That is, to assimilate the new and keep up, updating, the old must be destroyed. Perls, in an unpublished section of the preface to the edition of Random House Wulf, , alludes to the fact that a new approach to man in his health and situation emerged, and no longer is analyst. It makes it clear that she did not conceive aggression as a mystical energy born of Thanatos, but as a tool for survival, and that concepts such as reflexes stimulus-response and instincts as stable properties have become obsolete.
Helou puts the concept of mental metabolism as a great innovation of Perls, although this comes from the notion of psychic work. With the action of the ego through aggressive forces, new material can be rejected or assimilated. These processes of assimilation and rejection will delineate the contours of the notion of organismic self-regulation that will be built up in the work.
For Staemmler , Perls defines aggression as a positive life force related to assimilation, and the associated terms destruction, assimilation, growth illustrate the historical context in which Fritz developed his theory: the attempt to overcome Freud's view of aggression, which related it to death instinct. In this sense, such instincts become in part harmless when they merge with erotic components and, on the other hand, are diverted to the outside as aggressiveness. Fritz, corroborating, believed that the activity of internal aggression is necessary for a healthy metabolism; that externalizing aggression is necessary to maintain psychological health Staemmler, Staemmler adds that this conception is presumably based on the psychoanalytic idea that energy was to be discharged before it accumulated and caused damage.
In Perls, the solution to aggression poorly channeled or evolved to a pathological level would be its biological output by the use of the teeth. Only later Freud recognized the original independence of aggression, and he added that independent sources would come from the self-preservation instincts. The impulses of aggressiveness always belonged to the self- preservation instinct, but as this was included in the libido, there was no need to testify for the independence of the aggressive instinct. Only after the emergence of the "death instinct" that an aggressive, indeed autonomous, instinct appeared in Beyond the Pleasure Principle.
Finally, there is a letter in which Freud seems to allude to the fact that at the beginning of life all libido is turned inward and all aggressiveness towards the external world, and that, throughout life, this vector would gradually change, in reverse. Nevertheless, Freud himself calls for careful consideration of this assumption and that his observations of the instinct of aggression need further consideration Strachey, a. It is noted, therefore, that the idea that the source of hostility is the repression of instincts is not Perlsian.
The nature of man would therefore be aggressive. It is also Freud's assertion that struggle and competition are indispensable, and that civilization cares little for individual satisfaction, trying to undermine, at the expense of individual well-being, human aggressiveness. Aggressiveness is the basis of every relationship of affection and love between individuals and is also a source of satisfaction.
Inhibition of instinctive satisfaction produces aggression. It states that the organism is under the control of self-preservation and the preservation of the species that, independent, do not share the same origin and, not infrequently, conflict. When they come to dominate the scene, the sadistic and anal impulses, in connection with the emergence of the teeth, the strengthening of the muscular apparatus and the control of the sphincters, call into question the oral incorporation and the desire to maintain and to possess, elements of ambivalence uniting and possessing, but also destroying and losing , more evident in the sadistic-anal phase.
Perls's intuition about child development, which values implicit deconstruction in tooth development, is based on a self-regulated conception Lobb, The child's ability to bite, supports and accompanies the ability to deconstruct reality. Thus, from an innovative notion of ego - as a function and not a psychic instance Perls, -, different from the American ego psychology, though influenced by Karen Horney's theory, Perls, supported by Goldstein's organismic self-regulation, will explain the implications of the ego's difficulties of conducting itself in the medium to what Perls will call the actions of unification or destruction , which are the basis of growth.
Healthy ego is the one who can exert the function of assimilating or rejecting through actions of unification or destruction Helou, For Laplanche and Pontalis , psychoanalysis has given increasing importance to aggressiveness, alluding to the fact that it operates at an early age of human development and emphasizing the complex mechanism of its fusion and defusion with sexuality; warning that the notion of the death drive does not merely refer to an indiscriminate conglomeration of aggressive manifestations, but also entails a tendency towards an unrestricted reduction of tensions.
