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

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  12,157 ratings  ·  359 reviews
"Anger is a signal and one worth listening to," writes Dr. Harriet Lerner, in her renowned classic that has transformed the lives of millions of readers. While anger deserves our attention and respect, women still learn to silence our anger, to deny it entirely, or to vent it in a way that leaves us feeling helpless and powerless. In this engaging and eminently wise book, ...more
Paperback, 239 pages
Published May 3rd 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1985)
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Ladiibbug
** A Life Changing Book **

Read years ago. This book made a huge impact on my life, and changed my life dramatically for the better.

The Dance of Anger, recommended by a therapist, will show the reader how to express anger -- and deal with anger being directed toward you -- without yelling, screaming, name calling, etc.

This was literally the first clue I ever got about how to express anger in a calm way and to actually RESOLVE an issue, without constantly exploding over it, or being the "explodee"
...more
Kathrynn
Nov 12, 2008 Kathrynn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kathrynn by: Ladiibbug
I think this author produced a well-thought out book. It focuses on helping women move away from unproductive anger and learning to be angry with positive, effective results.

There is a section on women who don't "allow" themselves to be angry that I didn't spend much time on because never felt I wasn't allowed to be angry. There is another portion on "de-selfing" which involves a person (male/female) allowing another in their relationship to walk all over them and I didn't spent much time on thi
...more
Skylar Burris
I recently heard a sermon on anger at my church. When I saw the sermon topic printed in the bulletin, I felt reluctant. I expected to hear what you sometimes do in Christian circles, that anger is bad and one should avoid becoming angry. I was not eager to hear this message, as I had been feeling strong anger about some personal injuries I had experienced, but I prayed I would receive the message with an open mind. The rector, however, said nothing of anger being either bad or good; he said, rat ...more
K
May 27, 2008 K rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bowen therapists; women who want to improve their family relationships
Recommended to K by: Nechama Ginzberg
Shelves: professionallit
Wow. This was a really great book, one which I appreciated on both a personal and a professional level. Written in a deceptively simple self-help/pop psych style, this book had the advantages of being highly readable, practical, and almost entertaining, appealing to a lay audience. At the same time, this book was based on solid Bowen theory and was far from superficial or facile.

This book clarified a lot of things for me that I've been working on with my supervisor, and has been helping me func
...more
Kathie M
Dec 11, 2007 Kathie M rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who feels like they're stuck and can stomach a self-help book
I know my friends are sick of hearing about her, but Harriet Lerner is a genius and my own personal guru (from afar). I never really thought I'd read a self-help book(especially one on relationships, eek), but I've re-read this one three times at different points in my life. The books (there's a Dance series) are easy to read, her case studies are good because the examples are ones that everyone can find in their own lives, and her advice is really sound. The basic premise is that if you're unha ...more
Angie
This book has been quoted to me for many years and my boss recently recommended it.

It is one of the first self help books on the topic and it took years of rejection for Harriet Lerner to get it published. While it is targeted to women, it applies to everyone.

I liked the opportunity to use anger to define self and I appreciated the context of societal roles by gender even though I tend to be more "masculine" in my expression of anger.

The best part about the book is the simple how-to examples o
...more
Jess
When I started reading this, I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone I meet.

Women reading this book will be shocked to find themselves described in the scenarios and behavioral patterns Harriet Lerner outlines throughout the book. Lerner does a fantastic job at including scenarios that are relevant to everyone, no matter how old they are or whether they are married, single, dating or etc. And better still, she tailors her method to account for all of the uniq
...more
Rebecca
Apr 25, 2009 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rebecca by: Daniel
constantly re-reading this one since 2004.

seriously. this is a great book to keep on your bookshelves amongst literary fiction and a few aesthetically pleasing picture books...it really makes people do a double-take. ...even though they'd never admit it.
I actually love how awfully self-help this book looks.

If you get in fights with your mother--or your partner--or strangers (and maybe sometimes the fights stay in your head)...this is the book for you.

