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. It is the perfect nickname of the dynamic within people that creates fateful circumstances and negative, self-fulfilling prophecies in a person's life and relationships until its existence is acknowledged. And after it is acknowledged, it asserts itself in a person as an inner war--a psychological jihad--such that it makes the only war you know how to fight and win (i.e. a material-world or male/female relationships war outside of your inner self) irrelevant. Her writing and ideas, as she is saying nothing new yet saying it in such an important new way, sympathetically vibrate with many of the most basic tenets of Western religion. However, her non-religious, psychological perspective allows for a new level of inner healing. Even, if not especially, for those who, unrealizingly, have made a false idol/"prince" out of Moses, Jesus or Mohammed themselves, along with the living men in their personal lives. Anyone reading this, man or woman, will not just find themselves in it, either as they live now (as I did) or how they once was. You will see much of today's post-Clinton, Bush/Enron 21st Century American culture be revealed in its pages. And, you'll understand why the pleasure principle doesn't make people nearly as happy as many who use the Constitution to defend it want to believe. (And that goes even moreso for the conservative minded than the liberal, as both we pleasure seekers and our "drugs"--physical/chemical, moral/religious or intellectual/emotional--come in all shapes and sizes.) Even after the coming of John Bradshaw (HOMECOMING [The 90's "Inner Child" man]), Alice Miller (PRISONERS OF CHILDHOOD: THE DRAMA OF THE GIFTED CHILD; FOR YOUR OWN GOOD), Nancy Friday (MY MOTHER MY SELF; OUR LOOKS OUR LIVES; JEALOUSY), Iyanla Vanzant, Melody Beattie (CODEPENDENT NO MORE) and the litany of other self-help authors still writing, Collette Dowling's ideas are as fresh today as when this book was written more than twenty years ago.
THE CINDERELLA COMPLEX in fact towers above even some of the best work of the authors mentioned.
It shocks me that this book is not still in print, despite the dozens of books that have come in the years after it riffing on her clearly laid out themes. I bought myself a used copy through one seller in perfect condition. And then, considering how much it would have cost new if available now, I bought three more hardcover copies for special people in my life. This book is still among the best of the bridges out there; bridging people into the real potential of the real world, and their real self. It is the perfect Mother's Day/Father's Day, Birthday and Christmas gift, for people close enough to YOU to appreciate it.
I highly recommend this.