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The Meaning of Anxiety Paperback – April 17, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised edition (April 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393314561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393314564
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rollo May (1909-1994) was an influential existential psychologist and the author of Love and Will, The Courage to Create, and The Discovery of Being.

More About the Author


Rollo May (1909-1994) was an influential existential psychologist and the author of Love and Will, The Courage to Create, and The Discovery of Being.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 125 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this this book a few years back when I was in the throes of my own, rather intense, "anxiety disorder." I read many books on anxiety during this period and found that most of them fit into one of two catagories. The first catagory is the "conquer anxiety disorder" type, which explain the disorder in psycho-medical terms and propose a number of techniques (including drugs in some cases) for alleviating the symptoms. Some of these I found helpful, but they give very little insight into the "root" of the disorder or its deep psychological causes. The other type of book, which is more rare, delves into the philosophical and psychological roots of anxiety. Rollo May's book fits into the later catagory. Rollo May was a student of Paul Tillich who wrote "The Courage to Be" which examines anxiety from an ontological and existential viewpoint. He had a lot of influence on May's thought. The Meaning of Anxiety is an in depth study of anxiety: what it is, where it comes from, what purpose it serves, and in some ways how to transcend it. This book gives real insight into anxiety. The major thinkers on anxiety tend to be existentialists like May, Tillich, and Kierkegaard. When you read their work you gain a much broader perspective on this thing called anxiety.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By dr. on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
This scholarly yet extremely accesible study of anxiety--from philosophical, social, theological, literary, cultural as well as biological perspectives--was first published in 1950, and updated by May in 1977. It is still the widest-ranging, richest, most intelligent and insightful exploration of anxiety currently available in one volume. In this postmodern era of hyperbiologism (which presumes anxiety and other symptoms to hold only physical meaning) and resulting wildly popular pharmacological treatments for anxiety, May reminds readers that anxiety has much more than mere biochemical causes and physiological significance: anxiety, insists May, is not necessarily pathological, but rather, a meaningful, necessary, vital and ultimately inextricable aspect of human existence.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Moses on June 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Reading this book helped change my life. It gave me a new insight into my own life and made me start looking at things rationally instead of through the tinted lense that is anxiety. The case-studies are mind-blowing and really help one understand the core emotions that underly all people. I have specific underlined passages I often refer back to and think to myself, "there is no other way to describe what the author is writing other than pure genius."
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By P. Troutman on November 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are, in my estimation, three main audiences for works of psychology: curious members of the public with a humanistic desire to know about their fellow creatures, those attempting to self-medicate and those with a professional interest. Each will get something out of Rollo May's work on anxiety but likely also experience some dissatisfaction.

The curious: they will likely be the most disappointed. They might enjoy the individual case studies of `Harold Brown' and the women pregnant out of wedlock. Even though they are short, there is a richness to them. They might also find inspiration in May's conclusions about how anxiety is not something entirely awful but is in many ways central to the human experience, particularly as we attempt to grow, for May argues that normal anxiety is part and product of risk and development.

On the other hand, the nicest thing that can be said about May's prose is that it is very `workman-like'. May obviously was a very smart fellow and in certain ways, this book isn't as dated as it should be for being thirty years past its second edition. But there is something dry about his prose. There is no panache, no elegant turns of phrases. Indeed, even though you can tell May is enthusiastic about his topic, he isn't able to get you to feel it.

The self-medicating bookworms: I suspect that they will only find interesting the initial discussion, up to Kierkegaard, in which May lays out his ideas, and then the ending, in which he tries to draw conclusions from his case studies. There's a whole lot of book between those, so if I were looking for help, I'd just read the beginning and ending at a library and call it a day. (But note that at least one reviewer motivated by their own pain has a better assessment on this score than myself.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Perhaps a bit old-fashioned these days, THE MEANING OF ANXIETY is still a well-written and very useful compendium of different theories of anxiety, with a particular nod, pre-Freud, to Kierkegaard, as well as to cultural determinants, particularly ideologies of individualism. A good read though not up to date, missing out especially on the contributions of interpersonal psychonalaysis, evolutionary biology, and congnitive therapy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Howell on May 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I strongly recommend tat everyone read all of mays books. I can,t put them down. Reading all of his books is like getting a second BA degree. You will be amazed at what you learn.
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