If I were a dancer I'd totally choreograph T
...more
Angela
This is a great book for anyone who's ever been, currently or will be angry with someone else. It will teach you how to better communicate your anger in more effective ways so that you can produce favorable results. In addition, it will teach you how to change your own behavior to influence someone else's behavior. Harriet's breakdown of the coveted triangle, where a third person becomes involved with a relationship between two other people, is helpful because it is applicable to everyone. Be wa ...more
Dana
Excellent book for women of all walks to read!! It's not what it sounds like. I know we all are programmed away from anger. Anger is BAAAAAAD, right? Well, this is one of Harriet Lerner's fabulous books that teaches women how to use our emotions in a positive way to get our needs met. It's a book about boundaries and using our anger...recognizing it as a gps system. Our anger is valid and it is always telling us something.

This is not a book about venting or blowing off steam. It's a book about
...more
Chris
Great book and a worthwhile read for women and men. From my own experience, I was battling my ex for over a year to get our divorce settled. After I read the book, I changed my approach from being more emotional and pursuing, to being more cool and detached. Within 3 weeks, we had our divorce settlement finalized and signed by lawyers. Why? Because the book taught me that if I want the opposite reaction of my partner, I had to do the opposite of what she was doing. And it worked perfectly!
Rebecca Waring-Crane
A gem of a read especially for any woman who has ever been told, "You shouldn't feel that way!"

"Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to. Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated, that our needs or wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right. Our anger may tell us that we are not addressing an important emotional issue in our lives, or that too much of our self -- our beliefs, values, desires, or ambitions -- is bei
...more
Jeremy
Helpful book. Guys may be turned off due to the subtitle: "A Woman's Guide...", but Lerner's principles aptly apply to men too. Also, anger may be the topic, but a healthier relationship is the goal. She helps break down how anger, instead of causing endless cycles of frustration, can be used as a tool to deepen our relationships with loved ones and to better understand our true selves.

Some stuff Lerner discusses: misconceptions of anger (ch 1); marital discord and breaking the cycle (ch 3; also
...more
Kassandra
Self help books normally make me want to vomit. Or at least squirm uncomfortably. This book I can honestly recommend without reserve. It gives real and practical advice on conflict. I think that the title is some what misleading as you don't have to have a problem with anger to get something out of this book. It sort of addresses that when she talks about how there are people who express anger externally and those who internalize. Either way, this book is very readable and gave me a lot of insig ...more
Aerin
I read this after Dance of Intimacy, and they are somewhat similar. However. I do think this one focuses more on the feelings of anger and how we react to them. As with "Intimacy", I think it is useful for both men and women. When I first saw this book, even though I read and loved Intimacy, I thought, "Anger? I don't need this book, I'm not an angry person." But, was I wrong. This book addresses both extremes, as well as states in between: giving into anger and emotion, or squashing it because ...more
Geneva
In the grand scheme of self-help(ish) books, this one's pretty old, so much of the information in it were things I already knew BUT that doesn't mean they weren't revolutionary when the book was written (the importance of "I feel" instead of "you always", for example, could have been new and exciting when this book was written, but it's been part of my knowledge base for ages). I also feel like the title was a bit misleading. The author argues that "anger" can manifest in different ways, either ...more
Cathy
One of the only self-help books I thought was... helpful. Don't remember the details after 20 years but the basic idea really stuck. Don't expect someone else to change, you have to do it. And if you do, expect a reaction. The book deals with all sorts of relationships, mom/child, husband/wife, boss/employee, etc.
Barbara
An excellent book that compels the reader to look at patterns and personal history from a fresh perspective. Anger is an important topic, and especially so for woman since we have generally been socialized to deny it, internalize, contain it - to the detriment of relationships and health
Helen King
Really insightful, some good tips to understand how anger is a a useful tool to understand how to identify issues and how to resolve them. Reinforced the points that people can change themselves but not others (focus on the sphere of influence). I had also never thought of the issue of being in a bad triangle (ie. getting stuck and drawn into problems between your partner and your child - step back from the problem). Other insights - how women (as a generalisation) are not good at recognising an ...more
Mary Ellen  Gembolis
Lots of useful insights, but the book is dated.
I tried to trace recommened links, but couldn't find them
at the library or Amazon.
Rory
Jun 25, 2008 Rory rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: angry women--know any?
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm so glad I read this book. It's not new, but it's obvious why it's still around. Let's get a few drinks and talk about it some time.
Jenny (rapid tortoise)
Must-read for women of all ages.
If I could I would give it 10 stars.
Review to follow.
Gretchen
when Kevin saw this on the table, he said "oh, you're learning the polka?"
Ruby
An awesome book that should be read more than once. I wish I read this book earlier so I could’ve known how to deal with difficult situations and stop allowing people to walk all over me and then blow up on them, which doesn’t help me in any way. This book essentially says that we have a right to our anger and should use it to change our relationship patterns with people. It covers a range of relationship examples such as daughter-mother, daughter-father, wife-husband etc… I especially liked two ...more
Kate
A yoga teacher talked to us about letting go, something I hear, and think about often (and not just since the 'Frozen' song ;). Taking the leap and actually doing it is a lot of work, but absolutely worth it. Dropping the negativity can lighten (and enlighten) absolutely every aspect of life, and leave room for things so much more productive and important than aggression. I especially enjoyed one of the final chapters in which you are encouraged to draw out the 'triangles' of negative behavior a ...more
Cori
Hey, Ladiibbug, you stole my headline! I too read this book a long time ago, but it really did change my whole approach to acting and reacting to the world around me. My copy was so dog-eared, and I underlined text and commented in the margins so copiously, that I had to get a 2nd copy to share with friends.

