LEAVING MY FATHER'S HOUSE

A JOURNEY TO CONSCIOUS FEMININITY

A notable contribution to the understanding of women's development, as leading Jungian analyst Woodman comments on and provides a theoretical framework for personal accounts by three of her clients. The first-person stories by these clients—Kate Danson, Mary Hamilton, and Rita Greer Allen—make up the major part of the book. Culled by the women from hundreds of pages of their journals, the narratives demonstrate with immediacy and in moving detail the paths by which women of varied backgrounds and experiences arrive at what Woodman terms ``conscious femininity.'' But what makes this different from the many similiar Jungian-oriented books of recent years is the compelling voice in each story. Danson, a graduate student, undergoes an emotional crisis following an abortion, resulting in a shift of focus from family to academic life. Hamilton, a dancer, engages in a series of dialogues with powerful inner figures emerging from her dreams. Allen, a sculptor and filmmaker, begins her inner work at age 72 and encounters serious physical illness in the course of renewing the sources of her creativity. The backdrop to all this is Woodman's interpretation of a little-known Grimm's fairy tale, ``Allerleirauh,'' and her explication of the women's processes of ``individuation'' in terms of archetypal motifs suggested by the fairy tale. Woodman's emphasis is on the imperative for women to discount external cultural demands (the dictates of the patriarchy, the Father's House of the title) and to step into the unfamiliar territory of inner symbols and symptoms in order to transform themselves and their relationships. Lively and fascinating despite Woodman's somewhat repetitive use of popularized Jungianisms (``inner feminine,'' ``inner masculine,'' etc.). The women's narratives speak eloquently for themselves.

Pub Date: May 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-87773-578-6

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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Hiccups aside, a mostly valuable compendium of irrational thinking, with a handful of blanket corrective maneuvers.

THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY

A waggish, cautionary compilation of pitfalls associated with systematic cognitive errors, from novelist Dobelli.

To be human is to err, routinely and with bias. We exercise deviation from logic, writes the author, as much as, and possibly more than, we display optimal reasoning. In an effort to bring awareness to this sorry state of affairs, he has gathered here—in three-page, anecdotally saturated squibs—nearly 100 examples of muddied thinking. Many will ring familiar to readers (Dobelli’s illustrations are not startlingly original, but observant)—e.g., herd instinct and groupthink, hindsight, overconfidence, the lack of an intuitive grasp of probability or statistical reality. Others, if not new, are smartly encapsulated: social loafing, the hourly rate trap, decision fatigue, carrying on with a lost cause (the sunk-cost fallacy). Most of his points stick home: the deformation of professional thinking, of which Mark Twain said, “If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems will be nails”; multitasking is the illusion of attention with potentially dire results if you are eating a sloppy sandwich while driving on a busy street. In his quest for clarity, Dobelli mostly brings shrewdness, skepticism and wariness to bear, but he can also be opaque—e.g., shaping the details of history “into a consistent story...we speak about ‘understanding,’ but these things cannot be understood in the traditional sense. We simply build the meaning into them afterward.” Well, yes. And if we are to be wary of stories, what are we to make of his many telling anecdotes when he counsels, “Anecdotes are a particularly tricky sort of cherry picking....To rebuff an anecdote is difficult because it is a mini-story, and we know how vulnerable our brains are to those”?

Hiccups aside, a mostly valuable compendium of irrational thinking, with a handful of blanket corrective maneuvers.

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-221968-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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