New phenomenology – an advance for the gestalt approach?


Workshop 09.05.2015 Gestaltinstitute New York.

The founders of Gestalt Therapy have left us with a number of theoretical islands in the sea of the gestalt approach, but also included are the theoretical insecurity, gaps and inconsistencies. What do we have to accept ? What do we have to complied? What new results may have an effect or repercussion? 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. I will tell you, what I found in the New Phenomenolgy. One of the theory of gestalt therapy is based on phenomenology. Among phenomenologists, it was mainly Husserl and Heidegger Merleau-Ponti, who was considered relevant for gestalt therapy.

The New Phenomenology of Hermann Schmitz, based on philosophers like Aristotle, Fichte, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Klages. He has been evolving the new phenomenology since 1964 and the New Phenomenology differs from other philosophical approaches in that it is orientated around experience and applicability.

Schmitz enabled people to accountably speak about the impartial experience of life, and with that, stemming from what we can sense with our own felt-bodies (“Leib”), opened up new and large fields of reality and holistic thinking: feltbody, feelings, atmospheres and situations.

Although the felt-body is a significant topic within traditional phenomenology, the Schmitzsche analysis of physical condition puts the development of this topic on a new level. This analysis provides the conception for numerous ‘bodycentred’ methods and special gestalt therapy, and it is by no means chance that doctors and therapists recite and discuss it.

Like Fritz 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”. As well as Fritz Perls Hermann Schmitz critizied the reductionismen of the science and the depth psychological idea of an inner world and he also refers to Eastern philosophies such as of yin and yang. New phenomenology also supports the holistic, existential, and experimental perspectives of gestalt therapy. I will therefore proceed to connect the language of New Phenomenology with the concepts of gestalt therapy.

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