After , what is renewed, therefore, is the extension of the field in which the aggressiveness in action is recognized. This conception loses the connotation of hostility and becomes synonymous with entrepreneurial spirit. This conception and the Freudian consideration of aggression as energy necessary for survival are at the center of Perls's idea of positive aggression.
Perls and Psychoanalysis: "an open gestalt". In , Fritz Perls has his first contact with psychoanalysis Helou, His analysis with Karen Horney aroused this interest, whose training - which took place amidst many comings and goings - began at the renowned Institute of Psychoanalysis in Berlin. Karen Horney participated in the creation of the first institute of psychoanalysis, and her theoretical trajectory turned to culturalism - in opposition to Freudian universalism - for self-realization, self -reconstruction and self autonomy strongly influenced Fritz.
She considers Freud to have neglected these factors for Freud, culture would be the result of a sublimation of sexual and aggressive impulses , indicating that there are no historical and anthropological data that endorse the thesis of the growth of civilization as directly proportional to the growth of the suppression of the instincts, and that clinical experience shows that neurosis is not simply the result of the suppression of one or other instinctual impulse, but mainly of difficulties in relation to the demands that are imposed on individuals. For Wulf , this view oriented toward environmental influences in the genesis of neurosis is also of Reich, both having been responsible for this same orientation in Fritz.
These themes, and also the relationship between culture and individual as responsible for determining health and disease, permeate the entire theoretical and practical path of Perls. It is from a re-reading of Smuts and Goldstein that Fritz will formulate his review of psychoanalysis. This shift to Frankfurt will also put Perls in touch with the "Freudian Left", and researchers at the Institute for Social Research , who worked in collaboration with the Frankfurt Institute of Psychoanalysis also based on phenomenology and Marxism, resulting in contributions that revolutionized the academic landscape of the twentieth century and paved the ground on which Perls launched his theoretical postulations of Helou, Directed by Clara Happel - disciple of Horney who lived in Frankfurt - Perls, in , moved to Vienna to finish the last phase of his psychoanalytic training at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute.
According to Bocian as quoted by Helou, , Perls was attending theoretical seminars on names such as Otto Fenichel, Anna Freud and Wilhelm Reich; Anna Freud's Child Analysis seminar apparently mobilized Fritz to write his first work, which focused on the ego. Anna, a pioneer in the subject, did not believe that an infant analysis focused on the unconscious was possible because of the superego's lack of maturity. Fritz and Laura postulated that the analysis of children was through the use of activities and tools to promote expression, hence the claim that Anna Freud inspired Perls in the elaboration of the method in GT, an active, creative and experiential method.
Already in Africa, Perls draws attention to themes that have aroused his interest, such as Smuts holism, and studies of the general semantics of Alfred Korzybski Loffredo, The admiration for Smuts was one of the reasons that made him move to this country. The Perls couple founded the Institute of Psychoanalysis in Johannesburg. After the trip to Europe to present his work in the Congress of , the break with psychoanalysis, with which he had already been distancing himself, began.
At the origin of the GT, Wulf comments that Otto Rank's therapy deserves special mention, since it was centered on the will and functions of the ego as an autonomous organizing force within the individual. Rank required the client to re-experience and repeat rather than remember , which implies an active role of the therapist. For Loffredo , there is a lack of uniformity among the authors who have proposed to rescue the set of influences that gave rise to the GT, especially regarding post-Freudian influences.
However, Reich's influence is unanimous, which can be seen throughout Perls's writings because of the direct mention he makes. In the face of all this discussion, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the GT is the "daughter" of psychoanalysis - even a rebellious daughter - an expression, at least initially, of Perls's strong revolt against Freud. Several psychoanalysts that contested Freud have influenced Perls and Laura, many with active techniques and physical interventions. Fritz did not enjoy a traditional experience of psychoanalysis, so his criticisms must be placed in this context.
