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Book Review of Toward a New Psychology of Women

Toward a New Psychology of Women
ligytha avatar reviewed on + 16 more book reviews

This book is a classic. In the foreword to the 1986 edition, psychiatrist Jean Baker Miller mentioned her reasons for writing this groundbreaking book that was first published in 1976. First, in her work with women, she noticed that women had psychological strengths that they didn't seem to recognize or appreciate. Second, she was concerned that the model of the "new" woman seemed to be based on a male model, as if that were the only model of a complete person. Miller's goal was to "recognize, re-define and understand the day-to-day experience of women and to show how the mental and emotional lives of individual women reflect the social and political system" (back cover). She highlighted the need for change by describing the psychological damage that can result from unequal status and power in relationships. Although Miller focused on male and female relationships, the same outcome occurs whenever one or more groups are considered subordinate to the dominant group(s) because of such differences as race, sex, class, nationality, or religion; everyone involved is hurt by the inability to be authentic and complete. I appreciated her even-handed and realistic approach to differences: "Differences are a source of strength for each of us-so long as they are not used against us" (p. 136). Almost 30 years later, this landmark work continues to illuminate the problems caused by unequal relationships and opportunities for growth, which could explain why it can still be found in most bookstores.

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