Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


(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 WertheimerWertheimer, Max
, 1880–1943, German psychologist, b. Prague. He studied at the universities of Prague, Berlin, and Würzburg (Ph.D., 1904). His original researches, while he was a professor at Frankfurt and Berlin, placed him in the forefront of contemporary psychology.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Wolfgang KöhlerKöhler, Wolfgang
, 1887–1967, American psychologist, b. Estonia, Ph.D. Univ. of Berlin, 1909. From 1913 to 1920 he was director of a research station on Tenerife, Canary Islands.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and Kurt KoffkaKoffka, Kurt
, 1886–1941, American psychologist, b. Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Berlin, 1908. Before settling permanently in the United States in 1928 as a professor at Smith, he taught at Cornell and at the Univ. of Wisconsin.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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).


A complex of weather elements occurring in a familiar form, and though not necessarily referring to basic hydrodynamical or thermodynamical quantities, may persist for an appreciable length of time and is often considered to be an entity in itself.
References in periodicals archive ?
Before we turn to the idea of a constitutional gestalt, we should note the existence of another particular kind of move in the complex argumentative practice that structures constitutional contestation.
The metadata will be developed in compliance with the defined format which will be deployed in the GESTALT demonstrator.
Associations such as the Legal Marketing Association don't ft the mentality as the Gestalts wrote it.
explains his point of departure: Ignatius as a eucharistic man and the meaningful gestalt of the Eucharist (chap.
If firm B's newly created cycle is incommensurable to the cycle in which Firm A was competing, firm A would need a gestalt change in order to survive.
This often works best, as Gestalt counsellors have found, when participants physically adopt different positions to accompany the three perspectives.
This is how they were meant to be read--and re-read--with thought and reflection that allow the poems to challenge the reader's perception of the worldly and the divine, with a sudden gestalt of insight, with depth of feeling, and with appreciation for the many layers of meaning contained in each phrase.
The Rudolf Arnheim Studio Theater, named for the famous Gestalt psychologist who is Sparling's friend and mentor, seats 75-100.
The book has been developed by Helen McLean, a UK-based Gestalt practitioner, and is co-authored by Lindy Wheeler, counsellor and director of the Real Awareness Company.
The times we live in, our gestalt of the last hall of 2005, is also the misguided body of our thoughts and dreams.
The phrase "dramatic structure of truth" unifies the Balthasarian terms "Gestalt" and "drama," where drama "refers to the moving, event-like character of structure or order, while Gestalt refers to the structurality or order of event" (p.