Friday, October 22, 2010

Existential psychoanalysis--Rollo May

Rollo May
April 21st, 1909 to October 22nd, 1994

Probably the last thoughts and words of a popular philosophical movement--Existentialism.

"...I have described the human dilemma as the capacity of man to view himself as object and as subject. My point is that both are necessary -- necessary for psychological science, for effective therapy, and for meaningful living. I am also proposing that in the dialectical process between these two poles lies the development, and the deepening and widening, of human consciousness. The error on both sides -- for which I have used Skinner and the pre-paradox Rogers as examples -- is the assumption that one can avoid the dilemma by taking one of its poles. It is not simply that man must learn to live with the paradox -- the human being has always lived in this paradox or dilemma, from the time that he first became aware of the fact that he was the one who would die and coined a word for his own death. Illness, limitations of all sorts, and every aspect of our biological state we have indicated are aspects of the deterministic side of the dilemma -- man is like the grass of the field, it withereth. The awareness of this, and the acting on this awareness, is the genius of man the subject. But we must also take the implications of this dilemma into our psychological theory. Between the two horns of this dilemma, man has developed symbols, art, language, and the kind of science which is always expanding in its own presuppositions. The courageous living within this dilemma, I believe, is the source of human creativity."--Psychology and the Human Dilemma.

American psychologist. Much of his thinking can be understood by reading about existentialism in general, and the overlap between his ideas and the ideas of Ludwig Binswanger is great. Nevertheless, he is a little off of the mainstream in that he was more influenced by American humanism than the Europeans, and more interested in reconciling existential psychology with other approaches, especially Freud’s. In 1958, he edited, with Ernest Angel and Henri Ellenberger, the book Existence, which introduced existential psychology to the US.

Rollo May [Wikipedia]

No comments: