The Meaning of Anxiety (book review) Rollo May

210924: exactly what title promises, in two ways, as defined and exhibited by various aspects of our culture, as to its ‘purpose’ in human life. part one is modern interpretations of anxiety, first in literature, social studies, politics, philosophy, theology, psychology, purpose of this book. then he does some history, following philosophical interpretations by spinoza, pascal, kierkegaard, then biology moving on through everything from ‘startle’ pattern to psychosomatic anxiety…


this is followed by ‘interpretations’ of anxiety psychological, psychotherapists, culturally, and summary. i like this part because it agrees with what existential psychology i have read, seems very aware, thoughtful, and summarize some names i know but not details of their anxiety theories eg, cg jung, and addresses the historical dimension to the problem. this book was first published in midcentury and revised after the vietnam war, so it is interesting to think where the theory is now…


part two is the clinical studies, which might be most dated, but give good idea of breadth of sources from which this book is borne, though it is part three i like best, about the ‘meaning’ of anxiety in terms of ‘purpose’, where there is clarified the distinction between neurotic unhealthy anxiety (which closes down your world) and constructive healthy anxiety (which opens creative possibilities)… i know what kind i want…

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