaching them. That right there helps tremendously with giving your child good roots, confidence and a good head on their shoulders. And if you need ANY book to tell you that, then maybe you shouldn't be a parent.NO parent is perfect and we all make mistakes, of course, and your child will deal with challenges through life (you can’t keep them safe forever) but that’s life! Blaming this kind of stuff on social trends, does not cut it. At all!!!! Parents need to pay attention and do some homework on this subject. And by SUBJECT, I mean= *raising a bright kid *how to be there for them *not raising an air head *and understanding that self-esteem issues stem from MUCH MORE than just what the author liked to point her fingers at. What I DON'T mean= is finding ways to blame everything else but your parenting skills and/or lack of self responsibility.

Kathleen

This book deals with the lives of young girls and their struggle with eating disorders. I read this when this was an issue in my own family, and I found it to be a great resource.

Julia

I've been meaning to read this for ages, since it's the book that directed the media's attention to the troubles faced by adolescent girls. Since it was written two decades ago, it's definitely dated. Some of Pipher's concerns might even seem laughable to girls and young women today - I snickered a bit at the "crack is being sold in our suburbs!" bit, especially considering drugs like meth are today far more of a concern in Pipher's midwestern community. Despite this, the book has aged pretty well. The feminist concern that young women lose themselves in order to please others is still a major social issue, although I think there are some encouraging signs of progress. Pipher's argument that women are overemphasizing decisions to dress sexily as "feminist," rather than examining the social pressures that lie beneath this desire to be desirable, is even more necessary today. Pipher writes clearly and compassionately about a range of young women, including her troubled clients and several successful and happy young women she interviewed. Anyone interested in the intersection of feminism and psychology should read Reviving Ophelia because of its influence and insight.

