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Rollo Reese May And

Theories Of
Personality
Philosophy Essay
Rollo Reese May was born on April 21, 1909, in Ada Ohio to Earl Tittle and Matie Boughton, he
was the first son and the second child of six children. Both of his parents were not well educated
and there was very intellectual motivation in the household. Mays parents didnt get along and
ended up getting a divorce. (Dr. C. George Boeree, 1998, 2006, p. 1)

May older sister was diagnosis with schizophrenic and the father blame the illness on too much
education. Growing up May was not close to his parents and really disliked his mother, he
considered his mom as a bitch-kitty on wheels. He believed that his mothers behavior and his
older sister schizophrenia caused him to have two failed marriages. (Rabinowitz, Good, &
Cozad, 1989).

Mays was married three times and had two failed marriages, from his first wife he had three
children a son and two daughters, he stood marry for 30 years in his first marriage due to the
children, but then realized the marriage wasnt going to get better and end up divorcing his first
wife, his second marriage was also unsuccessful. The last woman that he married was name
Georgia Miller Johnson and was a Jungian analyst and that marriage lasted from 1988 until he
died of tuberculosis, his son Robert Rollo was a director of counseling at Amherst College and
his twin sister Carolyn Jane was a social worker and artist and the third child was Allegra Anne
who was a documentary film writer and a single mother of two adopted multiracial children.
(Bugental, 1996, p. 418).

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May attend college at Michigan State University and major in English and was asked to leave
because he became an editor of a radical student magazine, he then transferred to Oberlin
College where he received his BA in the year of 1930. After graduating, he pursued in art and
was traveling through Europe with a group of artist. He stood in Europe from 1930 until 1933
and addition to his study of art, he taught at an American College in Greece where he took
summer seminars that was taught by Alfred Adler in Vienna.

In his second year while being in Europe, he began to question the meaning of his life when he
came down with tuberculosis, While being in an sanatorium, he was faced with the possibility of
death, he had a lot of time to read many literatures, he came across a literatures that was on the
writer named Soren Kierkegaard, who was a Danish religious writer, a person that was inspired
of existential movement. May became inspired of Soren Kierkegaard words of wisdom that it
gave May the inspiration of coming up with his own theory. (Dr. C. George Boeree, 1998, 2006)

Rollo Reese May was best known as an American existential psychologist and he was referred as
the father of existential psychotherapy. May was associated with the humanistic psychology; he
had a different way of thinking on the Human existence, then other psychologist, his human
existence was sharper on the tragic dimension.

According to Dr. C. George Boeree, (1998, 2006) on Mays personality Theories, stated that
Rollo Reese May, used different terms and invented new words from some of existentialism old
ideas, for example the word destiny is the same as thrownness and it is combined with the word
fallenness, which mean that part of peoples lives that is determine for them, he also gave another
example of the word courage, which was used more often than the traditional term authenticity,
which meant facing ones anxiety and then raise above it. (Dr. C. George Boeree, 1998, 2006).

According to Serlin, llene, Mays work was maintained by the balance between darkness and
light, between the experiential and the intellectual. May considered the fundamental questions of
human existence as the nature of evil, love and will and the meaning of anxiety and the important
of myth. May inspired many people and it came from his ability to name the void of create in its
face, to name evil but worked toward the good, to see meaningless, but to discover meaning and
to face death, but create life. May was in the antiwar movement and many other social causes, he
taught and mentored countless students and called himself a gentle rebel (Serlin, llene A.
Tikkun, January 1995. pg. 65), in the face of an increasing dehumanized world.

Rollo Reese May Theories of Personalities

While being under influenced of Freud, Kierkegaard and Tillich, May developed a theory of
personality that was based on existential philosophy and from that, he accepted the following
terms:

Dasein means a particular person in a world that is particular time and existing is under a
particular set of circumstances.
Mays Three Modes of
Existence:
Umwelt is the interaction with the physical world, Mitwelt, is the interaction with other humans
and the Eigenwelt is the interaction with oneself.

Alienation is when a person is estranged of aspect of the nature, which results of feeling lonely,
emptiness and despair this happens because the three modes of existence is alienated from nature
and from other people.