Aside from this, Perls intended to strengthen and give an identity to his method, hence his focus on differences and the strengthening of boundaries. In the United States, Perls, who was already far from Freudian psychoanalysis, became even more distant when he started to participate in arts and intellectual Marxists circles of the post-war period, becoming involved again with the theater. The development of Freudian psychoanalysis in the United States occurred amid conflict that resulted in neofreudism, a movement that questioned important concepts of Freud, such as sexuality, drive, repression and transference, as well as opposed to Freudian dogmatism and universalism.
It was in this wave of dissent that Fritz settled in New York. Being a revisionist psychoanalyst meant to turn more to the intersubjective, to object relations Helou, In his first work, e. However, revisions of the Freudian theory of the Ego were not Perls's prerogative in the s. On the other hand, Fritz set in motion a very peculiar and proper study of the ego, different from other post-Freudian currents and other psychoanalytic movements. In general, for Loffredo , anchored in reasoning of Marcuse, the common cause of divergence of the revisionists of Freud was his attitude of disregarding the relation with the environment in the formulation of the neuroses and in the construction of the personality.
In summary, Helou concludes that "the instincts of self-conservation of hunger and defense, studied by Perls, are based on Freudian drives for self-conservation" p. In view of this, Perls apparently starts from this second topic, since the life drive would be responsible for bringing together the self-preservation and libidinal functions, and does not recognize the death drives Helou, In this way, Perls tries to change the concept of drive by necessity, simpler and organismic Helou, The influence of Reich on Perls is more evident than that of Freud, especially by the appeal to the body as an expression of reality, which also permeates the entire work of Perls.
For Perls and Reich, the relieving of a muscular tension almost always gives rise to anguish, anger or sexual excitement, which are the three basic biological excitations. As biological energy dominates the somatic as well as the psychic, they consider that there is a functional unit in which biological laws can be applied to the psychic, but not vice versa.
Thus, there is a constant oscillation of tension and relief; self-regulation eliminates the struggle against instinct, as it is compatible with natural instincts. Reich will also reflect on the conflict between society and individual and the implications of this conflict. This influence of Reich on Perls is something that deserves greater prominence. Kyian brings together data of historical and theoretical character, and influences that constituted the process of existence of Perls and his approach; concluding that there is an integrated "whole" between Fritz, his history and his approach, leaving the question: Who was Frederick Perls?
To this, he argues that a sure answer would be that he was a dissident psychoanalyst who constructed an approach that contrasted with psychoanalysis, from personal frustration and from divergences in the conception of man. Or, he was the creator of an approach, recognized from the s on account of the changes in the social historical context, which converged with his premises. The heritage of Reichian thought is clear.
Perls also stressed the importance of how, and not why; his holistic view of man was a total and integrated form of expression. The corporeal aspect is also present in both approaches, since it is through some bodily manifestations that some internal contents can be exhibited.
They also used in their therapeutic work the instrument of frustration. For him, the supposed "death drive" could be explained by some specific form of orgasm anguish. Moreover, it demonstrates its agreement with Freud's theory that destructive feelings, which are usually caused by inhibitions of drives, are initially directed against the external world, turning against the person only later. In other words, for Freud, psychic development would take place on the basis of the conflict between the drive and the external world. The conflict later posed by Freud - between Eros and the death drive - reduced the importance of the former.
Neurosis, then, would no longer result from the original conflict, and hence suffering would no longer result from the external world, from oppressive society, but from an internal biological will to suffer, to self-punch and self-destruct. With this, Reich demonstrates his disagreement that there is some primary tendency for self-destruction, independent of the environment, which came from "inside", from an inner drive of death.
He states that only one desire emerges from the individual's biopsychic oneness: that of unloading internal tensions, whether they come from hunger or sexuality, which would not be possible without contact with the external world. Hunger is something that can not be sublimated, unlike sexual energy.
Any frustration of a satisfaction drive can cause anguish, which is the counterpoint of the libido or, in order to avoid an-guish, generate a destructive impulse. The inhibition of the aggressive impulse by a threat of punishment from the external environment in addition to increasing the anguish, impairs the discharge of the libido, causing the release of the destructive impulse to the world and to the ego, producing new antagonisms: between the drive of destruction and self-destruction.
