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Crisis, Challenge, Or Relief?

David Chiriboga, William A. Galston

Publication Year: 1991

Not since William Goode's Women in Divorce in the 1950's have we had such a comprehensive study of adjustment to divorce. This longitudinal work views divorce as a transition process which may have positive or negative outcomes over time. In addition to statistical analysis, the book includes very interesting case studies to demonstrate the dynamic events occurring as individuals refashion their lives after the breakup of their marriages. Researchers on divorce and the interested public will find this book very valuable for years to come."
—Colleen L. Johnson, Ph.D.Professor
Medical Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco

We are witnessing a steady increase in the overall number of older adults who are divorced, yet the majority of divorce research has concerned itself with persons in the younger adult years. This unique, groundbreaking book addresses the critical need for information on the impact of divorce on individuals in all age groups, and pays special attention to age as a factor in the effects of divorce on both men and women.

Written by an interdisciplinary team of social and behavioral scientists, Divorce: Crisis, Challenge or Relief? provides the invaluable results gained from their life span study of divorced adults. Divorce is the product of hundreds of interviews containing a host of very specific questions conducted with divorced adults between the ages of 20 and 79, both just after their divorce and again several years later.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

The past two decades bear witness to dramatic increases not only in the rates of divorce but in the number of popular and scholarly works devoted to the subject. In book after book we are offered glimpses of empty-eyed men staring at bare motel walls, or desperate single mothers struggling to reestablish careers and lives while...

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pp. xv-xvi

The inspiration for this book came from the doctoral theses of five very talented and creative students from a variety of disciplines: Linda Catron (Anthropology), Ann Coho (Counseling Psychology), Cathy Birtley Fenn (Health Psychology), Leah Friedman (Counseling Psychology), and H. B. Wilder (Clinical Psychology). Linda Catron and Dave Chiriboga spearheaded the effort to turn highly...

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1 Introduction

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pp. 1-10

The social phenomenon we call divorce has gone from the unusual and suspect to the common and socially accepted in the United States in a space of less than thirty years. After a temporary surge in divorces immediately following World War II, when the soldiers returned home, there was a period of stability until the mid-1950s. From...


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2 Childhood Stress and Adaptation to Divorce: A Shaping Condition

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pp. 13-37

In this chapter we consider the first of the questions that form the focus of this book. This question concerns whether or not early childhood experiences affect how an adult functions during a divorce: there is evidence that early losses may set the stage for a heightened response to losses that are experienced later in life. In other words...

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3 Divorce Stress and Adaptation

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pp. 38-73

In this chapter we continue to explore the many ways in which the stress process affects the experiences and well-being of men and women, some of the ways in which respondents attempted to cope with divorce, and what seems to set apart those who have more or less...

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4 Coping Strategies in Divorce

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pp. 74-94

In the preceding chapter we examined some of the stressors that may affect divorcing men and women. We found that while stressors were associated with greater symptomatology in both the long and short runs, they did not explain everything about symptom...


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5 Passage through Divorce: A Transitions Perspective

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pp. 97-124

Jim sits at the small kitchen table, staring intently at the interviewer. A tall and lanky 35-year-old white male, he has been separated for less than two months and is in the middle of his first interview with us. Spread before him lies a sheet of paper on which the interviewer has asked Jim to draw a life graph. "You know/' he says, "I really...

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6 Passage through Divorce: Timing Issues

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pp. 125-148

In Chapter 5 we discussed a model of transitions appropriate for modern societies, and presented findings illustrating several basic concepts associated with transitions theory. Here we advance the basic transitions model one step further by adding an important but understudied dimension: the passage of time. We will be looking at two...


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7 The Self-Concept of Divorcing Persons

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pp. 151-173

Emmy Lou, the 39-year-old black woman first introduced in chapter 6, sits on her hidabed sofa, talking to the interviewer. "Since my separation/' she comments, "I don't have as much faith in people as I had before, and I will never put that much faith and...

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8 Views of the Other: Issues of Self-image and Identification

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pp. 174-192

In the last chapter we discussed the self-image of our divorcing subjects, and compared their self-images with those of persons undergoing more normative transitions. We found that in some dimensions there were signs of deterioration in the self-image of those in the throes of marital dissolution, but there were also clear indications...


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9 Social Supports in the Context of Divorce

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pp. 195-223

In this chapter we shall navigate that extensive but foggy terrain known as social support, investigating the role that support plays in short- and longterm adaptation to divorce. Social support is one of those concepts that seems intuitively obvious until one asks oneself what it actually refers to. In point of fact, the term is often applied...

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10 Who Leaves Whom: The Importance of Control

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pp. 224-247

Each of the preceding chapters has examined factors that contribute to the tremendous variability in how people respond to separation and divorce. One psychological factor suggested to have major importance but which has been examined only superficially in past studies is control over the initiation of divorce. Those who have considered...

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11 Minority Issues in the Study of Divorce

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pp. 248-279

As we reviewed the analyses for this book, we found to our chagrin and dismay that we had fallen into a common analytic trap. Because we lacked large numbers of minority respondents, we generally "control" for the effect of minority status in our discussions. While controlling for minority status allows us to make broader generalizations...

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12 Risk Factors in Divorce: A Life Course Perspective

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pp. 280-292

Although there are many things that can be said about divorce, perhaps the most general is that few go through the experience without emerging as a different person. "Stripped to its bare essentials/' as Maury and Brandwein (1984, 193) notes, "divorce is a major change/' The changes are pervasive, and involve both self and one's relations...


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pp. 293-312


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pp. 313-319

E-ISBN-13: 9780814723647
E-ISBN-10: 0814723640
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814772164
Print-ISBN-10: 0814772161

Page Count: 408
Publication Year: 1991