cover image Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Christiane Northrup. Bantam Books, $29.95 (816pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08120-6

This guide goes far beyond standard self-help books, assessing women's health within the context of their work, families and society. The author, a holistic physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, seeks to illuminate the basic conditions of women's lives that lead to their health problems. A founder of Women to Women, a clinic that practices within the context of conventional medicine, Northrup, in 17 years of caring for women, was led to take a holistic view of women's health. She cites dramatic and affecting cases of women healing from long-term illnesses, through alternative medical methods such as herbal medicine, dietary changes and relaxation techniques. The book begins with an exploration of how society influences the way in which women think about and care for their bodies. Part two provides a comprehensive description of women's anatomy and includes a list of conditions and concerns from fibroids to hysterectomy. The book's third portion discusses what type of guidance to look for in a health care provider: it is essential, Northrup says, to develop a working partnership with a health care team. Her work is based on the belief that the cultural context of a woman's life affects her mental and physical health. And so, women must learn that their wounding, if any--physical, psychological and spiritual--is part of a larger cultural wound. Northrup's book is as accessible as it is empowering. (June)