Horror and the Holy: Wisdom-teachings of the Monster Tale

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Open Court Publishing, 1993 - Literary Criticism - 150 pages
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Throughout history, human beings have been strangely fascinated by the monstrous and the macabre. In Horror and the Holy, a study of the classic horror story, Kirk Schneider explains the compelling power of such tales as a result of our thirst for the sacred, and identifies elements of the holy in familiar blood-curdling yarns.
True horror arises when the mundane becomes unexpected and when the contained breaks free of its confining chains to become unlimited. Anything boundless tends to become terrifying, argues Schneider. It is infinitude, which draws us to the unsavory, infinitude that lurks behind dread. Sheer bliss, paradise, or Nirvana therefore always has the potential to turn into horror, as limits fall away and the boundless expanses of infinity open up. While ecstasy is a glimpse of the infinite, terror is full disclosure.
Drawing upon a detailed and telling analysis of eleven well-known horror stories, Dr. Schneider finds that a spiritual understanding of life can be attained through horror. Classic horror steers a middle path between fanaticism and despair: the path of wonderment. Horror teaches us that human personality is paradoxical; that revulsion and disgust are the obverse of excitement and freedom, and that both poles are vital to individual, social, and ecological well-being.

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About the author (1993)

Kirk J. Schneider, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary existential-humanistic psychology. He is an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University, Teachers College, Columbia University, and the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, vice president and founding member of the Existential-Humanistic Institute, and the recent past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Dr. Schneider has published more than one hundred articles and chapters and has authored or edited ten books seven of which have been, or are soon to be, translated into Chinese. Schneider has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Rollo May Award for outstanding and independent pursuit of new frontiers in humanistic psychology from the American Psychological Association, and the Cultural Innovator award from the Living Institute, Toronto, Canada. He was also awarded an honorary diploma by the East European Association of Existential Therapy. In 2010, Schneider delivered the opening keynote address at the first International Existential Psychology Conference in Nanjing, China and is slated as keynote speaker for the first World Congress of Existential Psychotherapy in London, United Kingdom, in 2015.

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