Pythia Peay Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Pythia Peay    

Author and Journalist on Psychology, Spirituality and the American Psyche

Pythia Peay is an author and journalist on psychology, spirituality and the American psyche. In three decades of writing, her work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Washingtonian, The Washington Post, La Repubblica, Religion News Service, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and other newspapers and magazines. In her work, Peay is motivated to uncover the psychological, spiritual, and historical dimensions underlying political and cultural events. What drives her as a writer is the search for the inner story concealed within outer facts, whether the environmental crisis or partisanship and polarization. Finding the hidden themes operating in the background of our everyday lives, she believes, helps to deepen our understanding of the complex political and cultural issues we struggle with in the modern world, while broadening our understanding of the American story, and deepening our notions of what it means to be an American.

Peay explores these themes and more in intimate and moving detail in her new book, American Icarus: A Memoir of Father and Country (Lantern Books, 2015). In it she tells the iconic American story of her Greatest Generation father, Joe Carroll: aviator, farmer, and handsome Irish charmer who radiated exuberance for life and who embodied all that was aspirational about mid-twentieth century America—and who was also a troubled, lifelong alcoholic. As Joe’s eldest child, Peay sets out on a quest to understand the causes of his addiction. Drawing on her father’s own memories he recalled as he lay dying, she maps the trajectories of his life, from his early boyhood in depression-era Altoona and the Dickensian twist-of-fate he suffered; the Air Transport Command and Brazil during World War II; post-War Buenos Aires where Joe married an Argentine beauty with ancestral connections to the early founding of America; newly independent Israel, where he flew for El Al; the Missouri heartland in the 1950s, where he ran a farm and raised four children while flying the world for TWA; the cultural upheavals of the 1960s that would drive Peay and her father apart; Mexico, where her parents fled to escape their failing marriage; and, finally, Texas, where Joe got cancer and died. The journey of Joe’s life unfolds against the backdrop of his dramatic last days, when, through the unexpected intervention of a quirky Hospice team, he is led to a moving reconciliation with his estranged family, with his American life, and with his soul.

In the companion volume to her memoir, America on the Couch: Psychological Perspectives on American Politics and Culture (Lantern Books, 2015) Peay delves more deeply into the psychological side of America in a collection of thirty seven interviews with some of the world’s leading psychologists and psychoanalysts—including James Hillman, Robert Jay Lifton, Harriet Lerner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Judith V. Jordan—on such issues as violence, addiction, capitalism and consumerism, and more. She also writes the America on the Couch blog for Psychology Today and The Huffington Post and has received awards for her work from The American Association of University Women and Women in the Media.

Speech Topics


Lecture Topics

Election Anxiety and the American Voter: How To Stay Sane During the Presidential Elections

Hospice and the End of Life Journey: How Hospice Saved my Father’s Soul

How Do You Help a Difficult, Alcoholic Parent to Die?

American Individualism in the Twenty-First Century

Environmentalism is the New American Patriotism: Preserving The Land That We Love

American Myths To Live Our Everyday Lives By

New Perspectives on Understanding Alcoholism and Addiction

We Are All Immigrants: Or Why Ancestry.com is the Best Thing to Happen to America (Also: America by Way of Argentina: My Mother’s Immigration Story)

Saying Farewell to the Greatest Generation: What Will We Take With Us?

The Significance of the Father-Daughter Relationship in a Woman’s Development: Is a Woman’s Father the Key to her Power?

Related Speakers View all


More like Pythia