MEETING THE MADWOMAN by Linda Schierse Leonard


An Inner Challenge for Feminine Spirit
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 A vigorous exploration by Jungian analyst Leonard (The Wounded Woman, 1982, etc.--not reviewed) of the ``Madwoman'' archetype, an unsettling image whose negative energy, she suggests, must be recognized and rechanneled as a positive force. The Madwoman appears in literature, dreams, movies, and case studies, all of which Leonard contemplates in rich detail. She describes at length eight different varieties of Madwomen--the Caged Bird, the Recluse, the Muse, etc.--giving examples from literature (Charlotte Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper), history (Alma Mahler, Rachel Carson), and her own therapy practice. In each instance, she emphasizes the need to become conscious of destructive behavior as a first step, to act for change from one's full potential and unique vision. Leonard also includes more everyday kinds of insights, commenting on the range of feelings of loss engendered by a romantic break-up, or challenging a popular stereotype (the social isolation, for instance, of the rejected single woman) with formidable contrary examples (Rachel Carson's love of solitude as a key to her productivity and strength). Throughout, Leonard writes passionately, seeing the Madwoman as an empowering symbol and the discovery process as a spiritual exercise--a kind of purification and ultimate triumph of the feminine spirit. Women Who Run With the Wolves will feel comfortable with Leonard's sense of women as nature's exiles, her use of myth and dreams for elaboration, and her validation of feminine mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-553-09122-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992