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About Mary Pipher


Another Country
Copyright © 2000
by Mary Pipher
How to Buy

Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia, the phenomenal bestseller about the experiences of adolescent girls today, changed forever how we understand their world, and ours. Now, Mary Pipher turns to an equally troubled passage — the journey into old age. This is a book about our parents and grandparents, because they don't grow old in a vacuum. The process can be just as painful for us — daughters and sons, granddaughters and grandsons — as for them. The gradual turning of life's tide can take us by surprise, as we find ourselves unprepared to begin caring for those who have always cared for us. Writing from her experience as a therapist and from interviews with families and older people, Pipher offers us scenarios that bridge the generation gap. And in these poignant and hopeful stories of real children, adults, and elders we find the secrets to empathy. With her inimitable combination of respect and realism, Pipher gets inside the minds, hearts, and bodies of elder men and women. And we begin to understand fully that the landscape of age is truly that of another country. Today's world is vastly different from the one our parents grew up in. It's not the world in which helping aging parents meant stopping in at their house every day; in which children could learn about the richness of life from their grandparents; and in which grandparents and children were sustained and nourished by the unique bond between those on the opposite ends of a lifetime. We need new ways of supporting one another — new ways of sharing our time, our energy, and our love. In Another Country, Mary Pipher will show us how. — from the publisher

Mary Pipher views aging through the lens of the anthropologist. She observes that to grow old for many people in today's fragmented, age-phobic, age-segregated America is to inhabit a foreign country, isolated and misunderstood. — New York Times

Another Country is a compassionate look at the disconnect between baby boomers and their aging parents or grandparents ... a passionate plea to reconnect the "old old" — those in their mid-70s and older — with the rest of society. — USA Today

Pipher wrote Another Country to help Boomers like herself better understand their parents and grandparents and to glimpse what might await them in their old age. — Chicago Tribune

Mary Pipher urges baby boomers to stay in tune with their elderly parents' needs ... With average life expectancy now in the mid-70s and 2 million Americans turning 65 each year — a number that will skyrocket as the baby boomer generation ages — the stakes are raised for families and societies alike. — People

This is a book that thoughtful Boomers can embrace as their own ... Another Country looks at issues like care-giving, death, generational relations and the resiliency many elders display in old age. It offers advice on improving our relationships with other generations and with understanding our own passing years. — St Petersburg Times

Letters to a Young Therapist
Copyright © 2003
by Mary Pipher
Basic Books
How to Buy

Letters to a Young Therapist gives voice to Mary Pipher's practice with a mix of storytelling and sharp-eyed observation. Much of what she tells us is profound in its simplicity: "Good therapy helps people be kinder, calmer and more authentic. They become more awake, more tolerant and altruistic." Mary Pipher takes a refreshingly inventive approach to therapy — fiercely optimistic, free of dogma or psychobabble, and laced with generous wisdom. In an increasingly stressful world, she offers "therapy for our times," showing us how to revitalize our emotional landscapes and get back to basics. Whether she's recommending daily swims for a sluggish teenager, encouraging a timid husband to become bolder, or simply bearing witness to a bereaved parent's sorrow, Pipher's warmth and insight shine from every page of this powerfully engaging guide to living a healthy life. — from the publisher

"Most people find talking to God more satisfying than talking to Freud," says Pipher, whether they believe in God or not. For fans of the bestselling Reviving Ophelia, such perfectly pitched, patient-centered observations will seem familiar and most welcome; for first-timers, Pipher invites readers: "Make some peach tea and find a cat for your lap. Let's visit." Even the most cynical psych snob will find that visit — a series of seasonally themed letters to a fictional graduate student describing psychotherapy from the inside out — refreshing, informative and insightful. In the brief time it takes to read this slim volume, the rhythms of blather and breakthrough, resistance and revelation come through clearly. Pipher also talks readers into becoming their own therapists, and good ones at that; her epistolary persona is one of a sympathetic woman but not a fuzzy emotional thinker. She admits "All families are a little crazy, but that's because all humans are a little crazy" and "Some therapy is just plain plodding," but she also includes many anecdotes that illuminate how a well-crafted metaphor, moment of quiet or carefully timed suggestion can change a life forever. Her view of therapists as storytellers is borne out in direct, engaging prose and succinct observation. To take just one example, Pipher notes that women see apologizing as saying, "I am sorry I hurt your feelings or caused you pain." Men see it as "I am eating shit." That's Mars and Venus in two sentences, and there's plenty more. The well-known perils of the profession emerge freshly, but also its profound rewards. — Publisher's Weekly

