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Gendlin, E.T. (1971). On decision making. In B. Marshall (Ed.), Experiences in being, pp. 65-74. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. From http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2094.html

[Page 65]

On Decision Making

Eugene T. Gendlin

In the course of trying to make decisions in our lives, many of us have been in situations that have left us feeling uncomfortable or unresolved about a particular issue. In these situations we have a felt sense that something else is required: some change, some further action, some further thought, something. We don't know what it is that bothers us about a situation; we only feel scared, or tense, or crummy, or hung-up about it.

The finding and resolving of the personal hang-up point is only one essential factor in decision-making. I am not saying that it is the only one. It just happens to be the one most people have omitted when their decision-making doesn't sit right . . . feel comfortable to them.

I would like to talk about the role that this felt sense of uncomfortableness should play in the decision-making process. General issues, ethical principles, and beliefs that one holds for everyone are also important in making decisions; but one doesn't even know how they apply to a particular sense of indecision unless one first pursues that felt sense of indecision to clarify just what it is.

Without a specific sense of what one is hung-up on, decision-making is a dreary business! One spends hours, days, nights, and months in a stew. One pursues all sorts of general questions that ought to be relevant, and yet the restless, jumpy, unresolved feeling remains.

Without focusing on the felt sense of where I am hung-up and working that feeling through, I don't get resolved. But what is working through? What do I mean by that? It is not simply thinking about it. In thinking steps, each step follows logically from the step before. In feeling steps, on the other hand, my bodily sense of "what's what" clarifies itself . . . I feel it . . . and then what I say may not follow at all from what I said before.

Of course, we are committed to lead our lives by the highest visions we are capable of, but this doesn't mean that we don't get hung-up on pretty pedestrian spots also! I may believe (in fact, I happen actually to believe very strongly) that I need not care what others think, as long as I know I'm right. This belief is never shaken, [Page 66] really, but despite it I find that I am often made tense and upset by situations which involve other people's reactions to me. I say to myself "that doesn't matter. . . " or "I don't have to care what he thinks . . . " and then I go on my way. Hours later, wondering what I am tense and rattled about, I find that I am still bugged by what he thinks! There is no way to relieve my felt sense of tension other than to say to myself, "All right . . . I know I don't have to care about that, but I guess I do. Let's see . . . why?" Then, usually with a sigh or a breath, I let myself at last experience whatever happened. Yes (I then see), I did make a fool of myself. And just when I was counting on him backing me up in that other issue. Now he is less likely to. Uhm . . . well . . . I don't care about that so much (I now see). Then what still bugs me about it? Something still does. What? Again, I can get the answer only as it will come right out of the feeling of still being bugged. What is it? (Silence) "Oh, yeah . . . ugh . . . that is again what I always do—I messed it up myself. Yeah. I could have kept my mouth shut and I went out of my way to make an idiot of myself. I hate it especially, when it didn't just happen, but I did it and it didn't have to be done, at all." Here it turns out that now I don't so much care anymore what he thinks, and I find at the next step that I care about my way of bringing it on myself. Now I can say I don't care what he thinks, and this is true. Before it was only true as a general stand I value and believe in, but it ignored a spot at which I was hung-up.

The mistake is to think that willing is the same as getting there. I will to be free of what others think, except as they might help me to see something new. But to make this will effective, I must attend to my feel of caring what someone thinks (when I feel that I care) until I can actually get beyond it in feeling as well as in willing. But feelings don't change by willing alone; nor do they change by exhortation, or by being shoved away. The feeling will only be back a few seconds later, quite unchanged.

Feelings change by our going with them. If we ethically disapprove of the feeling, we go with it in the expectation that it must change, will open up, that it contains some error we must find. If I am unfree of what he thinks, there is a reason—a specific point at which I am hung and unable to let go of the situation that occurred. What is that point? When I come upon it, it will resolve. If not, I will ask why that? Why doesn't it resolve now? Again there will be a specific point in that, which I must find and live through.

