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Cherow-O’Leary, R. (2020). Mirrors, Passion, Power, and Spirit: Fact and Fiction in the Stories of Aging Women. Psychoanal. Inq., 40(3):197-206.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40(3):197-206

Mirrors, Passion, Power, and Spirit: Fact and Fiction in the Stories of Aging Women

Renée Cherow-O’Leary, Ph.D.

This article combines and contrasts two stories of aging women – one based on the classic tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs whose protagonist is the rejected “Wicked Queen” and the second, based on a survey that the author conducted for her women’s college class’s 45th reunion. The voices of narrative storytelling about older women, whether fictionalized or actual, raise issues of Mirrors (loss of beauty and re-framing self-image), Passion (finding a lodestar from which feeling and meaning can coalesce), Power (courage to navigate the world and find inner strength as aging reorganizes priorities), and Spirit (sustenance and wisdom that nourishes, fortifies and comforts) as the final third of life brings challenges and the urgency of time. The article integrates strands of psychoanalytic research and theory about the stories told to women about aging, the stories we tell ourselves, and the move from external concerns to developing internal wisdom for the last stage of life’s journey.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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