The Dark Night of the Soul
A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth
By Gerald G. May
(HarperOne, Paperback, 9780060750558, 224pp.)
Publication Date: February 2005
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Now in paperback: 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 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.
Gerald G. May, M.D. (1940-2005), practiced medicine and psychiatry for twenty-five years before becoming a senior fellow in contemplative theology and psychology at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, Maryland. He was the author of many books and articles blending spirituality and psychology, including Addiction and Grace, Care of Mind/Care of Spirit, Will and Spirit, and The Dark Night of the Soul.
“May’s book uses the same title in an attempt to both clarify and amplify St. John of the Cross’s original work, and to place it in a modern setting.... A vivid picture of a young man with a deep love for God and brilliant intellect.”