Melinda

This book is highly recommended in "How to Talk to your Child about Sex" by the Eyre's, which I have read and reviewed ( http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... ), so I have queued it up for reading. *************************************This book is a good companion book to read with "Packaging Girlhood", see http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... for my goodreads review."Packaging Girlhood" shows you what goes on behind the media and marketing that pushes girls (from toddler to college age) unwittingly towards stereotypical diva / boy crazy / shopper personnas. "Reviving Ophelia" puts real faces on the girls who have been objectified and demeaned into these stereotypes, and who live with the pain and horror that it can involve. The author provides case study after case study from her own patients who have dealt with issues ranging from eating disorders to rape. It is again not a happy book to read, but I feel a very worthwhile book to read. Girls are growing up in an increasingly toxic environment. The pressures of perfect body image and "fitting in" socially turn fairly well adjusted elementary school girls into depressed and withdrawn middle schoolers and then bitter suicidal high schoolers. Just as girls are going through puberty and significant body changes, the schools become torture chambers of taunting and humiliation. Mary Pipher provides an interesting "this is the way it was" snapshot of life when she was growing up and contrasts it very effectively with the life of girls she counsels now. It isn't the way it used to be, and it is getting worse. To provide solid evidence of what she discusses, the author provides case studies from her practice as well as interviews with various girls who did not need counseling. She deals extensively with body image and how young girls, without the maturity or support to know what to do, turn to bulimia (binge / purge eating), anorexia (extreme weight loss through dieting and/ or excessive physical activity), drugs, or alcohol for solutions.Interestingly enough, some of the solutions the author has to help young girls through their growing up years include:1) Parents, DON'T DIVORCE, stay married if you can because an intact family is better for children of all ages. In the chapter on divorce, the author says that in the beginning of her practice in the 1970's she believed that children were better off with a happy single parent rather than unhappy married parents. However after 20 years of practice as a therapist, she has changed her mind. She realized that in many families the children may not notice if their parents are unhappy or happy. Yet a divorce shatters children, and very often does not make parents any happier and frequently makes women poorer and children more vulnerable.2) Be present and part of your daughter's life. Parents need to be parents and not abdicate decision making to their daughter. One interview the author had with a well adjusted teen girl showed that the mother was not working outside the home, but was present and engaged in all aspects of her daughter's life. 3) Establish structure in your home, establish rules and limits, follow through with consequences when rules are broken. Girls make wiser decisions and are more stable when their home life has these elements in them. Learn when to be flexible and when to stand firm. Too much firmness is actually better for the girls than too much leniency. One case study the author references was a situation where parents chose to let their daughter decide very early on what she wanted to do without much interference or guidance from them. They wanted her to be free to make decisions. What they did not realize was that being overly permissive did not help their daughter make GOOD decisions. She needed more guidance and firmer boundaries. In trying to teach her to be free and independent, they had actually contributed to her being overwhelmed and depressed. She needed for them to be the responsible adults and guide her, so she could grow up into a responsible adult.The 2001 edition of the book I read had a reader's guide at the end with some good questions to think about and answer. There was also an interview with Mary Pipher 10 years after the book had been published. One question in the interview that I thought was particularly good was "If you could offer one or two pieces of advice to girls, their parents and teachers, what are the best things they can do to weather the storm of adolescence?" Mary Pipher's answer is revealing and I quote it completely. She answers, "First of all, be very intentional about media. Don't watch a lot of TV, be cautious about the kind of music and movies you consume, read good books as opposed to teen magazines. Be careful about your intellectual diet. If you have an intellectual diet of junk food, you have a brain full of junk. I would advise people that this is a serious life decision -- deciding what to consume, in terms of information and culture.Another thing that's very important is that teenagers not be isolated from other age groups. The biggest and best change we could make in America overnight would be to have a whole bunch of seventy-year-olds rehearsing with middle school bands, helping kids learn to read, teaching children how to garden and fish, and so on. Likewise, it's important for teenagers to be involved with little kids, and with people in their twenties, who can look back on when they were that age and offer them some decent advice on how to make choices. I really argue for a lot more mixing of the generations than we have now.Finally, I think it's really important for parents to insist that their kids be plugged into family. Adolescents should go to family reunions, eat at family meals, and have regular contact with grandparents and cousins and extended family members. Parents shouldn't let kids make all of their own choices about how they spend their time. Essentially, kids are told three thousand times a day by advertisements to spend their time shopping and consuming. Unless parents teach kids that there are other ways to spend their time, how will children even know that they have other interests?"In reading these suggestions, I was happy to see that families who homeschool are taking her advice to heart. Homeschoolers I know evaluate TV, music, and movies that come into their homes and strive to teach discernment over blind consumption. They as a rule read more books, and place a high value on a vigorous intellectual diet. Homeschoolers I know also mix multiple generations together. Seventy-year-olds ARE teaching middle schoolers. Teens ARE around little kids. Homeschoolers I know ARE teaching their kids other ways to spend their time and learning other interests.So while the overall book is very sober, I think there is great reason to be encouraged. Mary Pipher insists that the only way to change the toxic culture young girls are facing is to change the culture. I think homeschooling parents are hearing what she has said, and are responding.

Shelly

It's been a while since I read this and was reminded about it via a thread on this very website about how women feel about barbie dolls and the like. The author is a psychologist who works with adolescent girls and suggests that there is a window (somewhere between 9 and 13 if I remember correctly) where young girls will either choose academic, athletic, or artistic endeavors--or boys. Girls learn to like boys early on (way before they learn to like girls) and an unfortunate consequence of this is that they will often do whatever it takes to get the young boys attention. So little girls who had no problem playing in the mud, or climbing trees, or whatever--become more self-conscious about their appearance and will start to wear make-up, "sexy" clothes(i know that sounds gross in this context but), and alter their daily activities so that they become someone a boy would notice more. As they get older, maybe they put out, or smoke pot...whatever they feel might attract a particular boy to them. The key here is to keep young girls occupied with other activities like sports and music so that you delay that window and the girl has time to build her self-esteem/identity before she becomes interested in boys. Girls who have their own interest are less likely to alter their life to conform to something a teenage boy may be interested in.

