- By Gerald G. May

The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth

  • Title: The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth
  • Author: Gerald G. May
  • ISBN: 9780060750558
  • Page: 263
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Dark Night of the Soul A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth A distinguished psychiatrist spiritual counsellor and bestselling author shows how the dark sides of the spiritual life are a vital ingredient in deep authentic healthy spirituality Gerald G May M

    A distinguished psychiatrist, spiritual counsellor and bestselling author shows how the dark sides of the spiritual life are a vital ingredient in deep, authentic, healthy spirituality Gerald G May, MD, one of the great spiritual teachers and writers of our time, argues that the dark shadow side of the true spiritual life has been trivialised and neglected to our seriA distinguished psychiatrist, spiritual counsellor and bestselling author shows how the dark sides of the spiritual life are a vital ingredient in deep, authentic, healthy spirituality Gerald G May, MD, one of the great spiritual teachers and writers of our time, argues that the dark shadow side of the true spiritual life has been trivialised and neglected to our serious detriment Superficial and naively upbeat spirituality does not heal and enrich the soul Nor does the other tendency to relegate deep spiritual growth to only mystics and saints Only the honest, sometimes difficult encounters with what Christian spirituality has called and described in helpful detail as the dark night of the soul can lead to true spiritual wholeness May emphasises that the dark night is not necessarily a time of suffering and near despair, but a time of deep transition, a search for new orientation when things are clouded and full of mystery The dark gives depth, dimension and fullness to the spiritual life.

    1 thought on “The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth

    1. The writings of St. John and St. Theresa can be hard to digest for two reasons. Their writings are hundreds of years old and in Spanish. They were poets and saints, so their wording is not easily translated into English while maintaining it's original nuances and mystical meaning. What Dr. May does is break down the basic map of their spiritual journeys without getting hung up on debatable meanings. He explores St. Theresa's Interior Castle and compares it to St. John's Dark Night of the Soul. H [...]

    2. The Practice of the Presence of GodRecommended by my friend, Carmen, I am reading it now in preparation for our study of John of the Cross. Interestingly, today, February 27th, came across a reference to Brother Lawrence and his treatise, The Practice of the Presence of God where he says, "People would be surprised if they knew what their souls said to God sometimes." Showed the consistency among Brother Lawrence, Teresa and John. Chapter 3, the one I am reading now, is called, A Deeper Longing, [...]

    3. I'm a dark night of the soul junkie, if there is such a thing--I have more books on the dark night than King Arthur stories, if you can believe that! But this treasure by Gerald May, subtitled A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection between Darkness and Spiritual Growth, is far and away the best I've ever read. I've spent the morning rereading and copying out passages, and my heart is fluttering with excitement. I so admire how May has studied both the lives and writings of Teresa of Avila and St [...]

    4. As a spiritual director, I found ‘The Dark Night of the Soul,’ by Psychiatrist Gerald G. May, M.D. incredibly helpful for the work of discernment between spiritual, philosophical, and scientific psychology. I wish I could give it more than five stars!The author beautifully weaves St. John of The Cross’s ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ to St. Teresa of Avila’s ‘Interior Castle,’ and shows the reader how these two saints “demonstrate an understanding of human psychology that seems uncan [...]

    5. I read this thinking it was going to give me some insight about how depression can link us closer to our soul but found there was MUCH MORE to this book. My brief synopsis is that Gerald May (basing on John of the Cross and Teresa of Aliva 16th century writing) provides insights into how we can find God in our selves. This is incredibly thought provoking and I know I will buy this book and add it to my library and read it many more times.

    6. Two books considered to be among the top Christian books of all time, include Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross and Interior Castles by St. Teresa of Avila, both Christian mystics from the 16th century. I have read the latter and have long had the former on my “to read” list. This book by Gerald May makes more accessible for contemporary readers the timeless truths discovered by these ancient lovers of God. This book has been on my shelf for a couple of years. I was waiting to [...]