Every libidinal impulse that is not directed towards the world ends up being nothing but reactions to frustrations resulting from the failure to satisfy libidinal needs and to satisfy hunger, frustrations generated by the social system, having nothing to do with death drive. Indeed, it is the moral prohibitions of society that produce these "internal mechanisms" antagonistic to the sexual drive. Therefore, destructive impulses are not determined biologically, but socially; the repression of sexuality by authoritarian education transforms aggression into a demand, in other words, the accumulated sexual energy becomes destructiveness, and what seems self-destructive in fact are genuine manifestations of destructive intentions of a tyrannical society, not drives of self-annihilation.
The ambivalence of feelings, such as love and hate, is also not a biological law, and therefore comes from social development. Believing that it is possible to extract the full range of affections from the three basic affections pleasure, anguish, and anger, Reich argues that sexual excitement and anguish can be understood as two contrary directions, but hate would relate to these two affections in the following way: when the armor of character is undone, aggressiveness emerges first.
Subsequently, when the aggressiveness is released, the anguish will be released. This means that anguish can become aggression and vice versa. Inhibition of aggression, moreover, is linked to an increased tone, to a stiffening of the musculature. Inhibited aggression leads to an affective blockage. Emphasis added.
It would be like saying that the inhibition of vital functions libido, anguish, aggression is achieved through the formation of a muscular armor around the biological nucleus. Thus, there is a functional relationship between neurotic character and muscular dystonia. The organism, for Reich, functions integrally, is expressed in several levels and at one time. Both the character and the subject as a whole were not the object of Freudian analysis. This was limited to the symptoms and the positive transfers, because negative ones were considered to hinder the process.
Thus, the priority for Reich was to analyze how customers avoided contacting themselves. In working on bodily inhibition, the repression of repressed instincts or impulses is also worked. All of these points are validated and incorporated by Perls into his theory. Although Reich's clinical observations were against Freud's early postulates relating the formation of the neuroses to the repression of sexuality, for Reich they are especially the social factors that turn sexual excitement into anguish, reflecting the conflict between sexual needs and world.
The conflict between internal needs, and social prohibitions to gratify them, leads such prohibitions to be internalized in the form of morals. However in Perls's case, his theory focuses more specifically on the repression of aggression, not on the repression of sexuality. Reich said that if the spontaneous movement of the organism is repressed, the need for gratification will be increasing, and the need for reinforcement of the barrier is increased, which, in turn, increases the pressure for gratification as well, turning more violent the need, for himself and for the world.
Costa argues that Reich corroborates Freud's assumption that sexuality represents the emotional pleasure movement of the organism, which tends to be regulated by this principle, that is, the organism regulates itself by the pleasure principle. Thus, if a child is deprived of affection, of contact, that is, in the face of the frustration of its pleasure movement, it will experience anguish from which anger arises, and a movement which was both discharge and pleasure becomes destructive, even violent.
ER: Was the Gestalt psychological approach then basically perceptual? Were you interested in working experimentally? LP: It was expanded through the work of Kurt Goldstein into a whole organismic approach. Fritz had worked with Goldstein and so had I. Fritz was an assistant of his for a few months and I was his student for a number of years. I did a lot of experimental work at the Institute for Brain-Injured Veterans. ER: Let's go back to the research that you were doing that led to Fritz's paper on oral resistances.
LP: I was mainly interested in the methods of feeding and weaning because my experiences right from the hospital and what I had read about the feeding of children were very unsatisfactory to me. The way things are stuffed into little kids. The feeding is They are not allowed enough time to chew. LP: Weaning is often done very early or very late; and the foods that children get first are completely mashed and mealy. Mothers are very impatient. Children drink the food instead of learning to chew. Chewing takes time and patience and an awareness of what one is chewing.
