The history of Gestalt is linked to the founder of Gestalt psychotherapy Frederick Perls. The history of the creation of this trend was greatly influenced by Perls’ family situation, his experiences, experiences, but also his love of Eastern philosophy, art or character psychology. There are several groups of factors that have significantly influenced the formation of the Gestalt trend:

Frederick Perls’ personal history of Gestalt

Perls grew up in an unloving and disrespectful family. As a teenager, he ran away from home and truant. He was even expelled from junior high school, despite being a very capable student, but nonetheless rebellious and arrogant. In contrast, in adulthood he was spontaneous and curious about the world. He was an individualist. In addition, he loved competition and was characterized by bitterness.

History of Gestalt – philosophical influences:

  • Existentialism:

> Heidegger – which talks about man’s responsibility for his decisions and the heroism of existence,

> Buber – talking about dialogue in the “I-Thou” encounter.

  • Husserl’s phenomenology – human experience of the “here and now” is unique and individual.
  • Bergson’s holism – a person cannot be reduced to individual aspects. Intuitive cognition is important.
  • Eastern philosophy – the essence of which is:

> Integration of opposites,

> Rejecting theorizing,

> Consent to experience feelings and emotional states,

> Finding answers to questions.

Psychological assumptions within character psychology – the history of Gestalt

Gestalt assumes that the human psyche is not composed of elements, but is a certain whole. Perls drew on his knowledge of character psychology in the areas of figure and background perception, figure closure, the Zeigarnik effect (ending situations that were not completed), and insight. Kurt Lewin’s theory was close to the concept of boundary contact and polarity, while Goldstein’s concept of self-actualization and self-regulation in contact with the environment.

Psychoanalysis in the history of Gestalt

Perls agreed with the premise that a person’s current behavior is greatly influenced by unworked childhood experiences and internal conflicts. However, he disagreed with many views in psychoanalysis and built the assumptions of the Gestalt concept in opposition:

  • Emphasis on hunger drive, not sex drive
  • What happens “here and now” is more important than analyzing the past
  • Emphasis on the role of consciousness versus unconscious drive dynamics
  • Allowing yourself to react naturally and spontaneously with the customer, rather than focusing on transference and countertransference
  • The goal of therapy is to change behavior, not just understand behavior

Theatrical experience and psychodrama in the history of Gestalt

Perls took over from psychodrama the principles of dramatization and actualization of past experiences, experimentation and role swapping, dialogue and group form of therapy.