Beyond the Myths: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Psychology, History, Literature and Everyday Life

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9780140251869: Beyond the Myths: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Psychology, History, Literature and Everyday Life

This text invites women to question their own situation, exploring the psychology of mother-daughter relationships through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and the myths and reflexes that reinforce blame and guilt and prevent change. It gives fresh consideration to the complex role of fathers in mother-daughter relationships and to the shared experiences of siblings, and suggests practical ways of healing rifts and building better relationships. Reaching beyond psychology and history, the book explores the insights of classic and contemporary fiction, from Jane Austen and the Brontes to Virginia Woolf, Colette and Doris Lessing. The interpretations illustrate how mother-daughter conflict is not only necessary but fruitful as an impetus to the creation of our own autonomy and individuality.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

This hit parade of psychological and mythical views of a basic family bond teems with good intentions but fails to spark with originality or humanistic warmth. In a two-part format that first details the psychological components of the mother-daughter relationship and later offers a form of literary self-help called ``bibliotherapy,'' Phillips, director of the Foundation for Child and Youth Studies in Australia, aims for a practical book that will help those ``wanting to build good relationships.'' But it is too sober and familiar to touch readers seeking help. Book One, ``The Psychology of Mother-Daughter Relationships,'' is wide-ranging but a bit tired, with topics such as ``The Snow White Syndrome'' and ``Guilt and Super Mum''; the central villain is a patriarchal society. A discussion of feminist psychology (Freud, Chodorow, Gilligan, among others) equally lacks innovation. In addition, Phillips's sketchy case studies bring little life to the work; they are used mainly to illustrate a point, not to introduce someone for readers to learn from. (It is also possible that the long spray of Emmas, Beatrices, and Ediths discussing ``Mum'' may be too British for a country used to Mom and kids named Ashley and Tiffany.) In general, the subjects in Book Two, ``Retrieving Our Heritage,'' are fresher and more engagingly presented: matrilineal societies, matriarchies, analyses of the characters in Austen, Eliot, and Bront‰, among other subjects. An ambitious work that attempts a melding of psychological/literary studies and self-help psychology but ends up caught between the cracks, succeeding fully at neither. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Phillips, an Australian psychologist who also holds degrees in history and English literature, attempts a broad interdisciplinary analysis of the ways mothers and daughters overcome the myths that divide them. She overreaches, however, making broad generalizations in areas such as religion in which she is less well-informed. For example, in her chapter on Christianity and the mother-daughter relationship, she skips directly and unapologetically from the Hebrew Scriptures to the European Middle Ages. Her genuine feminist insights?such as seeing potential benefits in mother-daughter conflict, and looking at the psychological effects of the birthing and mothering process on the mother as well as the child?are buried in too much verbiage about too many topics about which Phillips knows too little. The book is divided into two sections, the first an overview of the mother-daughter relationship through the developmental process, and the second an overview of literary history. Each has merits, but in the first section Phillips is on firmer ground.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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