I pay a lot of attention to the way people eat. I concentrate on the detailed activities of doing something: chewing as well as studying, putting on one's clothing, having a bath or walking in the street. Minute work. LP: Between assimilation and taking time. Drinking doesn't take any time. You swallow immediately without any intermediate process. The eating process is an awares process.
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ER: In essence the beginning of Gestalt therapy comes in terms of eating: it grew up around the whole concept of how we eat. LP: The taste of it, the texture of it, the way it goes. When you swallow the unchewed it lies heavy in your stomach. Either you feel like repeating it or it passes through in an undigested way. LP: I think Freud said that development takes place through introjections, but if it remains introjection and goes no further, then it becomes a block; it becomes identification.
Introjection is to a great extent unawares.
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And actually what we see with every patient is that they imitate consciously, and with awareness, what they admire and what they like, but they introject, unawares, what they can't stomach in any other way. LP: They don't even feel that with awareness, they don't really feel it. But what it does is that it avoids the external conflict and leads to the identification with the disagreeable features of father or mother or whoever teaches.
It avoids the external conflict but sets up an internal one which becomes a block. ER: What I don't understand is what was so radical about Fritz's new theory of resistances. I've been re-reading Ego, Hunger and Aggression , and ER: It's not so radical for me because I don't come out of the Freudian background. What I keep seeing is that the basic background is Freudian psychoanalysis; in addition to Gestalt psychology, but psychoanalysis was the pervasive psychological weltanschuanng.
LP: Actually in the beginning, when Ego, Hunger and Aggression was written, we still called ourselves psychoanalysts, but revisionists. ER: Right. Was all this so foreign to the Freudian ear of those times? LP: Yes. It flew in the face of their resistance theory: anal development. We also rejected the libido theory,. ER: The message I got from Fritz's recounting of those times was that he went to the Czech conference feeling that whatever he had worked out was a contribution to psychoanalysis and that he would become a greater psychoanalyst.
LP: He was pretty much rejected there, apart from one or two people. One was my former analyst who we were friendly with. His name was Karl Landauer and he was killed by the Nazis, that's why nobody knows him. They were my first teachers. Landauer was my analyst and Frieda was my first teacher in psychoanalysis. ER: And at the same time you were working with the Gestalt psychologists? You were working with Goldstein? LP: At the same time. It was very contradictory and I got awfully confused to the extent that I nearly went to sleep, like Pavlov's double-conditioned dogs.
Somehow it didn't go together. They went against each other to quite an extent; and it takes a lifetime to integrate. LP: No. I had finished my analysis in or and I got married in Landauer was our friend, later, in Amsterdam. I was still under supervision with Otto Fenichel. He was a great writer and theorist but a lousy teacher! He didn't say anything at all. It was wasted time and wasted money. He just sat there and listened to my report and apparently agreed with most of it; and he said nothing. LP: Fritz had been in America already. Inflation you know, , inflation caused him to leave Germany and he went to America.
He thought he would stay but he didn't like it then. It was just too crude for him at that point. He come from Berlin which was at that time really the European center of cultural development: everything, Max Reinhardt, Brecht, Kurt Weil, the Bauhaus, great writers. ER: Once you had started to learn some English you started your practice in South Africa; whose idea was it to set up a psychoanalytic institute?
Was that decided before you went there? LP: That is really the purpose that we went there for. We were sent out by the International Association, by Ernest Jones who was the president at that time. He got us to South Africa, he was the man who had applied for someone to go there. He was at first very friendly and very helpful. But then he went to the Lucern conference in , and a stink was made and it was decided that nobody who was not already in Europe, as a trainer, could be a trainer or teacher anywhere else.
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So we had to give up our training institute in South Africa. But by that point we had such an established practice there. It was during the war. I worked ten to thirteen hours a day, six days a week and sometimes on Sunday. I was in my thirties and early forties and I was very energetic then. Once I came into the kitchen, by 8 o'clock at night and said to the maid: "I am completely pooped. You sit and talk!
