Existential Psychotherapy Rollo May and Irvin Yalom overview

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May, R. (1977). The meaning of anxiety (rev. ed.). New York: Norton. (First edition published in 1950.)

A discussion of the prevalence of anxiety in the twentieth century and its roots in philosophy, biology, psychology, and modern culture, this is the first book written in America on the central theme of anxiety and the third book in history on this topic. The others were written by Sigmund Freud and Søren Kierkegaard. The Meaning of Anxiety was the first firm presentation of anxiety as a normal as well as a neurotic condition, and it argues that normal anxiety has constructive uses in human survival and human creativity.

Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

This volume offers a comprehensive clinical overview of the field of existential psychotherapy. A major task of the book is to build a bridge between theory and clinical application. It posits that psychopathology issues from the individual’s confrontation with the ultimate concerns of death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness and explores the implications of each ultimate concern for the practice of psychotherapy.

Yalom, I. D. (1989). Love’s executioner and other tales of psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

This collection of stories is based on cases of existential therapy and gives an intimate view of the clinical application of existential therapeutic principles and techniques.

Yalom, I. D. (1991). When Nietzsche wept. New York: Basic Books.

This teaching novel examines a thought experiment: What might have happened if Nietzsche had turned his attention to the invention of a psychotherapy based on his own published philosophical insights?

Yalom, I. D. (2001). The gift of therapy: An open letter to a new generation of therapists. New York: Harper Collins.

This book encapsulates Irvin Yalom’s thoughts on psychotherapy after a lifetime of practice.

Binswanger, L. (1958). The case of Ellen West. In R. May, E. Angel, & H. Ellenberger (Eds.), Existence: A new dimension in psychology and psychiatry (pp. 237–364). New York: Basic Books.

This is a classic case of considerable historical importance. It should be read by all serious students of psychotherapy.

Holt, H. (1966). The case of Father M: A segment of an existential analysis. Journal of Existentialism, 6, 369– 495. [Also in D. Wedding & R. J. Corsini (Eds.). (1979). Great cases in psychotherapy. Itasca, IL: F. E. Peacock.]

This is a well-written case study that offers insight into the manner in which an existential analysis might unfold.

May, R. (1973). Black and impotent: The life of Mercedes. In Power and innocence (pp. 81–97). New York: Norton. [Reprinted in D. Wedding & R. J. Corsini (Eds.). (1995). Case studies in psychotherapy. Itasca, IL: F E. Peacock.]

This brief case history illustrates the existential treatment by Rollo May of a young black woman dealing with core issues of power and self-esteem.

Yalom, I. (1989). Fat lady. In Love’s executioner and other tales of psychotherapy (pp. 87–117). New York: Basic Books. [Reprinted in D. Wedding & R. J. Corsini (Eds.). (2005). Case studies in psychotherapy. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.]

This provocative case study illustrates the problem all therapists confront as they attempt to cope with counter-transference. Yalom is quite open about his revulsion and antipathy for obese people, and this case helps students appreciate how even very experienced therapists continue to grow professionally and personally.

Arieti, S. (1977). Psychotherapy of severe depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 134, 864 – 868.
Becker, E. (1973). Denial of death. New York: Free Press.
Binswanger, L. (1956). Existential analysis and psychotherapy. In E. Fromm-Reichmann & J. L. Moreno (Eds.), Progress in psychotherapy (pp. 144 –168). New York: Grune & Stratton.
Boss, M. (1957a). The analysis of dreams. London: Rider & Co.
Boss, M. (1957b). Psychoanalyse and daseinsanalytik. Bern & Stuttgart: Verlag Hans Huber.
Boss, M. (1982). Psychoanalysis and daseinanalysis. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Bugental, J. (1956). The search for authenticity. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Bugental, J. (1976). The search for existential identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Farber, L. (1966). The ways of the will: Essays toward a psychology and psychopathology of will. New York: Basic Books.
Farber, L. (1976). Lying, despair, jealousy, envy, sex, suicide, drugs, and the good life. New York: Basic Books.
Frankl, V. (1963). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. New York: Pocket Books.
Frankl, V. (1969). Will to meaning. New York: World Publishing.
Havens, L. (1974). The existential use of the self. American Journal of Psychiatry, 131.
Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth. New York: Norton.

Jung, C. G. (1966). Collected works: The practice of psychotherapy (Vol. 16). New York: Pantheon, Bollingen Series.

Kaiser, H. (1965). Effective psychotherapy. New York: Free Press.
Kant, I. (1954). The encyclopedia of philosophy (Vol. 4). P. Edwards (Ed.). New York: Macmillan and Free Press.
Kierkegaard, S. (1954). Fear and trembling and the sickness unto death. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Koestenbaum, P. (1978). The new image of man. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
May, R. (1953). Man’s search for himself. New York: Norton.
May, R. (1961). Existential psychology. New York: Random House.
May, R. (1969). Love and will. New York: Norton.
May, R. (1977). The meaning of anxiety (rev. ed.). New York: Norton.
May, R. (1981). Freedom and destiny. New York: Norton.
May, R. (1982). The problem of evil: An open letter to Carl Rogers. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 3, 16.
May, R., Angel, E., & Ellenberger, H. (Eds.). (1958). Existence: A new dimension in psychiatry and psychology. New York: Basic Books.
Mijuskovic, B. (1979). Loneliness in philosophy, psychology and literature. Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum.
Perls, F. (1969). Gestalt therapy verbatim. Moab, UT: Real People Press.
Raskin, N. (1978). Becoming—A therapist, a person, a partner, and a parent. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 4, 15.
Sartre, J. P. (1956). Being and nothingness. New York: Philosophical Library.
Sequin, C. (1965). Love and psychotherapy. New York: Libra Publishers.
Spence, K. (1956). Behavior therapy and conditioning. New Haven, CT: Yale University.
Spinoza, B. (1954). Cited by M. De Unamuno in The tragic sense of life (E. Flitch, Trans). New York: Dover.
Weisman, A. (1965). Existential core of psychoanalysis: Reality sense and responsibility. Boston: Little, Brown.
Yalom, I. (1981). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

1 To Freud, anxiety is a signal of danger (i.e., if instinctual drives are permitted expression, the organism becomes endangered; either the ego is overwhelmed or retaliation by the environment is inevitable). The defense mechanisms restrict direct expression of drives but provide indirect expression—that is, in displaced, sublimated, or symbolic form.

2 Oral communication. Child psychiatry grand rounds. Stanford University, Department of Psychiatry, 1978.

Existential Therapy – Rollo May & Irvin Yalom

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