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The Dance of Deception: A Guide to Authenticity and Truth-Telling in Women's Relationships

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When The Dance of Deceptionwas published, Lerner discovered that women were not eager to identify with the subject. "Well, I don't do deception" was a common resonse. We all "do deception", often with the intention to protect ourselves and the relationships we depend on. The Dance of Deceptionunravels the ways (and whys) that women show the false and hide the real -- even t When The Dance of Deceptionwas published, Lerner discovered that women were not eager to identify with the subject. "Well, I don't do deception" was a common resonse. We all "do deception", often with the intention to protect ourselves and the relationships we depend on. The Dance of Deceptionunravels the ways (and whys) that women show the false and hide the real -- even to our own selves. We see how relationships are affected by lying and faking, by silence and pretending and by brave -- but misguided -- efforts to tell the truth. Truth-telling is at the heart of what is most central in women's lives. It is at the foundation of authenticity and creativity, intimacy and joy. Yet in the name of "honesty", we can bludgeon each other. We can approach a difficult issue with such a poor sense of timing and tact that we can actually shut down the lines of communication rather than widening the path of truth-telling. Sometimes Lerner's advice takes a surprising turn -- for example, when she asks us to engage in a bold act of pretending in order to discover something "more real"; or when she tells us not to parachute down on our family to bring up a "hot issue" without laying the necessary groundwork first. Whether the subject is affairs, family secrets, sexual faking or the challenge of "being oneself", Lerner helps us to discover, speak and live our own truths.


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When The Dance of Deceptionwas published, Lerner discovered that women were not eager to identify with the subject. "Well, I don't do deception" was a common resonse. We all "do deception", often with the intention to protect ourselves and the relationships we depend on. The Dance of Deceptionunravels the ways (and whys) that women show the false and hide the real -- even t When The Dance of Deceptionwas published, Lerner discovered that women were not eager to identify with the subject. "Well, I don't do deception" was a common resonse. We all "do deception", often with the intention to protect ourselves and the relationships we depend on. The Dance of Deceptionunravels the ways (and whys) that women show the false and hide the real -- even to our own selves. We see how relationships are affected by lying and faking, by silence and pretending and by brave -- but misguided -- efforts to tell the truth. Truth-telling is at the heart of what is most central in women's lives. It is at the foundation of authenticity and creativity, intimacy and joy. Yet in the name of "honesty", we can bludgeon each other. We can approach a difficult issue with such a poor sense of timing and tact that we can actually shut down the lines of communication rather than widening the path of truth-telling. Sometimes Lerner's advice takes a surprising turn -- for example, when she asks us to engage in a bold act of pretending in order to discover something "more real"; or when she tells us not to parachute down on our family to bring up a "hot issue" without laying the necessary groundwork first. Whether the subject is affairs, family secrets, sexual faking or the challenge of "being oneself", Lerner helps us to discover, speak and live our own truths.

30 review for The Dance of Deception: A Guide to Authenticity and Truth-Telling in Women's Relationships

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I think this might be my new favorite book by Lerner. There is a new gem of wisdom in every book of hers that I read. This one is no exception. I already had some pretty strong opinions about honesty and its place in the virtue hierarchy, but Lerner not only dovetails what I already believed, she takes it deep into the underbelly of consideration for long term happiness using her amazing knowledge of family systems. Not only does this book discuss the nuances and biases concerning truth and dece I think this might be my new favorite book by Lerner. There is a new gem of wisdom in every book of hers that I read. This one is no exception. I already had some pretty strong opinions about honesty and its place in the virtue hierarchy, but Lerner not only dovetails what I already believed, she takes it deep into the underbelly of consideration for long term happiness using her amazing knowledge of family systems. Not only does this book discuss the nuances and biases concerning truth and deception in our culture, but it also talks about how to discover for yourself when a lie to another person is healthy or not, and whether an instant and passionate or strategic and slow unveiling is best. Anyone curious about truth and how it affects their relationships should read this book. Anyone with a secret that causes them pain should read this book. The wisest answers to questions regarding honesty may not be what you expected.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Soaringspirit

