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Rollo May's Daimon

Rollo May’s ‘daimonic’ is a re-working of Jung’s idea of the ‘shadow’. It is an entire system of motives, different for each individual. May (1970) defines the daimonic as any natural function in the individual that has the power of taking over the whole person. The daimonic becomes evil when it is left unchecked and allowed to consume that whole self without regard to the integration of that self (May, 1969). When this occurs May considers it ‘daimonic possession’. Sex and Eros (Perspective on Love), anger and rage, and the craving for power are examples. This daimonic possession can be creative (one thinks of Van Gogh) and destructive (one thinks of Hitler). It is not possible to suppress the daimonic as it would only explode later. It is more about ‘taking possession’ of ones being rather than ‘being possessed’ (Sperber, 1975).
The daimon needs to be channelled and directed. It is here that the human consciousness is of great importance as to not leave it unchecked to consume the being. The daimonic is obviously not an entity it refers to and covers vital archetypal human experiences, May believed that anger and rage played a central role in psychotherapy. Diamond (1996) outlines an understanding of how to deal constructively with daimonic anger and rage in psychotherapy and more importantly how to channel them creatively.