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Meeting the Madwoman: Empowering the Feminine Spirit Paperback – March 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553373188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553373189
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #566,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This richly evocative study by a Jungian analyst posits the existence of a madwoman archetype. The image appears frequently in women's dreams, according to Leonard ( The Wounded Women: Healing the Father and Daughter Relationship ). And she makes a good case that the madwoman is a messenger, metaphor and model who points the way to women's liberation. The author encourages women to acknowledge their own madwoman in order to transform themselves. She intriguingly redefines many female stereotypes--The Dark Muse, The Recluse, The Bag Lady, The Visionary, The Caged Bird--in relation to her archetype. What is especially interesting here are the examples from famous women, literature, films and Leonard's own patients. The most remarkable include Camille Claudel, Alma Mahler, Maria Callas, Rosa Luxemburg and Rachel Carson--as well as the imaginary Medea, Mrs. Bridges, Blue Angel and Thelma and Louise. Leonard also shows how some of the real women she writes about were influenced by the fictional or mythical women. In this work, she provides a new perspective on how women can break out of culturally imposed roles.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Feminine madness entraps women in traditional, patriarchal roles, keeping creativity captive to repressed anger and fear. Jungian analyst Leonard ( On the Way to the Wedding , LJ 6/15/86; Witness to the Fire , Shambhala, 1989) employs her talent as storyteller to treat us to yet another book on psychological archetypes. Mad energy is wasted on archetypes such as the saint, the ice queen, the dragon lady, the sick mother, the caged bird, the muse, the rejected lover, the bag lady, the recluse, and the revolutionary. She explains the archetypes of contemporary women as well as those of representative women in history (Camille Claudel as the muse); in films and novels ( Thelma and Louise as revolutionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge as caged bird); and in mythology and fairy tales. Leonard uses more examples than theorizing to make complex Jungian concepts understandable, accounting for her readability and popularity. Her latest book will certainly prove to be as successful as the others.
- Paula N. Arnold, Norwich Univ. Lib., Northfield, Vt.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sheri Heller on December 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The highest compliment I can pay Dr. Leonard is that this brilliant book catalyzed transformation in my life, and those whom I shared her premise with. I was spurred on, upon reading this book to create a dynamic workshop, which has led to a philanthropic theater project to be brought to girls coming of age in residential group care.

The basic message Leonard imparts is that in the journey of spiritual and Self-realization the stage of `madness' precedes surrender and acceptance. Spiritual madness/ Breakdown is a potential path to truth, as it is a descent into darkness where all illusions are stripped away and an old consciousness and old belief system can be released. Essentially this state of madness involves a prolonged descent into the unknown. Intense suffering, disillusionment, and loneliness generally characterize this experience. During this intense prolonged crisis, one may feel abandoned, terrified and out of control. Initially the challenge is to turn within, and away from seeking direction from others, yet concomitantly remaining attuned to synchronicity and the principle of faith. Ultimately we are challenged to find communion from a new place of integration and perspective, in which paradox is embraced.

The plight of the the woman struggling to actualize parts of the self that have been rejected, involves a descent into madness. Leonard emphasizes that it is essential to differentiate between the divine madness that involves an inner descent/journey that can lead to integration, from that which can be referred to as destructive craziness. The inner Madwoman erupts, in an effort to confront inner and outer oppression, and subjugation. When the oppressive forces of order and control are challenged, the Madwoman emerges as an impulse towards freedom.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By KARY SMITH on November 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
AMAZED ME THE FIRST TIME THROUGH AND UPON REREADING I DOVE MORE DEEPLY INTO A CLEARER UNDERSTANDING OF MYSELF, MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER, AND THE MANY ARCHETYPES AND PERSONAS SO STRONGLY PRESENT UPON MY PATH. MS. SCHIERSE LEONARD HAS THE ABILITY TO AFFECT LIVES DRAMATICALLY WITH HER AMAZING KNOWLEDGE AND CREATIVITY. NEVER DULL, ALWAYS POINGNANT, SHE WELCOMES US TO DESCEND INTO THE UNDERWORLD, CONFRONT, AND BEFRIEND THE WILD SHADOW IN ALL OF US. IF YOU WANT TO HEAL YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF OR YOUR MOTHER YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on February 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book for a research project I am doing--Portrayals of Women in the 19th Century, and How They Compare to Portrayals of Women Today. The book was wonderful! It's written beautifully, and really gives a deep look at the lives of women. I loved the analysis of movies like Thelma and Louise, Fatal Attraction--it makes you see what really was the message in films like that. I recommend this book to everybody that is interested in the history of women.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm not much into reading non-fiction..normally pick it up for a bit and then file it away..but this has kept me captivated. I would recomend it to anyone, especially younger women trying to figure themselves out, and men trying to figure women out (ha ha). A very empowering book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Heartland G on April 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book for a lot of reasons and I could re-read and re-read it. I'm feeling it. Many people - and especially women - are in the torturous position of having real love in their hearts, wanting that perfection, and being in the world where you have to adapt to systems that are the opposite of love. We bury it, we deny it, we try to be oblivious, but it's always there underneath lurking away. For some of us, it bleeds right out onto the surface. Truly sane women must go mad sometimes, because you can't despise systems of cruelty and make it in this world. Nature opposes us, the world often opposes us, as do the powerful, our own nature and whoever created all this. The closer you look at truth the more real pain gets the more "mad" you get. Sometimes only oblivion or cold detachment makes you "happy" and "normal." Crazy people have tapped into reality - which is why they're crazy in the first place.

I like the different archetypes in here - The Recluse, The Visionary, The Bag Lady, The Muse, The Revolutionary, also - Ice Queen, Rejected Lover, Caged Bird, Dragon Lady. I relate to all of those on different levels, especially Recluse, Visionary, Revolutionary.

I think they should've added the Angry Amazon, The Hunchback ( a male madwoman, but I definitely relate) and also the Adapter, strangely enough. I know a lot of women who are "adapters" and they have much inner madness bubbling around in their guts. Their smiles are cracking, their anger and torment just under the surface, they join patriarchal institutions, they tow the line, they talk about "soft" power in their attempt to manipulate the people that rule and/or abuse them, but they're very, very angry, I'm not so sure she's that oblivious either.
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