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The Dance of Anger

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  18,320 ratings  ·  720 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, ...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.
Ladiibbug
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
...more
Kathrynn
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
...more
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 ...more
K
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
...more
Jeremy
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
...more
Angie
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
...more
Nastja
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
Rebecca
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 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
...more
Dana
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
...more
khrome
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.
Chris
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!
Gretchen
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
when Kevin saw this on the table, he said "oh, you're learning the polka?"
Uma Dwivedi
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
absolutely essential reading and a new favorite. its given me a lot of new tools and language to parse the dynamics of anger and how selfhood/relating are related and are compromised. it says it is for women, but i think it will be useful for anyone who has been subjected to intensely uneven power dynamics. fairly heteronormative but a) it was written by a prominent psychologist in 1999 and b) she does mention lesbians which is more than I was expecting. dr. lerner is incredibly wise and i will ...more
Alexandra
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.
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
...more
Celena
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gave me a language to use in evaluating my relationships with others
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.
kelly
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, live-well
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
...more
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
Jenny
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 wayall that came from this book. ...more
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!
Jess
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
...more
Bethany
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so much more than I expected. Im an Enneagram 1 and have only recently recognized that I have chronic anger issues. This book helped me identify what lies beneath my chronic anger, and how it looks different in different relationships (spouse, family of origin, work). It gave me very practical tips for renovating deeply-held patterns, without giving me false hope that changing my relationships for the better would be a fast or easy process.

As I read, my list grew of people Id like
...more
Rosa
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
Angela
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
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 ...more
Dana
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
An interesting book but a little dated. It has a new introduction and epilogue but the content is really stuck in time. A womans place in society has moved forward and the content while useful would benefit from a more contemporary slant. Useful concepts are presented and the repetition with different scenarios is helpful. A new tool to use. ...more
Dominika
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an exceptional read, one which involved a lot of notes and highlights.

I definitely struggled with feeling a bit chronically angry, being stuck between being a people pleaser and a bitch. I felt very powerless in my relationship with my mother and that anger would transfer to anyone who I felt took advantage of my kindness. As Harriet Lerner would put it, I am an overfunctioner, rushing in to save everyone even if that ended up draining me in the long run. And so, I felt frustrated.

...more
Belinda Missen
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First book of the year down, and what a brilliant way to start of the year.

One of the aims of my 2018 book challenge is to read a wider range of non-fiction. Fiction is great for escapism and the sheer enjoyment of reading, but non-fiction is, obviously, a great learning tool. It's also something I haven't embraced as much as I should have.

So, I'm pleased to say that my first book of the year, #friendrecommendation, was The Dance of Anger, by Dr Harriet Lerner. It's one that's been recommended
...more
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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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