It is necessary in times of stress and turmoil; and the present great quantity of stimuli is a form of stress. But apathy … leads to emptiness and makes one less able to defend oneself, less able to survive. However understandable the state we are describing by the term apathy is, it is also essential that we seek to find a new basis for the love and will which have been its chief casualties.
He writes:. As the function of eros, both within us and in the universe itself, is to draw us toward the ideal forms, it elicits in us the capacity to reach out, to let ourselves be grasped, to preform and mold the future. It is the self-conscious capacity to be responsive to what might be. The daimonic, that shadowy side which, in modern society, inhabits the underground realms as well as the transcendent realms of eros, demands integration from us on the personal dimension of consciousness.
Intentionality is an imaginative attention which underlies our intentions and informs our actions. It is the capacity to participate in knowing or performing the art proleptically — that is, trying it on for size, performing it in imagination. Each of these emphases points toward a deeper dimension in human beings. Each requires a participation from us, an openness, a capacity to give of ourselves and receive into ourselves.
And each is an inseparable part of the basis of love and will. With an eye to the future, which is now our present, May considers the pathway to finding such a fertile basis of love and will:. What is necessary … is a new consciousness in which the depth and meaning of personal relationship will occupy a central place.
Such an embracing consciousness is always required in an age of radical transition.
Lacking external guides, we shift our morality inward; there is a new demand upon the individual of personal responsibility. We are required to discover on a deeper level what it means to be human. The only way of resolving — in contrast to solving — the questions is to transform them by means of deeper and wider dimensions of consciousness.
The problems must be embraced in their full meaning, the antinomies resolved even with their contradictions.
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They must be built upon; and out of this will arise a new level of consciousness. In a sentiment of astonishing pertinence to our own tumultuous and transitional time, May frames our highest responsibility to ourselves and to the future:. The new age which knocks upon the door is as yet unknown, seen only through beclouded windows.
Our human responsibility is to find a plane of consciousness which will be adequate to it and will fill the vast impersonal emptiness of our technology with human meaning. We stand on the peak of the consciousness of previous ages, and their wisdom is available to us. History — that selective treasure house of the past which each age bequeaths to those that follow — has formed us in the present so that we may embrace the future.
What does it matter if our insights, the new forms which play around the fringes of our minds, always lead us into virginal land where, like it or not, we stand on strange and bewildering ground. The only way out is ahead, and our choice is whether we shall cringe from it or affirm it. For in every act of love and will — and in the long run they are both present in each genuine act — we mold ourselves and our world simultaneously. This is what it means to embrace the future. Love and Will is an illuminating read in its totality.
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Partici pants sat in a circle on the floor and rubbed toes. Yet he does not deride all encoun ter therapy, recognizing that there is a vital area of communication that is below the level of words. May is particularly happy about this because all of the judges were college presidents. Although May's argument is complex and his style, at times, dense, the gist of his message is clear enough: man must reaffirm his basically human qualities and not sim ply cater to his biological needs. Man can win the battle with himself not by re pressing the daimonic forces that beset him from within, but by harnessing them to all that is highest in his nature.
Ranging broadly across the spectrum of mod ern psychosocial ailments, it contains something for almost everyone. The divorced were concerned wtih such things as intra marital competitiveness; the mothers were worried about their relationships with their children At the same time, May en joys a sturdy professional standing among his colleagues and has taught at Harvard, Princeton and The New School.
In Miami Beach, he gave four papers in four days. Many of these patients have had disappoint ing results with other schools of therapy, but are not willing to go all the way with the encounter groups; for them, May's humanistic approach, via the couch, is a happy com promise. May does not believe in ad justing patients to a faulty world, for example, but in giving them a meaningful re lationship to themselves.
Breaking the ever-present wall of manufactured concern.
Their dissolution, he believes, has left man grappling for a life line in a sea of disillusion ment. In our day it's LSD, hippies, touch therapy, the boom in psycho analysis, all sorts of fads and quackery. It's the same phe nomenon. IN the hierarchy of healeia, May stands light years above such popularizers of psy chology as Dr. Joyce Brothers, but a notch or two below the professionally revered Erik Erikson, whose work is large ly theoretical. Born in Ada, Ohio, in , May was raised in a large family three boys, three girls of Victorian habits and Methodist persuasion. The character of Little Rollo haunted May like a Doppeiganger.
