Gestalt Meets New Phenomenology. Felt Body Communication – the Basis of Contact


Lecture for AAGT in 2014


Fritz Perls wrote:

We are still a long way from understanding the interrelations between […] organismic and personal behavior (Perls 1981, 289).

And: “I hope that we will someday have a language and terminology suitable to the holistic concept.” (Perls 1981, 181). We are still searching for that adequate holistic language. With this lecture I hope to expand the language domain a little.

The theory of gestalt therapy is based not only on gestalt psychology, but also and to a considerable degree on phenomenology. Among phenomenologists, it was mainly the traditional theorists like Hus­serl, Hei­de­gger, and Mer­leau-Pon­ty who were considered relevant for gestalt therapy.

Image 2: Schmitz

A trajectory that has yet received little attention beyond occasional references is the new phenomenology of Her­mann Schmitz, based on philosophers like Aristotle, Fich­te, He­gel, Hus­serl, Hei­de­gger, and Klages.

Her­mann Schmitz has been evolving the new phenomenology since 1964 as a practical philosophy. Over the years, he has tested and reviewed his theory with the help of psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and organizational consultants through therapy and consultancy supervision.

Like Perls, Her­mann Schmitz opposes a description of the world that is informed exclusively by scientific concepts. He refers, among other things, to the gestalt psychological foundations of “wholeness” (cf. Schmitz 1990, page 7).

New phenomenology supports the holistic, existential, and experimental perspectives of gestalt therapy. Its approach leads to new theoretical and practical insights.

I will therefore proceed to connect the language of New Phenomenology with the concepts of gestalt therapy.

In doing so I will focus particularly on the mature organism model, the concept of contact process, contact and border, and the diagnosis of “psychological disturbances”.

 Image 4: overview

What do I have to accept as valid?

  1. Organismic model or corporeal dynamic?
  2. Contact at the boundary or corporeal communication and mutual encorporation?
  3. Contact cycle or personal regression and personal emancipation?
  4. Contact disorder or disturbed subjectivity?


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