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318 Reviews
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432 of 443 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is my anger telling me?
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...
Published on July 15, 2001 by Marcy L. Thompson

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149 of 166 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A WORD OF CAUTION
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)...
Published on June 9, 2004


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432 of 443 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is my anger telling me?, July 15, 2001
By 
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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160 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Use anger to make your life better, July 31, 1999
By A Customer
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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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, excellent, April 2, 2000
By A Customer
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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166 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow !, October 28, 2001
By 
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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149 of 166 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A WORD OF CAUTION, June 9, 2004
By A Customer
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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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book about your mind can help your health., March 3, 2001
By A Customer
Two weeks ago, someone handed me this book and said "Please review this - it's really helped my fibromyalgia and my friend's high blood pressure".
Though that was not what Harriet Lerner had in mind when she wrote The Dance of Anger, this book should be a manual for women with chronic and auto-immune conditions. In these types of conditions, there is often an emotional component triggered by a situation in which we feel powerless or unable to effectively communicate. Women either through conditioning or habit tend to react with anger or tears of frustration. Nothing is resolved. Harriet Lerner offers an alternative solution.
The major point that Harriet Lerner resoundedly drives home is that we will not change the other person, but we can change how we interact with them. We can break this cycle or dance by learning new steps. Thus, The Dance of Anger is about communication. It points out non-effective communication patterns and how to change them to become effective. This book about your mind - can help your health.
Dr. Suzanne Lawton
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A holistic view of anger, April 7, 2001
I've had this book on my shelf for several years and just now got around to finishing it. The wisdom and truth contained in this book is timeless. As true today as it was 15 years ago for it speaks of the human condition and the complexity of communication sytles in relationships.
Lerner's book addresses the social issues that impact communication styles. It also outlines how we create stuck patterns in our relationships by refusing to speak the truth and be direct. She outlines the concepts of overfunctioning or underfuntioning. And the importance of being honest and "human" if we want to achieve balance in our relationships.
I've been reading Lerner's book off and on for about a year. Somewhere in the middle of the book I realized how I was stuck in an ineffective pattern with my husband. Her book gave me insight into an appropriate, loving way to handle it. I took what I learned, applied it and saw results. But not instantly.
Lerner warns the reader not to expect instant results. Communication styles and relationship patterns are often deeply entrenched and automatic. It takes conscious and continuous commitment to reap the rewards of new communication styles. However, if you're tired of feeling misunderstood, mistreated or marginalized, you'll find the effort well worth it.
I found this book uplifting yet realistic. It outlines a healthy, empowering way to communicate with your loved ones without getting into the blame game or feeling like a victim. I recommend it to anyone with a pattern of anger or conflict in relationships.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Changed My Life, December 14, 2002
By 
"boondocksfan" (Avondale Estates, GA United States) - See all my reviews
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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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Wish I'd Read This Earlier, July 28, 2005
By 
D. Henderson (Kansas City, MO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships (Paperback)
I was truly able to relate to the family situations and common anger responses discussed in this book. I soon came to realize how I have been mishandling my anger for most, if not all, of my adult life. The author discusses our need to discontinue those anger responses that haven't been working for us thus far in particular situations and to step back and assess the true reasons for our anger. She then helps us think through realistic alternative responses. She supports our right to be angry and challenges us to avoid considering our anger as being either wrong or inappropriate. If we're angry, we're angry. We just need to do something productive with it as, properly channeled, the emotional energy we possess when angry could help drive us to make major positive changes in our life. I am going through an ugly divorce and I now recognize that both my and my husband's inability to effectively handle anger was a key contributing factor to our failed marriage. Though it is too late for my own marriage, I'm giving this book to my daughter, who I often see repeating in her own marriage some of the poor anger responses she learned at home. The alternative responses do work, though they aren't easy to remember in heated situations. It will take a concerted effort to "practice" appropriate anger responses until they become second nature. But it's worth the effort as I have already seen positive change occur in several of my relationships. This was a great "AHA" book for me. I understand so much more about my own anger now than I ever have and am prepared to manage it in a way that will most likely blow my family members away!
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A woman trying to deal with midlife, December 27, 1999
By A Customer
As a person dealing with menopause and my husband's midlife crisis, I wanted to learn more about myself. How am I contributing to the disintegration of my marriage was an important question for me since I didn't want another relationship until I understood what was happening in this one. I discovered patterns of my own overfunctioning, blaming and pursuing which I am breaking to change my behavior. This book has helped me to let go of my guilt feelings about wanting change, and to appreciate the needs of my children and husband. I have learned that pain and suffering translate to growth. Anger is a part of the process and a healthy one. I don't know if I will be able to save my present relationship, but having read this book, I know that I won't repeat unhealthy behaviors in another relationship.
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The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships
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