I started doing body work and sitting opposite my patients. At that time Fritz was still addicted to the couch and never quite got rid of it. But I never used it again. If I wanted someone to lie down I had them lie on the floor because that was much more even support and we could do certain experiments with co-ordination and alignment.
ER: What was the reaction of your patients when you sat face to face with them? Weren't they coming into therapy expecting a typical psychoanalyst? LP: Much more. And there were others that were very interested and they welcomed it. Actually, while I was sitting behind the patient I knitted; because otherwise I would have had to smoke cigarettes, like Fritz did. I smoked very little, not even half a pack a day and I gave it up, already, some fifteen years ago.
But Fritz smoked two, three, four packs a day. ER: There's a section in Garbage Pail where he says something like: "What I really should be writing about is my problem with smoking; that's my real problem. ER: When Fritz returned from the rejection of the Czech conference, did you then start working more actively together trying to evolve a new therapy, or was it more gradual? LP: We continued discussing things. Then Fritz went into the army, from to and he had time to write. He come home mostly every week-end and later at least once or twice a month.
He started to put things together. But we had a friend who helped us a lot with the English. Fritz's English, in spite of getting started earlier, was pretty atrocious. My pronunciation was always worse, his was better. The north Germans can speak English better than the south Germans. LP: We had a friend who helped with the writing. He was a writer, an historian and a very bright guy, a friend of ours. LP: Several reasons. Partly political. Because Jan Smuts then Prime Minister of South Africa, author of Holism and Evolution was retiring and a young man of about forty-three, a very brilliant guy, a wunderkind, who was supposed to succeed him, suddenly died of a heart attack and there was no one who was in the Union party, which was the democratic party, to have a chance to be elected.
We knew what would be coming because the nationalists had been working all along. They were pretty well organized and we wanted to leave before the elections. Fritz left in and I left in We had already applied for immigration before we went to South Africa but the quota for the U. We had an affidavit from Dr. Brill who was the president of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Later on we got another affidavit from Karen Horney, whom Fritz worked with for a short time before she come to America.
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He worked with her first and then with Wilhelm Reich. LP: My brother was here already and he guaranteed for us, but he had just started his own business. My brother started here with ten marks in his pocket as a Fuller brush man, going from cloor-to-cloor. Now he has made it again. It was published first in South Africa, before it was published in England. Then for a long time it was not published here, not until Fritz was out at Esalen when it was published by Orbit Graphic Press.
Then it was re-published by Random House,. LP: The people who understood anything about it at all were the people that we had been working with. But it didn't go well in England and they didn't re-publish later. LP: We started to train people but then we weren't allowed to anymore because of the decision, by the psychoanalytic association which we were still members of , to restrict training to those who were already trainers in Europe. LP: Then we were still calling it psychoanalysis. Even when we come to New York; I found some old stationery where we had both of our names on it as psychoanalysts.
We changed it really with the publication of the book Gestalt Therapy , in LP: Fritz was here already a year before.
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And he was, for six months, in Canada before he could get his permanent residence visa. He visited my brother; they invited him and he stayed with them for three weeks, which was a disaster. They advised him not to settle in New York because there was too much competition. They had no idea of our professional potential. ER: I suppose the fear was that you would be lost in the crowd of all the analysts in New York. LP: So he started in New Haven and that was about the worst thing he could have done.
At that time the chair for psychiatry was vacant at Yale and everybody thought that he was after it. So there was a kind of concerted front against him. LP: You know Fritz either had to be accepted or he was devastated. He was just at the point of coming back to South Africa when he visited New York for a few days and spoke to Erich Fromm. Fromm said: "I don't know why you don't come here. I guarantee you that in three months you'l I have a practice. LP: He had a practice and was very busy already, I brought the children and started working immediately because Fritz couldn't accept anyone anymore.
We got patients through the William Alanson White Institute at that time. Fritz got friendly with Clara Thompson and she sent a lot of people. The White Institute wanted him as a training analyst, but they wanted him to go back to medical school and get his medical degree here in the States because his European degree was not valid here. But Fritz was in his early fifties already and he didn't want to go to school anymore.
