Volume 5, 2 (1996)

1996-vol-5-issue-2-download.png
1996-vol-5-issue-2-download.png

Volume 5, 2 (1996)

5.00

The British Gestalt Journal 1996, Volume 5, 2

CONTENTS 

Editorial - Malcolm Parlett 

Ischa Bloomberg 1930-1995 - Helen McLean

Personal Reflections and Tributes - Dolores Bate, Helen McLean

Disease and Suffering - The Gestalt Approach as an Alternative to the Medical Model - Harald Gerunde and Bärbel Kampmann 

Supervision from a Gestalt Therapy Perspective - Gary Yontef

Attachment Theory: Some Implications for Gestalt Therapy - Neil Harris 

When Insight Hurts: Gestalt Therapy and the Narcissistically-Vulnerable Client - Elinor Greenberg 

Personality Development - A Challenge to Gestalt Therapy - Reinhard Fuhr 

Letters to the Editor: 

Survivors Research: A Request for Information - Ann Houston

A Note in Response to Richard Erskine on Shame - Peter Philippson 

Characteristics of ‘The Cleveland School’: A Response to Peter Philippson - Gordon Wheeler 

Dialogue and Debate - A Reply to Gordon Wheeler - Peter Philippson 

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EDITORIAL

This is the tenth issue of the British Gestalt Journal and a worthy addition, we believe, to the collection. (Attention new readers! Back copies of previous issues are available; please write for details).

Once again it is our intention here to include a variety of articles of relevance, practical use, and theoretical interest. There is a lively correspondence section. As in recent issues there are some excellent book reviews.

Subjects covered range widely. Harald Gerunde and Bärbel Kampmann take on the medical model and lay out a field-sensitive Gestalt alternative. Elinor Greenberg's paper demonstrates a profound sensitivity towards narcissistically vulnerable clients. Jennifer Mackewn’s extended review of a new book on shame returns us thoughtfully to the theme of two issues ago. Shame is again picked up by Peter Philippson in the Letters section. Also of clinical importance is Neil Harris’s invitation to us, as Gestaltists, to look at some developmental issues from the perspective of attachment theory. Claire Chappell reviews a new book on adolescence. Reinhard Fuhr - in his lecture to the European Gestalt Conference in 1995 - points to the possibility of Gestalt work for fundamental personality transformation, as distinct from change in the usual therapeutic terms. He edges us closer to considering Gestalt as allied to the search for spiritual meaning. Change and transformation (in organisations) are also the focus in Edwin Nevis's new book, reviewed by Rob Farrands. It is welcome as a rare (hopefully less rare in the future) contribution from the fast growing ‘Gestalt in Organisations’ community. (Yes, it is your journal too.) Gary Yontef, making a welcome return to our pages, addresses supervision - a topic not hitherto addressed in the BGJ. His overview offers strong foundations for further writing.

Fundamentalists and Revisionists 

The emphasis on breadth (as well as depth) of treatments and topics, that marks the ten issues, including this one, is an indication of our editorial policy. We wish to promote a broad and inclusive view of Gestalt philosophy and practice, not one which is narrow and exclusive.

We have written in the past about how Gestalt practitioners - as a scattered, world-wide, special interest community - can behave like devotees of sects, whether political or religious. The correspondence can be uncomfortably close. Thus, Gestalt therapy's ‘bible’ or 'manifesto' is, of course, Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality, by Frederick Perls, Ralph Hefferline, and Paul Goodman, and published (in the first instance) by the Julian Press in 1951. There are those in the Gestalt world for whom this remains the ultimate word, to be revered above all other writing about Gestalt. Those espousing this 'fundamentalist' position - as in any political or religious grouping - are suspicious of changes that appear to go against the original ideas and of the writing of modernisers or revisionists - who want to expand or adapt the original idea, and to leave their own mark.

The British Gestalt Journal tries to provide for a diversity of Gestalt tastes. We encourage new thinking but equally support those who wish to reassert the supremacy of the original vision and concepts.

The linked question of what can be included in Gestalt and what is ‘not Gestalt' (or not sufficiently Gestalt), is obviously a question we face many times. Any specialism, or group with ideas and beliefs has to manage its boundaries. We take seriously the present-day boundaries of Gestalt as indicative of how the approach has developed up to now. Yet the concerns of the 1940s and 50s are not the concerns of today. Gestalt is vibrantly alive; our founders were innovators and discouraged dependence and adherence to orthodoxy. It would be insulting to their memory and teaching were we to fail to engage with the issues of the day, the intellectual movements of our own time, the 'what is' of the millennial era.

Adopting a fundamentalist outlook would ultimately spell the death of Gestalt. Equally, it could die as a result of losing its identity, becoming synonymous with some vaguely ‘holistic' and 'intersubjectivist' variant of mainstream (i.e. dynamic) psychotherapy. What keeps Gestalt alive - say, compared with general 'humanistic' psychology - are its hard edges, its crisp and clinically apt points of focus, its enduringly powerful philosophical premises, its recognisable relevance. The core ideas at the centre of Gestalt practice are our chief assets. The balance between conserving the boundary and allowing it to bend is hard to find, but we hope the BGJ achieves it.

Radical Inquiry

The present issue begins with tributes to Ischa Bloomberg. His was an anti-establishment approach to Gestalt that reminds us of our questioning roots. As Gestalt develops towards being a 'psychospiritual' therapy - signs of this are unmistakable - so also does Gestalt need to fulfil its sociopolitical potential. 'Individual' issues cannot be isolated from the effects of family, social and economic systems. Distinctions between therapeutic, political, and spiritual awareness are arbitrary. Outstanding new books, such as Free to be Human by David Edwards, Green Books, 1995, explore these overlapping domains. They deserve recognition in the Gestalt community and in these pages.

Malcolm Parlett 

Letters to the Editor: 

Survivors Research: A Request for Information - Ann Houston

A Note in Response to Richard Erskine on Shame - Peter Philippson 

Characteristics of ‘The Cleveland School’: A Response to Peter Philippson - Gordon Wheeler 

Dialogue and Debate - A Reply to Gordon Wheeler - Peter Philippson 

Book Reviews:

Adolescence, by Mark McConville - Claire Chappell 

The Voice of Shame: Silence and Connection in Psychotherapy, edited by Robert G.Lee and Gordon Wheeler - Jennifer Mackewn 

Intentional Revolutions: A Seven Point Strategy for Transforming Organisations, by Edwin Nevis, Joan Lancourt, and Helen G.Vassallo - Rob Farrands