Some people want to make a decision by putting the words yes and no at the top of a piece of paper with a line down the middle. Then they put all the pros under one alternative, and the cons under the other. Then what? Assign weights to each pro and con, so they can be added up? What decides what weights to assign? Only the feeling a person has for each pro and con.

And what if one item is the one I am hung-up on? Shall I even count the others? As I go over them I can sense that they only barely joggle the tense feel of that one item. They're all true, but there's no issue about them. But should this one item outweigh the others? How do I know I want to keep that item in the "con" column where it now is, when I don't even know why there's an issue about it? What's under the strong way it feels? The item can't be evaluated, because what makes it a concern isn't visible and may turn out to be a very different matter than now appears.

Very often, if I explore what feels important about something, the factors that make it important to me have little to do with its objective description . . . (although they have much to do with what the matter is for me). For example, I write down as a "con" that I am afraid of such and such a loss or price which I might have to pay. I try to evaluate how big this price really is. Does it count 20 or 50 points? Who knows? Is it abstractly or universally an important thing [Page 67] for a man's life, or not? Perhaps not. But I seem to worry over losing it. How much does that count? It seems to me it counts nothing at all, if I don't think it ought to matter. Or perhaps it counts 1,000,000 points since I can't seem to get over it. There is no way to solve that, except to pay attention to the feel of what makes me worry about it. When I do, I may find that my feeling of worry is really very different from and unrelated to the question of this loss and whether it should be respected or not. For example, I may find as I explore the feeling deeply that I am really afraid of how angry at myself I will be when this feared loss actually occurs! I discover now that I already know I am then not going to believe my high principles. I will call myself stupid instead. I will beat myself about it and argue that I made my courageous decision only because I was being pulled along by other peoples' enthusiasm. Yes (I now recall), I have an old anger at myself for being pulled along by other peoples' enthusiasm. But I don't think I am, right now. Still, I know that later on I will berate myself that that's what happened now. As I see this, I see that my problem now isn't at all a matter of evaluating the objective worth of this loss; rather, the problem is how to insure that I will know it was really not my old tendency to fall in with other people's enthusiasm. It's quite a different problem, and now I can work on that.

It does no good to argue against a feeling, especially after one has tried unsuccessfully to argue against it for hours or months. One must go with it, to see what's in it.

It does no good to set up an ideal man who wouldn't have that feeling. If such a man exists, that's fine for him, but I've still got the feeling.

It is an error to fall for the cover label of the feeling (say it's "cowardly" or "petty" or "immature" or "sick" or "selfish" or "dependent"). There it is, and whatever its first label, if it keeps being there, one must go with it, into it, to feel what's what in it. Then one's value choices will become real also, as one quite naturally feels each step with one's own values. Just to construct a stick-figure man out of one's value abstractions—that doesn't touch where it is.

Of course, if I value freedom and independence, then I will be dismayed to find myself dependent on other people and affected in my judgment by other peoples' enthusiasm (as I did in my example, above). This dismay is also a feeling, and it will also be part of what's what, if I try to feel whatever I feel. Therefore my values will be part of the process. But I mustn't use my values to rule a feeling out. I can try, but if after ruling a feeling out a hundred times it is still there, then I have to go with it to see what is in it, and I take my values along on the ride, of course. I won't decide to do something I don't believe in, or agree that something wrong is right, just because I have a feeling like that. On the contrary, as long as I feel it is wrong, the feeling for it is a hang-up, an issue making me uncomfortable. I cannot be wholly resolved, I cannot be at peace or at ease with a conclusion like that. It may be a conclusion for someone, but not for me.