    Read everything by Harriet Lerner

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Young

    Seemed to provide some of the reasons why women lie, and when they lie, as well the 'justifications' provided for lying. The main reason I dislike this book is because almost all the excuses for lying in the book are self-serving, and fail to take into account the secondary reasons for lying, which are often the more true one. The book only penetrated one layer of lying, not the next. Further, it did not always take into account the consequences when the lies were found out, merely glossing over Seemed to provide some of the reasons why women lie, and when they lie, as well the 'justifications' provided for lying. The main reason I dislike this book is because almost all the excuses for lying in the book are self-serving, and fail to take into account the secondary reasons for lying, which are often the more true one. The book only penetrated one layer of lying, not the next. Further, it did not always take into account the consequences when the lies were found out, merely glossing over them by saying, 'X was angry at first when they found out they had been lied to, but then came to forgive her...,' but perhaps I'm looking for another book, eg the consequences of lying. There was a later section on lying to accommodate society's perception of a woman, which was quite good, probably the best part of the book. I guess I'm just annoyed there wasn't some guide about how to encourage women to be authentic and not to meaninglessly lie, when there is little benefit. For me, this book was vastly incomplete. As the author lied to me about the title, so I lie about the rating. It is probably closer to 3+ stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessika Valentine

    This book made me think real hard about the way we women are brought to pretend and deceive in our everyday lives even when we think we are the epitome of honesty, it's true like the author said because truth telling needs context and needs all women to be truth tellers. In my community where I was brought, women are supposed to pretend that they have it together, always, because they are the glue of their homes and without them all disintegrates but the world of today is different, more women a This book made me think real hard about the way we women are brought to pretend and deceive in our everyday lives even when we think we are the epitome of honesty, it's true like the author said because truth telling needs context and needs all women to be truth tellers. In my community where I was brought, women are supposed to pretend that they have it together, always, because they are the glue of their homes and without them all disintegrates but the world of today is different, more women are coming out as vulnerable, tired, even weak and that's no reason not to celebrate them, but even more of the reason because they are still the glue and they still keep pushing forwards and 'leaning in' regardless of their vulnerability but despite it. I read this book after another about the women's sexual revolution and I saw a parallel in some points but not all. All in all, this is a good read that will bring forward more readings of one's own reality.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    *Truth be told* Perhaps the truth can set us free, but it seems that the first step is to free that truth within us. The Dance of Deception provides an insightful overview of how our own personal truths get blocked by both systemic forces such as society, cultural expectations, family secrets, as well as by inner forces such as overwhelming emotions, personal narratives, and internal confusion. Harriet explores the process of truth-telling in women's lives which begins with tuning into our own pe *Truth be told* Perhaps the truth can set us free, but it seems that the first step is to free that truth within us. The Dance of Deception provides an insightful overview of how our own personal truths get blocked by both systemic forces such as society, cultural expectations, family secrets, as well as by inner forces such as overwhelming emotions, personal narratives, and internal confusion. Harriet explores the process of truth-telling in women's lives which begins with tuning into our own personal truths and then effectively sharing these truths with others. Her book clearly illuminates how the quest for our deepest truths is a prerequisite for authentic relationships with both the self and others.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie Atha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I liked her books as always but this one less than the others that I've read. I felt she used this book as a tool to put her political feelings out there even though her feelings are well known by her other books. I asked myself a few times if this was a book on political and moral views or psychology. But I understood later after finishing it that she might very well have been practicing what she teaches in the book, to follow your own heart on truth and deception. Maybe she felt it was decepti I liked her books as always but this one less than the others that I've read. I felt she used this book as a tool to put her political feelings out there even though her feelings are well known by her other books. I asked myself a few times if this was a book on political and moral views or psychology. But I understood later after finishing it that she might very well have been practicing what she teaches in the book, to follow your own heart on truth and deception. Maybe she felt it was deception to leave out some of those feelings, looking back, I do see how she might find it blends together and she was using her own feelings as examples which she has always done but more clearly in this book. I am not sure if these are spoilers so I will say yes..?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Izlinda

    I wasn't that intrigued by the sections that were more sociological than individual. I did appreciate some of the examples. There were some good points in this book. The section about your body giving signals really hit me hard. It's a good tie-in with the previous two books in this trilogy. I tend to be a hit-and-run confrontational type of person, I think, once I get the courage to come out with some things. I wasn't that intrigued by the sections that were more sociological than individual. I did appreciate some of the examples. There were some good points in this book. The section about your body giving signals really hit me hard. It's a good tie-in with the previous two books in this trilogy. I tend to be a hit-and-run confrontational type of person, I think, once I get the courage to come out with some things.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Crystalyn

