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Many self-help books recommend little more than some changes in one's mental attitude and life style plus, almost inevitably, exercise, rest and improved nutrition. This one goes that route, too. But Dr. Atkinson, when she tackles the physiological as well as socioeconomic factors that drain women of energy, rises slightly above the common tuck of the genre. Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause produce physiological as well as psychological stress. The first can be made less draining, says Atkinson, if a woman schedules less work and other activities during the worst days before and during her period. She provides a fairly complete analysis of the extreme and often exhausting demands of pregnancy, but comes up with little other than--yes, again--lots of rest, proper nutrition as well as (need one say) no tobacco, alcohol, stimulants or self-dosing with pills. As for menopause and the post-menopause years, she suggests hormone replacement therapy. Atkinson contends that the changing status of modern women has produced unusual stresses. With new job opportunities, women must decide whether to combine full- or part-time work with motherhood, or to opt for a long sabbatical while the children are young, or even for a full-time permanent career as a housewife-mother. Even though the workplace has adapted little to the special needs of women with children, Atkinson leans toward work outside the home. She cites studies that indicate working mothers are physically and emotionally healthier than full-time housewives. She claims working mothers have a better self-image, more control of their lives and are less prone to depression and fatigue (this despite a study that found they average 37 hours a week on housework and children on top of their 40-hour jobs). She includes a number of possibly useful suggestions on how to make the workplace less stressful and healthier by motivating the boss to decrease monotony, improve lighting, reduce noise, and so on. Atkinson idealizes somewhat in arguing that the computer revolution will return both sexes to the home which, she says, was where most men worked before the Industrial Revolution, as did women before liberation. This, she thinks, will be a boon to parents, not to mention their offspring. Since this halcyon day is still in the future, her book may help women to survive until that deliverance.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1986
Publisher: Putnam