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Eugene Gendlin

Eugene T. Gendlin


Outstanding psychologist and philosopher

Died in Spring Valley, New York on May 1, 2017


American philosopher and psychologist Eugene. Eugene T. Gendlin died at his home in New York on May 1, 2017, at the age of 90.

He founded "Life Consciousness", a set of techniques for connecting body and mind. He established the International Life Consciousness Association in 1985 to promote the practice of life consciousness and the philosophy behind it. He called it "the philosophy of metaphor".

Life consciousness is an experience process, based on body orientation, which can be used to clarify thoughts and heal emotions.

Gendlin's philosophy belongs to the branch of phenomenology. His philosophy was influenced by Edmund Husserl, Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

The online library of the International Consciousness of Life Association retains most of Gendlin's works.

Gendlin became a bridge between psychology and philosophy, scientific research and universal education

Gendlin's work focuses on linking the fields of philosophy and psychology, and builds a bridge between serious academic research and universal psychological education.

He studied and taught philosophy at the University of Chicago, the world's top academic institution.

During his study of philosophy, he became a student and colleague of Carl Roger, a psychotherapist and pioneer researcher.

Gendlin's extraordinary wisdom is matched by his compassion for others. When he saw that the research conducted at the university might have a profound impact on the general public, he wrote "Life Consciousness " as a popular self-help book, so that his findings are not limited to the circulation of academic circles.

He was a Jew and had fled Austria in the past to avoid Nazi rule, which may explain his great compassion.

For his experience of escaping from the Nazis with his family, please refer to his record in an interview.

Academic honor

The American Psychological Association awarded Gendlin a certificate of honor four times, and was the first scholar to receive the honor of being awarded the annual outstanding psychologist by the association.

He was awarded the Viktor Frankl Prize by the Viktor Frankl Family Foundation in 2008.

In 2016, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the World Human-based Psychotherapy and Counseling Association and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Body Association .

Gendlin is the founder and editor of the journal "Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice" and the editor of the internal journal " FOLIO " of the International Association for Life Consciousness.

He has many books, including "Consciousness -Oriented Psychotherapy: A Handbook of Experience Methods ."

His classic " Life Consciousness " has been translated into 17 languages and sold more than 500,000 copies.

Early psychology research

Gendlin studied with Carl Rogers, the founder of personal-centered therapy, in the 1950s, and received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1958.

Gendlin's theory influenced Rogers' ideas and his views on psychotherapy. (See

Under Rogers' guidance, Gendlin was the first psychologist to study the effectiveness of psychotherapy. In 1958, two psychologists (Kirtner and Cartwright) at the University of Chicago Counseling Center described how different clients expressed their problems in the first counseling interview.

Based on the description of the client, they divided the client into five categories. They found that the client's category can predict the time required for treatment and whether the treatment is successful (Kirtner & Cartwright, 1958).

For example, in 24 case owners, they found that in the first two of the five categories, the treatment of each case was also successful, and in the last two of the five categories, the treatment of each case failed.

In other words, they found that the behavioral characteristics of specific clients at the beginning of treatment can predict the effectiveness of counseling.

This research raises many important questions. For example, at the beginning of treatment, a client who has predicted that the counseling effect will not be significant, will he continue to receive counseling after the first interview, or need some special assistance to help improve the effectiveness of the counseling.

Before Gendlin and his colleagues studied, the importance of the client's behavior in treatment and the issues raised in it were largely ignored.

Early philosophical research

In the mid-1950s, Gendlin was a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, studying the relationship between concepts and implicit understanding (he later called it "preconceptal feeling").

The philosophical system constructed by Gendlin proposes that consciousness is the process of implicit understanding and conceptualization. For example, the word "dog" implies (or carries) many experiences with a certain animal, otherwise the word would not mean anything.

In a sentence like "dog chasing the ball", each word implicitly contains or points to an unsymbolicized experience, so we implicitly know what each word means to understand the meaning of the entire sentence.

