The Reclaimed Woman

In an excerpt from her just-released book, author Kelly Brogan, M.D. invites readers to discover and liberate feminine gifts and personal potential.
Author and holistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan, M.D.. Photo: Neubek

What is a Reclaimed Woman?

I define a Reclaimed Woman as one who is as devoted to herself as to God (insert your preferred term), to her man (and men), to her children (inner and outer), who exudes her heart wisdom and energy in every moment. A Reclaimed Woman is one who feels safe to fully express herself because she knows how to give herself that safety. She knows how to self-husband and set a strong masculine container for her feminine to dance, create and answer the wild call of her soul—what she actually came here for!

I learned the phrase “self-husband” from my erotic coach, Whitney Lowery, and a caveat may be in order. I am a woman. I have no idea what it is to be a man, to experience reality through the distinct biology of a man’s vessel. When I refer to an inner masculine, it is, in most ways, a rhetorical strategy to allow for the identification of certain inner energetic signatures associated with particular thought forms and behaviors. The father introject, or masculine dimension of a woman, is what Carl Jung calls the animus, a projected aspect that we reclaim and integrate through our lived experiences with men.

Because it is my experiential credential, I am speaking to feminine essence women who are confused about how to be a woman. I’ve walked these grounds myself, and learned that my personality was a mask, that I was living a sweetly well-intentioned lie, that the ways I thought I was keeping myself safe were actually keeping me stuck, and that my essential power was in what I thought was a shameful weakness. We will move through mommy issues, daddy issues, “conspiracy theories” and embodied experiences, ultimately giving you the tools to navigate claiming the gems from your cave, learning what you want and how to ask for it while standing in fierce alignment. 

What follows is all about your personal reclamation as a woman, designed to help you shed your struggle, choose yourself, and experience the specific pleasure of who you are. My commitment is to lead you home to you.

Woman Up

I’m a big believer in the Maya Angelou quote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” Part 1 of this book is in service of knowing better, and the rest of the book is about doing better. In Part 1, we’ll smoke out the societal shadows that have been keeping us stuck in the throes of victim consciousness. Spoiler alert: It’s all by design. At the same time, only you hold the keys to free yourself and coronate yourself the queen of your story. From there, we’ll take it into aligned action, which is where your self-initiation officially begins. 

Like any good archetypal journey, we’ll start with your no so that you can find your fully embodied yes.


Part 2 is all about your no. When you become aware of the fact that you have been self-abandoning, betraying and rejecting this whole time, imagining it was others doing it to you, you reclaim your power of choice and your capacity to say no. But to truly refine this capacity, you must meet all the parts within that you have rejected and welcome them to the table. Your “no way in hell” matures into a “that’s not for me, thanks,” and you learn how to play with the darker flavors of your raw erotic essence: your inner Medusa, your inner Kali, your inner dark witch. I like to see your no as the combination of your dark feminine inner power that destroys anything less than love, plus the light of the matured masculine discernment of a seasoned martial artist who decimates his opponent with nothing more than a glance.


In Part 3, we move into your yes. Your yes is the light of the feminine: play, creativity, pleasure, receptivity. This is where you tap into your wellspring of creatrix power and get to design your life around your desire and pleasure.

By the end of your heroine’s journey, you’ll feel excited and curious about challenges and adversity in your life, because you’ll know that you came here to dance and play, and that there is nothing more exhilarating than the experience of meeting your full self. Together we will lay the groundwork for you to recognize and seize all the ripe opportunities you are being presented with to end your suffering. This is a process of discovering and celebrating the polarity within while bringing your inner masculine and feminine into mature, actualized harmony. You’ll finally feel like a well-resourced adult, not a secretly flailing child.

Of course, your reclamation experience does not need to look anything like mine. You might not pole or twerk in your journey—but also, try it. This is about helping you reconnect to your desire so you can follow that force of attraction wherever it takes you. You’ll finally be giving your unhindered inner child a voice, whether she wants to make jewelry, run a farm, wear exquisite hats, live by the ocean or stay up late giggling with her friends.

One more thing, before we begin—I want you to take a moment and feel the huge field that you are stepping into. The thousands of dogma-defying women who have risen in and through my field, the medical history-making outcomes through my self-care protocol Vital Mind Reset, and the courageous humility that has worn this path so that it can feel softer for your beautiful feet. I attract powerful babes, and you are one of them. Huge energy is holding your capacity to step out of victimhood and ease into the practice of self-alignment. Feel us all at your back. We’ve got you, and soon you’ll feel that you’ve got you, no matter what.

And just because it’s fun to imagine, offer yourself some audacious “what if’s” from where you sit now. I love to open my containers with these prompts, and the responses always bring tears to my eyes because we are remembering, together, to dream into what is possible. So, what if you walked away from chronic illness? What if you healed your relationship with your son? What if you started dancing and became a choreographer? What if you started painting again? What if?

Courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing. Publication date: June 25, 2024

Woman To Woman 

A closer look at the ideas in The Reclaimed Woman, in conversation with its author, Kelly Brogan. By Amely Greeven

Holistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan has a passion for helping women live their most authentic lives. In her new book, The Reclaimed Woman, she dives into the intricacies of womanhood, identity and self-empowerment with uncompromising honesty and a generous dose of daring. Amely Greeven speaks with her.

Amely Greeven: Your book audaciously challenges conventional notions of feminism, then invites a woman on a journey of confronting our shadows and embracing our desires. I found it provocative, at times challenging, and also gripping—the juiciest kind of read! I came away wondering, is this ultimately a book about how to fully love myself?

Kelly Brogan: Well, I am a problem and solution-oriented kind of gal. I’m not even sure what “fully loving oneself” means! The conundrum I’m addressing is the hollowness and disappointment that many women feel even after “making it.” Why don’t I feel happy? Why am I bitter about what it took to get here? Why do I have so many hot-button problems in my relationships, or with my own body? This is a not uncommon story for the modern woman; it can become a kinked-up way of being that becomes a body shape, a rigid posture, and it hurts! But we become habituated to it, and become disconnected from our sensitivity and our vital force, which is the energy of creation. Our relationships suffer. But we have an opportunity to progress beyond that. 

AG: You describe how in order to enjoy more of our inherent, powerful eros, or life-force, we also want to offer ourselves containment. You’ve called it self-husbanding. That’s new to me, and intriguing as someone who struggles to tap into that energy. 

KB: I’ve been interested in feminine power my whole life. I’ve done the righteous, angry fighter; I’ve watched the chasing femininity thing rise, too—go to goddess circles, wear dresses, you’ll feel like a queen! Both can leave us flailing and confused. There’s a different energetic signature we can orient toward, a maturational opportunity where we learn to self-regulate, shift out of stress physiology and learn emotional self-containment. We learn to honor our nos and we start to offer ourselves safety, not wait until a strong, trustworthy partner appears for that to happen. Then we become the custodians and stewards of our eros, our feminine energy, and it bubbles forth. It makes manifest. 

AG: The book includes an archetypal tale of a woman “journeying home to herself.” It reminds me of Women Who Run With the Wolves, and author/psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ description of feminine “soul hunger” or “susto.” You say the journey must involve “walking through the dark”—meeting our shame, giving up victim stories, seeing reality with sober eyes and even playing with our inner villain. It’s full-on inner work!

KB: It is! When you decide not to ignore your little nos any more, it creates a rupture. You might feel, as I did, “I can’t live this story any more without there being grave consequences to my soul!” But it’s not like you did something wrong. You’ve arrived at the cliff, knowing your old story is ready for retirement. And then you must leap. Taking the road through and beyond victim consciousness will make you sit in the cave of discomfort. It’s an apprenticeship of emotional alchemy, always entering into the upsets you have with others to see what’s in there for you. But the dividends are worth it.

AG: You’re transparent about your own journey in the book, especially your shift from being an ardent “fix the world” activist to a soulful, embodied woman taking radical responsibility for her experience. You also share movingly how real reclamation occurs in the company of other women. It’s not a solitary endeavor. 

KB: Women co-regulate with each other. We offer each other containment. When we share our stories of transformation, of playing in permission fields that we didn’t think would ever be afforded us, we discover that we can do this. We can experience transformation in our lives quickly. When we show each other how to stay in our lane and do the work—because there is plenty of that to do—all our relationships can change, without the other people, be it our men, our parents, our children, even being involved. We are that powerful. And then we can chart our way back to a world that involves harmony, peace and a restoration of men and women loving, respecting and trusting each other.

AG: After reading this book, I went to a country-western line dancing night, where previously I might have bailed and kept working. It was euphoric! I found my eros! I saw how my joy rippled into my marriage, and mothering, making both easier. But why do we so often just not go to things that would enliven us?

KB: Because we’ve normalized self-betrayal as women! Your intuition comes through your preferences and wants—through your little yeses. I want to go dancing tonight. But we put a pile of nos on those little seedlings—You’ll be the only beginner. It’ll be weird. You’ve got to do taxes—it’s self-abuse! And we normalize not listening, and then we experience these dynamics on the outside, too. Betrayal, rejection, feeling like we live in an unfair world. So, let’s do something about that! You can juice up that relationship so that you are a devotee to your desire—which is not to say you are unattuned to the desires of others. It’s acknowledging that aligning with what it is that you want—even if it sounds irrational—and honoring it, and really making it matter is the new flex.