Marianne

I am too angry about the idiocy of the author of this book to write a review. It started off somewhat promising, although it's horribly crafted and hokey. It took a downward dip when Pipher mentioned that she honored a client's request not to "tell [the client's:] parents" that the client's boyfriend had abused her. That's against the law, Mary Pipher. You gotta report that shit--perhaps not to the parents but definitely to the police for sobbing out loud.

Artistlace

This book has been around since the mid 1990s, and I finally took the time to read and enjoy it.I wish I'd picked it up sooner, but most of the themes and issues discussed in the book are just as relevant today and when the text was written.Mary Pipher has a writing style that lets you in on her perspective and personal experiences, while educating you and making the reader more conscious of the world that surrounds them. Personal anecdotes are sprinkled among the interviews and descriptions of adolescent girls and their parents that Mary met and treated while writing this book.It is a sad fact that so many young girls entering adolescence loose their androgynous interests and distinct personal traits in favor of becoming a more marginalized version of themselves based on what they feel society expects of them.A friend recently suggested that we need a sister publication of "Reviving Ophelia" written with adolescent males in mind, as surely they struggle with gender roles and expectations upon entering adolescence as people of all genders do.

Laura

This book is targeted at parents of girls in the 90's. While I think it had many good things to say, it was also very repetitive and could have been edited into a much tighter and more to the point read. Also, a little updating is in order. When Pipher wrote this book, things like "myspace" and "facebook" weren't even in existence. I imagine that many parents in the 00's and beyond would probably appreciate some tools for dealing with these new intrusions into family life.Some parents might take issue with some of Pipher's sentiments. This book is not written from any particular religious standpoint and thus some pluralistic views are in place. She does also take the stance that some experimentation with "chemicals" in adolescence is normal and to be expected. As a mother of a soon to be teenaged stepson...I don't agree with this view!All in all though, this book does drive home the amount of influence the culture at hand can have upon a child. Pipher deals with the cultural impact on girls' psyches in the main, but even parents of boys should take note of the negative impact that their son's can experience as well.

Marcea

The superlatives I could list for this book would fill an entire page. It’s profound, insightful, moving, disturbing – I could go on and on. The subtitle of this book is ‘Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls’, but it could just as easily have been ‘Where We’ve Come From to Get Here’ or ‘Every Woman’s Glance Back’. Tt has raised many issues for me that would be better more fully developed in my journal. Pipher was not only very illuminating with the content but also inspiring with her phrasing and style. As I was reading I kept thinking of more people I thought should read it, my baby brother & sister-in-law who don’t yet have children or anyone has or who may raise daughters. In reading this I believe every woman would better understand their selves, & every man could gain insight into women they love and both use the wisdom to guide and protect their daughters and nieces.

Emily Quaco

When it came to Reviving Ophelia, personally I liked it. What stuck me the most about this book was how Dr. Mary Pipher got so into her investigation. She was wanting to figure out the social and culture challenges of teenage girls, and what caused them to be how they are. She realized that there is a lot that goes into the challenges of fitting in a society and then figured out why a lot of girls were suffering from different things. This book is recommend for older teens/ early twenties and people that want to realize and understand the challenged adolescents face to this day.

Laura

While this book had a whole bunch of interesting anecdotes, there were nothing more than anecdotes. The fact that a bunch of her patients manifested particular characteristics doesn't lead to the ability to generalize about adolescent trends in general, as Pipher does here. On the contrary, it's just as reasonable to believe that her patients, many of whom presumably came to her through referrals from other patients, were a self-selecting group, each of whom referred people to Pipher because she had proven talented in dealing with particular adolescent issues. If Pipher had written a book about the traits of her individual patients, most of whom were adolescent girls, that would have been one thing, and probably would have been a pretty good book. But when you're trying to make broad pronouncements about social trends, as Pipher is, anecdotes about your group of patients won't cut it. At all.