We can think clearly about any word in a sentence. When we stop thinking about the meaning of the sentence and start to think about the meaning of a word in it, in this case, our clear understanding of the word still depends on the implicit Experience.

In the above sentence, we can clearly define the word "dog" ("dog is a mammal raised as a family pet"), but each word in the definition sentence still refers to other unsymbolicized experiences. Any meaning can only show its meaning by referring to other implicit experiences.

Similarly, when we consider a problem, we must first clearly put forward a clear statement, but it actually implicitly quotes a lot of unsymbified experience.

When we experience an unsymbolicized experience, we have a "feel" about the problem or situation. Under the guidance of this "feeling", we present (make it clear or clarify) the implicit background until we have a solution.

Dr. Donata Schoeller, a professor of philosophy, worked with Christiane Geiser to translate Gendering’s main work, A Process Model, into German. She is a member of the International Leadership Committee of the International Life Consciousness Association. Greering said:

Gendlin allowed philosophy to face the challenge of ordinary experience again.

This is the best heritage of the United States.

He made a profound reflection on the complexity, the complexity and sensitivity of the life process. Therefore, it is possible to re-master the potential of creativity and at the same time experience the challenges brought by ordinary experience.

His philosophy conveys the understanding of language, and awesomely opens the understanding of the endless inner meaning in the course of life.

Therefore, his thoughts healed the separation between human beings and the living earth in our Western tradition.

Philosophers talk about philosophical practice today, and Gendlin has actually achieved it! His method supports individuals expressing what is important to them, discovering their own voices, and enabling people to participate in the democratic process at different levels. Life consciousness and TAE enable us to deeply reflect on the complex issues we face today in the multicultural and environmental challenges.

The bridge between philosophy and psychology

Unlike some philosophers, Gendlin is not satisfied to understand the relationship between concept and experience by thinking alone. He wants to observe how people conceptualize their own experiences in real life. He thinks psychotherapy is a good place to observe these. experience. So this explains why a philosophy graduate student started his psychological counseling training at the Counseling Center of the University of Chicago.

Gendlin hoped to find some clients who had conceptually stated their problems, but later found out that his statement of the problem relied on some implicit understanding of the current situation, that is, an experience without conceptualization. After showing the implicit understanding, the client will find that it still relies on another implicit understanding, that is, they have not yet conceptualized the experience, and continue like this. In this way, the client’s statement will continue to point to the client’s implicit experience, and doing so will continue to deepen the understanding and transformation of the problem.

Gendlin’s research shows that psychological changes are best viewed as a process of discovering and following one’s inner feelings. He showed that the client's ability to obtain lasting and positive change in psychotherapy depends on whether they can get in touch with the unspeakable but physically difficult feelings during counseling.

Gendlin called this intuitive physical sensation the "sense of consciousness". He studied how these successful clients contacted and clarified this feeling, and developed and created the "consciousness of life" to help others use this method. In 1978, Gendlin published the best-selling book "Awareness of Life", which proposed a six-step method to teach others how to discover their own sense of meaning and cultivate personal growth.

Gendlin established the Life Consciousness Association in 1985 to promote the training and education of academic and professional communities, and to share and practice with the public. In 2016, the association was renamed the International Life Consciousness Association.

Gendlin and Psychology and Psychological Self-help

An Gonghui, one of the most important teachers in life consciousness, said:

Because of Gendlin and his conscious process, thousands of people all over the world can provide a kind of support for themselves and others. It is mainly in psychotherapy that they can experience emotional support.

Gendlin developed life consciousness as a practice, anyone can learn to listen to the inner sound of the body and discover the direction of life. He believes in giving people the ability to heal their emotions for themselves, for friends, partners, or the community. So from the very beginning, you should learn from any friends who want to learn about the practice of life consciousness, and encourage others to promote life consciousness. Based on this foundation, a grassroots mutual aid movement based on acceptance and tolerance has been launched around the world to develop new hope for all living beings.

