Pipher, Mary (Bray) 1947-
PIPHER, Mary (Bray) 1947-
PERSONAL: Born October 21, 1947, in Springfield, MO; daughter of Frank Houston and Avis Ester (Page) Bray; married Jim Pipher (a psychologist), October 18, 1974; children: Zeke, Sara. Education: University of California-Berkeley, B.A. (cultural anthropology), 1969; University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ph.D., 1977. Religion: Unitarian-Universalist.
ADDRESSES: Office—3160 S. 31st St., Lincoln, NE 68502. Agent—Susan Lee Cohen, Riverside Literary Agency, 1052 Weatherhead, Hollow Guilford, VT 05301.
CAREER: Psychologist and author. Private practice of psychology in Lincoln, NE, 1979-2000; Faculty member, University of Nebraska—Lincoln and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
AWARDS, HONORS: Presidential citation for excellence, American Psycological Association.
Hunger Pains, privately printed, 1987, published as Hunger Pains: The Modern Woman's Tragic Quest for Thinness, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Putnam (New York, NY), 1994.
Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families, Putnam (New York, NY), 1996.
Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Middle of Everywhere: The World's Refugees Come to Our Town, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2002.
Letters to a Young Therapist, Basic Books, (New York, NY) 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Mary Pipher is the author of several best-selling books which have launched her from a career as a clinical psychologist to international acclaim. In 1969 she graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in anthropology, and has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska. She has received the Presidential citation for excellence by the American Psychological Association. Pipher gives lectures all over the country and is a frequent guest on television news programs. She believes, according to Time reviewer Elizabeth Gleick, that "adolescence is an especially precarious time for girls." In her book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, Pipher "suggests that, despite the advances of feminism, young women continue to be victims of abuse," including self-abuse typified by eating disorders and self-mutilation. The author places the blame on modern culture, with its slick advertising, images of sex and violence in the media, availability of alcohol and drugs, fragmented families and communities. In Reviving Ophelia, wrote Marge Scherer in Educational Leadership, "she describes how to rescue young women drowning in a culture that isolates and degrades them."
Reviving Ophelia is packed with case studies. "Dozens of troubled teenage girls troop across its pages," commented Gleick, suggesting that there is "a girl here for everyone." Gleick attributed the popularity of Reviving Ophelia to several factors: many readers can identify with at least one of the wide-ranging case studies, including parents; "for the most part, the culture, not the parents, are to blame"; and "Pipher does offer commonsensical, unthreatening solutions." Pipher describes the varieties of therapy she offers her own patients and lists suggestions that girls can implement, on their own, to strengthen their self-images. She offers to teachers and parents tips that, according to Scherer, "are sane and simple and within our reach."
Pipher's next book addresses the families to which her patients belong. In Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families, according to Scherer, "she examines how to remedy the lack of community that is disorienting families." As she did in Reviving Ophelia, the author places the blame on modern society, citing family troubles that have been, as Rose Reissman summarized in Educational Leadership, "aggravated by the media . . . corporate values . . . technology, and the isolation wrought by demographic changes." Pipher expressed similar concerns to Scherer: "The media portray families in unrealistic ways—either they are picture perfect or they're grossly dysfunctional."
Pipher also expands on a theme that she introduced in Reviving Ophelia: the dynamic of the typical family has changed dramatically since her own Nebraska childhood during the 1950s. In her interview with Scherer, the author said, "There's been a total upending of what was considered a virtuous child." Today's society focuses on independence, rather than traditional obedience. Pipher supplies a detailed comparison of an old-fashioned rural family of the past (her grandparents') and today's troubled family, which she describes, according to Booklist reviewer Ray Olson, as "multiply stressed by job demands, money worries, conflicting individual schedules, and electronic information overload." Pipher told Scherer, "We also have a culture of narcissism....And there's been a real loss of community between families and schools . . . And there's less communal space for children." She also commented on the increasing demographic mobility that separates today's children from grandparents and other extended family members, replacing them with nameless strangers who cannot provide the nurturing relationships that individuals and families need.
In Shelter of Each Other, Pipher demonstrates that, as Scherer declared, "It is possible to revive our sense of community." She provides examples of families that have succeeded in rebuilding connections and offering mutual support to one another as they grow closer. Theresa Richeson of the National Catholic Reporter recommended the book for its "wisdom, common sense, empathy and reality." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote of Pipher: "She offers plain and practical talk" for parents struggling to take care of their families.
In Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders, Pipher offers a field guide to old age in America. She argues that the youth-driven culture that surfaced in the late twentieth century prohibits many elderly from getting what they need, which is a desire to remain rooted in the lives of their families and communities. Pipher provides insights about establishing common ground with elderly relatives who, despite living longer lives, are often dispersed and isolated. Library Journal contributor Sally G. Waters called the book "an enriching work, one that takes a sad, depressing topic and makes it a source for inspiration and thought."
In Middle of Everywhere: The World's Refugees Come to Our Town, Pipher examines how refugees from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin American arrive in cities and towns all over the United States. She details the challenges confronting refugees when adjusting to American life, such as locating housing, jobs, and an education. Pipher makes positive suggestions about how Americans can help new settlers adapt to their new world. Stephen L. Hupp wrote in Library Journal, "Pipher shows that these new people have much to teach Americans about courage, love, and compassion."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 21, 1999, Michael Skube, review of Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders, p. L12.
Booklist, February 1, 1996, Ray Olson, review of Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families, p. 898; February 1, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Another Country, p. 939.
Educational Leadership, December, 1996, pp. 85-87; May, 1998, pp. 6-12.
Entertainment Weekly, April 26, 1996, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Shelter of Each Other, p. 48.
Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), May 8, 1999, review of Another Country, p. D14.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1999, review of Another Country, p. 208; January 15, 2002, review of Middle of Everywhere: The World's Refugees Come to Our Town, p. 91.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, March 24, 1999, Barb Arrigo, review of Another Country, p. K0338; April 13, 1999, Susan Ferraro, review of Another Country, p. K7686.
Library Journal, March 1, 1999, Elizabeth Caulfield Felt, review of Another Country, p. 101; August, 1999, Sally G. Waters, review of Another Country, p. 165; March 15, 2002, Stephen L. Hupp, review of Middle of Everywhere, p. 99.
Nation, November 3, 1997, Jeanne Shinto, review of Hunger Pains: The Modern Woman's Tragic Quest for Thinness, p. 54.
National Catholic Reporter, November 21, 1997, Theresa Richeson, review of Shelter of Each Other, p. 14.
National Review, May 20, 2002, John Derbyshire, review of Middle of Everywhere, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, February 28, 1994, review of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, p. 66; January 29, 1996, review of Shelter of Each Other, pp. 90-92; February 5, 1996, review of Reviving Ophelia, p. 37; January 25, 1999, review of Another Country, p. 80; April 12, 1999, review of Another Country, p. 32; March 4, 2002, review of Middle of Everywhere, p. 68.
San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 1996, Tara Aronson, review of Shelter of Each Other, p. E5
Time, February 19, 1996, Elizabeth Gleick, review of Reviving Ophelia, p. 73.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1999, review of Reviving Ophelia, p. 101.
Washington Post Book World, May 30, 1999, review of Another Country, p. 1.