My books

Life-Enhancing Anxiety: Key to a Sane World

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.

Supervision Essentials for Existential-Humanistic Therapy

This concise guide applies the principles of Existential-Humanistic therapy to the practice of clinical supervision. With the skillful use of case examples—including transcripts and analyses of real sessions with a real clinical trainee—the authors utilize the key ingredients of the E-H therapeutic approach, including empathy, acceptance, and genuineness, to model how trainees can create safe, collaborative, and supportive relationships with clients.

E-H supervisors help trainees learn to enter their clients’ self-constructed worlds, using their own personal contexts to develop responsiveness to clients, while also cultivating the “presence” that enables genuine encounters and real therapeutic change.

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The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy

An existential therapy handbook from those in the field, with its broad scope covering key texts, theories, practice, and research

The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy is a work representing the collaboration of existential psychotherapists, teachers, and researchers. It’s a book to guide readers in understanding human life better through the exploration of aspects and applications of existential therapy. The book presents the therapy as a way for clients to explore their experiences and make the most of their lives. Its contributors offer an accurate and in-depth view of the field. An introduction of existential therapy is provided, along with a summary of its historical foundations. Chapters are organized into sections that cover: daseinsanalysis; existential-phenomenonological, -humanistic, and -integrative therapies; and existential group therapy. International developments in theory, practice and research are also examined.

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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.

Advance Praise for The Spirituality of Awe

“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.

The Polarized Mind:Why It’s Killing Us and What We Can Do About It

What do a school shooter, a corporate swindler, and a bullheaded ideologue have in common? They all converge on what Dr. Kirk Schneider terms “the polarized mind.” The polarized mind, which is the fixation on one point of view to the utter exclusion of competing points of view, is killing us—and has been for millennia. Drawing from the standpoint of existential psychology, this book details the basis for the polarized mind, how it has ravaged leaders and their cultures throughout history (up to and including our own time), and steps we urgently need to take to address the problem. Combining contemporary insights with centuries of cross-cultural, awe-inspired wisdom, Schneider offers solutions to this worldwide problem.

Relevant Links

Why Are Humans Violent? The Psychological Reason We Hurt Each Other
The Peril Is Not Mental Illness but the Polarized Mind

Advance Praise for The Polarized Mind

“…one of the great reflections on humanity”
–Alfried Langle, MD, President of the International Society for Logotherapy and Existential Analysis.

“Enormously important…will be of great appeal…to educated readers about the perils of human life in the 21st century.”
–Robert Stolorow, Ph.D., Author of World, Affectivity, Trauma.

Awakening to Awe

Advance praise for the book:

“Awakening to Awe” is an intelligent and inspiring call to revive a sense of mystery. Kirk Schneider draws on the very best of psychological and spiritual thinkers and in plain language shows ways to re-invent this society spiritually. His ideas and style are perfectly suited to this all-important theme.”
– Thomas Moore, author of “Care of the Soul” and “Writing in the Sand

“Readers will truly enjoy and be uplifted by the journey with Schneider as they embrace this new positive lens…”
– Judy Kuriansky, Clinical Psychologist, Media Spokesperson; Adjunct Faculty, Columbia University.

“A key to a new kind of therapy…”
– Sam Keen, Author, Fire in the Belly

You have heard young people use the expression “awwwwesome”. They are glimpsing but not yet embracing awe. This is a book about a quiet yet emerging underground movement…the embrace of AWE.

When reading this book YOU will embark on a “great adventure” into “awwwwesomeness”, and will have a much deeper understanding of it by the end.

You will also find out reasons why you are in credit card debt, why our nation is in debt, why we coddle billionaires and glorify military superiority, and why we minimize healthcare and education for our children.

So would you want to go on this journey? Would you cherish every moment of the opportunity, and gather up all your strength to participate? And would you have any inclinations to devalue, exploit, or even kill yourself or others along the way? Or to trim, skim, or prettify the experience?

… Maybe, but it is unlikely.

And yet here we are, a couple of hundred thousand years of humanity, and still, as a whole, negligent of our great adventure – bathed in denial, snared by greed, and numbed by indifference … Why? What can we do about it? What ARE people doing about it? “Awakening to Awe” can show us; and in the process help us find our way back …

The Paradoxical Self

Why do so many of us develop extremist psychological patterns, from withdrawal to aggression, friendship to enmity? Why do people vicariously live out their extremes through the actions of others? What can we do to transform these extremes in order to live vital and creative lives? Drawing on the vast literature of existential psychology, Dr. Schneider develops what he calls the paradox principle, based on the assumptions that human experience spans a continuum from constriction to expansion.

The former is characterised by the capacity to yield and focus, the latter by the capacity to assert and incorporate. People become dysfunctional, polarised, or excessive, says Schneider, when they fear either of these capacities. After applying his model to a variety of dysfunctional syndromes, Schneider goes on to depict its relevance for psychological health.

He ties his model directly to subjects’ personal histories and shows its pertinence to creativity, physical health, religious and social organisations, child rearing, and psychology.

