Presence: An Existential-Humanistic Analysis of Bodymind Unity in The Graduate

Peter Scott Lederer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existential-humanism is a fully integrative therapeutic approach gaining increasing recognition. As presented by Kirk J. Schneider, Orah T. Krug, and others at the Existential-Humanistic Institute in Oakland, California, E-H addresses not only the inherent anxiety associated with much of our suffering but also recognizes the potentiality for personal growth. It closely follows the existential tradition while maintaining its own humanistic identity, embracing a unique American methodology that denotes that peculiarity. Despite its uneasy existential challenge, it can be therapeutically transformative, helping clients to understand their own struggles coping and adapting, assisting them in their intra- and interpersonal understandings. Here, three scenes from The Graduate (novel, 1963; film, 1967) are approached using E-H methodology: the opening party sequence, where Benjamin’s seduction is initiated; the bedroom scene at the Taft Hotel, which becomes a dialogical opportunity for Mrs. Robinson to re-engage with her larger self; and the final crashing of the wedding, a moment of both joy and uncertainty. These vignettes illustrate the practicality of E-H as not only a viable therapy for clients but also a literary theory for the twenty-first century, which can bring a fuller appreciation for film and literature.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)18-35
Number of pages17
JournalThe Dovetail Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 06 Dec 2016


  • existentialism
  • Psychotherapy
  • The Graduate
  • Existential-Humanism


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