A sympathetic exploration of the misunderstood phenomenon of women and "the stubbornness of romantic obsession."
Phillips (Journalism/SUNY, New Paltz; Public Radio: Behind the Voices, 2006) believes studying female romantic obsession can increase our understanding of relationships and gender in a way "that tamer emotions rarely do,” and she proposes that a woman's fixation on someone who doesn't love her back need not be altogether negative. Through the words of historical writers (including Sappho, Ovid, Miguel de Cervantes, Carl Jung and others), studies by behavioral, social and forensic psychologists, and dozens of examples from women (both straight and gay) who shared their stories with her, Phillips argues that lovelorn women—who, she writes, experience unreciprocated love differently than men and are underexamined, perhaps due to the fact that only 1 out of 10 stalkers is female—can ultimately benefit from this "potentially meaningful and life-changing" passion. Using accessible language and terminology for lay readers, the author offers an empathetic, below-the-surface examination of what the "beloved" means to the scorned woman. Phillips responsibly acknowledges and doesn't ignore how "aggressive unwanted sexual pursuit"—including her own experience as an unwanted woman engaging in such invasive behavior, which she recounts in depth—can disrupt and ruin the well-beings of both the pursuer and the object of her attention. In fact, the confessed aggressive actions of some of these women are frightening and extreme, but the author also presents a compelling argument that, in such a heightened emotional state, women might redirect that passion to transcend limits and push toward action and attainment of a specific goal. In this way, the beloved may become a muse, and wanting someone you can't have doesn’t have to be necessarily pitiful or tragic.
Compassionate and, perhaps for some readers, encouraging.