2022 Candidate for President of the American Psychological Association

Newest Book: Life-Enhancing Anxiety: Key to a Sane World

From the Introduction: “Life-Enhancing Anxiety makes a bold proposal: It is not less anxiety that we need today, but more, at least of a certain kind.
It seems counterintuitive. Anxiety is going through the roof in our time, and yet this book advances the notion that there is not enough anxiety- at least of a certain kind. People are laboring in the thousands, maybe millions, with anxiety disorders. There is a war going on in Ukraine, authoritarianism is on the rise, and climatic disaster is upon us. These crises are driven by as well as perpetrating anxiety; and yet this volume raises the prospect that the crises are the result of avoidance of a certain type of anxiety. Kirk Schneider calls this life-enhancing anxiety. Life-enhancing anxiety is the anxiety we must face to prevent life-destroying anxiety. It is challenging and requires pluck. But it also may just save us from the disastrous path with which we now contend.”

Advance Praise for Life-Enhancing Anxiety:

“Life-Enhancing Anxiety challenges us to rethink our understanding of anxiety as something to be avoided or managed at all costs. Instead, Schneider urges us to consider the many ways this basic human emotion can help us grow, more fully engage with existence, and transform ourselves in ways that lead to more fulfilling lives.”

-Dr. Tom Pyszczynski, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA

“This fascinating book … helps readers find ways to survive and flourish in our stressful world… [It is a] provocative, brilliant, and paradoxically comforting book [that] belongs in the library of anyone who cares about the fate of humanity.”

-Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D., ABPP, Distinguished Affiliate Faculty, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, author of Psychoanalytic

Diagnosis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy”For humanity to thrive in our next chapter on Earth, we need this brilliant book to open a new door to embracing (and engaging with) Life-Enhancing Anxiety.”

-Michael Amster, MD, coauthor of The Power of Awe and researcher at the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center

“Life-Enhancing Anxiety is a breath of fresh air. He [Schneider] invites us to reconsider the existential roots of anxiety as a powerful mobilizer and not a paralyzer. The wisdom shared in this book finally, should be enlightening for fellow mental health practitioners and their clients, community educators and students.”

-Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh, Co-Founder of Relationship Panoramic Inc. and Senior Advisor to the United Nations.




Now Available for Purchase. Visit University Professors Press for more information: https://universityprofessorspress.com/product/the-depolarizing-of-america/

Description of the Book:


In the wake of the coronavirus and George Floyd killing many of the issues dividing us as a nation–politics, race, class, gender, climate change, globalism, and religion have only been magnified and although the U.S. Surgeon general has called for an end to bickering and partisanship, it is unclear to what extent this will take effect. What is clear however is that safe, mindfully structured dialogues are imperative if we are to salvage our republic and the democratic principles on which it is built.

The Depolarizing of America is the culmination of years of effort to promote safe, mindfully structured dialogues in homes, offices, classrooms and community centers. It is an attempt to “give away” the time-tested skills with which the author, Kirk Schneider, has intimate experience, to a range of both laypersons and professionals; people who yearn to socially heal. The book begins with some personal observations about our polarized state, both within the United States (and by implication) the world. It follows up with a reflection on how the sense of awe toward life-issuing in part from America’s founding spirit–can serve as a counter to this polarized state. And it concludes with practical strategies centered on dialogue. These strategies translate awe-based sensibilities-humility and wonder toward life-to a rediscovery of one another, a rediscovery of our potential to shape and revitalize our times.

Advance Praise for The Depolarizing of America:

“With The Depolarizing of America, Kirk Schneider has created a remarkable process for helping to rebuild our democracy one relationship at a time, from the level of ordinary citizens to that of public leaders. The ‘Experiential Democracy Dialogue’ is a gift to a nation that badly needs healing.”

–William J. Doherty, Ph.D., is a professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and co-founder of Braver Angels.

“Once again, Kirk Schneider has challenged us to claim our humanity or ignite our own self-imposed psychological and physical demise. It is extremely important to note that in the face of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, much of the United States has become more explicitly polarized. We debate our patriotism based on what states remain shelter in-home versus those who are re-opening for business. We condemn those African Americans and other communities of color who do not adhere to CDC guidelines as being responsible for the disproportionate prevalence of deaths; completely ignoring the pre-existing/persistent socio-economic-political contexts and health care disparities that would clearly predict such an outcome. We have leadership that waxes and wanes almost on a daily basis and outwardly projects onto others for his short-comings; fueling the us versus them spirit. The Depolarizing of America: A Guidebook for Social Healing provides relevant historical contexts that spawned much of the divisiveness of today, as well as a blueprint for optimal engagement in bridging those differences. I applaud Schneider’s clarity in centering the “fear” that divides us. I am reminded of the insightful quote from the character, ‘Fear,’ from Pixar’s moving 2015 film, Inside/Outside. “Alright, we did not die today! I’d call that an unqualified success.” However, should we not expect more in determining the “success” of humanity? Should we be so bold as to determine that the success of humanity is not just living yet how we live? Schneider’s timely work contributes to our capacity to raise up other emotions and ways of being that are necessary to balance “fear” in promoting civility and collective sanity. I, for one, am counting on the complex-simplicity of the experiential democracy dialogues that Schneider is inviting us to engage in for the sake of humanity; to do otherwise is a frightening thought!”