At that point, when one goes to school, one goes as a teacher, not as a student. And it wasn't really necessary. Then we made contact with Paul Goodman, who had a very Reichian orientation at that time: he was in a Reichian analysis. And we made contact with lots of others, people like Dwight McDonald and other writers and artists. ER: Who do you remember from that circle?
Was Erich Fromm one of the people you continued to be in contact with? No, we got patients, actually trainees, from the White Institute, people whose training therapy they couldn't complete. I remember particularly two with whom I worked who later were accepted as members of the White Institute.
One is someone who died lost year, who headed a school for schizophrenic children who at that time was a teacher at Kings County and Elliott Shapiro was his principal. A whole line of people came to us through Elliott. Elliott gave the first training in Gestalt therapy for educators. LP: That was, I think, through his wife, who was a psychiatrist of Bellevue and was working with Fritz.
He became a patient of Fritz's and then later worked mostly with me. Richard Kitzler came from Columbia; he was the psychologist for the Columbia psychiatrist who worked with Fritz, too. That was Dr. Montague who died early. LP: They felt that 'Gestalt' was their domain and that it was mainly confined to perceptual psychology, which I had worked with a lot in the past. My doctorate was in visual perception. ER: When you come to America and Fritz was already here, were you both working with the idea that you were developing something new?
Was that in the air? LP: That was in the air because Ego, Hunger, and Aggression had been published already and some people got interested in it. Then Gestalt Therapy was published. When we started the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy forty people appeared for our first course given in America.
LP: First there was a manuscript that Fritz had already written, he had been working on it. I had been working on it, too, but at that point I was satisfied to leave the glory to him. He gave me credit in the first introduction to Ego, Hunger, and Aggression but that credit was removed when Random House republished it. A friend wrote to Random House requesting that they re-insert the original introduction in any new edition of Ego, Hunger, and Aggression but they refused. So Fritz had a manuscript, that you both had been working on, which extended the ideas about introjection, projection, retroflection and confluence.
Mainly the existential orientation. Actually when we first started we wanted to call it 'Existential therapy', but then existentialism was so much identified with Sartre, with the nihilistic approach, that we looked for another name. I thought that with Gestalt therapy, with the word 'Gestalt', we could get into difficulties. But that criticism was rejected by Fritz and Paul. ILP: Yes. Paul was originally hired as an editor, but then he contributed so much, particularly to the second part, which without him would never have become a coherent theory, that Paul become a co-author.
LP: He was interested He did one or two seperate lectures by invitation but he did not become a part of the on-going teaching and training process. ER: Was the Institute already established when the work started on what was to become the book, Gestalt Therapy? No, the Institute was started as a result of the publication of Gestalt Therapy. We gave a ten-day intensive course at the end of or early , and people from outside the city come and three people from Cleveland attended.
Then Isadore From went there for six or seven years, once or twice a month for four days at a time and trained everybody, individually and in group. Clinical Aesthetic in Practice Human vitality is its capacity to creatively-adjust to the contingencies of experience. The neurotic is the failed artist Rank, for whom a lusterless neurosis takes the place of artistic achievement. Yet the creativity of the person is coiled and alive within the structure of any instance of contact interruption and is available in psychotherapy. A current symptom was a creative-adjustment to past contingencies that persists as a creative activity that maintains a fixed gestalt despite changed circumstances.
In its finest distillation of theory and practice, Gestalt therapy focuses on a single moment in the stream of experience, and especially on its sensible -- aesthetic -- aspects. Sensation is the portal of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell from which the aesthetic criterion emerges. In this section, a moment is abstracted from context so as to elucidate this point: that within all process there is a creative pulse in creative-adjustment and that even within apparent neurotic fixities there are vital kernels of contact.
