Memory of Eugene Gendlin

Eugene T. Gendlin
, the American philosopher and psychologist who developed the mind-body connection practice called “Focusing,” died on May 1 at the age of 90 in Spring Valley, New York. His death was announced by the International Focusing Institute (, which was founded in 1985 by Dr. Gendlin to promote the practice of Focusing and the philosophy behind it, which he called the “Philosophy of the Implicit.”  Focusing is an experiential, body-oriented method for generating insights and emotional healing.  Gendlin’s philosophy falls under the branch of philosophy called phenomenology. Significant influences on his philosophical work included Edmund Husserl, Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  A nearly exhaustive library of his work is maintained by the Institute in the Gendlin Online Library.


Eugene Gendlin’s work was notable for how he bridged the fields of philosophy and psychology, as well as bridging serious academic work with popular self-help.  He studied and taught philosophy at the University of Chicago, one of the world’s top academic institutions.  While engaged in the study of philosophy, he became a student and colleague of one of the great minds in psychology, Dr. Carl Rogers, who was revolutionizing the study of psychotherapy at the University of Chicago.

Gendlin’s extraordinary intellectual gifts were matched by his extraordinary compassion for people.  When he saw that the research he was conducting at the university could have profound meaning for the ordinary person, he wrote Focusing as a popular self-help book so that his discovery would not languish in academic circles.  Perhaps his experience as a Jew escaping the Nazi occupation of Austria explains some piece of this great compassion.  He recounted his family’s escape from the Nazis in an interview with Lore Korbei decades years after his escape.  That interview is found at


Gendlin has been honored by the American Psychological Association (APA) four times.  , and was the first recipient of the APA’s Distinguished Professional Psychologist of the Year award. He was awarded the Viktor Frankl prize by the Viktor Frankl Family Foundation in 2008.  In 2016 he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the World Association for Person Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling and a lifetime achievement award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy.

Gendlin was a founder and longtime editor of the journal Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice as well as the in-house journal of the Focusing Institute called the Folio, and is the author of a number of books, including Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: A Manual of the Experiential Method. The mass-market edition of his popular classic Focusing has been translated into 17 languages and sold more than a half million copies.

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