In this chapter I will discuss Rollo May and his theory of anxiety. There is no doubt that Rollo May is one of the most important figures in existential psychology, and, without question, one of the most important American existential psychologists in the history of the discipline. May breaks down specific applications of existential philosophy to psychology as: Human Dilemma: the fact that humans can view themselves as both the subject and the object at the same time. Humans can see themselves as an object to which things happen; we are continually influenced by stimuli presented to us, whether we respond or not to the stimuli depends on our rationality our ability to self-relate is what distinguishes us from the rest of nature; man’s ability to stand outside himself; we can view ourselves viewing, a metacognitive skill. Intentionality: the means by which the dichotomy between subject and object is partially overcome; all emotional and mental experiences must relate to (intend) objects or events outside the person; the human capacity to perceive selectively and to assign meaning to objects and events in the world; the relationship between the thinking person and the outside world. Both the individual’s will (movement in a certain direction to fulfill specific goals) and wish (the imaginative playing with the possibility of future courses of action) are related to his/her intentionality. Intentionality, will, and wish are three of the most important concepts in May’s theory. Through these three cognitive constructs the person experiences his identity, exercises his freedom and senses his being.
Normal and Neurotic Anxiety: anxiety and freedom always go together. Anxiety is defined as the resulting response to anything that threatens our freedom. Mays definition of normal anxiety is the apprehension cued off by a threat to some value which the individual holds essential to his existence as a self. Anxiety is necessary for growth and expansion of self;...
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