Meaning of Anxietyby Rollo May
Pub. Date: 04/28/1996
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
In the revised edition of this now-classic study, the distinguished author of Love and Will deepens his exploration into anxiety theory. Dr. May challenges the idea that mental health means living without anxiety, and he explores anxiety's potential for self-realization as well as ways to avoid its destructive aspects.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
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This is not a self-help book as the title may suggest. It is an in depth research piece. I read this as part of an assignment in a graduate level psychology class. In that frame, it is enlightening in the study of anxiety. It provides a good historical background of how anxiety manifested itself in human cultures across history and how we tried to define it along the way. Originally published in 1950, it is dated and I would not recommend this as a current reference for professional use. This book tackles a very huge and diverse topic. Refreshing, in my opinion, as researchers don't usually delve into such a broad topic in today's work. This is a good book for students and profeesionals of the social sciences looking for a historical perspective on the topic of anxiety. I would recommend having some academic study in the psychoanalytic theorists (and their work) of the first half of the 20th century before reading it. As I said, the book is dated and understanding those ideas helps put it in context of the professional psychological views of the time that it was written.
This rather comprehensive study of anxiety--its social, political, philosophical, theological, spiritual, artistic and psychobiological significance--is a much-needed counterpoint to current biochemically-laden theories and treatments for anxiety. It was originally written as May's doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology at Columbia University (the first ever granted there) under the watchful tutelage of theologian Paul Tillich. Tillich was so impressed with this work that he responded with his own classic, The Courage to Be. At the time of its original publication in 1950, May's was only the third book available on the subject of anxiety, the first two being from Kierkegaard and Freud. May did a major revision in 1977, updating what had been learned about anxiety since 1950, and completely rewriting the final section on 'The Management of Anxiety.' His still revolutionary suggestion is that 'anxiety is essential to the human condition,' and that neurotic or pathological anxiety stems from chronically repressed or avoided 'normal' or 'existential' anxiety. The profound implications of his assertion strongly challenge contemporary approaches to anxiety which view it solely as something to be squelched via the use of various medications. Indeed, by skillfully reviewing for readers the major modern psychological and philosophical interpretations of anxiety, May discloses the meaning of anxiety--the inevitable interrelationship between conscious self-development and the experience of existential anxiety-- effectively debunking the naive notion of mental health as being the absence of anxiety. This volume is required reading for psychotherapists who treat anxiety disorders, and for all those who suffer from anxiety.