Psychologist Rollo May says the field he helped establish in the 1950s has become dominated by gimmicks and money-making.
“It’s become dominated by gimmicks. There are more than 200 kinds of psychotherapy now, including one to help your pets,” May told a recent gathering of more than 200 therapists in Berkeley.
May, 78 and a resident of Tiburon, is a founding father of psychotherapy and humanistic psychology as well as the author of several best-selling books such as “Man’s Search for Himself,” “Love and Will” and “The Meaning of Anxiety.” He said the Age of Anxiety that he wrote about 30 years ago has turned into the Age of Despair.
“One word frees us of all the pain in our lives,” he said. “The word is love. My theme is that human life begins on the far side of despair.
“More important than finding a cure (for a patient’s problem) is reawakening the sense of depth and wonder of our lives.”
May is credited with intergrating religion and psychotherapy. He said he believes in religion “in a much deeper sense than the usual talk” about it.
“We used to go to confession and that did some real good in giving us a sense that there’s more to life than our problems. But nowadays, we take our problems to the therapist and we try to make the connection between religion and therapy,” he said.
“I think that’s good, but the question is, are these picayune things what we should worry about?”
Contemporary culture is in trouble, May warned, pointing to banning of books as a symptom.
“We are at the end of another age like the 14th Century,” he said. “We have seen the deterioration of what was supposed to be a century of enlightenment and rationality into an age of tremendous discord.”