Anxiety Rollo Mays Discovery of Being








Dr. Maurer
12/9/98
Anxiety: Rollo May\'s "Discovery of Being"

It seems as though every Sociologist creates his or her own definition of Anxiety. Each definition of Anxiety being ghastly different, however, tying back to three common situations: Fear, Encounters with primary groups, secondary groups, and the public, and Anxiety towards Self-Growth. In analyzing Rollo May\'s "The Discovery of Being," we find that May incorporates many different definitions of these situations from other Sociologists, as well as ties in many of his own thoughts and ideas. Also at times, May disregards strongly other Sociologist\'s views on these situations, creating an interesting and unique view of society and Psychology. In this analysis of "The Discovery of Being," we will examine May\'s particular definitions and thoughts on Anxiety and Being, Anxiety and Encounter, and Anxiety and Self-Growth.
Early in the book, May touches on his views of Anxiety, he discusses Anxiety as being something that does not arise from a fear of "lack of libidinal satisfactions or security," but rather out of fear of our own powers, and any pertaining conflicts. He discusses this as a present day problem, which has been significantly influenced by society and present societal goals. Libidinal satisfactions are so easily encountered in our day that it becomes hard to avoid them. The prevalent Anxiety is found upon self-reflection and our own realizations of what we actually can do, but for some reason neglect to do so. Our constant outlook to go further in society than our neighbor is tied to our Anxiety of Being and Non-Being.
May looks closely at the concept of Being, and notes at one point that "Being" is a participle, also meaning in the process of "being something." An individual\'s Being is constantly changing throughout life, never reaching a set point. More specifically, May defines Being as an individual\'s pattern of potentialities. Anxiety arises when these potentialities grow harder to obtain or hidden from clear view. In modern society, man no longer holds his Sense of Being, but is looked at as a mechanism for others to succeed or save time or enjoy their libidinal satisfactions. "A man knows himself not as a man or self, but as a token seller in the subway, a grocer, a professor, a vice-president of AT&T, or by whatever his economic function may be."
The point where Anxiety plays into Being is moreover in the state referred to as non-being. Non-being traditionally would be looked at as death, of which, even to this day, causes for much Anxiety. However, in today\'s society, non-being also refers to the state of not achieving or not meeting your potentialities. In light of this, people seek ways of avoiding any confrontation with non-being. "Perhaps the most ubiquitous and ever-present form of the failure to confront non-being in our day is in conformism, the tendency of the individual to be absorbed in the sea of collective responses and attitudes,…,with the corresponding loss of his own awareness, potentialities, and whatever characterizes him as a unique and original being."
The second Anxiety-plagued situation is that of Encounter with another individual. May sees encounters as a phenomenon where individuals take an extraordinary risk in forming trust bonds while determining the amount, if any, of self-disclosure the individual is willing to share. May includes several levels of encounters with which we deal with on a day-to-day basis. The first level is that of real persons, where our loneliness is subsided by interactions with nearly anyone. The second level is that of friends, of whom we trust and of whom listen and understand you. The third is esteem/agape in which you display an inner-concern for people\'s welfare. And the final level is simply erotic.
May describes Anxiety in Encounter as arising out of anticipation and an altering of our comfortable temporary security as we are opened to another individual. There is a brief moment when we must decide how to react and interact with this person, which generally clears the way for Anxiety as to how this person will in turn react to your responses. Anxiety about the self-image arises, as self-concept begins being questioned. May notes that it is not possible in an encounter for "one person to have a feeling without the other having