Jaclyn

This book has opened my eyes to the complications of adolesence that my daughter is just on the cusp of. Although the book is 10 years old, and I am significantly younger than the author, I found the topics to be very relevant even today. I personally relate better to the author, who was a child in the 50's, and feel that the problems girls were beginning to face in the 90's are worse than I faced in the 80's and are still very much a probem today, probably more so. Reading about all of the challenges my daughter is about to face in this new stage of her life was vey helpful and opened my eyes to things I would not quite have understood if I hadn't read this book. I related to the author's admitted naivety until college (for me it was late high school), and recognized many of the problems the girls faced in the book as problems still rampant today. It actually saddened me that 10 years later we have made so little progress toward protecting our young girls and educating our young boys. This book spurred many conversations between my daughter and I, by helping me see the questions I should be asking, the red flags I should be looking for, and brought me to a more understanding and open minded approach in these regards. Hopefully, having these conversations at an early age, and frequently going forward, will help ease the painful transition through adolesence for my daughter and I, and protect her from some of the bigger problems many girls now face due to lack of education and a constant feeling of misunderstanding.

Beth

I have been meaning to read this book for years and finally got around to it. The beginning of the book is almost depressing because it highlights all the hardships that girls encounter as they enter puberty and how it crushes their vivacious, independent spirits of childhood. But I liked how Pipher gives a framework to how to see things from a girl's perspective while giving her tools to help her through the hard times. Self-reflection, handling stress, choosing limits for yourself, etc. I appreciated that she believes that a strong family structure and positive women influences can help girls through--although it might not be easy to see that anything is helping until later adolescence. I enjoyed the wide variety of anecdotes because she shows how the culture affects almost all girls while still showing that each situation is different and is changed by many variables--home situation, parenting styles, environment, school friends, talents, looks, etc. Since this is about adolescents growing up in the 1990s, it is probably now considered "old," but I think most of what she has to say still holds up today, perhaps even more amplified than in the 90s. I would love to see this book updated with more about how social media and the omnipresent cell phone and internet have affected the culture that girls grow up in and the messages that are being thrown their way.

Elyssa Anne

Some parts of this book were OK. Some of it offended me and angered me. As I read, I made notes on statements that irked me. Such statements included the author basically saying that every teen will go insane with their sexual desires and be torn apart by them in adolescence. Another time she used the term "psychopath" to make reference to violent, 'crazy' people (which is sad as she is a mental health professional) in session with a client.Most of the statements in this book made me feel less like a teenaged human being and more like a predictable, mechanical object that is programmed to do things a specific way in unison with every other person my age. I was hurt by some of the author's assumptions and vague criticisms of the behaviors of teens. Yes, many behaviors are wrong and need correcting, but you can't assume that every teen is totally destroyed in the head based on an experimental pool of about 25 therapy clients. Would not read again if the chance came up.

