Rollo May – Love and Will

Love and Will

Boeree believes Love and Will  (2007) best exemplifies the uniqueness of May’s writing and ideas.  May’s conception of daimonic is the entire system of motives, different for each individual. It is composed of a collection of specific motives called daimons. The Great Gatsby was the perfect vehicle through which to unpack this concept of motivational clusters. If you would like to read May’s analysis of the story he has devoted at least a chapter in The Cry for Myth.(1991)

The Greek word meaning little god can be (but does not need to be) negative in connotation. In the narrative we continually pause to ask “What Gods are ruling this scenario?” Indeed this is a question we can ask of the entire Jazz age! It is this “caught-up-edness” that May amplifies within the context of the classic movie. Daimons can represent a range of lower needs, such as food and sex, or they can embody virtues such as love.

As we, in the 21st Century come to understand neurobiology of the brain better it becomes easier to understand the way a daimon can take over a person, a situation he refers to as daimonic possession. It is here in the space where behaviour meets biology that we realise that any practice can lead to an addiction to that practice. When a practice such as pornography leads to an ever increasing need for that very practice to satisfy the need it is itself creating;  It is then, when the balance among daimons is disrupted, that they should be considered “evil”.  A better description perhaps would be overwhelming.

Boeree says,”This idea is similar to Binswanger’s idea of themes, or Horney’s idea of coping strategies.”  However, May seems to be moving towards a theory of addicition, and perhaps obsession.    Any daimon such as eros is a good thing until it takes over the personality, until we become obsessed with it.  If you view this movie of Krishnamurti, you will hear him say that even an obsession for seeking knowledge  can become addictive in its related sense of avoidance.

Avoidance, Addicition and Will

Manageability seems to be one of May’s predominant themes and he is able to work with this material in his analysis of the times that spawned Gatsby.  Will can be thought of as the ability to organize oneself in order to achieve one’s goals. To talk this way brings May into line with behavioural cognitive therapy because he moves the idea of  WILL  towards behavioural strategies designed to strengthen the authentic ego through  reality-testing.

Gaps Analysis

If a person can realistically see where they are now and judge where they want to be while aligning strategies to get there in a manageable way – wishes can come true.  We know from neurolinguistic programming that the ability to envision, to wish and to dream is necessary for people to organise themselves to work hard enough in an organised manner so that they can obtain the objects of their desire.

Boeree has tentatively named some of May’s tacitly hypothesised  “personality types”.


All will, but no love. They have amazing self-discipline, and can “make things happen”.   This is the The archetypal example is Ebenezer Scrooge, who is perfectionistic, but empty and “dried-up.”


 This personality type is set up to become an addict.  The person is all wishes but no will and become all entangled in an unmanageable  approach to wish fulfilment. Homer Simpson exemplifies the muddle headed dreamer.


Remember that May claims that it requires courage to be creative.  Like Bourdieu he seeks structures which empower those who would live as an artist.  It is possible, he claims, to cultivate a balance of these two aspects of our personalities.  To do this men and women embark on a task is to “unite love and will.”

I am glad you have joined us once again as we outline the thought of those theorists upon which the book Global Citizens Creative Art Text has been built.  In this article we have looked at two difficulties would be creative face.   It is through structuring, structure’s, structure as Bourdieu would say that we can design active learning environments within which an approach to empowering creativity can emerge.


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