The groundbreaking work that poses one of the most provocative questions of a generation: what is happening to the selves of adolescent girls?
As a therapist, Mary Pipher was becoming frustrated with the growing problems among adolescent girls. Why were so many of them turning to therapy in the first place? Why had these lovely and promising human beings fallen prey to depression, eating disorders, suicide attempts, and crushingly low self-esteem? The answer hit a nerve with Pipher, with parents, and with the girls themselves. Crashing and burning in a “developmental Bermuda Triangle,” they were coming of age in a media-saturated culture preoccupied with unrealistic ideals of beauty and images of dehumanized sex, a culture rife with addictions and sexually transmitted diseases. They were losing their resiliency and optimism in a “girl-poisoning” culture that propagated values at odds with those necessary to survive.
Told in the brave, fearless, and honest voices of the girls themselves who are emerging from the chaos of adolescence, Reviving Ophelia is a call to arms, offering important tactics, empathy, and strength, and urging a change where young hearts can flourish again, and rediscover and reengage their sense of self.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||3 MB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Reviving Ophelia is my attempt to understand my experiences in therapy with adolescent girls. Many girls come into therapy with serious, even life-threatening problems, such as anorexia or the desire to physically hurt or kill themselves. Others have problems less dangerous but still more puzzling, such as school refusal, underachievement, moodiness, or constant discord with their parents. Many are victims of sexual violence.
As I talked to these girls, I became aware of how little I really understood the world of adolescent girls today. It didn't work to use my own adolescent experience from the early 1960s to make generalizations. Girls were living in a whole new world....
Even in our small city with its mostly middle-class population, girls often experienced trauma. How could we help girls heal from that trauma? And what could we do to prevent it?
This last year I have struggled to make sense of this. Why are girls having more trouble now than my friends and I had when we were adolescents? Many of us hated our adolescent years, yet for the most part we weren't suicidal and we didn't develop eating disorders, cut ourselves, or run away from home....
But girls today are much more oppressed. They are coming of age in a more dangerous, sexualized, and media-saturated culture. They face incredible pressures to be beautiful and sophisticated, which in junior high means using chemicals and being sexual. As they navigate a more dangerous world, girls are less protected.
As I looked at the culture that girls enter as they come of age, I was struck by what a girl-poisoning culture it was. The more I looked around, the more I listened to today'smusic, watched television and movies and looked at sexist advertising, the more convinced I became that we are on the wrong path with our daughters. America today limits girls' development, truncates their wholeness, and leaves many of them traumatized....
What can we do to help them? We can strengthen girls so that they will be ready. We can encourage emotional toughness and self-protection. We can support and guide them. But most important, we can change our culture. We can work together to build a culture that is less complicated and more nurturing, less violent and sexualized and more growth-producing. Our daughters deserve a society in which all their gifts can be developed and appreciated. I hope this book fosters a debate on how we can build that society for them.
Table of ContentsPreface ..... 11Chapter 1: Saplings in the Storm ..... 17Chapter 2: Theoretical Issues - For Your Own Good ..... 29Chapter 3: Developmental Issues - "I'm Not Waving, I'm Drowning" ..... 45Chapter 4: Families - The Root Systems ..... 74Chapter 5: Mothers ..... 101Chapter 6: Fathers ..... 115Chapter 7: Divorce ..... 131Chapter 8: Within the Hurricane - Depression ..... 146Chapter 9: Worshiping the Gods of Thinness ..... 166Chapter 10: Drugs and Alcohol - If Ophelia Were Alive Today ..... 186Chapter 11: Sex and Violence ..... 203Chapter 12: Then and Now ..... 232Chapter 13: What I've Learned from Listening ..... 248Chapter 14: Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom ..... 260Chapter 15: A Fence at the Top of the Hill ..... 282Recommended Reading ..... 295Index ..... 297
What People are Saying About This
“An important book…Pipher shines high-beam headlights on the world of teenage girls.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A must-read for all of us who care about young women in our lives…Reviving Ophelia arms us with information we can use in helping our daughters grow to adulthood with their strength intact.”
—Lincoln Star Journal
“Pipher is an eloquent advocate…[she] offers concrete suggestions for ways by which girls can build and maintain a strong sense of self.”
“Serious and thoughtful material presented with the fluidity of good fiction.”