Philipson, Ilene J. 1950-
PHILIPSON, Ilene J. 1950-
Home—5478A College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618. Office—Northern California Behavioral Health, 3017 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 310, Berkeley, CA 94705. E-mail—[email protected].
Clinical psychologist, sociologist, and author. Center for Working Families, University of California—Berkeley Center for the Study of Social Change, member of staff and former affiliate scholar of Beatrice M. Bain Research Group; former staff psychologist at Pacific Applied Psychology Associates. Has taught at University of California—Santa Cruz and New York University. Editor of Socialist Review, mid-1980s.
Ethel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1988.
(Editor, with Karen V. Hansen) Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination: A Socialist-Feminist Reader, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1990.
On the Shoulders of Women: The Feminization of Psychotherapy, Guilford Press (New York, NY), 1993.
Married to the Job: Why We Live to Work and What We Can Do about It, Free Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Work published in numerous periodicals, including Fortune, Fast Company, San Francisco Chronicle, and Oakland Tribune.
Ilene J. Philipson is a sociologist and licensed psychologist specializing in working with patients who suffer from work-related problems and issues. A former editor of the Socialist Review, she has written a biography of Ethel Rosenberg and co-edited an anthology of socialist-feminist writings. She has also contributed two books to the growing body of literature on women in the workforce: an exploration of the issues surrounding the rapid increase in the number of female psychotherapists, and a study on how people become too emotionally attached to their jobs.
Philipson's first book, Ethel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths, is "a fascinating personal biography, using important information gathered from people who knew Ethel Rosenberg," according to Choice contributor P. W. McBride. A reviewer for Booklist noted that Philipson does not attempt to offer any definitive answers or judgments on the controversy surrounding her subject's life and death, but rather offers "a deeper understanding of her subject's personality, beliefs, and actions." Philipson tells the story of Rosenberg, who, along with her husband, Julius, was accused of being a communist spy and executed in 1953. Some critics commented that the thoroughness of Philipson's study is limited by its tendency toward speculation on Rosenberg's psychology, although others appreciated her interpretations of the family letters—which she was allowed only to read, and not reproduce or paraphrase. "The author has not arrived at conclusions about Ethel Rosenberg, but has posed multiple questions on her life," wrote Raymond E. Houser in a review for Voice of Youth Advocates.
Philipson coedited her next book, Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination: A Socialist-Feminist Reader, with Karen V. Hansen, also a former editor of Socialist Review. In the mid-1980s the two had edited a series of articles with Vicki Smith titled "Socialist Feminism Today," and many of those articles appear in their 1990 anthology. L. A. Kauffman, writing for Socialist Review, called it "an authoritative compilation of U.S. socialist-feminist writings" that "portrays an ambitious exercise in grand theory-building that never quite succeeded, and an equally bold attempt at movement-building that all too frequently remained mired in the convoluted concerns of theory." Philipson and Hansen's book documents the intellectual history and political developments that evolved into second-wave socialist feminism, examining the growing ideological split between radical feminists and their socialist sisters, who had an uneasy relationship with the male-dominated New Left. New York Review of Books's Helen Vendler noted that one of the tendencies of this split was that socialist feminism did not "make gender an overriding concept, as feminist literary criticism has done." Despite the ideological tension inherent in socialist feminism, Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination carefully outlines its contributions to larger feminist debates, including reproductive rights and debates on the family. "Abandoning the notion of a unique and independent left feminism, those socialist feminists who remained activists came to engage more frequently, and more fruitfully, in broader feminist and left debates," noted Kauffman.