Before reading this book, I spent an alarming amount of energy being angry. Reading it did not erase my impulse to anger, but taught me to temper it, pick my battles more prudently, and more
...more
Susan
I read the 20th Anniversary Edition of this book, which was published in 2001. Despite being 30 years from its original printing, The Dance of Anger is still very relevant today.

This book looks at anger as an important indicator of issues of concern in life and constructive ways of dealing with the problems. The anger discussed is not so much the ranting and raving 'big' anger but that of many women, the stifled and internalized and improperly expressed anger that women are often taught to carr
...more
Nicole
I have anger issues. I borrowed this book from a friend because I was at the end of my rope in how to deal with my dog when she poops all over the floor. I just loose it, and I know that she doesn't deserve to be yelled at and shamed because of it. I can meditate on compassion, love her up, realize that she can't control her gut, but to no avail--I get raging when I come home/awaken/walk into the room where she's made large, wet, stinky puddles of nastiness. My husband and I are reasonably good ...more
Rachel
"Unlike our male heroes, who fight and even die for what they believe in, women may be condemned for waging a bloodless and humane revolution for their own rights." (p.2)

"If feeling angry signals a problem, venting anger does not solve it. Venting anger may serve to maintain, and even rigidify, the old rules and patterns in a relationship, thus ensuring that change does not occur." (p.4)

"‘See not evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ becomes the unconscious rule for those of us who must deny the aw
...more
D
Mar 08, 2014 D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks interested in psychology and self-improvement
Recommended to D by: Rikka Stewart
just a fascinating look at anger -- what it represents, how it manifests itself (often negatively), and its constructive use.

lerner's voice is compassionate, her point of view feminist, her information solid, and her advice instructive. she particularly examines women's anger, viewing it within established relationships, not as destructive in and of itself but, rather, as a sign that something within the relationship needs to change.

she discusses identifying the root causes of anger, understand
...more
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Harriet Lerner was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the second of two daughters. Her parents, Archie and Rose Goldhor, were both children of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. They were high school graduates who wanted their daughters to "be someone" at a time when women were only supposed to "find someone."

"Achievement was next to Godliness for my sister, Susan, and me." Harriet notes. "My f
...more
More about Harriet Lerner...
The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate The Dance of Fear: Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be Your Best and Bravest Self Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up The Dance of Deception: A Guide to Authenticity and Truth-Telling in Women's Relationships

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