An illuminating, thoroughly researched study of destructive mother-daughter relationships, their causes, and their short- and long-term effects. Secunda (By Youth Possessed, 1984) characterizes dysfunctional mothers variously as ""Doormats"" (needy and inept), ""Critics"" (rigid and disparaging), ""Smotherers"" (all-encompassing, unable to let go), ""Avengers"" (angry, vindictive, violent), and ""Deserters"" (uninvolved, unsupportive, frequently alcoholic). To cope with the off-kilter family environment, the child creates a ""false self."" This involves adopting a persona that hopefully pleases the mother or buffers the young girl's ego from her mother's aberrations. Some curry mommy's favor by becoming ""Angels,"" ""Superachievers,"" or nondescript, almost invisible ""Cyphers."" Others--usually in late childhood or their teens--react by turning into resilient and mutinous ""Troublemakers"" or ""Defectors,"" who simply opt out of the relationship by finding a surrogate mother figure or by running away. Secunda ranges widely through published documents to demonstrate the historical, cultural, and psychological dynamics that have created the ""unpleasable mother,"" along with the long-term impact such women have had on their daughters' relationships with siblings, friends, co-workers, lovers, husbands, and children. Case histories (based on numerous interviews) turn up multigenerational patterns along with a variety of permutations in today's mother-daughter equation. The book's finale deals with ways adult daughters can gain not only understanding of the dynamics behind their mothers' inappropriate child-rearing methods, but even an improved mother-daughter relationship. Likely to strike a responsive chord in many.