Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent GirlsNew York Times Bestseller 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

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  • Paperback
  • 293 pages
  • Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls
  • Mary Pipher
  • English
  • 10 September 2017
  • 9781594481888

10 thoughts on “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

  1. says:

    My mom gave me this book when I was like 12 or 13 this was only the beginning of the self help slurry of books, clippings, etc that my mom would throw my way As an adolescent girl who this book is geared towards I hid the book under my bed and read other bull shit things like the other books you will see on my list read in the early to mid 90s Thinking I knew what was best for me, as girls do at that age, I continued to resist my mother s consistent pushing me to read this book She eventually gave up, an I found the book something like 10 years later and figured why not, I am already an adult, lets see how off I was in growing up WOW I feel like if I just listened to my mother at 13 I could have avoided A LOT of the most annoying parts of growing up.

  2. says:

    While this book had a whole bunch of interesting anecdotes, there were nothing 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.

  3. says:

    The most important thing about this book, that I will never forget, is how well it illustrates the shift from a bubbly little girl to a depressed angry teen and how the world just does everything it can to rob a little girl of her self esteem That s not a blaming statement, but just an observation, that girls today are taking an emotional beating at almost every turn, and this book is a call to action I recommend that you follow it up with Ophelia Speaks If you have a daughter, please read this so that maybe she will have a better time of it through your preparedness.

  4. says:

    This is a biased and thoughtless review, based on vague memories of a cranky adolescent s insensitive snap judgment, so you shouldn t pay any attention to it It s definitely of a statement about me than it is about the book, which I don t really remember anyway.I read this in the mid nineties when it came out, and I remember feeling, as a teenage girl, annoyed and offended I felt at the time that it was making too much of girls helplessness and sort of encouraging us to feel sorry for ourselves and to wallow in a sense of victimization, blaming our parents and the media for everything Honestly, though, I m sure this is a gross mischaracterization of everything in this book, which I honestly don t remember one bit Raising girls raising anyone not to be all screwed up around here around anywhere is hard work, and parents deserve all the help they can get At the same time, I do have some basic belief that adolescence is supposed to be kind of miserable that s called growing up, and it hurts I mean, obviously girls shouldn t be cutting themselves or trying to commite suicide, but adolescents feeling bad a lot of the time seems normal to me I engaged in a lot of behavior as a teenager that on paper sounds pretty pathological or at least disturbing, and I m not saying that s ideal or that I want my kids doing all of it, but I did make it out the other end, you know As did a lot of other girls I know who had much extreme problems Now we re grownups, and we ve got the stories.Again, I don t remember what this book said, but I do remember my basic reaction I felt like someone was characterizing me as being way screwed up than I felt I was, and I was annoyed by some of the case examples, especially where they reminded me of troubled friends of mine who, I felt, were not well served by a therapeutic culture that I saw at the time as potentially iatrogenic though I hadn t learned that fancy word yet.It might be interesting to revisit Ophelia now, since I always have infinitely sympathy for groups of which I am not a member If this book enlightened parents about issues relevant to raising girls in a materialistic and misogynistic culture, then the sensitive, kinder adult me is all for it I do not envy the parents today, as I think popular culture has gotten exponentially threatening to girls developing a healthy sense of self.Of course, if I were fifteen today I d probably say that was crap I would sneer at any suggestion that Paris Hilton or reality plastic surgery shows had any effect whatsoever on my development, and then I d run off to drink beer in a bush with my similarly indignant peers.