    7. I picked this book up over 3 years ago and started it then. At the time it was interesting but I wasn't ready for it. A week ago I picked it up again. Some books we are really receptive to them only in certain stages or circumstances of our lives.I found it challenging and it gave a counter reading of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila suggesting that we should not see their writings about the spiritual journey in linear sequential terms. What was most convicting was the closing section which [...]

    8. Reflecting on the writings of Sts. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, Dr. May offers a detailed look at the purpose and meaning of the dark night of the soul. It is a sensitive and positive look at this oft-misunderstood moment of spiritual growth, with insights from the fields of modern psychiatry and psychology. I appreciated that he approached the topic with a large dose of necessary humility, more as a guide than an instructor.

    9. I highly recommend Dr. May's book to those who wish to understand what God may be doing in their lives that doesn't seem to make sense and may even be painful to endure.I tried to read the original "Dark Night of the Soul" by the 16th-century Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic, Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591) at least three times. I always get bogged down in the Mediaeval Catholic theology which, for me, doesn't reflect the Jesus of the New Covenant.Dr. May helped me understand, what I n [...]

    10. I have enjoyed reading the works of Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross in the past few years, so when I saw this book I was excited to read it. May is a psychologist and analyzes the work of John and Theresa from a contemporary psychological perspective. He shows that these spiritual writers from long ago are not just engaging in esoteric mumbo-jumbo but are actually deeply in touch with the human condition. I highly recommend this book. If you have wanted to read some of those medieval myst [...]

    11. Gerald May offers an easy-to-follow overview of the lives and major spiritual contributions of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Perfect primer for anyone interested in who these two were and how their insights are relevant for today. May also offers his own insights as a psychologist, psychiatrist, spiritual director, and fellow struggler on the path. One idea in particular that has helped me is May's insistence that the 'dark night of the soul' is not a one-time experience, but rather a w [...]

    12. Reading "The Dark Night of the Soul" has been a profound, thought-provoking experience. Author May shows us the opportunity to seek spiritual growth not only during times of deep suffering, but also during times of vague or obscure discomfort--important but quiet moments that are easily overlooked in our hectic, cluttered lives. He does this using his own enlightening interpretations of the work of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross that make these saints more accessible and relevant to our m [...]

    13. This book is a good companion and explanation to the classic spiritual work by St. John of the Cross by the same name. Gerald speaks as a cancer survivor, a psychiatrist and a spiritual guide (in that order) to elucidate the meaning of John's sometimes difficult concepts. He also brings in the insights of John's spiritual companion Theresa of Avila. An excellent resource for anyone seeking to understand this fundamental and important spiritual concept. There are many insights I take from this bo [...]

    14. This was not the book I was expecting, but I think it was actually better. I am not usually big on Carmelites or contemplative prayer. They confuse me. This book made sense. It helped apply concrete terms and organization to something I thought was much more ambiguous, difficult to grasp, and vaguely New Age-sounding but not actually New Age. I hope to be able to revisit this book in the future and take a deeper dive. Then maybe I can move on to Teresa and John's original writing, and in Spanish [...]

    15. Gerald May is one of my favorite contemporary authors on spirituality, and this book is no exception. He tackles the hard spiritual topic of the dark night of the soul from his perspective, and gives excellent explanations for current day. For anyone seeking to understand this concept, who thinks they might be experiencing a spiritual dark night, read this book!

    16. I'm going to keep this little book handy for when I'm feeling steamrolled by powerful people. For such a long time, I believed that I was wrong to see a different reality. Dr. May seems to think that I'm a lot more credible than the mainstream accepts. (So, call me an artist, and everybody's happy.)