A long-time psychotherapist mingles reassuring tips for a newcomer to the field with personal recollections of her own successes and failures. Employing the same format as other volumes in this series (Todd Gitlinís Letters to a Young Activist, p 205, etc.), Pipher (Reviving Ophelia, 1994, etc.) writes letters to Laura, a young graduate student, setting forth some of her views on what therapy is all about and how good therapists do their work. The letters are grouped into seasons and date from early December 2001 to late November 2002. The winter correspondence discourses on the characteristics of good therapists, conducting family therapy, and helping clients connect surface complaints with deeper issues. Spring takes the author into the subjects of how to help patients deal with pain and achieve happiness, the use of metaphors as therapeutic devices, and the role of antidepressants in therapy. Pipher considers family therapy in more detail in the summer letters, which also take up the problem of the therapistís personal safety. In the fall, she turns to ethical issues facing therapists, how storytelling can help clients see themselves in more positive ways, how to recognize and deflect patientsí resistance, and how to deal with failure. Ruefully recounting some of her own missteps and bad judgments, Pipher reminds her student that therapists are human and errors are inevitable. Throughout, she eschews psychological jargon and takes a commonsensical approach to the vicissitudes of living. As she puts it in describing her own sessions with clients, "I do bread-and-butter work": she often suggests getting a good nightís sleep, going for a swim, or taking a walk. Although Pipher defines the therapistís job as clarifying issues and presenting choices rather than telling people what to do, giving advice seems to be second nature to her. Fortunately, the advice appears to be well considered and benign. — Kirkus Reviews

The Middle of Everywhere
Copyright © 2002
by Mary Pipher
How to Buy

Over the past decade, Mary Pipher has helped us understand our family members. Reviving Ophelia did for our teenage daughters what Another Country did for our aging parents. Now, Pipher connects us with our greater family--the human family. In cities and towns all over the country, refugees arrive daily. Lost Boys from Sudan, survivors from Kosovo, families fleeing Afghanistan and Vietnam: they come with nothing but the desire to experience the American dream. Their endurance in the face of tragedy and their ability to hold on to the essential virtues of family, love, and joy are a tonic for Americans who are now facing crises at home. Their stories will make you laugh and weep--and give you a deeper understanding of the wider world in which we live. The Middle of Everywhere moves beyond the headlines, into the hearts and homes of refugees from around the world. Her stories bring to us the complexity of cultures we must come to understand in these times. Harcourt is donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Pipher Refugee Relief Fund of the Lincoln Action Project.

"I saw my father and grandfather shot in our living room," says Anton, a Bosnian teen who now lives in Nebraska. His teachers see him as a potential suicide, and he struggles to make sense of being an American high school student. Profiling Anton and other refugees from around the world Russia, Croatia, Yemen, Hungary, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone bestselling author Pipher (Reviving Ophelia), drawing upon anthropology, sociology and psychology, offers a deft, moving portrait of the complexity of American life. Pipher, a family therapist in Lincoln, Neb., where these immigrants all live, is interested in the effects of globalization how it affects people's relationships, their sense of place, their identities. She writes in rich, empathetic language and with a keen, observant eye for detail and nuance. Her relationships with her subjects range widely: she is a surrogate parent to a family of four children orphaned during the Sudanese civil war; to others she is "cultural broker," for instance, helping an Iraqi family understand the difference between what they see on television and the realities of everyday American life. As in Another Country, her book about aging parents, Pipher writes directly and movingly about the complications of people's lives in a constant culture clash but is mindful to place them in a clearly defined social and political setting. Noting that after September 11, "we are all refugees from what was once our America," Pipher's ambitious undertaking of combining personal stories with global politics is wonderfully realized. — Publisher's Weekly

Student researchers, nascent psychologists, and native- and nonnative-born teens will find this is absorbing discussion material. — School Library Journal