K

Hmmmm....very mixed feelings about this one.Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls covers a lot of the same ground as Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student. We read about adolescent girls struggling with depression, eating disorders, self-mutilation, premature sexual involvement, etc. Both Mary Pipher and Miriam Grossman are mental health practitioners who treat these girls and view their difficulties less as individual issues than as an indictment of the high-pressure, overly sexualized, hedonistic, materialistic, narcissistic society in which they live. For all their overlap, I couldn't decide why Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls irritated me so much more than Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student did.I hate to think that my own biases played a role here, though I have to admit they probably did. Miriam Grossman is, I believe, an Orthodox Jew like myself who shares a lot of my beliefs about traditional values and the benefits of a religious lifestyle which may be why I felt more open to her perspective. Mary Pipher, in contrast, appears to be a staunch feminist who attributes the problems she sees to a misogynistic society with unrealistic ideals for women. While I'm sure she's not entirely wrong, I found her views at times overstated and alarmist.“Girls have four general ways in which they can react to the cultural pressures to abandon the self," says Pipher on page 43, "They can conform, withdraw, be depressed, or get angry.” Um, how about simply resisting the pressure in a positive way? Doesn't anyone do that any more? Is the world really so awful? What about all the people who come out “normal,” whatever that means? Surely some girls make it through adolescence without needing therapy for an eating disorder or self-mutilation, don’t they? Is that just my background talking (sheltered, religious, single sex schools, little contact with the opposite sex before college)? In fact, I'm aware that girls from my background can also struggle with serious issues like the ones Pipher describes but I meet a lot more girls who don't.In a similarly monolithic statement, Mary says on page 150: “If we picture depression on a continuum, at one extreme would be severe depression with some biochemical basis and disturbed family functioning. AT the other end of the continuum would be ordinary adolescent misery [how about happiness, Mary? Why wouldn’t that be the other end of the continuum?]…Most girls suffer depression somewhere between these two extremes.”Really? Most? Well, probably most girls in therapy which is where her information comes from. But actually, I believe there are some reasonably happy, or at least relatively contented, adolescent girls out there.Mary also claims on page 158 that “Girls are under more stress in the 1990s.” Actually, this is debatable. In “Spin Sisters,” the author posits that women’s magazines sell the impression that women are more stressed out today when in fact, women have never had it so good. Does that apply to girls? I’m not sure, but I certainly think that a blanket statement like “Girls are under more stress in the 1990s” without research to support it should not be made in this unqualified way. Can we examine this a little? Why are girls under more stress now than when they had to help out on the farm and couldn’t go to school? I agree that there are new, unprecedented stresses today on girls that didn’t use to exist. But is there more stress? I’m not sure. Mary herself acknowledges in a later chapter that, while many things have become more difficult for adolescent girls than they once were, other things about the world they live in are actually more flexible and positive.Here's where the feminist agenda irritated to me and felt like a misattribution. On page 175 Mary asserts that, “They [anorexic girls] epitomize our cultural definitions of feminine: thin, passive, weak, and easy to please.” Um, isn’t this a little outdated? Is this still our cultural definition of feminine? I mean, yeah, this ideal certainly isn't dead but I wouldn’t go so far as to make the blanket statement that it, and only it, is our cultural definition of feminine. Although Piper complains, legitimately, about many movies’ sexist portrayal of women, I can also point to popular films where women are strong and tough and get for what they want by working for it, not by looking pretty. Which brings me to another point. My husband has a great-aunt who, obviously, comes from an older generation with more old-fashioned ideals for women. So she never particularly progressed in a career; she raised four children, did a lot of volunteer work, and may have had some pink-collar job or another at some point. This woman, now in her late 80s, is lovely. She’s charming and sociable, always put together – a real lady in the true sense of the word. She’s also a happy person who doesn’t appear to feel particularly deprived or disappointed that she never became a fast-track career woman; she enjoys many satisfying memories of family and positive experiences.I think feminism gave us many things, and like anything else, it’s not all-bad or all-good. But here is one of my problems with feminism. I think it rejected the idea of being like my husband's great-aunt. Being a lady is no longer something to aspire to; it’s considered outdated at best and repressive at worst. Maybe we need to take a look at this. Was every woman who stayed home unhappy? Was every woman who expressed