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Abstract

The Society for Gestalt Theory and its Applications (GTA) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The task of this article was to give a selection of gestalt theoretical research, which was created within the framework of the GTA. After a brief introduction to the theory, recent developments that have emerged since the founding of the Society and have found expression in the journal Gestalt Theory, as well as in many other publications, have been discussed. A number of contributions to the fundamental area could be cited: consciousness research, multifield approach, synergetics, language, development, and so on. The transfer of basic knowledge to a number of application-oriented disciplines, namely, psychotherapy, education, arts, culture, nation and society, organizations, and so on, has been presented. The article has shown that Gestalt theory has great relevance in both basic and application-related areas and can cover a wide range of issues.

Summary

In 1915 the Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin describes in his famous work on figure-ground perception, the phenomenon that when you look attentively at a picture, a second, virtual ego arises, breaking away from the viewer-ego to wander around in the picture along the contours of the depicted. In 1982, German Gestalt psychologist Edwin Rausch expanded this observation of the emergence of a second phenomenal ego to the conclusion that not only does a second phenomenal ego emerge, but with it a second phenomenal total field, ie a second phenomenal world with its own phenomenal ego and an own phenomenal environment of this ego.

Several years ago, I proposed a multi-field-approach in psychotherapy building on this research. This approach involves three levels:

First, the level of phenomenological observation and psychological analysis of the conditions that determine the formation of such a second total field (and even further total fields), regardless of whether this occurs spontaneously or intentionally or as a result of external influences.

Second, the level of explanation of various psychic processes, which in the field of psychotherapy have been explained so far mainly on the basis of depth psychology, and the conceptualization of the therapeutic situation and therapeutic processes from a Gestalt psychological perspective.

Third, finally, the level of practical application of such insights on the development of appropriate procedures and interventions that can promote or defer the emergence of such second or multiple fields in psychotherapy.

The present article introduces the multi-field approach, especially at the first level, and refers to research and discussion on mind wandering, imagining, daydreaming and dissociation.

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Summary

In this article, classical writings of Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) and Wolfgang Metzger (1899-1979) concerning education for democracy and tolerance are presented. Starting with a definition of „group” and the discussion of the meaning of groups for the individual life, especially the experimental studies of Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lippitt and Raph K. White in 1937/38 on different group atmospheres under the influence of „democratic” vs. „autocratic” vs. „laissez faire” leading style are presented again, in order to give an example for the meaning of atmosphere influences on personal development, creativity and aggression – all topics concerning actual school situations and the daily experience of pupils and teachers. The collection of writings concerning education for democracy and tolerance include some of Lewin’s writings on minority problems and Metzger’s fundamental thougts on political education as a special application of productive thinking in Wertheimer’s sense. Some possibilities of how to change prejudices and to develop tolerance in Lewin’s and Metzger’s sense are presented. As a conclusion, some ideas for actual school life and possibilities to make pupils tolerant and able to participate actively in a democratic society are developed.

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Summary

In Part 1 Small describes her discovery that an array of depicted cubes produces another and completely different illusion from that of a single cube. When a group of such cubes are viewed at an angle, they turn into rectangular boxes, and as the angle gets more severe, they become narrow ribbons. The illusion works only in one direction. In Part 2, Todorović manipulates the image to demonstrate various transformations and offers an explanation of how and why they work the way they do.

Summary

Since its first description, the imprinting phenomenon has been deeply investigated, and researchers can nowadays provide profound knowledge of its functioning. Here, I present how this peculiar form of early exposure learning can be used as a strategy to study animal cognition. Starting from imprinting as a social trigger for the domestic chick (Gallus gallus) and combining it with the unique possibility of accurate control of sensory experiences in this animal model, I present evidence that in artificial environments, imprinting serves as a rigorous test of the core domains of cognition. Whether basic cognitive concepts are already present at birth or whether they need extensive experience to develop are questions that can be addressed in precocial birds and still, following the tradition of the seminal works made by Lorenz, can inform on human cognitive processing.

Summary

For the study of the first year of life, Sander, Stern, and Gomez each chose the adult–infant relationship as the unit of analysis; they followed its development, respectively, in moments of meeting, in the proto-conversation and in the focus of attention. The authors explicitly refer to the Gestalt theory and support the need to interpret the behavior of the child as part of a wider context, as the experiences of a person in relation () since birth.