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(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.
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, 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.
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, 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.
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 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 ?
Si on doit faire droit a la Gestalt, et je crois que phenomenologiquement il est inevitable de le faire (la perception, notamment, comme interaction avec le monde, est essentiellement gestaltiste), il faut avoir bien conscience du fait que ce genre de phenomenes nous conduit inevitablement aux limites de l'intentionalite, car les Gestalten, primairement, ne sont pas des objets (mais des schemas dynamiques d'organisation) -- meme si elles peuvent, secondairement, le devenir aussi, si elles sont thematisees comme telles.
That Kuehn fails, also, to include any selections from Guardini's probing study on Dostoevsky, Religiose Gestalten in Dostojewskijs Werk (1951), several chapters of which appeared in English translation in the American journal Cross Currents in 1952 and 1956, and also from The Virtues (1963, 1967), on "forms of moral life," adds to one's disappointment, especially when an editor sets out to present "the essential Guardini" to a new generation of readers.
1) 'Ich aber werde dir in diesem milesischen Gesprachston allerlei Geschichten aneinanderknupfen und deine geneigten Ohren mit anmutigem Gefluster umschmeicheln--wenn du es denn nicht verschmahst, einen agyptischen Papyrus einzusehen, der mit einem spitzen Schreibrohr vom Nil beschriftet ist: Auf dass du Gestalten und Geschicke, in andere Erscheinungen verwandelt und in wechselseitiger Verknupfung wieder in ihre eigentliche Form zuruckversetzt, bestaunen magst, hebe ich nun an.
Riest, Eine Konstruktionsumgebung fur integriertes Gestalten und Berechnen am Beispiel von Kalandern, Fortschritt-Berichte VDI Reihe 3, VDI Verlag, Dusseldorf, Germany (1999).
A groundbreaking but in some ways dated guide is Rachel WischnitzerBernstein's Gestalten und Symbole der Judischen Kunst (Berlin-Schoneberg, 1935).
These units of experience, or gestalten, crystallize only through this process of continuous testing.
Die Wande wachsen aus Gestalten, und durch die Jungfraun und die Alten drangt sich, wie Flugel im Entfalten, das goldene, das Kaiser-Tor.
Alexander Nedo, director of publisher Die Gestalten Verlag, says: "It was printed in the usual way, but all the machinery and tools had to be created in miniature first.
A good example of this attitude can be found in the insistence that we should reach a concord on an abstract Grund (foundation), while continuing to present this Grund in radically differing, or even contrary, Gestalten (shapes or forms).
den Abend ruhig gestalten, die war 8 onsequent war, ich war zwar sachtich 9 hen das uber'n DeAEs, und der meinte 10 ppelt belegt hat, ich seh namlich da 11 erzahlt hab?
Es befremdet auch etwas, dass im Personenregister historische Personen bruchlos neben mythologische Gestalten (wie z.