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Robb, Christina 1946-

Robb, Christina 1946-

PERSONAL:

Born May 27, 1946, in Washington, DC; married (husband is an Episcopal priest and seminary professor); children: two daughters. Education: Stanford University, B.A.; Somerville College, University of Oxford, M.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Boston, MA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, journalist, and critic. Boston Globe, cultural reporter and book critic; Boston Globe Magazine, staff writer. Harvard University, Bunting Institute, researcher.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Pulitzer Prize (as member of Boston Globe reporting team), for "War and Peace in the Nuclear Age," 1983.

WRITINGS:

This Changes Everything: The Relational Revolution in Psychology, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer and journalist Christina Robb was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Riverside, Connecticut, and Loudonville, New York, a suburb of Albany. Originally an English major with a focus on Middle English and medieval studies in college, Robb instead focused her education on journalism in the emotional wake of some watershed moments in American history, particularly the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. Robb subsequently enjoyed a more than two-decade career at the Boston Globe, where she was a cultural reporter and book critic, as well as a staff writer on the newspaper's Sunday magazine for eleven years. In 1983, Robb was a member of five-person reporting team which won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for a report titled "War and Peace in the Nuclear Age." Robb's contribution to the project, noted her home page biographer, was the section on political opposition and resistance to nuclear weapons.

As a reporter in the 1970s, Robb first encountered the pioneering work of a group of female professionals who focused considerable attention on the role of relationships in family and individual psychology. Her interest in these psychologists' and psychiatrists' work remained steady, and in 1992, she began a year-long stint at Harvard University's Bunting Institute, where she commenced research for a book on their new approach to psychology. More years of research followed, and this effort culminated in This Changes Everything: The Relational Revolution in Psychology, published in 2006. In the book, Robb profiles in depth the group of women whose work "helped foster profound changes" in psychological theory and practice, noted Library Journal reviewer Susan Pease. Among her subjects are Carol Gilligan, a psychologist at Harvard whose seminal work, In a Different Voice, suggested that women's sense of self does not stress individualism, but is intricately tied to a network of close personal relationships with others. Robb profiles Jean Baker Miller, a pioneer in women's psychology who advocated respect for women's relational strengths, which had been previously been described as weaknesses, and whose clinical focus was on the healing power of the client-therapist relationship. Robb also covers the work and career of Judith Lewis Herman and her research collaborator Lisa Hirschman, who turned the spotlight on the effects of sexual violence within the family. Robb told CA: "These therapists wanted to abandon the masculine idea of a dominant self, and their work led to a much wider acceptance of a focus on equal, mutual relations as the engine of psychological health, in line with traditional women's culture. All three of the groups I wrote about focus on the power of relationships to hurt and to heal, with the goal of growth within close, equal, mutual relationships. Their work has been described as the first democratic psychology."

Reviewer Annie Murphy Paul, writing in the New York Times Book Review, faulted Robb for not taking a more critical and analytical approach to her subject. "Robb has written what amounts to an authorized biography of the movement, with all the bland boosterism and careful avoidance of controversy the genre requires," Paul stated. Other reviewers, however, were more favorably impressed with Robb's book. Although a Publishers Weekly critic also concluded that Robb may be too admiring of her subjects to be entirely objective, "her richly anecdotal history is a must-read for all those interested in the field of women's psychology." She presents "compelling insights into the role of gender in the history of psychology," remarked Pease. Nancy Glimm, writing on Psychiatric Services Online, remarked that "This is a book that contains great wisdom. It is well written and extremely accessible." Glimm concluded, "This Changes Everything is a most valuable contribution to the history of clinical psychology and psychiatry."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Choice, September, 2006, R.R. Cornelius, review of This Changes Everything: The Relational Revolution in Psychology, p. 200.

Library Journal, March 1, 2006, Susan Pease, review of This Changes Everything, p. 107.

New York Times Book Review, March 12, 2006, Annie Murphy Paul, "Band of Sisters," review of This Changes Everything, p. 14.

Psychology Today, March-April, 2006, review of This Changes Everything, p. 36.

Publishers Weekly, January 30, 2006, review of This Changes Everything, p. 53.

ONLINE

Christina Robb Home Page,http://www.christinarobb.com (March 17, 2008).

Psychiatric Services Online,http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/ (March 17, 2008), Nancy Glimm, review of This Changes Everything.

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