My entire menstrual journey has shifted completely since I met you a couple of years ago. I went from needing to be in bed for a week when it was my moontime to now just carrying on as 'normal' and just being a little more tired than usual... my cycle has become a joy!
Kyle Pattnaik, Birth Doula and massage therapist, Totnes

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Testimonial for the work of Alexandra Pope
Article Created On: 02/06/2011 12:10:35

I first met Alexandra Pope reading one of her books The Wild Genie, translated into Italian with the title of Mestruazioni. Something stirred in me from the first pages. I couldn’t at once realize the reason why I felt so much liking and closeness then I started understanding that what I liked about her were two precise things.

Firstly,  the novelty she introduced about how the mind/body system works, specially referring to the difference between female and male minds, coming to me through a psychological language for the first time. I have very much appreciated this because you often find psycho-physiological texts speaking about this question or texts using a mystical approach. The second thing was her style: she didn’t need to hide her vulnerability in stating something like you so often do in order to gain success, on the contrary she was using it as an instrument to show the feminine way to knowledge.

The book turned out to be a useful handbook to begin a personal research by recording what happened during my menstrual cycle (it has been going on for 3 years). So I began the deep listening, paying special attention to record how my perception of reality changed during the whole menstrual cycle. It was not difficult because at that time I was delving into Zen meditation, and that practice was very helpful to me to observe what happened in my mind with a suitable detachment.

I discovered something sensational, I had the feeling I had become acquainted with something of utmost importance that every woman had to know. I was shocked because nowadays, despite the remarkable scientific progress, we are still precluded from this vital knowledge for women, and men too.

I can still remember very well my first research into “PMS”, at least this was the name I had been taught to use. I was doing my studies at Bologna University, that was about around 1995-’96 and at that time I was suffering a lot. I felt lucky because I had access to all the scientific magazines at the university. The results that came from all the different approaches were disappointing: the biological and the psycho-neuro-endocrinological, the cognitive and the psychoanalytical. All these theories were describing the phenomenon, the facts, some were trying to interpret it, but my feeling was always the same: the attempt was to minimize the whole thing down to a  “female discomfort”.

 

The big news, which has been brought in by Alexandra Pope, represents a Copernican revolution. As a woman and a clinical psychologist, I believe this can be considered as a real reversal of perspective because it is the semantic frame that changes if we follow her approach. As soon as I heard about her workshop in Italy, I ran to meet her; I had decided to talk to her and to other women about my experience because I wanted to understand whether this personal experience might be shared on a wider scale. On that occasion I found not only a confirmation of what I had already sensed, but also a stronger motivation to deepen my research.

 

The confirmation of this approach came to me in its concreteness because I could experience in myself the healing of acute forms of depression during the premenstrual phase. A positive confirmation of her approach is also showing in my work – such a new perspective could not fail to affect my way of working. In my work, I notice there are too many diagnosis of bipolar depression given to women by male psychiatrists, too much psychopathology declared as such on feminine population in general, and too many pharmacological treatments prescribed as a therapy for such disorders.

 

As a woman and as a psychologist, I believe that the originality of Alexandra's Pope research lies in the profound analysis of female identity. If this profound research is undertaken it becomes a deep and steady anchoring and within this sphere every uneasiness, trouble or disequilibrium is included, understood, elaborated and metabolized.

Alexandra Pope's ideas have great relevance, her research relates not only to mental health, but also the anthropological, cultural and social background in which women live. I do feel that humankind is experiencing a very critical age but in any self-respecting critical age we are also given the chance to turn our weaknesses into great opportunities.

My prayer is that all women may take advantage of this opportunity to revolutionize our way of thinking.

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