Mays describe freedom, which a person can be free to choose the meaning of their own
existence. Since a person is free to choose what type a person they become, they have to be
responsible for what they become, another person circumstance of their fate can be praise or
blamed for the nature of their existence, because we are responsible for ourselves. Ontology is
the study of being. Within existentialism, ontological analysis is directed at understanding the
essence of humans in general and of individual in particular. Phenomenology is the study of
conscious experience as it exists for the person without any attempts to reduce, divide or
compartmentalize it in anyway. Authenticity, if people live their lives in accordance with values
that are freely chosen, they are living authentic lives, if however if people conform to values
established by others, they have not exercised their personal freedom and are therefore living
inauthentic lives, inauthentic is causally related to neurotic anxiety and guilt and the feeling of
loneliness, ineffectiveness, self alienation and despair. Death because humans are mortal and
because death is the ultimate state of nonbeing, awareness of ones inevitable death can cause
anxiety. The source of anxiety is part of human existence and cannot be voided. The awareness
of death, however, can add vitality to life by motivating a person as much out of life as possible
in the limited time available. Thrownness is the circumstanced of a persons lives which it cant
be control. Other existentialist referred this as thrownness and May refers it as destiny.

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May was the only existential psychologist that discusses certain stages, not as strict as the
Freudian development.

Mays Stages:
Innocence is the pre self conscious stage of an infant, it is the innocent of premoral that is neither
bad or good, the description that was given is like a wild animal who kills to eat and since the
animal has to eat, he or she has to do what is must. Rebellion stage, the childhood and adolescent
is when the ego or self-consciousness of the contrast with an adult from the no of a two years old
to the no way of a teenager, which mean the rebellious person wants their freedom and does not
yet understand of the responsibility that goes along with it. A teenager would like to use their
allowance money on what ever they want, but still what the parent to provide the money and still
complain about the parent not being fair. Ordinary stage is when the normal adult ego,
conventional and a little boring, perhaps they have learned that the responsibility, but find it too
demanding, and so seek refuge in conformity and traditional values. Creative is an authentic
adult, the existential stage, beyond ego and self-actualizing. This is the person who, accepting
destiny, faces anxiety with courage.

Human Dilemma
According to May (1967), the human dilemma is when people can view themselves as both the
subject and the object at the same time. Mays description of the object-subject dichotomy is
done in various ways, which is not always consistence. People are capable of seeing themselves
as an object to things that happens to them, which are influenced by their destiny. Objectives are
events of variables that are caused through stress that can cause a persons behavior, which is the
stimulation that happens in certain ways and the way people respond to that certain way.
Subjective is when the person is aware of the fact is happening to them and acts on the
information, which gives them the determination of experience that are valuable and which one
are not valuable to them and then act according to the personal formulations. (May, 1977,
pp.198-201)

May description of self-relatedness is distinguished of a human that rest from nature. It is mans
capacity to stand outside himself, to know he is the subject as well as the object of experience, to
see himself as the entity who is acting in the world of objects (May, 1967, p. 75).

Humans can view the world and we can also view ourselves viewing and the self-relatedness or
consciousness of our self allows the humans to escape the determinism and personal influence
what we do. Humans consciousness of ones self can give us the power to stand outside of the
rigid chain of stimulus and response to pause and by that pause can throw some weight on either
side that can cast some decision and what the response will be, (May, 1953, p. 161).

According to May feeling on these two psychologists, Skinner and Rogers, he felt that they had
emphasized one side of the dilemma but was at the expense of others. Skinner had avoided the
subjective of experience, May felt that people dont react to their inner experience of their
environment, but they do see their environment in terms of their past experience and they do
interpret the terms of their own symbols of hope and fear,(May, 1967, p. 15).

Mays description of intentionality meant all mental acts are purely subjective of the way it is
intended or that relates to the events that are from the outside of themselves. The example that
was given, love is a subjective experience but one must love someone of something. Perception
is a subject experience but one must perceive something. (May, 1969, pp. 224-225)

Importance of Myth

May believed that myth is the way of making sense in a senseless world, and is a narrative
pattern that gives the significance to the society of existence (1991, p. 15), the problem in the
society as cults, drug addiction, suicide and depression are traced of the lack of myths that can
provide the individuals with a sense of their inner security.

Anxiety and Guilt

May was really interested in the human anxiety and guilt; he rejected Freuds interpretation of
anxiety as the result from conflict that is between a persons biological needs and the demands of
society. May felt that Freuds analyzed was too biological and compartmentalized and Freuds
anxiety viewed his results from the conflict of the id, ego, and superego, but May approved on
Kierkegaards existential definition instead because Kierkegaard theory of human freedom and
anxiety went hand and hand.