Going with a feeling, going into it, to see what's in it, is a very different matter from just giving in to it. Just the opposite . . . we go with it to see what's in it, just because having that feeling is a problem for us, whereas any number of other feelings are OK with us, and need no self-conscious attention. Therefore our values are very much a part of what feels OK and what feels unresolved. But, whatever feels unresolved must be allowed to be felt, so that we can go with it and into it. Otherwise we will say one thing, and willfully live that when we can, but actually fall down in a thousand details because we are really living the opposite from what we wish.

It is no use, therefore, to keep berating oneself for what one feels. To go with and into it, one [Page 68] has to shelve the self-berating. Most people have a self-berater, a part of them that yacks at them, waves the finger, preaches, tells how one ought to feel. It is necessary to take that part of oneself firmly and sit down in some chair in the corner, and tell it to shut up for a while. That's our self-critical part, and we wouldn't want to lose it, only it has to shut up long enough for us to see what the trouble is.

Without a silence from talking at oneself, one can't hear oneself.

Experience is enormously more specific than concepts. Every way of saying anything is general. Words purport to be the finally specific answer, but in feeling one can differentiate much more specifically.

Suppose, for example, I decide to do X but feel unresolved about my decision. X has to do with my parents. I then decide that my feeling unresolved doesn't matter, but having decided that, find that disregarding my unresolved feeling doesn't help me decide. Now what? Will I now think in general about what any man owes his parents, and what he does not?

To make decisions that are right in general (for anyone) ignores that I am not "anyone," but the specific person with the specific experiential texture that I am. The character, the threads which are woven into the cloth of my experiences are me—not you—not them. The general principle is only a rule, however right. What the principle means here can only be found by going into my feelings of the instance. But the instance isn't the general situation facing many others, but my situation, what it is for me to be in this situation. And if this doesn't resolve, if I don't feel whole and clear and at peace in it, then there is a reason or two, why. Nothing general, nothing that is true for all men, will give me that reason, nor how to get through it. Probably I am clear about this. (If not, it may help me to think about this too.) I could spend hours, weeks, many nights on that subject. Endless varieties of issues could be considered. But I don't know which of these issues is relevant to my issue. What is my issue? Go back to my feeling of being unresolved (or not at peace, or not at ease) about what I have decided. What is that feeling? (A short silence to let it answer.)

Let us assume the first thing that comes is the word crummy. That doesn't seem very informative. What is . . . crummy? (Another short silence, to let it answer.). "It's really a sickening feeling." What is that sickening feeling?

(As you focus on the central feeling that upsets you, you can sense a certain peace in your body. As long as you zero in on that, the body feels better. As soon as you get distracted and lose hold of it, your overall, restless, jumpy, anxious, unresolved body sense will return immediately. Your body feels eased only as you keep the trouble-feeling in focus. The trouble is "that feeling," and the rest of you can breathe more easily as long as "that" is kept before you, in focus, even while you don't yet know what it is.)

"He'll never get it" comes to me now (meaning my father will never be able to understand it). But, of course, I knew that and have often thought it. What is new here is the whole tissue of feeling that goes with that sentence now. I can look further into what this now is, and let's assume that the next thing I sense from out of it is "It's so sad." (Nothing new either, but again, the wave of the feel of it is here.) "What's so sad, really . . . ?" I ask, and even though I know many answers to this, I stay quiet. I feel a strong pull. "I wish he could!" Then he could be pleased: he always was, and now he can't. A new, seemingly bottomless feeling opens up here (let's say), and the words come: "I'm doing this to him." That's the sickening feeling! (I now realize.)

There is nothing conceptually new about this conclusion, either. But as a feeling-step it is [Page 69] new. I can't say anything I couldn't just as well have said before. "Of course I'm doing it to him!" Who else? But as a feeling-step it moves me into new territory, further in, there where I am still hung.

The best I can do now is feel that powerful phrase "It's that I'm doing it to him." Each time I think it, that phrase brings back the live, focused, bottomless feeling; and as I focus on that, I can sense my feelings of diffuse anxiety and jumpiness lessening, for a moment. "That's what it is, yes."

