Gerald G. May: Mental Health and Contemplation

A reader writes:

Got a question for you. I’ve recently been promoted to a new job at the hospital where I work, and I’m in a position now where I can do some book or journal reviews for health providers nationwide. I’d like to do something in the area of spirituality and mental health, and was wondering if you might have any recommendations. We are working with people who have serious mental illness, and are in a unique position to offer hope to others.

What about the writings of Gerald G. May: Addiction & Grace: Love & Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions, Care of Mind Care of Spirit: A Psychiatrist Explores Spiritual Direction or Simply Sane: The Spirituality of Mental Health? He was a psychiatrist (Rollo May’s younger brother, actually) and also a Christian contemplative. He passed away a few years back but I think his work is still relevant. May was a leader of the Shalem Institute, an ecumenical Christian spirituality center located in Maryland just outside of Washington, DC. I love his work and it might be nice to review it. There are other wonderful book of his, too, notably Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology – but the first three are the ones I think are most germane to mental health professionals.

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About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • Kristen

    I wondered why that name sounded familiar. I read excerpts from Will and Spirit in in a course back in college. I remember liking it a lot. :)

  • Bob

    May has two new books one about the “Dark night of the Soul” and another about his reflections on his camping trips.

  • Pat Pavetto

    I studied under Gerald May at the Shalem Institue and presently our Centering Prayer group is reading Dark Night of the Soul. Gerald May had a way of bring down to an understandalble level many difficult readings of John of the Cross and Theresa of Avilia. I had no idea until now he was the brother of Rollo May. I just know he wanted to get to a deeper level with the psyche and wandered into the Shalem Institue. Shalem stands for wholeness. There is a website I was fortunate to study under him and some of the founding members. So much of what is happening in
    todays quest for self is both/ a spiritual and psychological search. I received a certificate in Spiritual Guidance with the Contemplative Christian tradition but the skills to explore and be anamchara with others whatever their preference. Today I wandered on to this site for the first time as I searched for more info on John O’Dona-hue who I consider one of my companions on the journey. Blessings to all. Pat

  • judith collier

    I believe fear is the biggest factor in mental illness. Fear of one’s own mind,fear of punishment,fear ofthe improper response,fear of others,fear,fear,fear. I know of what I speak. Been to the pits of hell, been to the darkness of the mind, been there and came back from illusions, delusions and fear so raw you you could taste it,smell it,and breathe it. judy

  • http://google linda

    I worked briefly, with D. May at Spring Grove Hospital Center in 1979. He as such a good ol’ soul. I had no idea he was so influential. It seems that he emphasizes spirituality in his treatment of mental illness. I am longing to read The Dark Night…… etc.

  • James Beglin

    May I also recommend the works of Twerski -coming from a very different perspective, but also focusing on the spiritual dimension with regards to mental health. I find his material to be contemporary and relevant.