    Disappointed. This book was quoted from in "Mending the Soul: Workbook" so I was really looking forward to reading the actual book. However, the liberal views were hard for me to actually hear what the author was trying to say. So, I ended up disagreeing with the author quite often. Very disappointed. Disappointed. This book was quoted from in "Mending the Soul: Workbook" so I was really looking forward to reading the actual book. However, the liberal views were hard for me to actually hear what the author was trying to say. So, I ended up disagreeing with the author quite often. Very disappointed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This is an amazing book. I don't normally drift towards self-help types but this was really a very readable insight into things that happen everyday. My favorite part is learning the difference between privacy and secrecy. This is an amazing book. I don't normally drift towards self-help types but this was really a very readable insight into things that happen everyday. My favorite part is learning the difference between privacy and secrecy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Liaken

    This is an interesting read. Lerner brings up all sorts of ideas that I hadn't fully considered. This book has a strong feminist tone and looks at the issues in a large cultural fashion rather than an intimate fashion. This is an interesting read. Lerner brings up all sorts of ideas that I hadn't fully considered. This book has a strong feminist tone and looks at the issues in a large cultural fashion rather than an intimate fashion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Klassen-Jacobs

    Just finished this book and I loved it. A great read for anyone wanting to better understand the value of not deceiving yourself or others. If you're interested in truth-telling, integrity and authenticity, then this book might be a good fit. Just finished this book and I loved it. A great read for anyone wanting to better understand the value of not deceiving yourself or others. If you're interested in truth-telling, integrity and authenticity, then this book might be a good fit.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hwydiva

    I am so glad to see that this book was published over 20 years ago. The info in it is very dated. It is an interesting read if you want to learn about different phases of development in the feminist movement. Glad to see women have come so far since then.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I read this book after her current book on apologies. I found this one a little repetitive towards the end. There were some interesting parts about why we lie and deceive ourselves and others. Lots to think about.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    reframed my inner interrogations and gave me clarity

  15. 4 out of 5

    k8beeZ

    Any of Harriet Lerner's books are amazing! If you are a woman...and especially if you have tried therapy from a shrink...FORGET IT...just read these line of "The Dance Of" books by Harriet! Peace!!! Any of Harriet Lerner's books are amazing! If you are a woman...and especially if you have tried therapy from a shrink...FORGET IT...just read these line of "The Dance Of" books by Harriet! Peace!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Very interesting and useful insights.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bridgett

    I learned a lot about the difference between honesty and truth-telling. I am a person who tends to be bluntly honest and it was interesting to read about the potential pitfalls of this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I love all her books. They are wonderful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mckinley

    Read and also listened to it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/3734466 I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/3734466

  21. 4 out of 5

    Winona

    This is a wonderful well written book! A lot of truth in these pages about when and why we lie to ourselves and others.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Wasn't worth my time. Glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't waste my money. Wasn't worth my time. Glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't waste my money.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (rapid tortoise)

    Very thought-provoking. Must-read for women.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Rendon

    In this book of constantly juxtaposed ideas and opinions, Lerner teases out the complexity of what it means to be honest and truthful, specifically as it relates to women.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    It is amazing isn't it? How it's almost like a mating call. We show one side of ourselves and then the rest of ourselves a year or two later. The dance of deception is an excellent read. It is amazing isn't it? How it's almost like a mating call. We show one side of ourselves and then the rest of ourselves a year or two later. The dance of deception is an excellent read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sibeth

    A good example of causes and effects of deception for women as a scientific way. There are some good messages for women in relationship also it helps to realize something that you are in wrong way.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Luann Habecker

