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Gestalt

Gestalt (gəshtält´) [Ger.,=form], school of psychology that interprets phenomena as organized wholes rather than as aggregates of distinct parts, maintaining that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The term Gestalt was coined by the philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels in 1890, to denote experiences that require more than the basic sensory capacities to comprehend. In 1912, the movement was given impetus in psychology by German theorists Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka as a protest against the prevailing atomistic, analytical psychological thought. It was also a departure from the general intellectual climate, which emphasized a scientific approach characterized by a detachment from basic human concerns. According to the school, understanding of psychological phenomena such as perceptual illusions could not be derived by merely isolating the elementary parts for analysis, because human perception may organize sensory stimuli in any number of ways, making the whole different from the sum of the parts. Gestalt psychologists suggest that the events in the brain bear a structural correspondence to psychological events; indeed, it has been shown that steady electric currents in the brain correspond to structured perceptual events. The Gestalt school has made substantial contributions to the study of learning, recall, and the nature of associations, as well as important contributions to personality and social psychology. Gestalt therapy, developed after World War II by Frederick Perls, believes that a person's inability to successfully integrate the parts of his personality into a healthy whole may lie at the root of psychological disturbance. In therapy, the analyst encourages clients to release their emotions, and to recognize these emotions for what they are. Gestalt psychology has been thought of as analogous to field physics.

See W. Köhler, The Task of Gestalt Psychology (1969); Max W. Productive Thinking (rev. ed. 1959, repr. 1978); G. Higgins, Gestalt Psychology and the Theory of Emotional Growth (1987); D. Rosenblatt, Opening Doors: What Happens in Gestalt Therapy (1989).

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gestalt

gestalt in psychology, an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts; the word is German (recorded in English from the 1920s), and means literally ‘form, shape’.
Gestalt psychology a movement in psychology founded in Germany in 1912, seeking to explain perceptions in terms of gestalts rather than by analysing their constituents.
Gestalt psychotherapy a psychotherapeutic approach developed by Fritz Perls (1893–1970). It focuses on insight into gestalts in patients and their relations to the world, and often uses role playing to aid the resolution of past conflicts.

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gestalt

ge·stalt / gəˈshtält; -ˈshtôlt/ (also Ge·stalt) • n. (pl. -stalt·en / shtältn; -ˈshtôltn/ or -stalts) Psychol. an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. DERIVATIVES: ge·stalt·ism n. ge·stalt·ist n.

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gestalt

gestalt The perception of a pattern or structure as a whole, not as a sum of its constituent parts. The German word Gestalt means ‘form’ or ‘shape’.

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gestalt

gestalt The perception of a pattern or structure as a whole, not as a sum of its constituent parts. The German word Gestalt means ‘form’ or ‘shape’.

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gestalt

gestalt (psych.) XX. — G., ‘form, aspect’.

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gestalt

gestalt •gestalt • asphalt •belt, Celt, dealt, dwelt, felt, gelt, knelt, melt, misdealt, pelt, Scheldt, smelt, spelt, svelte, veld, welt •fan belt • seat belt • lifebelt • sunbelt •rust belt • Copperbelt • heartfelt •underfelt • backveld • bushveld •Roosevelt •atilt, built, gilt, guilt, hilt, jilt, kilt, lilt, quilt, silt, spilt, stilt, tilt, upbuilt, wilt •Vanderbilt • volte •assault, Balt, exalt, fault, halt, malt, salt, smalt, vault •cobalt • stringhalt • basalt •somersault • polevault •bolt, colt, dolt, holt, jolt, moult (US molt), poult, smolt, volt •deadbolt • Humboldt • thunderbolt •megavolt • spoilt • Iseult •consult, cult, exult, indult, insult, penult, result, ult •adult • occult • tumult • catapult •difficult • Hasselt

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