  5. says:

    When I first read this, I was very convinced of the premise that girls do great as they move forward in elementary school, but sometime between 4th and 8th grade the harsh reality hits them that they are going to be objectified and relegated to second class status in this male oriented world As a result, you see a drop off in vivacity, creativity, and individuality Instead of the former spunk and enthusiasm of girlhood, you see young women who shrink from the public eye, who retreat into depression and other mood disorders, and who give up on their dreams and possibilities.It sounds convincing because we can all think of examples that would illustrate the narrative The trouble with it isn t that it isn t true it is The problem is that it is portrayed as something that happens in contrast to what happens to boys that they are supposedly buoyed up and promoted in our society The problem is that often the emphasis and attention given to the pitfalls of girlhood comes with a parallel criticism of the favoritism given to boys in academics And the problem with that is that statistically speaking, it just isn t so On average, boys do worse in school that girls do today, especially when you look at outcomes like high school graduation, college enrollment, and college graduation.Although I think Pipher s work is important for the attention it has given to those girls who are falling through the cracks, I think we have already restructured our academic system in favor of femininity, and we do not need to delude ourselves into thinking that we need to go further in the direction of alienating masculinity in academics, in order to reach the girls who we re losing We re losing boys than girls, and in both cases, individual help is needed, not restructuring the entire system to favor one gender over another.

  6. says:

    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 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 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 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 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 stress in the 1990s Actually, this is debatable In Spin Sisters, the author posits that women s magazines sell the impression that women are 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 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 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 stress I m not sure Mary herself acknowledges in a later chapter that, while many things have become difficult for adolescent girls than they once were, other things about the world they live in are actually 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 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 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 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 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 readily than earlier generations would have I m confused about whether I was 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 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.

  7. says:

    I read this book when it first came out in 1994, when I was 13 I had just been busted by my parents for stealing prescription drugs from their medicine cabinet I think the plan was to kill myselfhazy , and this book appeared on my mother s nightstand soon after I remember approaching the book like an army general who has gotten his hands on the enemy s battle plans, only interested in it as far as it could reveal to me what plan the adults were hatching this time so I could fortify my defenses and plan a counterstrike The book also appealed to me because there was a thin girl of about my age on the cover who, I assumed, wanted to commit suicide like Ophelia in a pool full of flowers This encapsulated my two main desires at 13 To be thin and to commit suicide I failed at both.Alas, Reviving Ophelia didn t quite keep my attention at 13 If it had, I think it would have helped me understand that the intense pain I was suffering was not just my own hell but a part of a nationwide epidemic I don t know if this would have helped me, but it might have Instead, all I remember thinking was that Pipher, like many adults, seemed disproportionately concerned by body piercings Revisiting the book now, 16 years and a few million miles later, I still don t think nose rings are as big of a deal as Pipher makes out I am struck, however, by her prescience at identifying a trend which no one else up to that point had made much of Girls in the early 1990s were literally losing themselves Young girls have always had a rough time of it in American society, but suddenly the troubles hit the middle class like a tidal wave At 13, I didn t have the maturity to connect Pipher s thesis with what I indeed experienced regularly Friends in the last phases of anorexia having heart attacks in the shower, almost everyone else an anorexic wanna be, relationship abuse, drug abuse, suicides, crippling depression and self hatred Now, as an adult, I can appreciate Pipher s commitment to showing the world that these were not isolated problems, problems that happened only to girls from fucked up families, or just weird girls This was a catastrophe that struck almost every girl I knew growing up It has still not been fully examined, although many of the problems that blighted my generation are starting to wane and new ones are rising try buying your female toddler something that does not resemble a porn star costume at Target While I think that Pipher oversimplifies too much, and that she is ill equipped to make sense of many of the cultural changes of the early 1990s, her thesis generally stands today Our culture poisons adolescent girls, transforming them from children to sex objects, from active participants in their own lives to passive spectators And most bizarrely, these problems are distinctly post women s liberation post feminism I don t think it s entirely ridiculous to wonder if the daughters of the women who won liberation in the 1960s paid for their mother s gains via some sort of cultural backlash.

  8. says:

    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 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.

  9. says:

    Makes a valid point or two but I remember being insulted by this as an adolescent girl Specifically at the point when Pipher holds up a daddy knows best fundie family as raising a totally well adjusted teenager I d rather be a maladjusted junkie slut than live in the midwest with my nice, cool, cryptofascist hard on for jeezy parents, thanks This should be on the feminism, question mark shelf.

  10. says:

    me single handedly tries to fight the mass media while protecting every young girl in america

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