"May is an existential analyst who deservedly enjoys a reputation among both general and critical readers as an accessible and insightful social and psychological theorist...Freedom's characteristics, fruits, and problems; destiny's reality; death; and therapy's place in the confrontation between freedom and destiny are examined...Poets, social critics, artists, and other thinkers are invoked appropriately to support May's theory of freedom and destiny's interdependence."-Library Journal "Especially instructive, even stunning, is Dr. May's willingness to respect mystery...There is, too, at work throughout the book a disciplined yet relaxed clinical mind, inclined to celebrate ...what Flannery O'Connor called 'mystery and manners,' and to do so in a tactful, meditative manner."-Robert Coles, America
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(211mm x 140mm x 20mm)
WW Norton & Co
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US Kirkus Review »
Therapeutic philosophy/philosophical therapy: a series of persuasive popular essays on the old paradox that fate without freedom and freedom without fate are equally meaningless. May starts out from the Romantic-existential premise that freedom is the source of all values. But the only real freedom comes from facing destiny (what Freud would have called Ananke) and enduring the anxiety and despair it gives rise to. In this context May views psychoanalysis as a tool fox liberation and a weapon against the narcissism and self-deception of contemporary American culture. At the same time he admits that psychoanalysis is also a symptom of our narcissistic condition, and he lashes out against the mushy-mindedness epitomized by the "growth center" (a booming industry in and around Marin County, where he lives). Such centers promote escapism and egocentric complacency. They fiddle with the psychic thermostats of individuals while ignoring the often frightful social climate outside. May also finds evidence of pseudo-freedom in the cult of promiscuous sex without intimacy ("Sleep with a stranger tonight"), which he damns as just another way of trying to evade human limits, and hence sick. On the other side of the fence May attacks the determinists, especially B. F. Skinner (a friend of his). May labels Skinner a modern-day Grand Inquisitor, except that Skinner outdoes Dostoyevsky's tragic character: he thinks freedom is not just dangerous but nonexistent. This, May argues, is yet another flight from the pain of freedom, but into rigid dogmatism instead of aimless egotism. May could have made his case more briefly, but as a literate humanistic psychologist he's a rare bird on the American scene and definitely worth listening to. Solid, as usual. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Rollo May
Rollo May (1909-1994) taught at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, and was Regents' Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. An influential psychologist, he was the best-selling author of Love and Will, as well as the author of The Courage to Create, Man's Search for Himself, The Meaning of Anxiety, and Psychology and the Human Dilemma.