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Love and Will

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,205 ratings  ·  65 reviews
The heart of the human dilemma, according to Rollo May, is the failure to understand the real meaning of love and will, their source and interrelation. Bringing fresh insight to these concepts, May shows how we can attain a deeper consciousness.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 30th 2007 by W.W. Norton (NY) (first published January 1st 1969)
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,205 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Jun 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-sciences
My father used to tell a story about growing obsessed with an author as a young man. The name of the author escapes me, but imagine some early-70s Cormac McCarthy: a gifted craftsman of language whose oeuvre spoke so specifically to his admirers that he could do no wrong. My father, living in LA at the time, discovered that this author did not live so far away.

I can't be sure of the mechanics of stalking in the pre-Google era, but somehow the man's address was acquired. My father broke into his
Jul 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Not my favorite existential psychologist, but Rollo May includes some stellar quotes in Love and Will about sex, ardor, and what it means to truly care about someone or something. I felt that the first two-thirds of the book drifted off into history (e.g. the Victorian era and its implications, Plato's philosophy) and the foundations of psychology (e.g. the Daimonic, lots and lots of Freud) without offering new or relevant ideas. While May does a great job of discussing the strengths and weaknes ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Hank Kupjack
Shelves: psychology
In 1971 I dropped out of college and returned home to await prosecution for draft resistance. The return was not all bad. I had felt uncomfortable at Grinnell, initially insecure because of my presumably exceptional virginity and general immaturity (I really was a late bloomer, physically--hadn't yet even shaved), torn between study and political work and social desires. Going home was comfortable, a chance to spend time with old friends.

One of them, the oldest friend going back to Junior High,
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: clinical-work
I like Rollo May, I think. I know, damning with faint praise. Credit where credit is admirably due, however, for parsing good from bad with regard to Freud's legacy, and making an impassioned (and excellent) argument against indiscriminate use of medication ("It is the failure of therapy, rather than its success, when it drugs the daimonic, tranquilizes it, or in other ways fails to confront it head on."). But, at the end of the day, he's just not my favorite existentialist. It took me a long ti ...more
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
Rollo May was an existential psychologist - this book provides some great insights. Below are some of my favorites:

"The individual completes the creative work vastly relieved and more a person that before - but also maimed. It is the hurt after the struggle, the imminence of a neurotic break, though the person may simultaneously be more a person aft the wrestling. Van Gogh was maimed; Nietzsche was maimed; Kierkegaard was maimed. It is the paradox of consciousness. Assertion and dedication are n
David Kirkpatrick
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The heart of man's dilemma, according to Rollo May, is the failure to understand the real meaning of love and will, their source and interrelation. Bringing fresh insight to these concepts, May shows how we can attain a deeper consciousness.An extraordinary book on sex and civilization....An important contribution to contemporary morality. I first read it as a kid when it first came out and I find it as relevant today as it was then....probably May's with meaning.
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this back in 2010 and reread this month because it is easily the most seminal work on psychotherapy I have come across. I was lucky to have read it before beginning grad school, as it gave me invaluable perspective. I cant believe I haven't written a review for it. I'll try and update when I have it handy but the gist is that it's a must read: gorgeous writing, big ideas, timeless, and refreshing. It's a gorgeous read.
Aug 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend calls it the Existentialist Bible. I like stories and flawed characters. This is one of the only books on psychology I've read. But it got me excited about connecting with the world around my. To reach out and combat apathy. Every page opened me up to positive existentialism. There are also great insights to the psyche of artists. Good stuff.

Rollo May seems to be writing predominantly from the perspective of New Yorkers. Even though it was written in the sixties I found everything to b
Apr 17, 2008 rated it liked it
If you ever wanted to read about the banalization of sex in modern society, this is the book for you! While the opening chapters are about the ubiquity of sex, the other chapters explain how this is a counter to old victorianism, and how this affects people (it gives them existential crises! GREAT). The latter chapters deal more with love and will, and they were kind of complicated, so I might have to revisit this book.
Maria Menozzi
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love Rollo May. He tells it like it is, psychologically speaking. He gets to the heart of our emotions on both of these subjects and our behavior in turn. Really good stuff.
Jeffrey Howard
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is one of those rare books that enlightens your heart and mind. Rollo May exhibits the power of existential thought as he blends literature, philosophy, linguistics, mythology and history to inform psychotherapy. He provides insights into how meaning-making and myth are central to human thriving.