her femininity by looking good and having a social persona that put everyone around her at ease depriving herself and inevitably disappointed in her life? Why aren’t there more women like my husband's great-aunt today? Is there something wrong with aspiring to be a lady like her? Can a woman admit it if she feels this is something she would like to be? If not, isn’t feminism in its own way just as repressive as the alleged misogyny of earlier days was? Okay, so my husband's great-aunt was pretty and spent time putting herself together in the morning. So her idea of enjoying herself included taking care of her kids, mah jongg and swimming with the girls, volunteer work, etc. So sue her. I wouldn’t describe her as thin, passive, weak, and easy to please. Easy to get along with, yes. But passive isn’t the word I would use, and neither is weak. These are pejorative, loaded terms when something more positive (diplomatic, tactful, socially adept, engaging) can be substituted. Thin enough, certainly not anorexic. Mary Pipher appears to be echoing feminist rhetoric when she claims that anorexia is an attempt to conform to feminine ideals. In fact, the ideals she describes date back to the days before anorexia. Anorexia actually became more of an issue once these ideals of femininity were challenged and, to some extent, rejected by many.And yet, for all my gripes, I found myself agreeing with many things Pipher said. For example, her views of divorce (pp. 133-4):“In the late 1970s I believed that children were better off with happy single parents rather than unhappy married parents. I thought divorce was a better option than struggling with a bad marriage. Now I realize that, in many families, children may not notice if their parents are unhappy or happy. On the other hand, divorce shatters many children…Of course, some marriages are unworkable. Especially if there is abuse or addiction involved, sometimes the best way out of an impossible situation is the door. Adults have rights, and sometimes they must take care of themselves, even when it hurts their children…But divorce often doesn’t make parents happier. Certainly it overwhelms mothers and fathers, and it cuts many parents off from relationships with their children. Many times marriages don’t work because people lack relationship skills. Partners need lessons in negotiating, communicating, expressing affection, and doing their share. With these lessons many marriages can be saved…So in the 1990s I try harder than I did in the 1970s to keep couples together and to teach them what they need to know to live a lifetime with another human being.”I've seen friends and relatives struggle with difficult marriages, and I readily acknowledge that sometimes divorce is the only answer. I respect Pipher, though, for viewing it as a last resort. In fact, most of the struggling teens she describes have divorced parents, a fact which is mentioned peripherally and then discarded in favor of further diatribes about society's misogyny and impossible feminine ideals.Pipher also echoed my ambivalence about the Haim Ginott school of parenting (p. 242): “…parents tolerate…open anger much more readily than earlier generations would have. I’m confused about whether I was more repressed as a child or just happier. Sometimes I think all this expression of emotion is good, and sometimes, particularly when I see beleaguered mothers, I wonder if we have made progress.”She agreed with my feelings about psychology's overemphasis on family dysfunction (p. 251): “While Miranda [a bulimic teen] was in this program [a treatment center for eating disorders], her parents secured a second mortgage on their home to pay for her treatment. They called her daily and drove to the faraway center every weekend for family therapy…“My first question to Miranda was, ‘What did you learn in your stay at the hospital?’“She answered proudly, ‘That I come from a dysfunctional family.’“I thought of her parents…They weren’t alcoholics or abusive. They took family vacations every summer and put money into a college fund. They played board games, read Miranda bedtime stories…And now, with Miranda in trouble, they had incurred enormous debts to pay for her treatment. For all their efforts and money, they had been labeled pathological.“…Psychology has much to answer for in its treatment of families. We have offered parents conflicting and ever-changing advice. We have issued dire warnings of the harm they will do if they make mistakes in parenting, and we have assured them that they are inadequate to the task. Our tendency to blame parents, especially mothers, for their children’s problems has paralyzed many parents. They are so afraid of traumatizing their children that they cannot set clear and firm limits. They are so afraid of being dysfunctional that they stop functioning.”And I loved some of the things she had to say about therapy and the way she works with people.So where does that leave me? Did I hate this? Did I like it? I think if I ever had the opportunity to meet Mary Pipher, we would have a long talk and many heated arguments. But we would also agree about a lot of things. And the book was certainly readable, and though not based on empirical research, offered a large quantity of case studies to support its points and was clearly more than speculative.So I guess I'm giving this a conflicted three stars -- one of those times when my feelings weren't neutral but rather, all over the map.

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