Dance of Deception: Pretending and Truth-Telling in Women's Lives

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9780060924874: Dance of Deception: Pretending and Truth-Telling in Women's Lives

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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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.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The author of The Dance of Anger (1989) and The Dance of Intimacy (1990) completes her trilogy. But this new volume-- unlike the first two--isn't a self-helper but, rather, a freewheeling, feminist contemplation of truth-telling and deception, privacy and secrecy, and honesty and pretense in women's lives. Lerner (a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic) focuses on how these qualities function in relationships, and also in a woman's relationship to herself. She postulates that our culture is a patriarchy in which women are deterred from expressing thoughts or feelings that might disrupt the harmony of relationships. Consequently, privacy becomes necessary (speaking out exposes women to emotional and physical harm) as well as dangerous (privacy isolates women, keeping them trapped in false myths about female experience). Lerner views truth-telling as a process that requires women to be in the kind of conversation with other women that allows each woman to be herself and to explore that self: Only then can women identify what unites them and construct ``more complex, encompassing, richer, and accurate'' truths about themselves. Honesty, Lerner says, isn't always the best policy, for unconsidered honesty can create an atmosphere of anxiety in which real truth-telling cannot occur. She believes that pretending can be both destructive and constructive, for living a lie blocks one from self-knowledge, yet pretending to possess certain qualities can lead to actual possession of them. These moral ambiguities are explored in case studies and through personal anecdotes that reveal the impact of secrecy on family relationships and the many ways in which women deceive themselves and others. Low on organization but high in appeal, particularly to feminists. (For a less gender-specific--and sharper--discussion of the relative morality of truth-telling, see David Nyberg's The Varnished Truth, p. 124.) -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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