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The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships Paperback – May 3, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 452 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)

About the Author

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is one of our nation’s most loved and respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for more than two decades. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader, and psychotherapist, she is the author of The Dance of Anger and other bestselling books. She is also, with her sister, an award-winning children's book writer. She and her husband are therapists in Lawrence, Kansas, and have two sons.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Perennial Currents; 20th Anniversary edition (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006074104X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060741044
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (452 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,794 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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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 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
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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