He elaborates on essential and fundamental concepts to the human condition: eros, daimonic forces, sex, intentionality, free will, integration, authenticity, and creativity.

This book asserts intenti
Khalil James
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Absurdly poetic for a book on human psychology, perhaps in accordance with the powerful and enigmatic meanings of the words in the title.

Believing great artists (and psychotics) to be accurate psychological surveyors of society, May litters with the works of influential poets, and references various other art forms, to get his points across.

Questions arise about the motive of such a book: if May intended to create a new paradigm with his conceptulization - which it kinda feels like he did - he
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow, Mr. May. Thank you for this.

Love and Will, as necessary human emotions, have become almost indecipherable in our age of technology. Love and WIll showcases that all is not lost. Though the human experience has been confounded in our era of transition, Rollo May helps delineate the interconnectedness of both love and will. Without love, we cannot will. Without will, there is no love. It's a heavy read, but well worth the struggle... which may just epiomize the main point of the novel: both l
Nov 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
May gives a very impassioned cultural critique of our postmodern times, amazingly, right at the start of it (1969). I value many of his insights, however find some of them a bit dated in the sense that they are limited by his generational outlook, which lacks the cultural broadness of the repertoire of cultural understanding available to us today. Sometimes he ascribes problematic cultural issues to the times we live in, while some of it is more the culmination of the age-old egoic make-up of Ma ...more
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
recommended by another author--it's a series of essays written in the 1960s and before by Rollo May who was/is a psychologist or something--some of his ideas are really lovely, many seem very out of touch with current reality. The parts of the book about love were lovely--the parts about will rather difficult for me to follow.
David Santa cruz
This is one of my favorite books, a very enjoyable read. However due to the time period the book was published there was an obvious debilitation in my youthful love life. In peace with the old i don't regret coming across the beauty and knowledge of this book.
Garrett Dunnington
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The is the most fundamental introduction to May and maybe also an original introduction to Existentialism, Phenomenology and Experiential Psychology.
Jay H. Hahn
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most challenging books that I have read in a long while.
The work can best be described as an extended paper addressed to the field of psychoanalysis, focusing on the suite of 'positive' emotions, labeled as love (eros), and theoretical underpinnings of action and change. The action and change he calls 'will,' and the chief of the underpinnings he refers to as 'intentionality.' He puts forth a case for his perspectives on these subjects, love and will, and then seeks to describ
Caspar Vega
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazingly lucid in parts and rather convoluted in others, a fascinating read overall.

Top highlights:

1. Art is the only way modern man will allow himself to be shown the unflattering, cruel, and hideous aspects of himself which are part of the daimonic.

2. But because of their capacity to confront the daimonic directly, rather than resorting to modern man's self-castrating defense of denying and repressing it, the Greeks were able to achieve their belief that the essence of virtue for a man is tha
Diana Raab
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This classic book was originally published in 1969. A year later, I turned 16 and my family physician gave it to me as a gift, saying, "In the years to come, this book will come in handy for you." I went home, sat in my reading chair and flipped through its pages. The discussion was way over my head. It seemed too grown up, deep, and incomprehensible to me at the time. I filed the hardcover book away on my shelf.