I can feel that it's all about me. It's that I'm doing it to him. It's not just that I care for him. If it were my little brother doing it, that, too, would make my father suffer, but it wouldn't feel this way. I wish that he could understand, and I long for him to understand; but now my longing has two distinct items. I find now, after all, that my hang-up isn't only about me. I have this bottomless "I'm doing it" feeling. But there is also my sadness for him. Two things. Really two things. What were they again? Yes, first this "I'm doing it," then "to him." Yea. But as I mull the words "to him," the wave of how I'm doing it washes back in and it's all one mess, and I get diffusely anxious again. Begin again, where was I? Oh yes, "I'm doing it. Yea." As I say that again, and see the bottomless feel of it, "that's me, I'm sick in me, yea . . . " I'm surprised again that this is all about me and not so much him, there again is that other feeling, I care for him. The feelings are separate again for a second. The caring for him seems sound enough, maybe. The bottomless feel, that's the one that isn't OK yet. What's in that which feels so sick?

I focus on the sick feel of it. "I'm doing it to him" I think every little while. The phrase still has the power to sharpen the feeling. "What is that?" (Silence, to let it answer.) A new phrase comes: "It's wrong, wrong, wrong!" The word wrong seems to touch the feeling, seems to move it, has a little bit of "give" in it. "Wrong . . . " So now I ask "What is that, 'wrong' . . . ?" I get a memory of walking Sunday mornings with my father to get the paper, and the memory carries with it the feeling of my being OK with him and he with me. "It's wrong to hurt that, to kill it, to do violence to it. Doing violence, yea . . . " And sensing how I'm killing that, I also sense another thing that separates out now. There's the "doing violence to that," and then there is that other feeling. What's that? "I'm scared", it comes home to me now. It's almost a relief, a just plain feeling that I'm scared. "Yea . . . ah . . . scared I'm going against medical advice . . . " (I know I mean his advice, not medical.) A good clean awful scared feeling. It's true, I am going against the whole world alone on this one, no, not the whole world, "against him. Yea." That's what it is. I'm "killing the love" (so the phrase now sounds, as it comes to me) and I'm "going alone against him." Silence. "Yea . . . that's it all right." A deep breath comes involuntarily. Those two things. And it feels good to feel that being scared, funny as that is. It's like tackling life and the world alone. Sure, that's what I said I was doing, all along, for months, and that is what I want to do. But here it is, feeling sharply scary in a clean way, scared without him and not all gooped up with killing the love. I'm living in a clean scared way these few seconds. That's a real breakthrough and just what I decided for, long ago. But what I'll do about killing the love, I don't know yet. After a while, maybe, I'll look at that some more. Right now, it's good enough to have them separate and feel one of them is sharp and clear.

I purposely chose an example, here, in which nothing cognitively new arises, and in which there is no change in the decision already made. In this example, I can say nothing afterwards which I hadn't already said many times before. Feeling-steps differ from cognitive steps, yet it is clear that, after this brief sequence of feeling-steps, I can do things I could not do before. Although my conclusions are the same as they were, I will live them differently; [Page 70] therefore, all the details of how I really meet situations will be different.

Of course, such a sequence of feeling-steps often does alter one's grasp of the situation, and does alter one's decision. That is because one hasn't really got the decision (only a general formula for it) as long as one is still unresolved in one's feelings. Feelings are not just intra-psychic entities, they are one's sense of the real situation, how one is in the situation and of the other people in it. Universal principles and willed standpoints haven't really been realized at all until they are realized in terms of the living texture.

Some people know, and some don't, that words can come from a feeling. There is a difference between talking at yourself and listening to words coming from yourself. But if you listen, all manner of words will come. To listen in a focused way, pay attention to a specific feel (the feel of what the trouble is . . . of what hangs you up);and from just this feel, relevant words will come.

