Rollo Reese May (1909–1994) was an American existential psychologist and author of the influential book Love and Will (1969). He is often associated with humanistic psychology, existentialist philosophy and, alongside Viktor Frankl, was a major proponent of existential psychotherapy. The philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich was a close friend who had a significant influence on his work.
As well as Love and Will, May's works also include The Meaning of Anxiety (1950, revised 1977) and, titled in honor of Tillich's The Courage to Be, The Courage to Create (1975).
May was born in Ada, Ohio, on April 21, 1909. He experienced a difficult childhood when his parents divorced and his sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was the first son of a family with six children. His mother often left the children to care for themselves, and with his sister suffering from schizophrenia, he bore a great deal of responsibility. His educational career took him to Michigan State University, where he pursued a major in English, but he was expelled due to his involvement in a radical student magazine. After being asked to leave, he attended Oberlin College and received a bachelor's degree in English. He later spent three years teaching in Greece at Anatolia College. During this time, he studied with doctor and psychotherapist Alfred Adler, with whom his later work also shares theoretical similarities. He became ordained as a minister shortly after coming back to the United States, but left the ministry after several years to pursue a degree in psychology. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1942 and spent 18 months in a sanatorium. He later attended Union Theological Seminary for a BD during 1938, and finally to Teachers College, Columbia University for a PhD in clinical psychology in 1949. May was a founder and faculty member of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in San Francisco.
He spent the final years of his life in Tiburon on San Francisco Bay. A victim of declining health, May died due to congestive heart failure at the age of 85.He was attended in the end by his wife, Georgia, and friends.