Shortly after the anthology was published, Philipson received her second doctoral degree; since then, her writing has focused more on psychology and psychotherapy. Her third book, On the Shoulders of Women: The Feminization of Psychotherapy, explores the influx of women practitioners into the field. Contemporary Psychology's Marcy Plunkett called it "a timely intellectual and policy document" that is "an excellent example of feminist, interdisciplinary scholarship." In the book, Philipson questions the growing gender imbalance, the decrease in the occupation's status and pay, and the resulting effect on practitioners. Although Philipson admires the distinction women have received in the field, "she worries that its feminization is more reflective of a general devaluation of caregiving, and the cultural assignment of women to this arena, than a sign of progress," noted Frances L. Hoffman in Women's Review of Books. Tracing the development of psychotherapy from World War II onwards, Philipson's study documents the burgeoning field's success during the 1960s and its subsequent stymieing during the 1980s, when federal funds for mental health services began being cut. Despite the decreasing demand for psychotherapists, schools are churning out psychology graduates at a growing rate—and the majority of these newcomers are women. Philipson examines how this phenomenon has affected the field's intellectual and theoretical traditions. Reading's Joan Laird and Ann Hartman appreciated Philipson's arguments, although they felt that she "failed to question elitist, antifeminist, classist, and self-serving stances within the psychotherapeutic professions themselves." Still, Laird and Hartman called the book "clear and well informed, displaying a command of rich sociological information," and, along with many other critics, felt that the text was a timely and provocative assessment of an important issue: "this volume should help to stimulate concerted action in redefining our professional goals and the nation's social agenda."
Diane Scharper, writing for USA Today, called Philipson's next book, Married to the Job: Why WeLive to Work and What We Can Do about It, "a well-researched book that asks why we are so enamored [with our jobs] and what that means for our futures." Drawing from many different case studies, Philipson examines how the workplace has become more and more important to workers' emotional lives, tracing the trend back to "the notion that emotional ties are a sign of weakness and that the workplace can substitute for the intimacy of the family," Scharper wrote. The notion is mistaken, Philipson explains, and goes on to illustrate the ways in which workers can feel let down, abandoned, and traumatized when the work environment fails them—a feeling of betrayal that occurs more frequently among women, Philipson says. Critics appreciated that Philipson dealt with the issue practically: "She shows readers how to see that there's more to life than work," a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented. Library Journal reviewer Stacey Marien, too, wrote positively of Philipson's remedial suggestions and called the book "an essential purchase for public and academic collections."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, February, 1990, Mark Naison, review of Ethel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths, pp. 284-285.
Booklist, June 1, 1988, review of Ethel Rosenberg, p. 1631.
Choice, December, 1988, P. W. McBride, review of Ethel Rosenberg, p. 702.
Contemporary Psychology, January, 1995, Marcy Plunkett, review of On the Shoulders of Women: The Feminization of Psychotherapy, pp. 52-53.
Foreign Affairs, fall, 1988, Lucy Despard, review of Ethel Rosenberg, p. 188.
Journal of American History, June, 1989, Leslie Fish-bein, review of Ethel Rosenberg, pp. 318-319.
Law and Social Inquiry, summer, 1988, review of Ethel Rosenberg, p. 654.
Library Journal, July, 1988, John Sillito, review of Ethel Rosenberg, p. 76; October 15, 2002, Stacey Marien, review of Married to the Job: Why We Live to Work and What We Can Do about It, p. 82.
Long Island Business News, October 4, 2002, review of Married to the Job, p. A25.
New York Review of Books, May 31, 1990, Helen Vendler, review of Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination: A Socialist-Feminist Reader, pp. 19-25.
New York Times Book Review, August 21, 1988, John Patrick Diggins, review of Ethel Rosenberg, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly, April 8, 1988, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Ethel Rosenberg, p. 81; June 17, 2002, review of Married to the Job, p. 56.
Readings, December, 1994, Joan Laird and Ann Hartman, review of On the Shoulders of Women, pp. 4-8.
Signs, winter, 1996, Janet Shibley Hyde, review of On the Shoulders of Women, pp. 488-490.
Socialist Review, April-June, 1990, L. A. Kauffman, review of Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination, pp. 145-154.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1989, Raymond E. Houser, review of Ethel Rosenberg, pp. 304-305.
Women's Review of Books, June, 1994, Frances L. Hoffman, review of On the Shoulders of Women, pp. 15-16.
Northern California Behavioral Health Web site,http://www.gpa-corp.com/ (June 1, 2003), "Ilene J. Philipson."
USA Today online,http://www.usatoday.com/ (September 15, 2002), Diane Scharper, "Book Examines Workers' Emotional Ties to Jobs."