Dr. Kevin Krycka , professor of psychology at Seattle University and board members of the International Association for Life Consciousness said:

Influenced by Carl Rogers, Gendlin has developed psychotherapy into a revolutionary place, where not only each person also penetrates into his own heart, but also sees his close relationship with others and the world around him.

Life consciously reverses our habit of eagerly summarizing or making judgments.

It opposes any intention that just looking at the other person is a tool for me to achieve personal goals, because we are basically living in interaction with others, and life experience always occurs during interaction, so the suffering of others is not just the other person’s personal experience. Pain is always implicitly shared. Consciousness-based therapists know that the healing process in psychotherapy is the transformation of the client from feeling lonely and independent to realizing that he is connected with others everywhere.

Gendlin is a pioneer in advocating "practice" in philosophy and psychology. Gendlin wrote in his book "The Consciousness of Life ":

When I use the word "body", I don't just mean that the body is a physiological machine. The body not only lives in the situation I am in, but also adds our thoughts and thoughts in the mind. The physical sensation is actually part of a huge system from here to there, the present and the past and the future, me and others. In fact, the entire universe. The body is alive in a huge system, and the feeling of being alive is experienced in the body.

Gendlin's relationship with philosophy

Gendlin believes that he is primarily a philosopher, and he has brought psychology to a rigorous philosophical vision. His exploration was put forward in his early book " Experience and Creating Meaning" , and later fully developed into a theory of the mysterious life process. His thoughts are best explained in his masterpiece "A Process Model", which will soon be published by Northwestern University Press.

The theory constructed by Gendlin can be used to respond to challenging social issues, including environmental and multicultural issues, and to bring philosophy into social affairs. He tried to overcome the dualism proposed by most philosophical theories in the early to mid-twentieth century and showed the original meaning of mind and body. His philosophy students will find that when one considers both the experience of the situation and the logical speculation, they will give birth to a new way of thinking.


From 1968 to 1995, Jane De came to teach philosophy and psychology at the University of Chicago. There he taught a course on theoretical construction, which later inspired him to create the practice of "Thinking at the Edge" (TAE). TAE is a fourteen-step method that draws on a person’s intuitive and empirical process to create new theories and concepts for any topic.

personal life

Gendlin was Jewish and was born on December 25, 1926 in Vienna, Austria. He and his parents lived in the 9th district of Vienna, which was a very traditional Jewish quarter at the time. His father is a PhD in chemistry and once did dry cleaning work. Because of the rise of Nazism, the family left Austria. They fled to the Netherlands for the first time, and then his parents took the last SS·Paris flight to New York. They arrived in the United States on January 11, 1939. He continued to serve in the US Navy and became a US citizen.

After leaving the University of Chicago, Gendlin and his wife Maria. Mary Hendricks-Gendlin moved to New York State in 1996. The two work closely together, and Maria serves as the director of the Life Consciousness Association. She died in March 2015.

Gendlin has three children Elissa Gendlin (born with Maria Gendlin), Gerry Gendlin and Judith Jones (born with Frances Gendlin).


1970: American Psychological Association (Psychotherapy Division) 29th Division Psychology and Psychotherapy Outstanding Professional Award

2000: American Psychological Association (Humanistic Psychology Association) Part 32 Charlotte and Karl Bühler Award (co-obtained by Gendlin and the Life Consciousness Association)

2007: Victor Frankel Foundation: Vienna Frankel Award-Vienna City Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Meaning-Oriented Humanistic Psychotherapy

2011: American Psychological Association (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology Association) Part 24 Outstanding Theories and Philosophical Contributions in Psychology

2016: "Lifetime Achievement Award" of the World Humanistic Psychotherapy and Counseling Association,

2016: "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Association of Physical Psychotherapy

For details, please refer to this website:

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