I read ‘the’ most incredible book over the holidays. I say incredible with a caveat… it was very challenging and difficult for me to read – as in it actually affected me emotionally. It picked at my scabs. It pricked me where my skin is the thinnest. It led to a full scale breakdown on the beach.
This book is Addiction to Perfection : The Still Unravished Bride, by Marion Woodman.
In her book, Woodman examines our addiction to routine, and why this is not necessarily the answer to happiness that so many ‘self-help’ books and podcasts adamantly declare it is without any doubts. She also offers a different way of looking at sex, redefines ‘virginity’ (I LOVED this), and discusses at length the woman’s relationship to her body and to herself.
Before I continue, I wanted to share her definition of virginity. I love this because it puts the power back in the woman, and takes the emphasis away from sex and towards enlightenment.
“The woman who is a virgin, one-in-herself, does what she does – not because of any desire to please, not to be liked, or to be approved, even by herself; not because of any desire to gain power over another, to catch his interest or love, but because what she does is true.”
Masculine vs Feminine Energy
Finally (the most important part of the book for me), she challenges our preoccupation with masculine energy – the energy that drives our Western culture today. She suggests that we need a balance of masculine (goal-oriented) and feminine (living in the ‘now’) energies in order to live the balanced lives we crave.
As I read her descriptions, I realized that I was dominant in masculine energy – always on the go, I rarely take a moment to care for my body and to embrace the feminine side of who I am. Since reading this book, I’ve started challenging myself in this area. I’ve incorporated gentle caresses of the body I once despised – mine – in the morning through the deliberate and relatively sensual application of lotion. This is fairly vulnerable for me to share, but this ritual has been fairly transformative for me. The ritual has helped me to love my body, and to accept it as an important part of who I am – this female body that I’ve spent so much of my life fighting against.
Of course, the other topic she talks about is Perfection.
“Driven to do our best at school, on the job, in our relationships – in every corner of our lives – we try to make ourselves into works of art. Working so hard to create our own perfection we forget that we are human beings.”

Works of art. That one really hit me hard. That’s precisely what I’ve been trying to do in my life, and it doesn’t work because – as she said – I’m human. We’re all human. We cannot be perfect.
In the book, Marion included several case studies of women that she’d personally worked with. She shared their journal entries. She shared their dreams. It was an unsettling experience. I realized how alike in our insecurities and fears we all are.
i didn’t know who I was
i was too terrified to know
for i somehow felt
that what i was, at my core
was intrinsically evil
i could not find fault with anyone
i saw them… i told them they were perfect
because i had to be perfect
when i looked into the mirror
the terror was that no one would be looking back
the soul was not there
i was an empty shell
Finally, Marion talked about transformation: How to embrace the feminine in us, how to let go of perfection, and how to learn more about ourselves by living with authenticity, passion and daring presence. How? With a desire for change – a desire that will manifest as a slap in the face that will leave you careening, tripping, and probably crying as you find your way towards a new way of being.
“When the possibility of radical transformation presents itself, it brings with it considerable fear. Once the door is opened, the bird who has lived in a cage all its life shrinks back from freedom and the terrors of the unknown.”

Basically, if you want to embrace the challenge… it’s probably going to suck for awhile. That’s where I was coming from when I wrote my breakdown blog post a few weeks ago, That’s what I’ve experienced in my own breakdowns to breakthroughs at least.
Yes, this book was absolutely incredible. I would highly recommend it to those who are ready! I’ll conclude this review with the following quote:
“To be true to the soul is to value the soul, to express it as uniquely as possible. It is loving from inside, rather than accepting a foreign standard that does not take our essence into consideration.”

Christine Bissonnette
Christine is a writer, actor and spoken word poet. Follow her reviews and personal stories at and her conversations with creatives at www.creativelifestyleblog.

3 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW – ADDICTION TO PERFECTION: The Still Unravished Bride”

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