To let such words come, one must wait in silence. The waiting is the tough part. Even thirty seconds is far more waiting time than we ever usually give ourselves! Just for practice, look at your watch and see how really long thirty seconds of waiting is. Then later, if you focus on a feeling and wait, you will know that this very long time is only something like thirty seconds or so.

Most of life is restless and "antsy," and many people can't sit still long enough even to sift down to a feeling. It is as if they held their breath all the time, and never let down. Yet it takes only a few seconds to allow oneself to descend gently to one's feeling of what is unresolved. There it is.

There is a method of focusing into the felt sense of what one is hung up on. It involves roughly the following steps:

  • 1) The problem naturally involves thousands of facets which cannot all be thought of at once. But one can feel the whole shebang at once. Let yourself feel "all that" for a moment.
  • 2) Without deciding what is most important, ask yourself what the main trouble is. Ask yourself this and then wait. Don't run to answer yourself in words with what you already know. Just wait, in an internal silence, for thirty seconds or so. Expect a specific feeling and perhaps a scrap of words to come up as your sense of what the main trouble is.
  • 3) Accept whatever comes, even if the feeling is one you don't respect, accept it even if you feel you are "above that," and even if the words that come are stupid or senseless (for example: "each . . ." or "gee" or "I gotta") or uninformative.
  • 4) Pursue this main trouble-feeling with your attention, expecting it to become clearer and sharper, and expecting it to open up into whatever it is about.

    Of course, it is rather poetic to speak of a feeling "opening up into" what it is about (what one is hung-up on), but it happens that way if one waits a few seconds. One may have to go back to a feeling repeatedly before it "opens." Also, rather than opening, one may get still another phrase or another more specific feel of it.
  • 5) One should not let one's mind wander, or, if it has already wandered, one can bring one's mind back (back to that specific sense of what the main trouble is).

    A lot of thoughts, some wise some foolish, will come up and can be allowed to just "go by" . . . as one focuses one's attention on the feel of the trouble.

    If the specific feel changes, that is all right. Let it do whatever it does. To pay attention in this way is to make an "it" out of one's feel of the [Page 71] trouble. This "it" can then move, just as though it were an independent object in one's attention space. One can attend to it. Any change in "it" is a change which one can feel.

    Expect a sharpened, more specific feeling, or a slight shift in how it feels, or a phrase that will say what the specific personal truth is. Such a phrase, if it comes, will give you a felt shift, not only the words.

    It is very much like remembering something you had forgotten. How can you tell when you have remembered? You can tell by the "felt give" which you experience, the flood of "oh . . . sure . . ." Everyone knows the difference between having remembered, and merely guessing "what it must have been." When we try to remember, even before we remember, we track by the feel of what it was we forgot. This feel of what it was gives us guidance, like the game in which one says, "warm, warmer, cold, colder, ice cold . . ." Without this felt guidance one couldn't even try to remember; one would have to guess.

    As you focus your attention on the feel of the main trouble, expect it to shift, ease, sharpen, or in some other manner indicate the difference between all the good thoughts that aren't relevant to it (you let them go by) and that phrase which seems to "touch it."
  • 6) There is a "zig-zag" movement from feeling to words and back again. If you have a phrase, feel what it does to you. Then let that feeling generate a new phrase. Then feel what that new phrase does to you.

    Another way to put this "zig-zag" is simply: get the exactly right words for how it momentarily feels. Ask about each word, "IS this the right word? Could I just as well say . . . (some synonym)?" Sense that even though the dictionary meaning of the two words is roughly the same, they don't feel equally right.

    As you find the exactly right words you will sense the feel easing or focusing or changing. The process of finding the right words to express feelings isn't really what it seems to be, that is, just a labeling process. Rather, the action of seeking words is itself a living forward into, a journey into and beyond where one was hung-up and stopped before. Therefore, instead of just one phrase that is exactly right, one can then feel this "rightness" for a few seconds, enjoy the sense of easing which "rightness" brings (even if what it says isn't a happy thing at all) . . . and soon one will have a slightly altered feeling which can again produce new words that are exactly right . . . * (new moments can bring new phrases).

