Gestalt Therapy

They’re Unteachable, Thank God

One of the virtues of the documentary PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE is that it offers an answer to the question, how do you make a movie about an intellectual that isn't boring? Or even better, one that's neither boring nor shallow?

A Man in Full

What a breathtaking range of 20th-century experience is embodied in the life and writing of Paul Goodman. The upcoming biopic PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE provides a splendid introduction to Goodman for we 21st-century folk who can learn so much from his example. The film admirably captures the astonishing diversity of fields on which he had an impact—poetry, psychology, politics, planning, education, and the theory and practice of queer sexuality.

excitement and growth, absurd

I've written several posts recently about the psychological theory that Paul Goodman spelled out in his contribution to the 1951 book Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality. In my view, it is an admirable and thought-provoking attempt to synthesize the essential insights of Freud and Wilhelm Reich with the assumptions of philosophical pragmatism and express all that in un-jargony language applicable to empirical experience.

hunger, aggression, excitement and growth

In two prior posts I discussed the relationship between Fritz Perls and Paul Goodman and the novel psychological theory that resulted from their shared work on the book Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality (co-authored with Ralph Hefferline, 1951).

the contact boundary

In my last post I discussed the 1951 book Gestalt Therapy, co-written by Fritz Perls, Paul Goodman, and Ralph Hefferline. For a landmark work of clinical psychology, it's a curiously schizophrenic book. One half, written by Goodman from ideas and notes by Perls, is a dense and cogent exposition of the personality theory in which Gestalt therapy is grounded.

"I do my thing and you do your thing"

One very interesting segment of the upcoming movie Paul Goodman Changed My Life discusses Goodman's role in the origination of Gestalt therapy and his association with Friedrich (Fritz) Perls. Perls, along with his wife Laura, conceived and popularized the technique of Gestalt therapy, which remains a relatively popular product in the mental health marketplace.

Fritz and Laura Perls emigrated from Germany in the early years of the Third Reich and spent the war years in South Africa.

The New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy

Fritz Perls, Laura Perls, and Paul Goodman developed Gestalt Therapy in the 1940s-50s.  A form of psychotherapy, its philosophy was originally rooted in the individual's present experience, the environmental and social contexts of an individual’s life, and the therapist-client relationship.  Today, Gestalt Therapy continues to thrive on a global level.  The New York Gestalt Institute of Gestalt Therapy, the original Gestalt Therapy institute, is still in full operation today with a world-wide membership.

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