Sangiuliano's central argument--that stage theorists (like Erikson and Levinson) speak primarily to the male experience, that ""women's lives unfold, not in a rigid, predictable progression of conflicts, identity, mastery, and autonomy, but rather in great surges of billowing change""--is a bit overdone, and is undercut by her own tendency to revert to stages. Thus young women are seen as generally submerging their individuality for the sake of the union and intimacy of coupling; the villainy of sacrificing for children is not in the motherhood itself but in the ""total closeting in nurturing. . . precluding the development of other dimensions of the self""; and the middle years bring women more ""ease with their aggressive impulses."" Psychotherapist Sangiuliano used her own practice and two dozen interviews as a (not completely convincing) primary source; of course, the book is doused liberally with case histories of the Kates and Carols. More disturbing is a reliance upon a shadowy scapegoat figure called ""Too Many Women""--""Too many women have preferred an 'ostrich approach' to their lives,""--""Too many women are trapped by polarities. . . narrowing all they might become."" Yet Sangiuliano persists in plotting pivotal events--menstruation, graduation, marriage, motherhood, etc.--that contain an ""element of the unexpected,"" and she avers that the jolt from the resulting loss of innocence at each event is what produces growth. The fact that these ""pivotal events"" axe closely identified with stages makes this a confused book that virtually disproves its own slender thesis.