May senior, who brought the family from Ohio to Michigan when Rollo was quite young, held a job as field secretary for the Y. The result, for May junior, was a good deal of moving around, com bined with a regimen of swim ming and character building. There evidence that the state Legislature used the col lege to cover up graft, and we said so in an editorial. Without making formal ap plication, he traveled to Ober lin College in Ohio and was admitted after an hour's talk with the dean. Here May took a degree in English with a minor in Greek history and literature, and on the basis of these credentials was offered a job teaching English at Anatolia College in Salonika.
There was only one difficulty: he spoke not a word of mod ern Greek. As a result, his pupils were compelled to learn English in order to un derstand him teach it. The two summers spent with Adler marked the begin ning of May's fascination with psychoanalysis. Although hu manistic psychology is not, per se, Adlerian, it draws gen erously on Adler's view of the individual as a unique being whose style of life is formed by the interaction of his in nate capacities and his social environment. When this need is used in socially constructive ways, he says, we have the creative personality.
TO earn money while study ing in Vienna, May took a job as secretary of the Interna tional School of Art, and in his free time studied painting. In , he returned to the United States Binder accompanied him on the trip, and never returned to live in Vienna , spent a year at Un ion Theological Seminary and then, because of family prob lems, went back home, where he took a job as adviser to men students at Michigan State.
May graduated cum laude, got married and start ed his ministry in a Congre gational church in Verona, N. The two years in Verona were not happy ones. On one occasion, the best man forgot to bring the ring and May went through the ceremony with out it. To this day, he is not certain that the couple is properly married. May returned to Columbia and began work on a Ph.
This backbreaking schedule contributed to the onset of tuberculosis, and in he went into a sanitarium at Saranac Lake. Here he re mained for the next 18 months, reading Freud and Kierkegaard, and brooding over his life. He was now over 40 years old and heavily in debt.
Now a classic in its field, it is probably May's most professional work, a syn thesis of theories of anxiety overlaid with May's own spec ulations based on personal ex perience. May's brush with death had profoundly changed his out look. The patients who were gay and hopeful and tried to make light of the disease frequently died. Those of us who lived with it accepted it, struggled against it, recovered. Whether or not I lived depended not upon the doctors or medicine but on me. Every day was a new battleground.
This was a far cry from Freud, who found the origin of anxiety in the birth trauma and fear of castration. But the price of this is cultural stagnation and a thwarting of individual devel opment. May, however, did not share the bland optimism of his more popular colleagues. In it May asks people to declare for their own humanity, above and beyond the mechanistic goals of a society that has lost faith in itself.
For thousands of readers, dis illusioned with conventional therapies, and unwilling to go all the way with encounter groups, May's approach seems to be just the one. For a good many years, these patients of his were largely from religious back grounds—ministers, choirmas ters, organists and theology students who, like May at one time, had begun, to doubt their calling.
More recently, he has attracted people from the edi torial, publishing and enter tainment professions.
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A good many analysts, in this respect, are fine with people who already have a lot going for them. The fact, in any case, is that in May's hands the impo tent have sometimes been re stored to potency, writers have been unblocked and at least one woman was cured of her fear of going to Bloom ingdale's. Preston, on the other hand, had trouble of an other kind. May gets consider able mileage out of Preston, and in an address to the American Academy of Psycho analysis he described a dream this man had of being lost in Macy's. Ballet dancers prance through the first two floors; art studios abound and a children's thea ter goes full, blast.
The enor mous lobby is filled with Japa nese paintings.
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May arrived in and settled into a dove cote on the topmost floor. Leslie Farber, another analyst, recently took space directly under May's apartment.
The two men are quite friendly, and when May hears Farber's patients shouting from below, he is tempted to rush down and help him out. The building also houses the Riverside Museum. When I asked May if the museum in cluded shrunken heads, he winced. In fact, it houses a collection of modern art. The patient must be confronted with his illness, made to accept it.