His educational path evolved with him, as he moved through different life experiences. For example, he began at Michigan State University, earning a bachelor's degree in English, which he later completed at Oberlin College. Then, he taught English for three years in Greece, where he developed an interest in theology.
Upon his return to the United States, he was ordained as a minister and worked in the church for several years. It was around this time that May was diagnosed with tuberculosis. As was the custom at that time, May recovered at a sanatorium over the course of 18 months.
This life-threatening illness and the long recovery process strengthened May's interest in philosophy and psychology. In fact, it was after the time spent in the sanatorium, that May developed a strong interest in anxiety since he had had an opportunity to observe, not only his own experience of anxiety, but also those around him, who were dealing with anxiety, isolation, fear, depersonalization, and even death itself.
Once he fully recovered, May returned to the academic world and earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University in 1949.
May went on to found both Saybrook University and a research center in San Francisco. He also taught at many top schools throughout the United States and wrote many seminal books, which are still considered relevant today - not only to psychologists and fellow researchers but to people like you and me, too.
What Is Existential Psychology?
To best understand existential psychology, it's helpful to know what existentialism is, and the social context from which it came.
Leading up to the 20th century, psychology had embraced science and all its objectivity, and in so doing, psychology had rejected philosophy almost entirely.
Leading up to the 20th century, May recognized how science essentially isolated facts and observed: "them from an allegedly detached base." This included mental illness.
For example, Freud and his followers "sought to bring a scientific methodology to the study of the mind and mental processes, including psychological disorders and psychotherapy." As Sartre noted, they didn't go further than "describing mere patterns of desires and tendencies."
While our natural reaction might be to condemn Freud and his disciples, it's important to realize that this was only a natural evolution of what had already begun hundreds of years prior.
According to May, Western thought had been dominated by the split between subject and object ever since the Renaissance - and this seeped into everything from industrialism, urbanism, and medicine.
Existentialism was, for May, a way to heal that divide and to see a man not as a collection of separate parts, but as a whole being.
Existential Philosophy Sees The Human Person As An Entire Being
Is There A Place For Existential Philosophy In Scientific Psychology And Psychotherapy?
How Does Existential Philosophy Enrich Psychoanalysis?
Rollo May's approach reveals how valuable the individual and his experiences are.
As you can see, Rollo May isn't merely an inspirational writer, or someone who quotes make a nice background for your PC. May's quotes below stem from a belief that the human person and his own unique human experience should be front and center of any healing.
May's Quotes On Depression
May's Quotes On Creativity
May's Quotes On Suffering
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What Is The Existential Theory Of Personality?
The existentialist approach considers human nature to be open-ended and that the human dilemma can span over many different experiences. Under this form of thinking in the american psychological association, a person is in a constant process of becoming and there is no essential definition to one person or their capabilities. This approach is not quite as strict Freudian as other approaches, but existential psychology and existential psychotherapy have been known to be beneficial.
There are four primary givens of existential therapy: freedom of choice, isolation, the inevitability of death, and meaninglessness. Rather than focusing on the human dilemma in modern society, the key concepts of existential therapy are used to help a client develop an appreciation for things in life, no matter how small. An understanding of the responsibility that comes with true freedom, as well as understanding societal norms, are built into these key concepts. American psychological associations continuously research existential psychology and existential psychotherapy in order to test the effectiveness of this approach in helping clients find the meaning of anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
According to Irvin D. Yalom, the human dilemma has four concerns within existential psychology: death, freedom, isolation, and meaningless. These are also the same key concepts of existential psychology as well. Yalom, as with other researchers such as Karen Horney and Alfred Adler, had views on psychology that differ from a traditional Freudian view. Existential psychology focuses on freedom and destiny in regard to searching for the meaning of anxiety in a patient. This is done by taking into account the four main existential concerns as possible causes for the meaning of anxiety, depression, or other issues. These issues, as those of isolation presented by Alfred Adler, get at the egoic pre self conscious aspect of the human brain where these issues are believed to grow subconsciously. Addressing these four concerns, with behavior therapy or talk therapy, can help a patient come to terms with their behaviors and feelings.
Existential concerns, often outlined in literature such as a radical student magazine, are burdens of life that typically a person does not have control over. Factors such as death and mortality, the burdens of freedom, uncertainty regarding one’s identity, isolation, and an indeterminate meaning in life are all examples under the American psychological association. Anxiety and guilt, in some cases, are believed to stem from existential concerns regarding freedom and destiny, with existentialists believing anxiety is the dizziness of the dark side of the mind pondering existential concerns. The meaning of anxiety in an existentialist perspective focuses more on a person trying to come to grips with challenging ideas. For an adult the existential stage and concepts such as freedom and destiny can be overwhelming, leading many to develop anxiety or concerns.
What Is Altruism In Group Therapy?
In therapy, altruism is a curative force in counseling or therapeutic groups. It is a member’s experience of selflessly helping others in a group achieve their goals. This can be a faculty member, holder of a phd in clinical fields, innocent ordinary the normal adult, or anybody else who helps others grow in behavior or talk therapy. Whether it is helping a person find the meaning of anxiety in their case or coming to terms with freedom and destiny, altruism is a source of self-esteem and increases in self-worth stemming from the action of helping others.