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October 26, 1986|Marjorie Marks

THE TYPE E WOMAN: HOW TO OVERCOME THE STRESS OF BEING EVERYTHING TO EVERYBODY by Harriet B. Braiker Ph.D. (Dodd, Mead: $16.95; 274 pp.). The collective sigh of relief that this book is bound to evoke from women who wonder why more is beginning to feel like less can almost be heard already. In what is nothing less than a new Emancipation Proclamation for half the population, this reassuring book succeeds in providing real alternatives to the enormous burden of stress borne by women who attempt to be Everything to Everybody (hence, the Type E woman).

Taking a cue from the prototypical hard-driving, aggressive Type A man, the author, who is a practicing clinical psychologist and management consultant, exposes and examines the underlying psychological conflicts, confusion, expectations, fears and concerns that are rampant among women who are attempting to have it all.

At the root of the conflict for women is the way in which the motive to please is bound with the instinct to survive, a cognitive connection that typically does not exist for men, according to the author. Because stress results not from the events themselves but from one's interpretation of those events, the idea is that "if you can alter the underlying assumptions--the erroneous expectations--behind the stress pattern, you can reduce the level and intensity of the subjective stress."

The key to therapy with Type E women, the author says, is to separate achievement motivation from affiliative needs. In the process, a woman becomes more realistic about her own needs. The goal is ego integration through correction of the misconceptions women have about themselves, largely based on society's unconscious historical tendency to exploit the feminine psyche. Includes a three-week therapeutic exercise program.

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