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Harriet Lerner, photo credit Andrés Lira Noriega

Harriet Lerner

Why Won't You Apologize book cover

Marriage Rules book cover

Dance Of Fear book cover

Dance of Connection book cover

Franny B. Kranny There's a Bird in Your Hair book cover

The Mother Dance book cover

Food Sex and Relationships book cover

Life Preserver book cover

What's So Terrible About Swallowing An Appleseed book cover

Harriet Lerner's signature


A self-identified Kansan, Harriet Lerner, a New York native, was born November 30, 1944.  She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from City University of New York.  She is married to Steve Lerner, and they have two grown sons, Ben Lerner (also an author) and Matt Lerner(Co-Founder and CTO of Walk Score).

Harriet and Steve came from Berkeley, California, to Topeka, Kansas, in 1972 for a two-year postdoctoral training at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka.  She and Steve currently reside in Lawrence where they have a private practice.  She specializes in the psychology of women and family relationships and is a sought after speaker on these topics.  Harriet has many best-sellers among the twelve books she’s published including The Dance of Anger, a New York Times bestseller.  Her books have been published in 35 languages. Her most recent book is Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up.

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The Dance of Deception book cover


Bibliography (- housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  

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The Dance of Intimacy book cover

Women in Therapy book cover


Writing Samples  
  Return to Top of Page   The Dance of Anger book cover

Author Interview

  Q: What inspired you to begin writing?

A: When I was growing up in Brooklyn I always kept one of those lock-and-key diaries. I wrote faithfully, every night, year after year. This helped me to see writing as an ordinary daily activity, and to find writing comforting. I still have these diaries and it’s fascinating to read them back. 
I began publishing early in my career when I was confronted with theories and therapy of women that were not rooted in female reality as I knew it.  When I couldn't convince or change my colleagues, I began to write. I was supported by a vast feminist network. Women reached out from long distances, even across oceans, to support my writing and to show me a new meaning of intellectual camaraderie and community.
I became a popular writer almost by chance, beginning with The Dance of Anger.  However, once  I shifted from scholarly to popular writing I became dedicated to translating complex theory into simple (without simplifying) and useful prose. This has been my passion for a long time.

Q: What advice do you have for new writers?

A: 1. Pay attention to the writing habits that work for you, (Book writing requires me to put in a few morning hours five days a week.  I can write articles and blogs whenever I can grab some time).

2. When you’re ready, show your work to talented friends, and tell them exactly what feedback you want. ("I only want encouragement" or, "If you can improve what I’ve written, go at it!" )

3. Rejection sucks but don’t let it stop you. (The Dance of Anger, which has sold three million copies was rejected for five years.)

4. If published, be prepared to promote your own work.

Q: What are some of your favorite things about Kansas?

A: I love the big open skies, the price of real estate and downtown parking tickets, the simple life, meaning I never had to learn to parallel park.  I love the friendships I've made here, in Topeka and Lawrence.  Friendship goes deeper when you're not also negotiating big city life.

Q. You didn’t expect to stay in Kansas as long as you have, what kept you here? 

A. For a long time we  had one foot out the door to return to our previous lives in  Berkeley or New York.  But here we are, many decades later. What kept me here? Work at Menningers,  close friends, and the price of housing are a few things that kept us in Kansas.  I'm glad we stayed. 

Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: I'm inspired by very "ordinary" people when I can see both their strengths and struggles.  I'm not inspired by "Greatness" although it interests me.  And I owe the greatest debt to the feminist movement which inspired me to re-think my thinking about, well, everything.

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Harriet Lerner's website

Harriet Lerner in Psychology Today

Harriet Lerner in the Huffington Post

Brene Brown on Harriet Lerner

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