THE HEALING CONNECTION by Jean Baker Miller

THE HEALING CONNECTION

How Women Form Relationships in Therapy and in Life
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A succinct account of why some women have difficulties entering into ``growth-fostering'' relationships and how, with the help of therapy, they can grow in this regard. Miller (Toward a New Psychology of Women, 1976), one of the leading theorists of feminist psychology, and Stiver, former director of McLean Hospital's psychology department, bring a clear feminist perspective to their research, demonstrating how, for example, the experience of power inequities at work or in relationships can make women act in inhibited or ingratiating ways. Yet the authors' work has almost as much relevance for men, particularly in their probing and sensitive exploration of what they call ``strategies of disconnection,'' such as a disinclination to enter into intimate relationships or to emotionally engage a therapist. Miller and Stiver point to three major childhood sources of such emotional distancing: deep family secrets that children intuit and that sometimes haunt them; parental emotional inaccessibility; and family circumstances that ``parentify'' a child, that is, force the child to assume certain adult responsibilities in the home. Rather than viewing lack of therapeutic engagement as resistance, as traditional interpretations would have it, Baker and Stiver view such ``disconnection'' as a necessary strategy to protect a traumatized or otherwise vulnerable sense of self. The authors sometimes lapse into psychobabble, particularly in overusing the word ``empowering,'' one of the limper adjectives of contemporary popular psychology. But more often, their helpful book, which will be of interest to both clinicians and their clients, is written in clear-headed prose and features a significant number of useful case studies.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1997
ISBN: 0-8070-2920-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1997