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The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence Paperback – June, 1982

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books Nonfiction (June 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671733346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671733346
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am dissapointed at the previous reviewers who seem to have missed the subtle poignancy of this book. Above all else, this is a book about carving out a wholehearted, authentic existence. I am 23 years old and was not even born when these ideas were taking shape in Collette Dowling's head. However, they resonate with me in a way that no other book on "women's issues" has. I reread it often to vividly remind myself to hold nothing back--to throw myself into a rich and challenging life without insecurity, without fear, and without the need for anyone else, be it a parent, a lover, or an authority, to validate and lend importance to the things that drive me. Collette Dowling has articulated this idea in such an honest, poignant way, and I think that it's an important message for young women today, just as it was for the "baby boomers" of Dowling's own generation. Yeah, some of the slang is a bit outdated. But to focus on that is to overlook a truly unique and vitally important observation about how women can REALLY come into their own.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book that will reveal to many women some fundamental and probably painful truths about themselves. The central theme is that some women, often the brightest, "best" at school, and from the more affluent homes, suffer from a "Cinderella complex". This is, as the name implies, the desire to be rescued by a "prince": to be whisked away from the frightening realities of living as an authentic adult. This phenomenon is the reason why so many seemingly independent women "lapse" into stereotypical roles as homemakers given the opportunity. This is not necessarily caused by sexist repression but rather women's basic fear of challenge. The childhood causes of this effect are discussed, but the emphasis of explanation is upon the conflicts this causes in adult women.
It is clear this book has been thoroughly researched, but to mention a slight criticism, this to an extent that I kept feeling many interesting threads of thought had been abandoned too quickly, to keep the length (and difficulty?) of the book down. A more serious criticism is that I, at least, was by the end of the book hankering for far more concrete positive suggestions as to what to do if we recognised this in ourselves. Perhaps it would have been bad faith on the writer's part to suggest easy solutions. What is provided is not only an exhaustive bibliography but readable end notes that point the way to a lot of interesting further reading.
In summary I'd say this book is a well-written discussion of a psychological complex whose importance for female psychology is hard to exaggerate. In its own way it confronts realities that the great works of feminist writing did not, namely the collusion of women in their own dependency. And, as the book says, there can be no progress if you don't actually confront the truth.
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Format: Hardcover
I have always considered myself a feminist. I have always struggled for independence, fighting a long history of abuse, PTSD, and a dual-diagnosis BPD/BP roller coaster. I've done a lot of self-exploration work, whether through seminars, books, independent study, reflection, or psychotherapy. This book opened up an entirely new thought process to me -- that of women's facade of independence. As I read this book, I saw more of myself than I would perhaps ever admit to anyone, friend or foe.

I've always been absolutely fascinated with the study of humanity and universal truths. This book confronted me head-on with yet another aspect of my "everything's fine" brand of denial. I'm still reeling.

I would recommend this book to anyone, male or female. I lent it to my ex-boyfriend as soon as I finished it. He, also, was enthralled. Mom is next on the library list for this book. Get yourself a copy. Or four.
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Format: Hardcover
The Dionysian political/spiritual/sexual liberation theology of the Woodstock/Vietnam/Civil Rights 1960's in America led to the full flowering of the political cynicism of the Nixon/Watergate 70's. The moralistic materialism of the Ronald Reagan/Wall Street 80's led to the Silicon Valley-influenced psychological spiritualism of the Clinton/Oprah 90's. Collete Dowling, the non-feminist feminist writer and intellectual pioneer, coming of age in the center of this four decade cultural transformation period of Post-World War II American culture (with its pendulum swinging of consciousness between political astuteness and spiritual awareness) wrote this book in 1981.
THE CINDERELLA COMPLEX is written from the central and centering vantage point of straight-ahead psychology; not politics or spirituality. It was designed for courageous women ready to reexamine their hearts and souls in the context of the true dynamics and hidden reasons for many of the dysfunctions and even existence of their most important interpersonal relationships. It is even more important now than when it was written.
Dowling in actuality was among the first to successfully teach the general public some of the basic ideas of psychology and their relevance to their world, in those changing times, in the context of what freedom and adulthood really means. As it turns out, her metaphor of the Cinderella Complex--the desire to search outside of oneself for the source of inner emotional malaise or turmoil, and to hold a "prince" of some kind accountable for both one's maturity and rescue from the secret pains of independence--is perfect for all people, men and women.
The Cinderella Complex, Dowling shows us, is the siamese twin of irony in life.
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