Reviving Ophelia Critical Essay

Mary Pipher is of no doubt excellent psychologist and experienced doctor who spent much time practicing psychology. Besides, she is talented author of several books that cover the most relevant and acute psychological aspects of modern society. Her book “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls” has a significant value for everybody who is interested in the issue of inner world of teenage girls.

However, after reading this book I had two drastically different opinions about it. On one hand, the book arose the feeling of understanding and empathy. Doctor Pipher has a major experience in the subject hence I trust her knowledge. Truly, teenage girls of nowadays (and 1990s when the book was published) differ soundly from adolescent girls of the sixties of the twentieth century, for instance. And the difference lies not in their hearts and souls, but in their perception of surrounding world and projecting it onto themselves.

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Teenage girls indeed become obsessed with their appearance and independence, try to prove their maturity with drug or alcohol abuse, sexuality, cutting behavior, and many other even more terrible methods. Of course, this problem concerns everybody in our society, especially parents, teachers, and youth. Of no doubt modern culture plays serious role in molding teenagers’ mentality, and it is especially acute in our technologically developing era of television, colorful magazines and Internet.

Nevertheless, on the other hand Mary Pipher’s book “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls” caused totally different feeling in my mind. I felt anger and despair. I am angry with the girls’ parents who can not defend their children from silly and dangerous stereotypes. I am angry with schools that never teach such subject like “Avoiding hypnotic effect of ads in media” or “Developing strength and goodness in our inner world”. I am angry with our society that pretends that it believes in God but forgets that sincere faith will never allow material issues, like beautiful body, to become more important than moral beauty of heart and soul. I am angry with every particular member of our society for sharing my anger while being alone but losing confidence and adherence to principles while becoming a part of society. And I am angry with adolescent girls and all the modern youth in general that choose easy and simple way to follow primitive illusions rather than developing strength of their minds, expressing individual talents given by God, and keeping their initially clean souls far from dirty and poisonous defects.

And most of all I feel desperate fear, because I myself belong to the generation X youth described in Mary Pipher’s book, and I do not feel enough power to fight with those defective displays of social illness. It is very difficult to fight on your own. Especially with illusions of society.


Pipher, M. B. (1994). Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. Putnam Publishing Group.
Simmons, R. (2003). Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Harvest Books Press.
Lerner, R., & Steinberg, L. (2004). Handbook of Adolescent Psychology. Wiley Publishing.

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