Rollo May

Rollo May 

Life & Work Website

“Our feelings guide us, like the rudder of a ship.”

(Rollo May, as quoted by Dr. Philip Keddy)

Welcome All Visitors 

This website is a long time in coming. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Rollo May at his home in Tiburon, California, to interview him for my biography of Abraham Maslow. Although May was among the most influential psychologists in the world, he was kind and friendly. There wasn’t a trace of arrogance; indeed, he was surprisingly modest. We spent three hours together in a free-wheeling conversation about humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, religion, and many other topics. May had a kind of gritty elegance, and I was grateful for his frequent cups of hot tea—apparently, he and I shared a predilection for tea. May had grown up in small-town Michigan, and perhaps he resonated with my own biography of having earned all my graduate degrees at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Although much of my professional writing has focused on Maslow's ideas and influence as well as positive psychology, I have always valued May as an important psychological thinker—particularly in developing existential psychology and existential psychotherapy. When the coronavirus pandemic struck New York City in mid-March 2020, there was a nearly total lockdown for several months and I found myself with ample time to explore May’s life and influence in greater detail than ever before. Among the projects generated by such research is this website, as I discovered to my surprise that nothing like it had ever been created. I hope it proves useful in enhancing your interest and knowledge of this singular figure in our time.    

--Edward Hoffman, Ph.D.
Yeshiva University         

"In the deeper levels of the human adventure, the sense of awe and wonder is present." 

                                                                                    --Rollo May, The Loss of Wonder (1992)     

Rollo May: Life and Legacy

Rollo May was born in 1909 in Ada, Ohio, a small town in the Midwest, and grew up in another small Midwestern town called Marine City, Michigan. At the time of his death in 1994 in the San Francisco area, he was among the world's leading psychological thinkers. With the huge rise in anxiety wrought by the global pandemic, his writings on personal growth, creativity, existential psychology, and psychotherapy are more relevant and important than ever. 

"Rollo was, I think, in many ways a bundle of contradictions. In classroom situations and discussions, he alluded not infrequently to his early life in rural Michigan yet typically in suggestive, evocative, even hinting ways rather than overtly disclosing. Certainly, he saw it as a critical aspect of the biographical destiny with which he had to contend over time. Certainly, too, there was significant family-of-origin dysfunction. I always felt that the visceral Rollo May one encountered most directly in person and even in lectures. His books present the sagely outcome of formative (and, indeed, ongoing) turbulence over many years. The humor, the grittiness, the down-to-earth midwestern core are, I would say, not on explicit display in his writing."

  --Ed Mendelowitz, Ph.D.                                                     
(A doctoral trainee of Rollo May)  

Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt 
Credits: Life Magazine Copyright: © Time Inc.

Rollo May Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt  Credits: Life Magazine Copyright: © Time Inc.
The Ministry of Counseling

The Ministry of Counseling 

Kindle Edition. Rollo May 

A 75th-anniversary edition with an introduction by Edward Hoffman, Ph.D.

Rollo May was the influential founder of existential psychotherapy in the United States and a co-founder of humanistic psychology with Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. May wrote this long-forgotten booklet for U.S. military chaplains during World War II. By his early 30s, he had already written two well-received books on the emerging field of counseling after having studied with Alfred Adler and received a ministerial degree from Union Theological Seminary. His mentor there was Paul Tillich. Seventy-five years after its publication, The Ministry of Counseling remains a wonderful, still-relevant account of counseling as a spiritual activity--and a practical guide to what really matters. This new edition was prepared by psychologist Edward Hoffman, Ph.D., author of award-winning biographies of Adler and Maslow.

"The strange thing about beauty is that it wipes away all boundaries and inspires us to realize our common humanity."

Rollo May, My Search for Beauty (1985)   

Creator: Edward Hoffman, Ph.D.

Web Designer: Jenniffer González Mujica  

Consultants: Philip Keddy, Ph.D., Ed Mendelowitz, Ph.D. & Kirk Schneider, Ph.D.