VIDEO: Dr. Kirk Schneider – Awakening to Awe, A Personal Journey

Watch an excerpt from PsychAlive’s exclusive interview with Dr. Kirk Schneider.

Dr. Kirk Schneider talks about the power of awe.

Dr. Kirk Schneider – Awakening to Awe, A Personal Journey.

LF: What made you become interested in exploring the theme of awe in documenting people’s experiences? What inspired you to begin looking into awe?

KS: Well, I think it really started in my childhood, actually. I mean, awe doesn’t always go along with a completely serene and blissful experience, and for me it began with the death of my seven year old brother when I was about three. And I went through a great deal of upheaval and was really unraveling through a lot of my early years. And my parents were also , you know, just reeling and out of it and yet they had the presence of mind to refer me to an analyst. So I actually went to a child analyst at about six years old and probably had a life saving experience with this guy.

And to get back around to awe, I would say that, through that analytic experience I was able to move from abject terror about my world, about illness, the unknown to gradually a sense of intrigue about the world and about the unknown. And to a place of actually becoming fascinated by those things. Kind of developing a sense of wonder, even though this world just broke apart but when things break apart, they also open up. And there’s a real juncture there, there’s a real sort of decision point about whether one is going to collapse or one is going to be able to embrace or engage what gets cracked open.

And I was extremely fortunate through that process in this man’s presence to be able to develop more of a sense of presence in my own life. And a lot of that came

through some of my early television watching, actually. I used to watch some pretty strange shows like The Outer Limits and Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond. I mean, these are shows that often scare the bejeezus out of people. They scared me, but I also related to them in some way and they sparked a growing interest in, you know, peculiar states of mind, the creative process, and discovery of new and strange things in the world. A growing interest in, really, psychology and existence, very broadly speaking. So I think that’s where the roots of my sense of awe really started was with that kind of cracking open of my world through this huge hole of my brother’s death.

About the Author

Kirk Schneider, Ph.D. Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D. is a leading spokesperson for existential-humanistic psychology and the recent past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.  Dr. Schneider is an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University and Teachers College, Columbia University, a founding member of the Existential-Humanistic Institute, and the author/editor of 10 books including The Polarized Mind and Awakening to Awe.

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