    Often, a second step's words won't follow at all logically from the first step's words . . . of course not, since the feeling-shift occurred in between. Even a sense of the sheer truth of some words is a process. Even just feeling how true this is, leads, over a few seconds, to an altered condition. One is further down a path, and from there what one had said with so much felt truth may now be contradicted by a new step's words.
  • 7) At times, make a fresh start—though still attending to the same felt trouble. We need an occasional fresh start, because the pursuing of words and specific feelings (6 above) gets too channeled at times. Just stop, sense again the whole "all that," and wait for a fresh new phrase of specific feeling to come.
  • 8) When a really marked easing or new truth has been found, it may be time to quit for the moment, but make sure of having a phrase which best characterizes the newly felt truth. The phrase should have a marked clarifying effect you can feel. **

    If it isn't enough to permit a resolved and "all clear" decision, discover exactly where and [Page 72] why you are still unresolved, and what will move you beyond that point. Ask yourself: "Why can't I get over this?" or, "What is it now about this which still stops me?"

*On Meditation

Meditation, at least its first phase, is a quite similar process. The difference is that until now we have talked about pursuing one problem, however many steps it may require. For meditation it is best to take just one step on every present problem, rather than pursuing one problem for its own sake. For meditation one wants only to clear oneself so that a deep sense of wholeness and being in touch with oneself becomes possible. To gain this, one needs to let each thing come to awareness which is now keeping one tense. It doesn't matter if these things are big or small, or in what order they come. The object is not to sit there trying to meditate, while in fact being hung and tied up about something. To "get loose" from whatever is now "tying one up," one must make an honest disposition with each item that comes up, in answer to the question: "what is now keeping me tense . . . ?" When whatever arises is dealt with, the question then is "Anything else? What else?"

But what is "an honest disposition?" It is one step of just the sort of focusing process we have described: a hearing of the truth from oneself, rather than talking at oneself. It must be a step which has the genuine easing and freeing which is the hallmark of a focusing step.

Say something that happened today, some petty thing, is still there concerning you. You are really in every way "above it," but there it still is. Now you need to let the truth be: all right, you're not "above it," you are bothered. Why exactly? "Oh . . . because . . ." (whatever answer you hear, which has the hallmark of your truth, the bodily felt release or experienced sharpening). See, then, whether that does it, or whether you are still tense over it. If you are still tense, what else is wrong? But if it has eased, fine; see what else has you tied up. Something you have to do and might forget. Write it down, then. Insure that nothing in you must hold on to it right now. Some larger life problem? See where you are in it today. Honestly let it speak, write down whatever about it you fear to forget, and let it go. If it doesn't really let go, see what more it has to say for now. As soon as letting it go succeeds, let it.

To clear your mind, it is not enough not to think. Your "mind" is not only what you focally think, but also your viscera, your "gut." When you try to let something go, look then and see if you are eased and free. If you are not, then let it come another step.

By this means one usually runs through, in a few minutes, whatever is now using stomach lining to remain tense, and one arrives at a deep peaceful way of being which is more actively alive than one usually is all day long.

This intense aliveness is the very opposite of sitting tense and half turned off, focusing one's attention on "nothing" with nothing happening—a condition that arises if one attempts meditation on top of one's unloosened pile of everyday visceral commitments.

  • One doesn't only always ask: "What is it?" Equally well one can ask: "Why is this?" or "Why does this still bug me?" or "What would fix it?" The trick is not to rush in and answer [Page 73] oneself, but to wait, attending to the feel that comes up in answer, and to let words come from that feel. Later you can ask: "Is it all OK? Is anything else off?" (In silence, sense what comes.) You may find some "this", and "oh yes that", things you can handle. "Anything else?" You may sense some real peace and gladness as you scan for anything else and find that things are at peace in this regard.