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Normal anxiety is when a person experience the attempt to expand ones conscious or when the
new values is displaced with the old ones due to changes in the person circumstances and it is an
integral of a healthy growth, Mays theory consists that all growth of anxiety is the creation of
surrender past values (May, 1967, p. 80).

Neurotic anxiety is when a person hasnt met their normal anxiety on the time of the actual crisis
in their growth and the threat to their values, which the neurotic anxiety ends in the result of the
previous unmet normal anxiety (May, 1967, p. 80). In my understanding of Mays theory on
normal anxiety and neurotic anxiety, one is when the person is having a problem, but not major
and the problem can be solve. Example, when it is time to write a paper my normal anxiety kicks
in and I start feeling shortness of breathe and then I cant concentrate on what I am doing and
then I have to walk away for a little while to relax. Neurotic anxiety is when a person have
problems and cant control their feeling and start to think that life is not going to get better for
them, they start to become depress, feeling lonely and dont what to do anything with their lives,
but it all depends on the circumstances the person is going through.

May had four description of love and they are Sex, Eros, Philia and agape:
Sex is the biological drives that can be satisfy by engaging in sexual intercourse, the same way
eating a meal that can satisfy the hunger drive, which both can be triggered by the need and the
availability of an object that will satisfy the need, (May, 1969, p.73).

May one important wad daimons was the eros which to him was love not sex and in the Greek
mythology was the minor god pictured as a young man and later the eros had transferred into an
annoying little cupid, he understood that love was the need that people have to become as one
with another person and was referred of an ancient Greek story that was by Aristophanes, that
people was originally a four legged, four armed and a two headed creature and people became to
prideful that the gods spilt the people into two, male and female and had cursed us with the never
ending desire to recover the people missing in half, according to May, like any daimon, eros it is
a good thing until it takes over the personality and the people would become obsessed with it.
May also believe that the theory of will is another important concept and it was the ability for a
person to organize their lives in order to achieve in their goals and that will is also a daimon that
can have potential to take over a person. Another definition of will is the ability to make a wish
to come true. (Boeree, C. George, 1998, 2006)

Philia is the third of love which is a friendship or a brotherly love. According to May, Eros
cannot last for long without Philia because the tension of continuous attraction and passion
would be too great (May, 1969). Philia is the relaxation in the presence of the beloved with
accepts the others being as being; it is simply liking to be with the other, liking to rest with the
other, liking the rhythm of the walk, the voice, the whole being of the other.

Agape is the fourth type of loving, which May, 1969, p. 310), is the unselfishness of concern for
ones partner and the aspect of love that is unconditional.

New Science of Human:

According to May an approach of the study on human nature, should not reduce the collection of
habits, brain functions, genetically determined traits, early experiences or environmental events,
all that is needed for science of humans are based on the ontological characteristic of humans and
that science should take into consideration of human freedom and the importance of their
phenomenological experience, the use of symbols and myths and the ability of the past, present
and future in making decisions should value the process.

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Empirical Research are done by most existential theorists that are unconcern with the empirical
validation of their concepts and believe that the place to validate their concepts is when the arena
of everyday life, or in the therapeutic situation and not with a systematic laboratory or field of
investigations. According to Van Kaam, (1966), an existential psychologist summarized the
viewpoint: Experience such as responsibility, dread, anxiety, despair, freedom, love, wonder or
decision cannot be measured or experimented with, they are simply there and can only be
explicated in their givenness (Van Kaam, 1966, p. 187).

May did not rejected the idea of the objective study of humans, but felt that the traditional
scientific methodology was not appropriate, but he felt, what was needed was an approach of the
studies of humans as whole, unique, complex beings. Many sciences welcomed Mays idea of
developing of science more appropriate to the study of humans and not based on the assumptions
and techniques of the natural science (Hergenhanh & Olson, 2007, p. 32).

Conclusion
Rollo Reese May theories of Personality was inspiring, because as a psychologist, he consider
the people as human beings, not just an experimental objective. His theories explain of different
type of anxiety and what they meant in the human nature, he also explains the difference of love
and the will to achieve in a goal. I felt that May Reese Rollo, really care for the people and once
he became sick of Tuberculosis, he needed to let people know the understanding and the meaning
of death and that people shouldnt be afraid of it, because one day we are going to leave the earth
and we shouldnt be afraid of the word death. I remember telling my mom that I was scared of
getting old and scare of dying and I didnt understand why I felt this way, but as I got older and
realized that one day, we would have to leave this earth and we should enjoy the rest of our lives
and shouldnt worry about dying and God would know when it is time for us to go.