Numerous times in subsequent decades, I've picked up the book up, only to realize th
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Published at a time when the world of youth and academia were anxiosly looking to find tbeir inner selves and to uncover hidden love or to invest every inter-personal exchange or act of social wlfare with forever meaning.
Which of course can be the case.
At the very same time every person (of worth and value) would intuitively know he or she must rise above such mundanity and exist in pure action with meaning alone. No mistakes, no fuzziness, no complication.
May was much sought after as a visiting
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Meh. I didn't get a lot out of this one. The Hungry Mind list of 100 best books of the 20th century has been more encompassing--fewer dead white guys, more voices, a decent focus on the end of the century. But I don't know why this book is on there. Maybe it was more influential than I realize--many of the things he discusses felt like stuff I already knew. The psychologizing of everyday life means that many of his insights are already known to people, because we have been taught to understand " ...more
Verena Wachnitz
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable treatise on romantic love, sex, intimacy, the demonic, intentionality... life. Existential psychology at its best, providing plenty of insight into the human condition and providing much needed answers and insights in regards to the challenges we face to lead meaningful lives immersed in a world where all our material needs are by and large met, and it is incredibly easy to stay "entertained" and lead a shallow existence. Rollo May combines psychology, philosophy, literature and art ...more
Marvellous! Especially the first half on love. The centrality of 'the daemonic' to his work in practical existential therapy is original and magnificent. Building on the wisdom of generations across the disciplines. This emphasis, on what might also be called Passion, gives Existential therapy a proper mission and he made good use of real life examples to show it's effectiveness. He also highlighted percipiently the perils of repression and perversion of this force.
The consequences of taking the
Mary Karpel-Jergic
I started reading this book ages ago, found it less interesting than expected so put it down and subsequently let it gather dust on my book shelf. I decided to revisit and finish and to attempt to articulate what I learned from Rollo May's perspective on love and will.

The book's first copyright was 1969 and the content reflects this era. However it was reprinted in 2007 so there must be relevance remaining today. It is deeply psychoanalytical and philosophical and is littered with literary refer

I wish I remembered more of the specific content, but I found much of Love and Will difficult to absorb, and my reading was stretched over several months. M. Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Traveled, which led me to Love and Will, contains some similar ideas and is more accessible to a mainstream audience. Both books are—to use Peck’s language—concerned with the importance of facing life’s problems and extending ourselves (practicing love) for our own good and for the good of others.

May’s book
Noor Alhuda
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Couldn't get past page 200. I loved what he had to say about the Victorian era and how we aren't exactly "liberated" from the puritanical notions of that time, rather there's been a superficial flip in the direction of sex-obsession. Other interesting things... Describes our world to be characteristically "schizoid," which I am so feeling right now. He mentions the dehumanizing effects of technology and the rise in neurosis/anxiety, that anxiety is no longer considered a symptom of pathology but ...more
William Berry
Dec 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I started reading this book in June, along with a couple of others. I want to learn as much about love as I can, and considering I teach some of May’s thoughts on it, I figured this was a good choice. It was definitely the tougher of the reads I’ve done lately. I’ve found books by great thinkers of era’s ago are difficult for me. Maybe writing has been watered down to a point where even with a graduate degree more eloquently written arguments seem cumbersome.

Whatever the case may be, May’s book
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
a bit too much apparently post-victorian shit for my hard working girl's post-industrial money. despite the fact that the author does make a good point from time to time (he is quite observant and precise, i must give him that). i actually spent several evenings arguing with him in kindle notes (it somehow made up for the fact that he is long dead by now and can not actively participate in a dialogue). i am sad to conclide that this book is worth reading only as a source for reseach on a history ...more
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
May's insight in to the usefulness of anxiety is a powerful rebuke to today's "positive thinking" cult. And his claim that true love requires volition and intention is a relief in our current culture of "let's see what happens" romance.

On the other hand, May's insistence on defining what constitutes true love between people as a love that is higher than mere sexual love can be deservedly lampooned as Victorian, but is really as old as the Greeks. It is the idea that we should shun passions and e
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Rollo May (April 21, 1909 – October 22, 1994) was an American existential psychologist. He authored the influential book Love and Will during 1969.

Although he is often associated with humanistic psychology, his philosophy was influenced strongly by existentialist philosophy. May was a close friend of the theologian Paul Tillich. His works include Love and Will and The Courage to Create, the latter
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“The poet, like the lover, is a menace on the assembly line.” 40 likes
“It is dangerous to know, but it is more dangerous not to know.” 37 likes
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