THE SHELTER OF EACH OTHER: Rebuilding Our Families by Mary Pipher

THE SHELTER OF EACH OTHER: Rebuilding Our Families

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Psychologist Pipher (Reviving Ophelia, 1994) provides a sharp, often unsettling critique of many of the values that currently define our lives, coupled with solid advice for rebuilding families. Maintaining that ""much of our modern unhappiness involves a crisis of meaning and values,"" Pipher contends that technology and consumerism have become the gods of the '90s. Hours spent viewing cable television programs and commercials not only discourage meaningful communication among family members, it also leaves the viewers with the impression that happiness can be purchased. This, in turn, triggers such a need for money that work--even when meaningless or despised--becomes the individual's raison d'ˆtre. True happiness, insists Pipher, comes from meaningful, ethical work. What people really need is ""protected time and space"" and the need to reconnect with one another and the outside world. Simple rituals, such as saying grace at dinner and unplugging the telephone and television, can ""hallow family time."" Shifting the lens to her own profession, Pipher further contends that most therapists only harm their clients by focusing on their particular neuroses while ignoring the negative impact of contemporary culture. Therapists can be most helpful by encouraging the building of family connections, as well as links to the natural world and community resources. Pipher supplements her thesis with case studies. We hear of families that thrive when a parent cuts back on work hours and when a disaffected teen discovers the joys of helping the elderly. Lively, straightforward, and somewhat subversive, The Shelter of Each Other offers hope for the American family in a time that challenges its viability.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1996
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Grosset