–Theopia Jackson, Ph.D., Chair, Clinical Psychology Program, Saybrook University; President, Association of Black Psychologists

“Kirk Schneider succinctly describes healthy communication processes that effectively diffuse polarizing differences while inspiring intellectual curiosity, empathy, compassion, and hope for a better tomorrow. Through structured, safe, and mindful communication formats, readers will discover how participants can unpack differences, focus on commonalities, and relinquish fear and anger associated with personal and group stereotypes, identity politics, myths, and other important issues. This book lays out a cogent vision of virtuous dialogue possibilities that could be broadly used within divisive political processes, schools, religious settings, and other institutions, as well as a means to bridge the divides with historically marginalized communities. The author provides relevant examples, including one involving a police officer that provides a future framework for law enforcement agencies to participate with their most vocal critics. The Depolarizing of America plants the seeds to break down many of the differences separating people today.”

–Jason Jones, police professional and criminal justice educator based in Portland, Oregon.

“Kirk Schneider’s “Guidebook for Social Healing” provides a valuable tool in our quest to depolarize America, starting with ourselves. As someone who practices what he preaches by leading depolarization workshops, Dr Schneider is able to insightfully share with readers his awe-inspired approach to depolarization. During Braver Angels events, I have witnessed the way Dr. Schneider brings people together in the spirit of curiosity, and — as a member of Braver Angels — I hope to emulate his approach. His book is a great resource for doing that!”

–Ruth Littmann Ashkenazi, Member of Braver Angels

The Depolarizing of America offers a much-needed bridge to heal the many divides we see in the world today through a novel awe-based approach. Kirk Schneider is one of my favorite existential-humanistic psychologists, and when he offers spiritual and humanitarian guidance, I listen.”

–Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., author of Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, host of The Psychology Podcast.

“Drawing on his life’s work in healing divisions in the soul through awe-based therapy, Kirk Schneider offers crisp, practical guidelines for anyone who wants to use awe-based dialogue to bind the divisions polarizing our families, communities and politics. This gem of a book will help us learn how to heal our social wounds, and revitalize our collective soul.”

–Robert Kramer, PhD, author of The Birth of Relationship Therapy: Carl Rogers Meets Otto Rank, organizational consultant, visiting professor of social psychology at Corvinus University of Budapest


The Spirituality of Awe – Challenges to the Robotic Revolution

The robotic revolution is here and there’s no going back. From the way we raise our children, to our work settings, to our governments, and even our wars, the “quick fix-instant result” society is roiling our world. Yet what is lost in this delirium is depth, the awesomeness, not just of our machines, but of our flesh, our capacity to feel, and our capacity to dwell in the miracle of the unknown. This book dwells in the miracle of the unknown. It is an intimate trek into the evolving spirituality of awe–the humility and wonder; sense of adventure toward life. Can we preserve awe–the arguable “heart” of humanity–in spite of and even in light of our technologies? Or will we devolve into mechanically driven puppets, numb to our possibilities, blind to our servitude? There is no more critical problem for our age.


See my podcast on The Spirituality of Awe as well as feature article at Aeon called The Awe of Being Alive

Advance Praise for The Spirituality of Awe

“Schneider has produced a…work of passion, insight, advocacy, and public vision on perhaps the most important social topic of our time.”
—Dan Leichty, J. of Sociology & Social Welfare

“I am personally inspired by Schneider’s ethical approach to…maintaining one’s human heritage in the new society”
–Robert Firestone, Ph.D., author of Overcoming the Destructive Inner Voice.

“Create(s) a new vision of where we are heading and how we may change direction before it’s too late. Fascinating and essential reading…”
–Emmy van Duerzen, Ph.D., Principle, New School for Psychotherapy and Counseling, author of Existential Psychotherapy and Counseling in Practice.

“…a beautiful and important work.”
–Pninit Russo Netzer, Ph.D., Researcher and Lecturer, University of Haifa; co-editor of Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology.

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About Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D.

KIRK J. SCHNEIDER, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary existential-humanistic psychology. Dr. Schneider is past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, adjunct faculty at Saybrook University and Teachers College, Columbia University, and president of the Existential-Humanistic Institute (EHI), He is also a Fellow of Five APA Divisions (Humanistic, Clinical, Psychotherapy, Independent Practice, Philosophical and Theoretical) as well as a frequent speaker at conferences and in the media. He has authored or coauthored twelve books, including *The Paradoxical Self, Horror and the Holy, Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy, and Awakening to Awe*.


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