    pg 12 We also depart from truth-telling through silence, as my family did, by failing to speak out. We do not ask an essential question or make a comment to clarify the facts. We without information from others that would make a difference in their lives. We do not even say, "There are some things I am not telling you." pg 53 Vagina/Vulva pg 84 "the happy girl" a role that was rigidly enforced pg 90 pg 98 learned to appreciate her mother's predictable response "oh, you're not really sad honey", as pg 12 We also depart from truth-telling through silence, as my family did, by failing to speak out. We do not ask an essential question or make a comment to clarify the facts. We without information from others that would make a difference in their lives. We do not even say, "There are some things I am not telling you." pg 53 Vagina/Vulva pg 84 "the happy girl" a role that was rigidly enforced pg 90 pg 98 learned to appreciate her mother's predictable response "oh, you're not really sad honey", as nothing more that information about Ruth's way of managing anxiety. pg 104 While it took only minutes to express his anger, it took hours to deal with its consequences pg 115 much of what we call "telling the truth" involves an unproductive effort to change, convince, or convert another person, rather than an attempt to clarify our own selves. pg 123 Glib affirmations to "think positively" and "look on the bright side" can alienate us from our bodies and our unconscious, by serving to conceal emotional complexity rather than uncover what is hidden or lost. pg 151 It is one thing to tell a preschool-age child that she is adopted. It is another to create a calm emotional climate where the child can feel safe to ask questions and share a range of honest emotions, including grief over her loss of significant people, separation from her birth mothers, and the possibility she may never meet her birth parents. At least one family member will pay a price when an important matter can't be noticed, talked about, or even remembered. pg 188 The body's first response to anxiety is not courage. Rather, when we are anxious, we seek comfort, which means doing what is reflexive and familiar. Doing what comes naturally can lull us into a psychic slumber, a life on automatic pilot where our commitment is to security and safety rather than truth and honor. pg 218 It is not that we have to tell everything, or to tell all at once, or even to know beforehand all that we need to tell. But an honorable relationship is one in which we are trying, all of the time, to extend the possibilities of truth between us, of life between us. pg 108- Truth telling vs being honest. Whatever we experience with the greatest emotional intensity may be what we may mistakenly assume to be most real. pg 111- No single moment of honesty, self-disclosure, revelation or emotionality can determine how truth-telling will proceed over time. Truth-telling is a process/ honesty often referenced as incidents where they reacted. The solution to the problem is not to become less honest, but rather to be come better truth-tellers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    This is my least favourite of "The Dance of.." books by Lerner. For The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships and The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships I found I couldn't put the books down. So eager was I to read the next piece of life- and perspective-changing insight that I finished each book in an average of two days; for this book however, it took at least three times that. There are many reasons, This is my least favourite of "The Dance of.." books by Lerner. For The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships and The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships I found I couldn't put the books down. So eager was I to read the next piece of life- and perspective-changing insight that I finished each book in an average of two days; for this book however, it took at least three times that. There are many reasons, but the overarching one is the feeling of uneasiness that descended on me every time I started reading. The most troubling thing is that I'm unsure if it is uneasiness from - the author revealing truths which I wasn't yet ready to confront; or - whether it was the act of thinking about deception and its role throughout my life brought up unhappy and unwanted memories; or - the style of writing was less factual and more experience based, and so I had to keep interrupting the 'reading flow' to translate and decipher to see if it matched with my own experience. It may have been a combination of the three. The most useful part for me was around imposter syndrome and the concepts of not letting anyone make you feel like a fraud, but also not losing the feeling of fraudulence which is a by-product of the larger hierarchies and systems. Whatever the reason, it was a challenging read. There are some very clever and useful bits throughout, so I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Uma Dwivedi

    we all know how i feel about dr lerner by now, and this book is no different. i am what she calls an honest body, which is not a moral testimony so much as a description of the fact that lying (but not pretending) for me results in lots of nausea and extreme physical discomfort. pretending—the lying/pretending distinction is an interesting and important one—is more about the daily task of cohering to a persona that may not be entirely honest, whereas lying is more direct falsehood. we have diffe we all know how i feel about dr lerner by now, and this book is no different. i am what she calls an honest body, which is not a moral testimony so much as a description of the fact that lying (but not pretending) for me results in lots of nausea and extreme physical discomfort. pretending—the lying/pretending distinction is an interesting and important one—is more about the daily task of cohering to a persona that may not be entirely honest, whereas lying is more direct falsehood. we have different capabilities and tendencies regarding both (for example, i am a bad liar but a very good pretender) and these capabilities sink into the patterns of our relationships, establishing the dynamics we reinforce throughout our lives

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Rayton

    I've heard great things about Harriet Lerner's books. This was the first one I have read and I'm not too impressed so far. I read this first because this was available first. I'll give one more of these another try before giving up on them. I've heard great things about Harriet Lerner's books. This was the first one I have read and I'm not too impressed so far. I read this first because this was available first. I'll give one more of these another try before giving up on them.

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