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The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships Paperback – 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 437 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Of all the books that have been written about the personal relationships of women and what to do about them, this is the most sound. Like a family heirloom, it can be passed from generation to generation as it is based on profound and lasting truths.” (Peggy Papp, M.S.W., The Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Harriet Lerner is one of the most respected voices on family relationships. She is an internationally renowned lecturer and consultant who has published widely here and abroad, in professional journals as well as popular magazines. For more than two decades, Lerner was a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas and a faculty member of the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry. She currently has a private practice in Topeka, Kansas. Her books include the New York Times bestseller, The Dance of Anger, and The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life.
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Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Library
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; English Language edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006091565X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060915650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marcy L. Thompson VINE VOICE on July 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
A large number of books on the topic of anger have recently come into my house -- how to recognize anger, what it means, and how to "control" it. This is the only one of these books that I liked. All the other books on this topic seem to treat anger as a loss of control, which should be repressed. In fact, they seem to be about impulse control more than about anger. (I have nothing against people learning to control their impulses, I just don't think that it's the same topic as the topic of anger.) Luckily, I did not pay for any of these books, so I can just be glad I read this one, and forget about the others.
In this book, Lerner treats anger as a signal that something is going wrong. She explains that only when we address the "something wrong" in a useful way will the anger go away. Then she explores the "dances" we engage in, in our attempts to make ourselves feel better. She suggests that most of our attempts to make ourselves feel better focus on the person(s) we think made us mad, rather than on ourselves. She compassionately and wisely shows how to disengage from the anger and the counter-productive patterns, while staying connected and acting with integrity. However, she also acknowledges the effect that this sort of change can have on other people in the dance, and she provides guidance in maintaining oneself in the face of countermoves.
Fundamentally, this is not the kind of self-help book that provides 10 easy steps to ridding oneself of anger. Instead, it describes a different way to think about anger, and discussion of the ways in wich one can respond to anger. No easy steps, just a way of thinking, which can radically change the way one engages with the world.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book as impossible to put down as any thriller -- it was fascinating even when it didn't directly apply to me. But most of it did.
All my life I have had a problem expressing anger. It usually comes out as tears, which does not impress anyone or improve the situation, or else I swallow it and tell myself it's not important. This book has helped me to understand that when I'm angry, it means something is wrong, and I attempt to calmly identify what that is, and take steps to make it better. I'm not expert at this yet, but the book has given me hope that small changes can lead to big improvement over time.
All in all, this is a great book for anyone whose anger has ever made them feel ashamed or powerless. Read and reread until your anger works for you, not against you.
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By A Customer on April 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this to anyone in a struggling relationship. After 10 years of marriage I could see no way of getting along with my wife. My therapist suggested this book and it just opened up a whole new world for me. My marriage is safe and strong. Don't let the title fool you, this is just as much for men as women, yes I am a guy.....
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By Kelley Hunt on October 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Many years ago someone recommended that I read this book but I didn't bother. I thought "Yeah right, another self-help book. I don't think so!" I was so wrong. This book dares to take on that ugly, taboo emotion: ANGER! If you never learned good solutions for understanding and dealing with your anger, this is a book you need to read. It is filled with insight about anger. It also offers constructive solutions for getting rid of anger, and improving relationships with people who make us angry. It deals with generational patterns of anger! This book is not just for women. Men, too, could learn a lot from reading this book and putting it's suggestions into practice. Very highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
And I don't say that lightly. I originally bought Harriet Lerner's Dance of Anger b/c I couldn't seem to stop myself from crying during petty disagreements with the people close to me. "I just don't like conflict," I explained dismissively, "I'm a Cancer." But in reality, it made me feel weak, powerless and out of control, and I wanted to change it.
Turns out I was just so afraid of being mad that it was coming out as tears!
Probably the most valuable lesson in Harriet Lerner's Dance of Anger is that you only change yourself - not other people. Sounds simple, but by using case studies involving women and their partners, children, siblings, parents, and co-workers, Lerner offers specific examples of the ways we contribute to the behavior cycles (or "dances") in all of our relationships - and offers specific suggestions for how to change those cycles.
The weekend after I finished the book, I immediately began to change MY BEHAVIOR in the most important relationship in my life - and everything Lerner detailed would probably happen, has. It's eerie to be so textbook, but I feel centered, self-aware and powerful for the first time in a long time - and it's not at anyone else's expense.
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By A Customer on June 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I challenge anyone to say "I have never done that before". We all do these "dances" she speaks of all the time, I don't care if you are a woman or a man. It doesn't have to be a husband/wife relationship either, it happens in all relationships. Her theory is sound and true and can very well help you to end these "dances" (fights/problems) you have with other people. It was *very* enlightening to see what we do actually spelled out for us because so much we do we do without realizing or giving 2nd thought to.
Read this book from beginning to end before trying this stuff. Secondly, keep in mind one very important thing...as much as you can change your attitude, others can change theirs and not always in the direction you hope they will. Her methods do work, but you must be prepared in some instances to "let go" of people that cause you strife if you plan to try to change these "dances" with whom ever you do this with. The reason is that maybe you don't want to let go of your mother or your friend or who ever, but they might want to let "you" go because they don't like the change. Now, she tells you that in the book anyway, but just ready yourself for it. I had a few friends that I either let go or they let me go and now I am feeling a little excluded. Sure, there are no more fights or "bad times" but that let go of the good too. I couldn't get an in-between. Mind you, this worked WONDERS with some other people I tried it on and actually solidified the relationships more. Just be prepared that you win some, you lose some...you can't change people to follow this "new" dance if they don't want to and it is always hard to let go.
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