Although May is often associated with humanistic psychology, he differs from other humanistic psychologists such as Maslow or Rogers in showing a sharper awareness of the tragic dimensions of human existence. May was a close friend of the U.S. German-born theologian Paul Tillich. His works include Love and Will and The Courage to Create, the latter title honoring Tillich’s The Courage to Be.
May was influenced by American humanism, and interested in reconciling existential psychology with other approaches, especially Freud’s.
May uses some traditional existential terms in a slightly different fashion than others, and he invents new words for traditional existentialist concepts. Destiny, for example, could be “thrownness” combined with “fallenness”— the part of our lives that is determined for us, for the purpose of creating our lives. He also used the word “courage” to signify authenticity in facing one’s anxiety and rising above it.
“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.”