Psyche's Sisters: Reimagining the Meaning of Sisterhood

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9780062548443: Psyche's Sisters: Reimagining the Meaning of Sisterhood

This work is an exploration of the ongoing significance of sisterly relationships throughout life, bringing together personal narrative with the illuminations provided by myth, fairy-tale, and the deep psychological reflections of Freud, Jung, and their followers. The book suggests that an imaginal return to the relationship with the actual sister of early years is only the beginning; it leads forward to an understanding of how that relationship reappears, transformed, in many friendships and love affairs, and to a challenging revision of the innermost self, and even toward a new way of imagining a woman's relation to the natural world. The book in no way sentimentalizes sisterhood. In her retelling of the familiar story about Psyche and Eros Downing focuses on Psyche's relation to her envious sisters who, she suggests, push Psyche in a way her soul requires. Reflection on this aspect of the story initiates women into an appreciation of how sisterly relationships challenge and nurture, even as they sometimes disappoint and betray one another.

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About the Author:

Christine Downing, Ph.D., teaches in the mythological studies doctoral program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, after serving for almost 20 years as chair of the religious studies department at San Diego State University. Her fourteen books include The Goddess: Mythological Images of the Feminine, and, mostly recently, The Luxury of Afterwards, Preludes, and Gleanings.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this illuminating companion study to The Goddess, which demonstrated the relevance of Greek goddess traditions to the self-understanding of contemporary women, Downing focuses on the bond between sisters, blood and otherwise. Examining Greek and Near Eastern myths and the work of Freud, Jung and Adler as well as feminist theorists, she celebrates the sisterly, reciprocal attachment as the most adequate model of mature human relationships, displacing the familiar notion that the mother-child relationship is paradigmatic. Her perceptive conclusions are innovative: "Sisterhoodthe deeply intimate interdependent relationship between women that sustains us even as we fail one anotherhas become a model for me . . . where I find the parent-child model oppressive and misleading. . . I have come to see it as also relevant to our understanding of our relationship to the natural world. . .Seeing the earth as Mother ignores our responsibility to it, our interdependence with all that lives . . . ." This provocative, erudite book by the head of religious studies at San Diego State University is well-documented but precludes a lay readership as it assumes substantial familiarity with myth and folklore, feminist and psychological scholarship. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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