Horror and the Holy

Throughout history, human beings have been strangely fascinated by the monstrous and the macabre. In this study of the classic horror story, Dr Schneider explains the enormous attraction of these tales as a result of our thirst for the sacred, and identifies elements of the holy in familiar blood-curdling yarns. Schneider presents an outline and analysis of the underlying themes of “Dracula” (“A Study of Hyperconstriction”), “Frankenstein” (“A Study in Hyperexpansion”), “The Phantom of the Opera”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Invisible Man”, “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, “The Birds”, “Forbidden Planet”, “Vertigo”, and “Alien”. Horror appears when the mundane becomes unexpected and when the contained breaks free of its confining chains to become unlimited. Anything boundless tends to become terrifying, argues Schneider. “Ecstasy is a glimpse of the infinite; terror is full disclosure”. Sheer bliss, paradise, or Nirvana, therefore, always has the potential to turn into horror, as limits fall away and the boundless expanses of inifinity open up. A spiritual understanding of life can be reached through horror. Classic horror steers a path between fanaticism and despair – the path of wonderment. Horror teaches us that the human personality is paradoxical, that revulsion and disgust are the obverse of excitement and freedom, and that both poles are vital to individual, social and ecological well-being.

Psychology of Existence

A prestigious, original title co-authored by Rollo May, one of the best selling American fathers of existential psychology. This long awaited text in existential psychology presents a practical, integrative approach to the discipline especially for the training clinician. Three broad dimensions are emphasized: its literary, philosophical, and psychological heritage, its recent and future trends, and its therapeutic applications.

The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology

Inspired by James F. T. Bugental’s classic, Challenges of Humanistic Psychology (1967), The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology represents the latest scholarship in the resurgent field of humanistic psychology and psychotherapy. Set against trends toward psychological standardization and medicalization, the Handbook provides a rich tapestry of reflection by the leading person-centered scholars of our time. The range in topics is far-reaching-from the historical, theoretical, and methodological, to the spiritual, psychotherapeutic, and multicultural. Psychology is poised for a renaissance, and this Handbook will play a critical role in that transformation. As increasing numbers of students and professionals rebel against mechanizing trends, they are looking for the fuller, deeper, and more personal psychological orientation that this book promotes.

Rediscovery of Awe

“…Schneider’s personal synthesis [Rediscovery of Awe] is at the same time an address and challenge not only to every psychologist but also to every thoughtful person in the field of helping, healing, education, and social betterment. It is impossible to overestimate its significance.”
–From the Foreword by Maurice Friedman, Buber scholar and Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University

Rediscovery of Awe offers a potential bridge between two ostensible adversaries today: science and religion (also conceived as relativism vs. absolutism, atheism vs. theism, and postmodernity vs. fundamentalism).

At its core, Rediscovery of Awe is a practical, psychological translation of an emerging spiritual transformation—a humanistic spirituality. It presents a provocative, and revolutionary, vision. The aim of the book is to revive a sense of awe—the humility and wonder, thrill and anxiety, splendor and mystery of living—in self, society, and spirit. It is an attempt to revive the capacity to be moved. Rediscovery of Awe promotes a new relation to life, and illustrates this relation over a broad range: from child-raising to education to the workplace, and from religion to politics and ethics. Set against our awe-deprived times, in which we tend to favor either a high tech, consumerist mentality or, contrastingly, a dogmatic, fundamentalist orientation, it presents a dynamic and rejuvenating alternative.

Written in an engaging yet scholarly manner, Rediscovery of Awe is different from inspirational books in that it aims at revolutionizing, not just our individual lives, but the institutions that shape and inform them. It is a hard-hitting critique, but also a challenge to the very purpose of our contemporary lives, a purpose that begs to be nurtured and explored.

At this time, two dominant worldviews—nihilistic relativism and dogmatic fundamentalism—threaten to tear our world asunder, Rediscovery of Awe offers a restorative alternative. It weds faith to doubt, and the depth and pathos of religiosity to the openness and discernment of science. The starting point of consciousness is awe. We humans first experience the world as overwhelming. From the moment we are first aware, we are aware of our meagerness. From the moment we reflect on the world, we sense how hopeless, helpless, and vulnerable we are. And yet, close on the heels of this despair is a riveting sense of possibility… We are thrilled, enthralled, and exalted by our condition as much as it overpowers us. There are many problems with conventional maxims of balance. The conventional center is dull and static whereas the proposal of this book is a ‘fluid’ center wherein the possibility for a poignant and passionate life becomes attainable.

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Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy

Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy promises to be a landmark in the fields of psychotherapeutic theory and practice. A comprehensive revision of its predecessor, The Psychology of Existence, co-edited by Kirk Schneider and Rollo May, Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy combines clear and updated guidelines for practice with vivid and timely case vignettes. These vignettes feature the very latest in both mainstream and existential therapeutic integrative application, by the top innovators in the field. The book highlights several notable dimensions: a novel and comprehensive theory of integrative existential practice; a premium on mainstream integrations of existential theory as well as existential-humanistic integrations of mainstream theory; a focus on integrative mainstream as well as existential-humanistic practitioners, students, and theorists; a discussion of short-term and cognitive-behavioral existential-integrative strategies; a focus on ethnic and diagnostic diversity, from case studies of multicultural populations to vignettes on gender, sexuality, and power, and from contributions to the treatment of alcoholism to those elucidating religiosity, psychoses, and intersubjectivity.

A new course of training in Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy-See the Program Catalogue of the Living Institute’s Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy Diploma.

Existential-Humanistic Therapy

In Existential–Humanistic Therapy, Kirk J. Schneider and Orah T. Krug discuss the history, theory, and practice of this distinctly American expression of existential therapy. Existential–humanistic therapy welds the European existential philosophical heritage of self-inquiry, struggle, and responsibility with the American tradition of spontaneity, optimism, and practicality.

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