Power and Innocence

A Search for the Sources of Violence

Rollo May (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book

Stressing the positive, creative aspects of power and innocence, Rollo May offers a way of thinking about the problems of contemporary society.

Rollo May defines power as the ability to cause or prevent change; innocence, on the other hand, is the conscious divesting of one's power to make it seem a virtuea form of powerlessness that Dr. May sees as particularly American in nature. From these basic concepts he suggests a new ethic that sees power as the basis for both human goodness and evil.

Dr. May discusses five levels of power's potential in each of us: the infant's power to be; self-affirmation, the ability to survive with self-esteem; self-assertion, which develops when self-affirmation is blocked; aggression, a reaction to thwarted assertion; and, finally, violence, when reason and persuasion are ineffective.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • March 1998
  • ISBN 978-0-393-31703-9
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 288 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Sheds new light on the timely topic of violence.” — Library Journal

Also by Rollo May All

  1. Book CoverThe Courage to Create


  2. Book CoverThe Cry for Myth


  3. Book CoverThe Discovery of Being


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