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The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today's Pressures Hardcover – February 10, 2009

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Book Description
In many ways, today is the best time in history to be a girl: Opportunities for a girl’s success are as unlimited as her dreams. Yet an alarm is sounding, revealing a disturbing portrait of the stresses affecting girls of all ages. Societal expectations, cultural trends, and conflicting messages are creating what psychologist and researcher Stephen Hinshaw calls “the Triple Bind.” Girls are now expected to excel at “girl skills,” achieve “boy goals,” and be models of female perfection, 100 percent of the time. The Triple Bind is putting more and more girls at risk for aggression, eating disorders, depression, and even suicide.

Dr. Hinshaw’s fascinating and groundbreaking book shows concerned parents how to listen, learn, and help girls unlock the shackles of the Triple Bind. The Triple Bind discusses many key topics, including

• Today’s trap: how internal conflict can turn self-expression into self-destruction
• Nature versus nurture: genes, hormones, and the role of biology in confronting the Triple Bind
• Life in the pressure cooker: overscheduled, overtaxed lives, and how the pressure to excel at everything sets girls up for crisis
• When virtue is its own punishment: how traditionally feminine qualities like empathy, self-awareness, and verbal ability can put girls at risk for anxiety, depression, and other disorders
• Getting all Pussycat Dolled up: the oversexualization of little girls, preteens, and teenagers
• The wired child: how cyberculture exacerbates the Triple Bind
• Girls who hit: the reasons girls are channeling pressure into violence
• The plight of normal girls: hidden aspects of the Triple Bind crisis that don’t show up in statistics

Combining moving personal stories about girls and their families with extensive research into genetic risk, vulnerability, and cultural influence, Dr. Hinshaw provides strategies and tools for parents who want to empower their daughters to deal in healthy ways with today’s pressures.

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Stephen Hinshaw

It’s arguably the best time in history to be a teenage girl. Females outnumber males in terms of college admissions and are essentially tied in terms of medical and law school admissions. Girls can and do receive athletic scholarships. Women are ascending in politics, science, and business in ways that were undreamed of a generation or two ago.

But there’s a hidden problem, and a growing one. Compared to the 1990s, and especially to the 1970s and 1980s, teen girls are increasingly at risk for a number of serious mental health problems: depression (with ever-earlier ages at which depression emerges), suicide and cutting (with sharp increases in recent years), binge eating (with record numbers now seen), and even aggression (with male rates down in recent years with female rates up).

The Triple Bind boldly addresses the issues behind these phenomena. Certainly, the mental health problems under consideration have biological and even genetic risks. But genes have not changed suddenly, within the span of a few years. There must be something about the current social climate that is pushing the envelope, uncovering girls’ vulnerabilities.

What could this “something” be? In our view today’s girls have unique pressures: (1) to be nurturing and supportive (the traditional role for girls); (2) to be competitive and “on top” (with the new opportunities girls have); and (3) to make it all seem effortless and natural, in a ultra-sexualized and ultra-feminized way, with no real alternatives to develop a unique identity. It is this third part of the triple bind that gives girls no way out--with the 24/7 world of the cyber-culture making every move and every “look” visible to the outside world... and with media images of highly sexualized teens visible nearly everywhere.

Through careful summaries of research and through vivid case examples, this analysis covers the many ways in which the triple bind rears its head. At the same time, we make the point that finding ways for our daughters to connect with a wider world of commitment and meaning may be the optimal solution to this dangerous, crucial, triple-bind problem.

From Publishers Weekly

Hinshaw, chair of UC-Berkeleys psychology department and an authority on childhood ADHD, enters a cultural minefield: why do todays teenage girls, despite enormous opportunities, seem crippled by increased rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, violence and suicide? Hinshaws sweeping diagnosis is the triple bind, or societys expectation that young women possess traditionally feminine attributes such as empathy and selflessness, but also succeed in typically masculine arenas such as competitive sports and cutthroat career paths, and finally, generally conform to a narrow, unrealistic set of standards that allows for no alternative. Hinshaw identifies academic pressures, sexed-up pop culture, Internet voyeurism and girl-on-girl bullying as sources of overwhelming stress and conflicting ideals for girls. Yet his study suffers from an identity crisis of its own: while Hinshaw shines in conversations with troubled young girls, he plays the role of cultural critic rather than psychologist in offering elaborate analyses of TV shows such as Ugly Betty and Greys Anatomy while providing little hard evidence—or testimonies from girls themselves—on how these shows affect girls. Hinshaw neglects his strengths and, in turn, offers little in the way of solutions. (Feb. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345503996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345503992
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. Martin on June 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I expected this book to be alarmist and possibly patronizing, but was impressed by the quality of the research and the strength of the author's arguments. Hinshaw convincingly shows that modern expectations or perceptions of women have changed since even a decade ago, and demonstrates how dangerous these new expectations and perceptions can be. His central argument is that today's young women are pressured to be good at 'girl stuff' like empathy, relationships, etc. while being good at 'boy stuff' like winning, being aggressive/athletic, etc. AND being thin, pretty, and available. Not only that, but girls are supposed to make all this look effortless. (Boys are supposed to DO. Girls are supposed to BE.)

Whether or not you personally feel this to be the case, Hinshaw's dissection of books, movies, and TV shows (from "Wicked," "Uglies," and "The It Girl" to "Grey's Anatomy," "Enchanted" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") were particularly interesting and insightful. Teenage girls themselves might find this book helpful, but I would recommend it to any woman interested in the subject, as well as parents.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dilequeno on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding work of scholarship as well as an important social commentary and contribution to our understanding of how we live today. I am a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and pediatrician and I would recommend this book to anyone who ever was, is, or plans to come into contact with a teenager in any capacity. We are all responsible for these issues regardless of gender or age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eva Sophia on November 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I reviewed this book on my column because I have re-read it more than once since it was released. This was my original review that was published:

The explosion of social media and digital communication has sparked a war against adolescent girls. The pressure to be perfect, to be all things, and to deny themselves. With all the demands proliferating the media images including advertisements that celebrate the ideal image it is no wonder that adolescent is ripe with triggers that amplify the need to conform for acceptance. Junior and senior high is never easy, even for the popular girls, because social pressure and the internal need to be accepted is all important.

Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, a research psychologist and scholar at UC, Berkeley has written a piercing book with Rachel Kranz on just how tough it is to be growing up female these days.This is an in-depth scholarly examination of the psychological impact of how societal demands increase the mental health deterioration of young females at their most vulnerable ages. For every parent with a daughter this book is a must read for just how much they must work to counteract the effects of these expectations. It is no wonder that the outcomes for women who were educated at all-girls schools in their formative years, is positive for academic and career achievement, as well as more solid self esteem. If removing adolescent girls from the pressure of competing for boys and eliminating the factors that contribute to them thinking that such approval equals self worth is the answer, perhaps more all-girls schools are a must.

While this solution seems extreme the alternate appears to be just as extreme. To lose their sense of self and self-value is something that does not need to happen nor should it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Em on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have worked in high school education for five years, and researched and read almost everything out there on young women. Nothing has even touched this book's eloquence, validity, and solutions. I even read some of it to my class.
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