    17. Very clear--deceptively simple--but far from simplistic this really suggests that the dark night is 1) a gift and 2) the fundamental stage of the spiritual way,

    18. I'm newly open to re-exploring lots of spiritual questions and this book, bare minimum, would be of service to anyone looking to do the same general thing. It didn't send me to the heights of religious ecstasy or anything, but May does a good job simplifying the work of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross plus explaining its lasting vitality for we of the 20th-21st centuries. I've always been intrigued by Catholic/Christian mysticism and this whet my appetite to study the subject even more. Wh [...]

    19. I have grown to appreciate the work of many of the great mystics and spiritual writers of the Church, with John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila being two of my favorites. This book is an analysis and commentary on their works from the perspective of a psychologist. The best thing about this book is to see how these spiritual writings from centuries ago resonate with contemporary psychology. In other words, Theresa and John did not just explore the depths of the human condition, but hit on much [...]

    20. I found this an interesting read discussing the spiritual importance of what is often described as darkness. May's mixes theology and psychology in a resonate and captivating voice. I personally deeply appreciated his work around faith, hope and love.

    21. Dark Night of the Soul is a complex mystical journey. Dr Gerald May had done an excellent job in putting this dark journey into understandable easy to read writing. It helped me a go through this dark uneasy journey by satisfying my conscious mind.

    22. I'm disappointed in this book. It promised to be interesting. It argues that the Dark Night of the soul will stay with us as part of our spiritual development. The wounding and the confusion are part of God's plan, which should be embraced rather than fought. Other than the lives of saints I would have liked to read what is transformative about depression and spiritual growth drawing on psychiatric experience.Tedious and repetitive in places.

    23. This was a deep dive into Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Gerald May discussed the writings of both then looked at how their spiritual insights are still true today-400 years later.I learned quite a bit from this book and recommend it highly.

    24. Over the last two months, I have read several works that have referenced the Dark Night of the Soul and given insights into it. May's book is the first that I have read which concentrates on the topic for the whole book. May has done extensive research into John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila, the two earliest writers who reference and write extensively about the dark night of the soul.Simply put, the dark night is a time in which one feels as if God has left (or even abandoned) a person. In [...]

    25. This is one of the best books I have ever read on a spiritual topic. Dr. May introduces us to two 16th century Spaniards who tend to scare me because I think how serious they must be, how humorless, how detached, how profound, how totally beyond me, how weird. These are Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Both were Carmelites - that is, members of one of the most cloistered and strict monastic orders. Both were mystics. John devised the scary term "dark night of the soul".Well, Dr. May reveal [...]

    26. One of the marks of a good writer is that he or she can mine new treasures in the writings of another by putting old ideas in a new light, making them all appear fresh, crisp, and in a wonderful way, a genuine new discovery of something that is in fact centuries old. Gerald May, a renowned psychiatrist, Methodist and spiritual writer, brings a breath of fresh air to the concept of the Dark Night of the Soul as popularized in the spiritual theology of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila [...]

    27. This is a great overview of one perspective on the relationship between the 'dark night' and contemplative practice. It dismisses the traditional notion that the 'dark night' necessarily connotes a period of great doubt, despair, suffering, and spiritual isolation, and instead, perhaps without sufficient argument to establish or indeed fully outline its claim, describes the 'dark night' as a constant process attendant upon the spiritual life of all people, operating largely in the subterranean c [...]

    28. Despite the depressing-sounding title, this book is more about the nature of mystery. "Dark night of the soul" is a term that, in its popularization, has lost the original meaning that St. John of the Cross had intended: our ongoing relationship with the Divine. I really like what May says about mystery, that we tend to think of it as something that exists in order to be solved. He suggests that the spiritual journey involves becoming increasingly comfortable with mystery, allowing ourselves to [...]

    29. It took me over three years to finish this book. I read about a third of it at first, but it was too much for me at the time. There was too many painful things happening for me to read a book that might explain why part of the pain was happening. Two weeks ago, I saw it on the shelf and it said, "Now." The author takes the works of St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila - a monk and a nun who lived in the 1500s who influenced each other - and explains their thoughts on when we go through dark [...]

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