Monday, February 15, 2010

Maximising our Potential with Rollo May 1

Maximising our Potential with Rollo May 1

How does one become attracted to one author or another? Well, one follows the recommendations of one’s teachers, professors, doctors, psychotherapists and others in choosing whom one should read. Perhaps also, one might take stock of what reviewers of books might advise in either print or on-line copies of good newspapers. Then again, one might hear one’s favourite broadcaster recommend this or that author. It was in such a way that I began to read Irvin D. Yalom, and, indeed, I became quite besotted with his work. Then, I began to read the books by the people whom he quoted most often. It was in that way that I began to read the seminal work of Rollo May. Indeed, what inspires me about May is the richness of his insight as well as the breadth of great authors from whom he quotes, and those quotations have been digested and integrated by this wonderful psychotherapist.

Here, from a brief perusal of the index of Man’s Search for Himself is a list of the philosopher’s I find quoted in this work: Albert Camus, René Descartes, Soren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Pascal, Plato, Bertrand Russell, John Paul Sartre, Schopenhauer, Socrates and Spinoza. Then his list of literary allusions to well-known authors contains such notables as: Aeschylus, Matthew Arnold, W.H. Auden, Balzac, Nicolai Berdyaev, William Blake, E.E. Cummings, Dostoevski (sic), T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Goethe, Ernest hemingway, George Herbert, Aldous Huxley, Henrik Ibsen, Franz Kafka, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman and William Wordsworth.

Then he refers, quite obviously, to many scholars within the psychiatric, psychological and psychotherapeutic fields, viz., Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, William James, Carl Gustave Jung, Otto Rank, Harry Stack Sullivan and John B. Watson. Outside that, he refers to some religious, mythological, theological and spiritual schools from various traditions, viz., Athena, Clytemnestra, Ecclesiastes, Electra, Faust, The Furies, God, grace, Hebrew-Christian values, Jesus, Meister Eckhart, Orestes, Prometheus and Paul Tillich. May also quotes from the world of the Arts, viz., William Blake, Paul Cézanne, Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. As I have mentioned above Rollo May just does not allude to these in passing, but rather it is obvious to the informed reader that he has digested and absorbed what all these experts from these various fields of knowledge and artistic activity have given our culture in terms of wisdom and knowledge.

To be continued.

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