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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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  21,015 ratings  ·  933 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 & Company (first published 1985)
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Erica Lynn It's a little bit of both. Dr. Lerner talks about how anger in our relationships can influence how we react in our daily lives. While she focuses more…moreIt's a little bit of both. Dr. Lerner talks about how anger in our relationships can influence how we react in our daily lives. While she focuses more on intimate relationships (family and partners), the skills and insights she talks about can apply to other types of relationships. I also believe there's a difference between getting mad at strangers and true anger (which the definition is explained more in the first chapter of the book). I hope this helps clarify that issue.(less)

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Skylar Burris
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Elyse  Walters
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this years ago ... my older daughter too.
Absolutely valuable....
The authors new book out this year sounds even more powerful.
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
** 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"
Oct 18, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Kathie M
Dec 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: relationships
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
Mar 10, 2011 rated it liked it
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
This book was recommended to me by a therapist who supervises our group of counsellors. He told us that this book is incredibly helpful not only to his clients but also to mental health professionals who want to gain a better understanding of relationship problems and how to deal with them. I was intrigued and decided to remember the title, so I could read the book and find some useful information on how to counsel people with relationship and anger issues. For some reason I really didn't think ...more
Apr 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 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
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
when Kevin saw this on the table, he said "oh, you're learning the polka?" ...more
Rebecca Waring-Crane
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: get-over-it
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
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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!
Jun 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
There was a lot of good tips in this book, but they were buried within stories that were full of repetitious points. The writing style is what made this book hard to read. Most sections started with a story where I felt it should have started with a summary of the lesson to be learned. I found myself saying "get to the point" a lot, and having to take a lot of breaks, whereas other well-organized psychology books kept me engaged. Otherwise, very good info if you can wade through it. ...more
شيماء فؤاد
Alooooooot of stories about 1 or 2 basic ideas..
But in general I like reading to Harriet.
Parth Thakkar
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anger
I had never realized that I could use my anger anger as a springboard to identify (not solve) my problems. The circular dance and triangles in our intimate relationship help identify troublesome patterns in our relationships. It is counter intuitive that relationships are circularly reinforcing habits. The concept of over-functional and under-functional partners in a relationship was quite revealing.
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read, even several decades after publication. While parts of this felt unnecessarily gendered, it made sense in the way Lerner discussed anger, as women and men tend to be brought up learning different forms of communication. I immediately started using some of Lerner's tips in my daily life, and can see myself returning to this book many times in the future! ...more
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read-soon
short but great. like therapy for free.

will read again.

fighting the same fights keeps us in our comfort zone with someone even if it hurts. one person must under function for another to over function. don't use a person as a conduit for your relationship with another person.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gave me a language to use in evaluating my relationships with others
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Brene Brown thinks every married couple should read this book. I don't think she's wrong. There are some really solid principles for application--and I liked that it doesn't dismiss anger as a legitimate emotion. Favorite take-away: Anger is good, when we can recognize what we are really angry about and have a determination to solve the actual problem. "People" don't make us angry. We get angry because we don't clarify where we stand on the issue--we march off to battle without knowing what the ...more
Rosemarie Donzanti
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
My second reading of this book...first time was a very long time ago. Many great techniques for effectively setting boundaries with people, especially those closest to us. Now problem with self-help books is if you never practice what they preach then nothing gained. Trying a few things with Dad but he just laughs when I try to change things. Oh well, little by little, inch by inch I go.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: live-well, nonfiction
I feel like every woman needs to read this book. So much of it seems to explain not only personal relationships, but what's going on in society right now.

The parts I found most helpful covered the taboo against women's anger, how to go about changing a relationship (which is about changing your "position" in it; you can't change the other person, of course) and how to deal with "hot topics" in the family through sharing and asking questions to learn more.

Some favorite passages:

* Although no one
DeAnna Knippling
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A book out transforming anger from useless resentment into powerful change on a personal level.

I feel like this book was a resounding success that was missing one vital point. The author coaches the reader through how to identify anger, how to identify when anger is being used to continue and encourage unhealthy behaviors in a relationship, and how to redirect that anger into self-discovery and self-control. But she reinforces time and again that it's a mistake to walk away from a relationship;
Elizabeth Smart
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
This one surprised me! It's from 1985 so I expected it to be wildly out of date, especially as it pertains to gender, but happily (also... kinda sadly) it still feels extremely applicable to the modern day. I was particularly intrigued by the concept of de-selfing; I tend to be like, "if I don't express my anger, nothing bad will happen" and Harriet Lerner is like, "you will literally lose your sense of self." With that in mind, expressing emotionally honest truths seems like a necessity. I will ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
I read this book some time in college, at the advice of a therapist. It cracked my entire world WIDE OPEN, in a way that few other books ever have since. Becoming comfortable with anger, accepting the shadows of the self, and learning how to advocate for myself in a healthy way—all that came from this book.
Heather Slighter
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book really challenged my thoughts regarding my own anger. It is definitely a book I want to read again and begin implementing some of the steps. Loved this!
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: would-re-read
like 6 hours of free therapy... i will probably revisit this book in the future
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I started reading this, I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone I meet. I read this book at least 3 years ago, and the lessons I learned from it on how to handle relationship issues and family drama I still recall and use now.

Although the book is written for a female target audience, the whole thing is applicable to people of both genders. Lerner does a fantastic job at including scenarios that are relevant to everyone, no matter how old they are, whether
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It took me a long time since a good friend of mine recommended it to me, to finally decide to read this book, and now I know why. Even though it's been a few years now since I first started taking responsibility for my dysfunctional behavioral schemas and deep-seated limiting beliefs, I still find it very hard to confront them, and the process of change it's very painful and uncomfortable still.
The primary purpose of this book is to help you address and become aware of the most common issues th
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Dr. Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology, City University of New York; M.A. Educational Psychology, Columbia University Teachers College), 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 ...more

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“Our society doesn’t promote self-acceptance and it never will. First of all, self-acceptance doesn’t sell products. Capitalism would fall if we liked ourselves the way we are now. Also, people who feel shamed and inadequate themselves tend to pass it on. I’m sure you’ve noticed that many individuals and groups try to enhance their self-esteem by diminishing others.” 31 likes
“We cannot make another person change his or her steps to an old dance, but if we change our own steps, the dance no longer can continue in the same predictable pattern. 4.” 26 likes
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