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Under Pressure: A Timely Book for CHS

Lois Rowe, Deputy Head and Director, Senior School at CHS, has written a book review of Dr. Lisa Damour's newest book, Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. Dr. Damour will visit Crofton House on Thursday, September 26 at 7:00 pm. Purchase a ticket.

Dr. Lisa Damour is well-known to many in the Crofton House School community. As the 2016-2017 Whole Girl, Whole World speaker and author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, Dr. Damour’s message connected with students, parents and teachers. “Normalized” was a word commonly used when describing her impact; she normalized our understanding of the female adolescent as she moves through the stages of development from ‘Parting with Childhood’ to ‘Caring for Herself’, and, in doing so, presented a lens to celebrate each stage while providing guidelines to know when to worry. 

Dr. Damour is returning to CHS in September 2019 and, once again, she has an important story to tell that will speak directly to our community. It is a story about girls and their current experience in the world and of the world. It is a story that is captured in her latest book, Under Pressure, Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. Released earlier this spring, Under Pressure is a well-researched, insightful, and, at times, humourous examination of the culture that has been created in communities like CHS, and how girls are experiencing this culture. One might argue, it is a culture that adolescent girls are not actually experiencing but instead striving to navigate, existing somewhere between white-knuckle determination and emotion-fueled full retreat. 

Under Pressure examines stress from a number of helpful angles beginning with a clear understanding of the three types of stress, “life events, daily hassles, and chronic stress”. Her research then provides a context for separating the normal anxiety, which should be welcomed and leveraged, from that which is harmful to healthy development and relationships. This knowledge is grounding as the reader is guided through the chapters which look at stress when girls are at home, with girls, with boys, at school, and in the culture. 

Dr. Damour connects us to a deep understanding of the complex nature of stress and its impacts on adolescent girls through the experiences of others. A clinical psychologist and the Executive Director of the Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, she draws from her numerous interactions with girls, their parents, her friends and colleagues to bring us into a space from which the reader is able to witness the healthy and unhealthy impacts of pressure. Reading or listening to this book, one can’t help but internalize a clear perspective on when to engage and when to let the adolescent girl step back long enough to “settle her glitter”. 

I encourage you to join us on September 26 for Dr. Lisa Damour’s presentation and to pick up a copy of her book, Under Pressure or download the audio version. This topic is one that the CHS parent community is looking to understand and this book is a wonderful companion to our learning. It is written for parents. Dr. Damour writes: “The world asks more of our daughters than it ever has before, and it now offers them more, too. As parents, we’re at our best when we help our girls advance, not retreat in the fact of the challenges and opportunities they will inevitably encounter. Because girls who face their fears find out just how brave they can be.”