In this scholarly compilation of a major event in the life of every woman, editor Ruth Formanek has adopted an avowedly multidisciplinary mandate: to illuminate menopause as both an event and a stage of life by gathering together a variety of discipline-specific meanings and research perspectives. The result is an admirably comprehensive study that not only charts the premodern meanings of menopause, but proceeds to examine menopause from current biomedical, endocrinological, culutral, and psychological perspectives. Ample attention is give to the psychosocial influences on menopause and to cross-cultural variations in the experience of, and life adjustments that follow, menopause. Societal and familial attitudes toward menopausal women are also explored through an examination of women in classical and modern literature. Clinical contributions review psychoanalytic perspectives on menopause, elucidate the individual meanings of the menopausal experience uncovered in therapy, and consider male views of menopausal women. Collectively, the contributors to this volume remedy the scant attention menopause has heretofore received in the psychological and psychotherapeutic literature. They not only explore the range of issues associated with menopause, but address these issues in the context of the various myths and superstitions about menopause that have endured over the centuries. Essential reading for students of human development, gender issues, and women's studies, The Meanings of Menopause is, for helping professionals, an invaluable source book on a life event fraught with psychological significance.
"In Menopause: A Midlife Passage, [questions about menopause] are considered in depth from a dazzling variety of angles. This is just the serious feminist discussion of menopause that I have been longing for.... its exquisite analyses renew us in our struggles to make sense of it all." -- Alice Dan, Women's Review of Books "Menopause has become a hot (with or without the flashes) topic in America. That's because a critical mass of us have reached it and are educated, aggressive, and confident enough to want to know what's happening to us, and then to talk about it.... Smart, useful, funny, Menopause: A Midlife Passage is a fine addition to the discussion, a healthy companion for this all-important life passage." -- Susan Stamberg, Special Correspondent, National Public Radio "Editor Callahan takes anything but a trendy approach to a very trendy topic. She's gathered essays by scholarly women who have thought through society's position on menopause and menopausal women and don't like what they see: older women denied positive portrayals in mainstream media, menopause treated by the medical establishment as if it were a disease rather than a natural occurrence, and devaluation of older women. Determined to change people's minds with their words, these women speak both powerfully and empoweringly. A must for feminist and women's health collections." -- Booklist "... a bold attempt to go beyond the standard medical framing of women's experience, and to contest the notion that the menopause is straightforwardly a hormonal 'deficiency disease'." -- New Scientist "... [an] entertaining and informative book that takes a very positive attitude toward the 'midlife passage'." -- Fertility News "This book should be required reading for all women's health care providers and anyone else doing counseling of menopausal women." -- Journal of Women & Aging Essayists from various walks of life present female-defined perspectives on menopause and the passage to new physical, social, and cultural development.
Interviews with and case studies of women in the U.S., accompanied by research in this text, show how our perceptions, thoughts, and spiritual practices can help women through menopause without drugs and their potential side effects. More and more women today are seeking natural ways to cope with menopause, including through mindfulness techniques and Eastern practices such as meditation. Women of various races, ages, and socioeconomic status interviewed at length for this study explain their experiences, victories, and setbacks in their quests to overcome this natural but body- and brain-altering change. Complementing findings from her research with wider outside research, author Deborah Merrill explains how popular culture depictions, race, class, and education all alter women's perceptions of the meaning of menopause, and how those perceptions can complicate, exacerbate, or alleviate physical and psychological symptoms. She details the "medical view" that views menopause as a problem to be solved, rather than as a natural event. And, through women's words and case studies, she details psychospiritual approaches many are adopting to cope, instead of seeking potentially harmful medicines. Readers will find new insights, wisdom, and potential solutions in the array of voices, experiences, and paths taken and presented in this book. Includes interviews with women of various races, socioeconomic statuses, and ages Addresses the social meaning of menopause and portrayals in popular culture Discusses how some women are turning to lifestyle and diet changes, as well as Eastern practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to cope with menopause Includes appendices of meditations, dialogues, and resources