**Focusing on Your Background Feelings

There are two more pointers worth putting down:

a) If there are general feelings of tenseness, impatience, stuckness, trying hard, depression, conviction of failure, grayness, or whatever—one can always turn and focus on those. The same process works also on such background feelings. By making such feelings an object of focusing, the bodily life process moves on a bit in regard to them, whereas while they stay background, we are them and nothing changes. Anything that is felt can be turned upon in this way and can be made into the object of focus. "What is that?" you can always ask about any general discomfort you feel.

For example, if you find yourself stuck and trying too hard, then it's not useful to try hard not to try hard. Instead, go with that feeling and see what is in it. "What is this trying so hard?" ask yourself.

b) One must be willing to be at least minimally kind to oneself in this focusing process. Many people are to themselves like roommates who aren't on speaking terms. They haven't been willing, perhaps for ages, ever to listen to what the inner man might say. Then, if he does say something, right away it isn't what is wanted and they shut off again. Instead, the attitude ought to be that, whatever comes is OK, only you then go on to ask "what is that" or "why that?" or "what's the feel of saying that?" There is needed a minimal respect for oneself which assumes that no matter how evil or idiotic anything that comes may be, it contains some important good sense one hasn't seen yet.

If you have found, sensed, and moved through the steps of resolving where the real difficulty(ies) is(are), then, if the decision isn't already made for you, there is also a totaling or weighing process. But even then, this process is not a cognitive one, not one of making a list of items. Rather, one stands as it were at the center, just as in the focusing procedure described, and one "looks" successively down each avenue as they occur to one. Now, instead of moving down any avenue, one stands still and senses each. Rather than imagining the whole world as it will be if one choice is made, then imagining it the other way (each taking hours to do), one just senses it all that way, and then the other. People have this capacity. Instead, they often "argue" as if they were the lawyer for one side—making everything fit that side—then later, making everything fit the other side. That is artificial. Since the decision isn't made, obviously not everything fits either side. If one has already done much thinking, then it may be time not to go down every avenue all the way, but to sense down it, from the center. When, having sensed them all, one's desire has the felt-sense kind of focusing, then the decision sits right.

Actual experience is much more specific and richly textured than our concepts alone represent. Concepts make some facet of an experience clear and sharp. Before we conceptualized it, that facet didn't stand out separately, perhaps, and was part of a maze of thousands of other facets. Live experiencing is rich texture [Page 74] which cannot be had in concepts. It can be had only as it is felt, in a bodily sentient way.

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–––––Ground rules for groups. In Theories and methods of group psychotherapy and counseling. Gazda, Ed., Springfield Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1968.

–––––Focusing. Psychotherapy, 6, 1, 4-14, 1969.

Eugene T. Gendlin is associate professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Chicago. He is active in exploring philosophical and theoretical concept formation along lines that are more fitting for human processes than the older models, but that retain both precision and testability. His other research interests include man's focusing ability, community psychology, new forms of social organization, and experimental models in group processes.

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  • Biographic Note: Eugene T. Gendlin is a seminal American philosopher and psychologist. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago and taught there from 1963 to 1995. His philosophical work is concerned especially with the relationship between logic and implicit intricacy. Philosophy books include Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, Language Beyond Post-Modernism: Saying and Thinking in Gendlin's Philosophy edited by David Michael Levin, (fourteen commentaries and Gendlin’s replies), and A Process Model. There is a world wide network of applications and practices (http://www.focusing.org) stemming from this philosophy. Gendlin has been honored three times by the American Psychological Association for his development of Experiential Psychotherapy. He was a founder and editor for many years of the Association’s Clinical Division Journal, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. His book Focusing has sold over half a million copies and has appeared in seventeen languages. His psychology-related books are Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams and Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy.
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