Part survival manual, part tales from the front lines of refugee life in America, Pipher (Another Country, 1999, etc.) surveys the refugee scene in Lincoln, Nebraska. The author's hometown has been a settling area for refugees because of its low unemployment and reasonable cost of living, and it has enabled Pipher to work with refugees and gain an understanding of their predicament. Here, she tenders suggestions on how to survive in the US and also includes anecdotal material giving a taste of what it's like to be a refugee: "Imagine yourself dropped down in the Sudanese grasslands with no tools or knowledge about how to survive. ... Unless a kind and generous Sudanese takes you in and helps you adjust, you would be a goner." Much of Pipher's take on refugee life is plain commonsensical: transplanted from absurd, grotesque, punishing, often terrifying circumstances, refugees experience problems of trauma and stress, acculturation, expression, and identity. While many feel possibilities unfolding, others have a deep malaise. They are here because our nation has a tradition for empathy — sometimes not immediately visible, sometimes selective, typically fraught, but undeniable — and it is making America, in the best sense, "a richer curry of peoples." As well as offering stories of refugee experiences — charted in groups by age: the young, adolescents, early adults — Pipher details attributes that will give refugees a leg up (attentiveness, flexibility, character, resilience) and includes a long list of things Americans can teach them — from how to feed a traffic meter to where to go with INS problems — that is the real deal when it comes to empathy. If only a fraction of the advice in this valuablebook were followed, cross-cultural compassion might become much more than just a handful of words beginning in C. — Kirkus Reviews

Pipher, who has given readers fascinating insights into the lives of teenage girls (Reviving Ophelia) and aging parents (Another Country), now examines how refugees from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are adapting to life in the United States. This book is based on the author's own work in assisting people who were settled by the government in Lincoln, NE. As with her previous books, Pipher tells stories of real people and the joys and problems they experience in rebuilding their lives. As she recounts, many of the challenges faced by the refugees are nuts-and-bolts issues, such as dealing with the immigration service, locating housing, and obtaining education and jobs. Other stories deal with deeper issues such as facing tragic pasts and the difficulties of adapting to a new world. Pipher shows that these new people have much to teach Americans about courage, love, and compassion. — Library Journal

Reviving Ophelia
Copyright © 1995
by Mary Pipher
Ballantine Books
How to Buy

Everybody who has survived adolescence knows what a scary, tumultuous, exciting time it is. But if we use memories of our experiences to guide our understanding of what today's girls are living through, we make a serious mistake. Our daughters are living in a new world. Reviving Ophelia is a call to arms from Dr Mary Pipher, a psychologist who has worked with teenagers for more than a decade. She finds that in spite of the women's movement, which has empowered adult women in some ways, teenage girls today are having a harder time than ever before because of higher levels of violence and sexism. The current crises of adolescence — frequent suicide attempts, dropping out of school and running away from home, teenage pregnancies in unprecedented numbers, and an epidemic of eating disorders — are caused not so much by "dysfunctional families" or incorrect messages from parents as by our media-saturated, lookist, girl-destroying culture. Young teenagers are not developmentally equipped to meet the challenges that confront them. Adolescence in America has traditionally involved breaking away from parents, experimenting with the trappings of adult life, and searching for autonomy and independence. Today's teenagers face serious pressures at an earlier age than that at which teenagers in the past did. The innocent act of attending an unsupervised party can lead to acquaintance rape. Having a boyfriend means dealing with sexual pressures, and often leads to pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases. It's no wonder that girls' math scores plummet and depression levels rise when they reach junior high. As they encounter situations that are simply too complex for them to handle, their self-esteem crumbles. The dangers young women face today can jeopardize their futures. It is critical that we understand the circumstances and take measures to correct them. We need to make that precious age of experimentation safe for adolescent girls. — from the jacket

From her work as a psychotherapist for adolescent females, Pipher here posits and persuasively argues her thesis that today's teenaged girls are coming of age in "a girl-poisoning culture." Backed by anecdotal evidence and research findings, she suggests that, despite the advances of feminism, young women continue to be victims of abuse, self-mutilation (eg, anorexia), consumerism and media pressure to conform to others' ideals. With sympathy and focus she cites case histories to illustrate the struggles required of adolescent girls to maintain a sense of themselves among the mixed messages they receive from society, their schools and, often, their families. Pipher offers concrete suggestions for ways by which girls can build and maintain a strong sense of self, e.g., keeping a diary, observing their social context as an anthropologist might, distinguishing between thoughts and feelings. Pipher is an eloquent advocate. — Publisher's Weekly

