Book Report on Reviving Ophelia by Dr. Pipher Essay
Pipher remembers her cousin Polly as a young girl. She describes her as energy in motion. A tomboy, Polly dances, plays sports with the neighborhood boys, and rides horses. Once Polly enters adolescence, however, other children begin teasing her about her tomboyish ways and insist that she be more ladylike.
The boys exclude her from their activities, and the girls isolate her because she is different. Polly becomes confused and withdrawn. Later, Polly begins wearing stylish clothes and trying harder to fit in.
She again becomes accepted and popular.
Dr. Pipher feels that she is the only one saddened by Polly’s transformation from force of nature to submissive follower. Dr. Pipher discusses Freud’s analysis of girls in the latency period, the years between ages six or seven through puberty.
She praises their ability to accomplish anything during this period because they are androgynous, neither masculine nor feminine. They can shrug off male and female stereotypes and just do whatever they want.
Dr. Pipher explains the depiction of this phenomenon in fairy tales.
She notes that young women eat poisoned apples or prick their fingers with poisoned needles and fall asleep for a hundred years.They have to be rescued by a prince in order to survive, and they emerge from the story with passive, docile personalities. She reflects on the character Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And when Hamlet eventually rejects her for being obedient to her father, she goes insane.
Dr. Pipher describes adolescent girls as female impersonators whose mission in life is to please others. The pressure to become someone they are not angers them and makes them lash out at the adults in their lives. Popular culture forces them to assume both a true and a false self.
They put their false self on display for the adults while they suppress their true selves. Dr. Pipher compares these girls to saplings in a hurricane. She lists three factors that make them vulnerable to the storm.
First, they are changing in every way – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They experience intense anxiety as they try to find their place in the world. Second, American culture subjects these girls to sexism, capitalism, and lookism, the evaluation of a person solely based on physical appearance. Third, American culture demands that adolescent girls distance themselves from their arents at the exact time that they need them most.
The close parent-child bonds fall away, and girls turn to their peers for reassurance.Parents also suffer from the loss of this important relationship. Dr. Pipher observes that her young female patients are angry and easily offended by the adults in their lives.
They suffer significant mood swings and behave unpredictably. Dr. Pipher also notes that these issues are not confined to her patients. Many of the young women that she meets at speaking engagements are struggling with the same obstacles.
Dr. Pipher says the fact that psychologists do not have any conclusive theories regarding treatment of girls this age. The girls are difficult to study due to their secretive natures. They do not enjoy discussing their problems with adults.
Adolescent girls may refuse to discuss their problems with their parents, but they still blame their parents for the hardships that they experience. They still expect their parents to protect them from the dangers of society. Parents may blame themselves for their daughters’ behavior. They may also feel isolated, and believe that they are the only parents who feel this way.
Dr. Pipher stresses that many of these problems will improve during the girls’ late high school years, but they can have lasting consequences on the girls’ adult lives as well. Dr. Pipher treats many adult women who never recover from the pain that they experience during adolescence.
Some of these women completely lose touch with their own needs. They grow into angry adults that feel betrayed. They believe that they are following all of the rules, but they are not experiencing the perfect life that they want. Parents blame their daughters’ problems on themselves, but Dr.
Pipher believes that American culture is to blame. She believes that some of the families that she sees in therapy are not actually dysfunctional. The culture in which they live is dysfunctional. Parents share their values and ideals with their daughters, but the mainstream media sends them an entirely different message.
Children may blame their parents for their unhappiness during adolescence. They still expect their parents to protect and care for them, even as they push them away.They are not yet mature enough to understand that society is to blame. Dr.
Pipher reveals her own frustration in trying to help girls. She recalls that psychology professors are mostly men who do not study girls. She finds that some common themes, including preoccupation with weight, fear of rejection, and the need for perfection, appear to be rooted in cultural ideals rather than each girl’s individual personality. Adolescent girls are faced with conflicting messages.
They are pressured to be beautiful, but told that beauty is only skin deep. They should be sexy, but not sexual. They should be honest, unless it hurts someone’s feelings.They should be independent, but nice.
Finally, they should be smart, but not so smart that they threaten the boys. Dr. Pipher talks about what all girls go through during adolescence. They are being rigorously trained for the adult female role.
They must sacrifice anything about themselves that popular culture considers masculine. Girls learn that they must be attractive, ladylike, unselfish, and of service. They are responsible for making relationships work, and they must be competent without complaint. Dr.
Pipher explains that adolescent girls find it impossible to be both feminine and adult.She cites psychologist I. K. Broverman’s study, in which male and female participants check off a list of adjectives describing the characteristics of healthy men, healthy women, and healthy adults.
Most people describe healthy men and healthy adults in the same way. Healthy women, however, are described very differently. Healthy women are described as passive, dependent, and illogical, while healthy adults are active, independent, and logical. Today’s adolescent girls struggle to learn the rules of becoming a young woman in our society.
Girls who speak out are labeled bitches. Unattractive girls are scorned. These behaviors are reinforced by visual images in pornography, song lyrics, criticism, and teasing. Teen magazines focus on diet, makeup, and the pursuit of boys.
They do not discuss sports, hobbies, or current events. When girls study history, they read mostly about men. They study a Constitution that grants only white males the right to vote. Adolescent girls have an enormous preoccupation with their bodies.
Dr. Pipher states that the luckiest girls are those that are neither too plain or too beautiful. Their identities are not based on appearance alone. They are confident in their sense of humor, intelligence, and strength of character.
Young girls strive to look like the celebrities that they view in the media. According to Dr. Pipher, American beauty queens are getting taller and thinner, thereby everything. Dr.
Pipher explains that girls also suffer from what is called the imaginary audience syndrome. Girls think that people are always watching them, scrutinizing their every move widening the gap between the real and the ideal even further.Young girls suffer from immature emotional systems. Their emotions are extreme and inconsistent.
Even the smallest remark, especially one related to the girl’s appearance, can be emotionally devastating. Dr. Pipher notes that girls often lose perspective at this age. They really do think that even the tiniest details are life and death issues.
During the early years of adolescence, most young girls cannot grasp abstract concepts. The girls’ immaturity makes it difficult to reason with them. They read into everything too much. Dr.
Pipher tells many stories about different relationships. Parents that are to strict, parents that are non-existent, jealous parents, gay parents, single parents, divorced parents, families with death, parents with ill children, foreign families, mother-daughter, father- daughter, brother-sister, and sister-sister relationships Dr. Pipher covers all the different problems, and successes that those types of families undergo. She gets in depth about the insecurities, lookism, false self, authentic self, acquaintance rape, bulimia, anorexia, self- mutilation, misogyny, and Feminism.
Dr. Pipher describes adolescent girls as fragile young trees swaying in the onslaught of an ominous storm or hurricane. And also repeatedly describes young girls as different types of flowers. She truly gets on point with everything she says, and discovers with all the adolescent girls she see’s and discusses.
She points out all the bad things that teens follow or look up too, and is saddened by the way girls kick themselves down, when they are truly all beautiful, and simply amazing in every different way.