Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Fireside  
Release Date:  0-7432-2538-4
Format Reviewed:  Softcover
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Genre:   Nonfiction – Self-Help – Anxiety Disorders – African-American Women
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer:   Kristin Johnson
Reviewer Notes: Reviewer, Kristin Johnson, is the author of CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins. Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., will be published by PublishAmerica in 2004.  

Soothe Your Nerves
The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic and Fear
By Angela Neal-Barnett, Ph.D. 

      Someone needs to give Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa the information-packed Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic and Fear. But please, Vanessa, don’t stop Dr. Angela Neal-Barnet when she’s going to church, though chances are there are other Black women behind you whose motto is, “We’re anxious as hell and we don’t want to take it anymore!”

      Black women do have much to worry about, some of which Dr. Neal-Barnett addresses: sexual assault (women of color are twice as likely to be assaulted as white women because they are seen as “easy” or lesser), violence and violent deaths of loved ones, the “acting white” stigma, teen pregnancy, discrimination, and the historic strength that they have modeled in a kind of two-for-one Superwoman mold. These are realities that everyone needs to understand, especially women. By reading this book, white, Hispanic and Asian women might confront their own anxieties and their own stereotypes (the pure sheltered WASP princess, the devout brave humble feed-everyone Latina, the exotic subservient Asian woman) and offer support and help to the sistahs in their lives.

      However, nowhere does the book mention misogynistic hip-hop or philandering among black men. A Strong Black Woman is supposed to keep the sucker in line. Easier said than done, even for those who don’t have their marriage dissected by the media. Nor does the book deal, except in mentioning not being able to pay for psychiatric treatment, the effect that poverty has, let alone single motherhood. Perhaps Dr. Neal-Barnett is trying to lift up the Black woman from stereotypes by portraying successful women as suffering from compulsions (including religious compulsions), anxiety, fear, and the ultimate stereotype of the Strong Black Woman, popularized in the media. She does this most effectively by portraying Black men as loving partners with frustrations of their own in dealing with their anxious mates, although not the self-destructiveness in Black men exemplified by Kobe that also causes Black women to reach for the Scotch instead of for soul help. This sensitive, intelligent treatment of a complex subject could save other Vanessa Bryants.