Pipher writes from a dual perspective: that of a clinical psychologist who has been counseling girls for more than twenty years and of a mother of a teenaged daughter. Her report is frightening. Girls reaching adolescence in the 1990s must thread their way through a maze of difficult and sometimes life-threatening decisions about alcohol, sex, drugs, weight, and interests. Girls receive mixed messages from society about how to look, act, and feel, Pipher asserts, even though they are not intellectually ready to make decisions of this magnitude. As a result, depression, eating disorders, addiction, and suicide are increasing at an alarming rate. Pipher offers some practical suggestions and strategies for parents to help girls into adulthood with their sense of self intact. She also sounds a wake-up call to parents, urging them to become involved in the lives of their daughters and to change the societal pressures that push girls into crisis situations. This clear, compassionately written work, read by the author, is recommended for most libraries. — Library Journal

The Shelter of Each Other
Copyright © 1996
by Mary Pipher
Random House
How to Buy

Our country is in a profound crisis, of decency, of civility, of character. Our best instincts are undermined at every turn. And our families, to which we turn in crisis, are feeling the strain with great intensity. Mary Pipher understands this. She is a good listener, perhaps the best listener in America. And what she understands she can express in a manner that goes directly to the heart. Writing from her immersion in her community, and from her experience as a therapist, Pipher has found words to express our innermost feelings. Families today are experiencing a new set of realities. Working parents are harried, tired, and overextended. They are unable to protect their children from the enemy within, the inappropriate television they watch for hours, the computer games that keep them from playing outside, the virtual reality they tune in to when they should be learning about the real world. And so, Pipher says, we have houses without walls. Compounding this is the fact that our psychological theories don't work anymore, because they were developed decades ago, when families were tightly knit, relatively monolithic institutions. Pipher argues that Freud is of little help in our violent, sexually explicit MTV world. Diagnosing the problem is the first step to curing it, but in addition Pipher offers ideas for simple actions we can all take to help rebuild our families and strengthen our communities. — from the publisher

As she tells stories of families — her own and others' — therapist Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) focuses on small victories in what she calls "the current family-hurting culture." Distancing herself from therapies that pathologize families, Pipher claims to have experienced the power of hope that can be stimulated through carefully chosen family stories. In even the most dysfunctional families, she discerns threads of connectedness that have led to empowerment of her clients as they became more capable of handling their own lives. Pipher recommends an empathetic approach to families' efforts to survive in a difficult era, one that parallels the homesteading years of her grandparents earlier in this century. She offers plain and practical talk for beleaguered parents and the families they are trying to protect. — Publisher's Weekly

Psychologist Pipher, the best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia, once again looks at American culture to explain our problems. This time, she explores the family and what today's antifamily culture is doing to it. She argues that by glamorizing sex, drugs, and violence and regarding children as consumers, our socity teaches children inappropriate values. She condemns institutions that glorify independence to adolescents who desperately need adult guidance and teach neighbor to fear neighbor. In short, she believes our culture is tearing apart the fabric of the American family and community. Pipher also criticizes therapists who blame bad parenting for children's problems rather than looking at the whole picture of culture. Yet she also offers hope by demonstrating ways of strengthening communities and bringing families closer together, using real-life success stories. This is a book that every library should own and every person should read. — Library Journal

Compelling. — USA Today

A canny mix of optimism and practicality gives Pipher's fans a way to resist the worst of the culture around them and substitute the best of themselves. — Newsweek

Eye-opening ... Pipher's simple solutions for survival in this family-unfriendly culture are peppered throughout the heart-wrenching and uplifting stories of several of her client families. ... Highly readable, passionate. — San Francisco Chronicle

Psychologist Pipher ... provides a sharp, often unsettling critique of many of the values that currently define our lives, coupled with solid advice for rebuilding families. ... Lively, straightforward, and somewhat subversive, The Shelter of Each Other offers hope for the American family in a time that challenges its viability. — Kirkus Reviews

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