KIRK J. SCHNEIDER, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary existential-humanistic psychology. Dr. Schneider is past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, adjunct faculty at Saybrook University and Teachers College, Columbia University, and President of the Existential-Humanistic Institute (EHI), He is also a Fellow of three divisions of the American Psychological Association (Humanistic, Clinical, and Independent Practice) as well as a frequent speaker at conferences and in the media. He has authored or coauthored ten books, including *The Paradoxical Self, Horror and the Holy, Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy, and Awakening to Awe*.
What do I do best?
This is of course a very difficult question for someone (like me!) who resists reductionism, but if I had to choose I’d say “engagement.” By engagement I mean that I do my best to plunge in to the priorities in my life--which are family, philosophical and psychological inquiry, writing, teaching, and psychotherapy. Another word for this is “presence.” I continually try to be as focused, involved, absorbed and steadfast in my engagement with priorities because I know all too well how passing everything is, and what a gift it is to really live that which one prizes in life. I have been taught this through great mentors in my life, including my parents and great psychologist-philosophers such as James Bugental, Rollo May, and Stanley Krippner, but also through some major losses in my life--including my father and brother at early ages. I suppose this is where part of my drive to write 12 books and many articles has come from; and to play at times as hard as I work. When I’m engaged, I want to really taste life, to squeeze every drop out of it--it’s so amazing and mysterious.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Living my values of love, passion for inquiry and creation, engagement with my son and wife, sharing experiences with friends and family, contributing in the best way I know how to the well being of my fellow humans and our planet. My “best version” is my most present version, and my most present version is the one that connects me to the “more” of living and being. This is also often my strongest motivation.
What are my aspirations?
To foster full and deep living, to re-vision psychology so that it becomes the discovery-based, mystery-based, humanitarian quest that its forebears, such as Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, James, Tillich, Buber, May and Becker envisioned. This is what I call “awe-based” psychology, which stresses humility and wonder and a sense of adventure toward living both in its method and practices. See http://amzn.to/2plZte2 and http://amzn.to/2BScgxm
My Biggest Success?
Again this is far too reductionistic because I see my successes with relationships for example (where they have succeeded) on a par with my successes in my profession and in the world. Who can really judge whether one is “biggest?” Certainly I’m not in that position ultimately--only time and those affected can really discern this. That said, I view success as a descriptor of life maximally lived, with keen awareness of pain and trial, but also and equally, of joy and engagement
My Most Challenging Moment?
Again, these are many but the deaths of my brother and father at early ages, as well as major struggles with anxiety during part of my graduate school years rank up there. The decision to enter into depth psychotherapy (in both cases) had profound and lasting effects until this day, and I’m sure beyond. That decision is also largely what spurred me to be such an advocate for depth therapy and psychology generally, both for individuals and society at large. I strongly believe in the power of one-on-one, personal dialogue and encounter as a key to salvaging our humanity. I’ve discussed this in terms of what I call the “Experiential Democracy Project” and dialogue. See https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/experiential-democracy-project-an-i-thou-dialogue-on-racism-and-policing/
I don’t have a motto exactly but I do believe in staying in tune with the bigger picture of living--this is key to lifting us beyond the usual pettiness and self-judgment that so often crushes our spirit.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I referred to them before--great writers, artists, and philosophers who were also actively engaged in helping us to create a more humane, habitable planet. These are people whom I would also term “awe-based” in their approach to life--humble, deeply appreciative, and fascinated by the adventure of life. The rest follows from there.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
I have had the great fortune to travel to many and varied parts of the world and I find each one terrifically compelling, if only to spend a few precious days there.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Physical books and implements for writing. I also enjoy a good toss of the football.
My Current Passions?
Seeing therapy clients, writing, teaching, collaborating on projects, such as the Experiential Democracy Dialogue, awe-based education and governance, and the Existential-Humanistic Institute that may help move us to a more humane and enriching world.