Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession

Harper. 2015. 304p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062114013. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062114129. PSYCH
In the telling of her own story and those of numerous other women, Phillips (journalism, State Univ. New York at New Paltz; Public Radio: Behind the Voices) pieces together a fascinating journey into the minds of those who have been spurned. The author maintains that feelings of romantic love can lead to obsessions which share similarities with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction, and are, in fact, profoundly narcissistic. Because unrequited love is frequently a result of different interpretations of the nature of a relationship (i.e., one person pursuing simple friendship and the other, romance), the inevitable rejection can lead to shame, humiliation, and a desire for retaliation. Phillips points out that narcissists use other people to fulfill parts of the self. To counteract that leaning, she encourages women to gain insight into their underlying needs and emotions and to channel those in more productive directions.
VERDICT Phillips neither pathologizes nor minimizes the damage of female harassment and stalking; she emphasizes that the societal tendency to see female pursuit as humorous can keep male victims from receiving the support they need. Her firsthand experience and compassionate advice will be appreciated by the romantically rejected and fans of self-help books alike.
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