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The Breaking Point


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About the Author

Sue Shellenbarger is the creator and writer of the Wall Street Journal's Work & Family column. The former chief of the Journal's Chicago news bureau, Shellenbarger started the column in 1991 to provide the nation's first regular coverage of the growing conflict between work and family and its implications for the workplace and society.


When Shellenbarger exposed her midlife crisis in her "Family & Work" column for the Wall Street Journal, women reacted tumultuously. Here she explains that the first generation of working women is uniquely situated to crash and burn. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

When Shellenbarger wrote about her midlife crisis in one of her Wall Street Journal "Work & Family" columns, reader response was overwhelming. So she decided to investigate those "psychological and spiritual upheavals [that] have been mistaken for menopause symptoms and reduced to a biological phenomenon." Relying on interviews with 50 women between their late 30s and mid-50s and four studies of agingAand heavily indebted to a Jungian perspectiveAthis catchy work is tailor-made for the "36% of women who will eventually have what they regard as midlife crises" (and it's right up the Oprah and Dr. Phil alley, too). Shellenbarger delineates six archetypes: the Adventurer, the Lover, the Leader, the Artist, the Gardener and the Seeker, who meet the crisis through six modes of transition (Sonic Boom, Moderate, Slow Burn, Flameout, Meltdown and Non-Starter). Contrary to popular wisdom, Shellenbarger says, "the vital juices of joy, sexuality, and self-discovery are bubbling within, more powerfully and compellingly than ever" at midlife. The Artist might rediscover her creativity; the Gardener, who "focuses deeply on the elements of the life she already has," might look for ways to revitalize old interests. The road to personal growth can be bumpy, Shellenbarger writes (and sometimes it's hard to distinguish it from "the path to perdition"), but her book offers an illuminating guide. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Every once in a while you read a book that transforms you. Like the shift of a kaleidoscope, it reconfigures your view of life's journey. This is such a book. It may stimulate you to change directions, perhaps even enable you to find life's greatest joy: fulfillment. An invigorating read." -- Helen Fisher, Author of" Why We Love

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