The therapy is support of this creativity, so the interruptions of contacting may become aware. The powers of the person then may become engaged in finding and making, discovering, and inventing a new figure. The unaware now aware is assimilated. A Clinical Example Roger complains of dull headaches and lack of interest in life. He wonders if he is depressed. He asks Roger to sense his face and attend to how his facial muscles change, how he is holding or releasing his expression. The therapist asks him to exaggerate and play with this contracting and releasing of his face.
I seem to have gone all over the place. Roger begins to weep. I miss them. It holds his sadness and his joy within its tightness, crafted in the workshop of his personality to shield him from overwhelming grief. How else could he have known that he lacked interest in life? These unaware feelings were held together in the muscular tension displayed by his facial mask. They were his dull head- aches; the ache was their vitality constricted into pain.
Most likely, other aspects of Roger, including his breathing pattern, carriage, and gait would offer the same announcement of interrupted contact through their lack of harmony or stiffness. The therapist chose what was most evident to him as he experienced Roger at that moment in that session. This choice was a creation of the therapist-patient field, which is the meeting of two apparently individual perspectives.
The sequence of experiment-to- experience-to-further-experiment flowed with its own rhythm. Instead of liveliness or sad- ness, he was fixed and frozen — as if feelingless. This posture protected him from feelings that were once overwhelming and thus once an adequate and creative solution to that risk. The reaction formation masked the repression of the original impulse, permitting any anxiety occasioned by the emergence of the inhibited impulses to be avoided PHG, p.
Yet, unlike the work of a true artist, this creation served to drain vitality from Roger and, applying the aesthetic criterion, left him with dull, brittle, and diffuse figures — all of which he experienced. Burning bright In the forests of the night What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? It is the consummation of creation. This is nature alive. These forms of experience glisten with intrinsic qualities, sound their own vitality, and declare their own authority through the aesthetic criterion. Contact- boundary, contact, self, and creative-adjustment are constituents of this aesthetic method.
By looking to the forming of experience itself and its intrinsic qualities, Gestalt therapy avoids the imposition of restricting values or prescriptions onto life. Its clinical values are aesthetic values; its attention is on sensible experience. Gestalt therapy holds fast to the notion that individual experience is a process unfolding within a fluid field. Its aesthetic qualities are attributes of human beings, who are finding and making their way through an evolving world. The grace of the aesthetic is the harmony of contacting and the wisdom of the organism.
This is all we know on earth and all we need to know. Gestalt Journal, 4 2 : 35— 54 Bloom, D. Situated ethics and the ethical world of gestalt therapy. Francesetti, M. Roubal Eds. Milan, It: FrancoAngeli. From Sentience to sapience: the awareness-consciousness-continuum and the lifeworld. Gestalt Review, 23 1 , 18—43 Dewey J The reflex arc. In: Dewey J, The influence of Darwin and philosophy and other essays. Pain and beauty. From the psychopathology to the aesthetics of contact.
British Gestalt Journal, 21, 2, pp. Francesetti, G. Gestalt Therapy in Clinical Practice. From Psychopathology to the Aesthetics of Contact. Frank,R Body of awareness. In: Henle M, Essays in the theory and history of psychology. In: Kiklick B ed William James writings — Eccentric Genius. III, No 1, Spring, , pp. Gouldsboro, Me. Oyama S a Evolutions eye. In: Robine JM ed Contact and relationship in a field perspective. The now-for-next in psychotherapy. Gestalt therapy recounted in post-modern society.
Milano: FrancoAngeli. Spagnuolo Lobb,M Gestalt Review, 22 1 , Spagnuolo Lobb, M. Stoehr T Here now next. In: Nevis E ed Gestalt therapy perspectives and applications.
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Related Papers. By Dan Bloom. The Relational Function of Self-self functioning of the most human plane. Spagnuolo Lobb M. By Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb. From losses of ego functions to the dance steps between psychotherapist and client. Phenomenology and aesthetics of contact in the psychotherapeutic field. Gestalt Therapy Key Points and Techniques. By Cera Bold. Download pdf. Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.
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