Rollo May, fully Rollo Reese May

May, fully Rollo Reese May

American Existential and Humanist Psychologist, Existential Philosopher and Humorist

Author Quotes

You can live without a father who accepts you, but you cannot live without a world that makes some sense to you.

Whereas moral courage is the righting of wrongs, creative courage, in contrast, is the discovering of new forms, new symbols, new patterns on which a new society can be built.

World is the pattern of meaningful relations in which a person exists and in the design of which he or she participates. It has objective reality, to be sure, but it is not simply that. World is interrelated with the person at every moment. A continual dialectical process goes on between world and self and self and world; one implies the other, and neither can be understood if we omit the other. This is why one can never localize creativity as a subjective phenomenon; one can never study it simply in terms of what goes on within the person. The pole of world is an inseparable part of the creativity of an individual. What occurs is always a process, a doing

When you write a poem, you discover that the very necessity of fitting your meaning into such and such a form requires you to search in your imagination for new meanings. You reject certain ways of saying it; you select others, always trying to form the poem again. In your forming, you arrive at new and more profound meanings than you had even dreamed of. Form is not a mere lopping off of meaning that you don't have room to put into your poem; it is an aid to finding new meaning, a stimulus to condensing your meaning, to simplifying and purifying it, and to discovering on a more universal dimension the essence you wish to express.

When we fall in love, as the expressive verb puts it, the world shakes and changes around us, not only in the way it looks but in our whole experience of what we are doing in the world. Generally, the shaking is consciously felt in its positive aspects ... Love is the answer, we sing... our Western culture seems to be engaged in a romantic

When we are dealing with human beings, no truth has reality by itself; it is always dependent upon the reality of the immediate relationship.

When one read

When people feel their insignificance as individual persons, they also suffer an undermining of their sense of human responsibility.

When I fall in love, I feel more valuable and I treat myself with more care. We have all observed the hesitant adolescent, uncertain of himself, who, when he or she falls in love, suddenly walks with a certain inner assuredness and confidence, a mien which seems to say, You are looking at somebody now. ... this inner sense of worth that comes with being in love does not seem to depend essentially on whether the love is returned or not.

When inward life dries up, when feeling decreases and apathy increases, when one cannot affect or even genuinely touch another person, violence flares up as a daimonic necessity for contact, a mad drive forcing touch in the most direct way possible.

Whatever sphere we may be in, there is a profound joy in the realization that we are helping to form the structure of the new world. This is creative courage, however minor or fortuitous our creations may be.

When an age is in the throes of profound transition, the first thing to disintegrate is language.

We must rediscover the daimonic in a new form which will be adequate to our own predicament and fructifying for our own day. And this will not be a rediscovery alone but a recreation of the reality of the daimonic. The daimonic needs to be directed and channeled. Here is where human consciousness becomes so important. We initially experience the daimonic as a blind push. It is impersonal in the sense that it makes us nature's tool. ... consciousness can integrate the daimonic, make it personal.

We receive love - from our children as well as others - not in proportion to our demands or sacrifices or needs, but roughly in proportion to our own capacity to love. And our capacity to love depends, in turn, upon our prior capacity to be persons in our own right. To love means, essentially, to give; and to give requires a maturity of self-feeling. Love is shown in the statement of Spinoza's... that truly loving God does not involve a demand for love in return. It is the attitude referred to by the artist Joseph Bender: "To produce art requires that the artist be able to love - that is to give without thought of being rewarded."

What if imagination and art are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience?

We define religion as the assumption that life has meaning. Religion, or lack of it, is shown not in some intellectual or verbal formulations but in one's total orientation to life. Religion is whatever the individual takes to be his ultimate concern. One's religious attitude is to be found at that point where he has a conviction that there are values in human existence worth living and dying for.

We in our age are faced with a strange paradox. Never before have we had so much information in bits and pieces flooded upon us by radio and television and satellite, yet never before have we had so little inner certainty about our own being. The more objective truth increases, the more our inner certitude decreases. Our fantastically increased technical power, and each forward step in technology is experienced by many as a new push toward our possible annihilation. Nietzsche was strangely prophetic when he said, We live in a period of atomic chaos

We cannot will to have insights. We cannot will creativity. But we can will to give ourselves to the encounter with intensity of dedication and commitment.

We could not even see Hitler or the destructively daimonic reality he represented. Human beings just couldn't be that cruel in the our civilized twentieth century

We are more apt to feel depressed by the perpetually smiling individual than the one who is honestly sad. If we admit our depression openly and freely, those around us get from it an experience of freedom rather than the depression itself.

Vanity and narcissism

Violence is the daimonic gone awry. It is demon possession in its starkest form. Our age is one of transition, in which the normal channels for utilizing the daimonic are denied; and such ages tend to be times when the daimonic is expressed in its most destructive form.

Unconscious insights or answers to problems that come in reverie do not come hit or miss... they pertain to those areas in which the person consciously has worked laboriously and with dedication.

Tools and techniques ought to be an extension of consciousness, but they can just as easily be a protection from consciousness. Then the tools become defence mechanisms... against the unconscious.

True to the meaning of the rebel as one who renounces authority, he seeks primarily not the substitution of one political system for another. He may favor such a political change, but it is not his chief goal. He rebels for the sake of a vision of life and society which he is convinced is critically important for himself and his fellows. ... the rebel fights not only for the relief of his fellow men but also for his personal integrity. For him these are but two sides of the same coin.

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American Existential and Humanist Psychologist, Existential Philosopher and Humorist