Tagged: Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt Psychology

WHAT IS GESTALT THEORY? Gestalt psychology (sometimes also “gestaltism”) is a theory of mind created by the Berlin School of Experimental Psychology in the first decades of the 20th century. The German word “Gestalt” means shape, or form. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws that govern the human ability to acquire and maintain perceptions of meaning in a chaotic world. Gestalt psychologists believe that the mind actively shapes perceptions, and aims to form units, or “gestalts.” For example, when we hear a melody we can remember it, and recognize it even if it is not played at the same...

Kurt Koffka: Principles of Gestalt Psychology. (1935)

Koffka wrote this book in 1935; I am reproducing the first chapter here. Why Psychology? AN INTRODUCTORY QUESTION When I first conceived the plan of writing this book I guessed, though I did not know, how much effort it would cost to carry it out, and what demands it would put on a potential reader. And I doubted, not rhetorically but very honestly and sincerely, whether such labour on the part of the author and the reader was justified. I was not so much troubled by the idea of writing another book on psychology in addition to the many books...

Wolfgang Metzger: Can the subject create his world? (1974)

In talking to younger psychologists, one finds that many of them seem to believe that perception is something at the surface of the mind, a kind of borderline problem, and that preoccupation with it is obsolete. They look with disdain at every psychological problem that does not at least deal with personality, motivation, or social intercourse. But when discussing problems in which simple facts of stimulus and reaction play a role, as for example in behavior therapy, they prove that they would have done well to occupy themselves a little more with the fundamentals of perception.

Max Wertheimer: What is Gestalt Theory? (1924) 

Wertheimer tried to answer this question in a lecture given before the Kant Society in Berlin, on December 7, 1924. It was first published in German in 1925: “Über Gestalttheorie.” The translation is by Willis Ellis, and was published in his “Source Book of Gestalt Psychology.” New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co, 1938. Here is the text of Wertheimers lecture:  What is Gestalt theory and what does it intend? Gestalt theory was the outcome of concrete investigations in psychology, logic, and epistemology. The prevailing situation at the time of its origin may be briefly sketched as follows. We go from the world of everyday events to that...

Wolfgang Köhler: Gestalt Psychology Today (1959)

This is a speech by the German psychologist Wolfgang Köhler. It was given at the 67th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 6, 1959. Wolfgang Köhler was at the time the president of the APA. He is today remembered as a proponent of Gestalt Psychology, which became popularized later through its psycho-therapeutic applications. The speech was first published in American Psychologist, 14, 727-734. “In 1949, the late Herbert Langfeld gave a lecture in Europe in which he described what appeared to him to be the major trends in American psychology. He also mentioned Gestalt...

Fritz Perls (1893-1970)

psychFritz Perls is the founder of Gestalt therapy. He is famous for the following short text. Gestalt Prayer: I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped. (Fritz Perls, 1969)   Miscellaneous Quotes: «I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world...