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  Gestalt (German, ‘form’, from Old High German stellen, ‘to shape’) was developed in the 1950s in New York by Frederick and Laura Perls. Frederick was a psychoanalyst who disliked the passivity and rigidity of the psychoanalytic practice, and Laura was already working with the old Gestalt school, which saw human beings as perceiving the world as meaningful configurations, called gestalts. Integration, existential and phenomenological respect for experience and concentration therapy were all taken by the Perls from the earlier Gestalt school. The Perls adopted the Reichian view that the body was as involved as the mind in constructing resistances. Their Gestalt therapy was linked to the human potential movement in the 1960s. The therapy works to heighten awareness and enhance the quality of interactions. It holds a holistic view that a person relates to the environment: humans are not self-sufficient, but engage with the environment and surroundings in order to work and grow. The Gestalt view of the personality is that it has a number of functions, bodily, perceptual, verbal and cognitive. The inborn goal is self-actualization in biological, physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs, and exists in open-ended creativity in adjusting to situations. MJ

Further reading Hefferline, Perls and Goodman, Gestalt Theory.



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