Psychotherapist May ( Love and Will ) believes that America's abiding myths--of home, homeland, rugged individualism, the frontier, the seduction of the new, etc.--no longer serve as guideposts. People are rudderless, anxiety-prone and seek meaning in their lives, he claims. But some of May's patients tapped into primal myths, such as Charles, a lapsed Catholic with writer's block who saw himself as a ``rebel of God'' in order to allay neurotic guilt, and Ursula, an agoraphobic actress who recalled a dream echoing the birth of Athena from a slit in Zeus's forehead. May's interpretation of Freudian psychoanalysis as a cluster of myths lends resilience to his exploration of the existential crises of birth, adolescence, love, marriage, work and death. He blends clinical material, cultural commentary and examples of mythic figures ranging from Proteus, Greek god of change, to Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby. May's enormously stimulating, down-to-earth approach avoids Jungian jargon as he links the mythic to the everyday. (Mar.)
Since his introduction of modern philosophy to American psychiatric practice in the United States Existence , 1958, May has provided readers with accessible texts on many psychological issues including Freedom and Destiny, LJ 10/1/81. In his newest book he directs our attention to the psychology of our culture by providing a distinctly American portrait of the place--and displacements--of myth in our society. As is customary for this author, the text weaves case studies and considerable literary exegesis into his cogent analyses. May demonstrates his thesis--that ``Each myth in human history is interpreted according to the needs of the society which it reflects''--and keeps good his promise to provide an American audience currently interested in the mythic realms of other cultures witness the popularity of Joseph Campbell's works with insight on our own mythology. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., Cal.