Volume 4, 1 (1995)


Volume 4, 1 (1995)


The British Gestalt Journal 1995, Volume 4,1


Editorial - Malcolm Parlett

Interviewed by Malcolm Parlett - Gestalt Therapy: Principles, Prisms and Perspectives - Robert Resnick

Gestalt and Shame: The Foundation for a Clearer Understanding of Field Dynamics - Robert G.Lee

Phenomenology of Sleep: Gestalt Therapy and Insomnia - Orit Aviram and Talia Levine Bar-Yoseph 

Living with Desire - An Essay - Joseph Melnick, Sonia March Nevis, Gloria Nosan Melnick 

The Application of Gestalt Methods to Reduce High Blood Pressure - Shraga Serok 

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I began drafting this editorial in the USA, more sensitised than usual to the swirling currents and eddies which flow between the various 'islands' in the Gestalt archipelago. There are moves afoot to build more bridges between the islands, and more ferries and faxes go back and forth than in the past. There is talk of networking and e-mail, of closer association, nationally and internationally.

And yet it is still an island geography. Gestalt therapists, in the USA as elsewhere, tend to cluster around institutes and centres which advance their own independent approaches to Gestalt therapy theory and practice.

The British Gestalt Journal is one of a number of initiatives (conferences, networking and the compilation of anthologies being others) which reach out to the inhabitants of all the Gestalt islands. That these are welcomed suggests that despite the diverse lineages, traditions, and theoretical emphases, there is also a generic Gestalt outlook, or at least family resemblance, and a wish for professional community. Whatever the collective ‘gluon' (to use a word made up by Sonia Nevis) that keeps the Gestalt clan together as a recognisable group entity, it seems to be just adhesive enough to prevent balkanisation.

The British Gestalt Journal serves to promote dialogue, and expression of both similarities and differences which exist within the Gestalt community. Editorially, we embrace diversity and support theoretical innovation even if it questions established doctrine. At the same time, we are concerned that traditionally accepted versions of Gestalt therapy are also well represented in the BGJ: orthodox positions should not be lightly discarded. We have to steer a way through the rapids, the various currents referred to at the beginning. I was recently criticised because the BGJ published an article by someone who my accuser complained ‘was not a Gestalt therapist’. Since the writer in question is on the faculty of a Gestalt institute, is respected by colleagues, has written extensively about Gestalt therapy, identifies himself as a Gestalt therapist, and given that his paper was reviewed by a Gestaltist, I would have had to exercise a draconian degree of censorship to deny him access to these pages. It would be at odds with the policy of this Journal to deny him a voice and the opportunity to put his views.

Greater community and interchange should not lead to standardisation and the triumph of one particular 'official' position. Very few Gestaltists (at least, if they thought about it seriously and cared for our anarchistic roots) would want an international body with policing powers to guard over the boundaries of Gestalt therapy, a top-down enforcement of somebody's orthodoxy.

The BGJ is not a party organ, and does not push a particular 'line'. Neither is it a mouthpiece for the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute (and is no longer published by GET but by a separate limited company with guaranteed editorial independence). Nor do its articles necessarily represent my or my colleagues' personal vision(s) of Gestalt therapy. (See the revised statement on the inside front cover.) As much as possible we shall let arguments abut the theories, practices, and culture of Gestalt therapy proceed within the journal, not outside it, which would probably be in the form of unpublished correspondence between editor and would be contributor.

More generally as a policy, we want to celebrate, not regret or fulminate over, the diversity of styles, organisational forms, and theoretical positions which exist internationally among Gestalt therapists. We welcome diversity not least because we want the Journal to be a stimulating read.

The flavour of coffee house high spirits, enjoyment of talk, sharing of ideas, and pleasure in allowing people their differences has not always been evident in our history. As a specialist professional group, we have often been rude to one another (or about one another) in ways which are sour and small-minded. How insiduously the island mentality can reassert itself! Isolationism, competition, self-inflation, envy, ignorance and automatic disparagement of others' work, are still not uncommon. The BGJ would like to set a standard of robust argument as well as friendly mutual respect for other people's points of view and their right to hold them.

After all, we are bound to disagree with one another. As Dan Rosenblatt in this issue reminds us, Laura Perls invited Gestalt therapists to be continuously inventive. Each practitioner, and each trainer, is invited to operate from the ground of her or his own life experience - the tastes, trainings and intellectual traditions with which each person integrates Gestalt knowledge are all different. Inevitably practitioners take theoretical positions, each effectively a new version of Gestalt therapy - what it is and how it can be done. Equally obviously, if the individuality runs altogether unchecked, with no consensus whatsoever, no similarity and nothing in common, fragmentation and entropy take over: there would be no Gestalt therapy as such, no BGJ, no professional community. But this is not happening - indeed, the opposite trend is in place, of finding communality appealing and dialogue stimulating.

In the interview which follows, Bob Resnick asks how is Gestalt therapy to be defined? Indeed, this runs through every issue of the BGJ and we shall never run out of answers, or find a definition which suits everyone. Yet, in keeping asking we are living out the very philosophy which provides the ‘gluon' that holds us together.

Malcolm Parlett 

Letters to the Editor:

In Opposition to ‘Neo-Gestalt’ - Critical Reflections on Present Day Trends in Gestalt Therapy - Daniel Rosenblatt 

Love in Gestalt Therapy - A Reply to Staemmler - Joel Latner

Infant Research, Mutual Regulation and Field Theory - Lolita Sapriel 

The Oral Tradition and a Footnote to Dreams - Dolores Bate

Feelings of One’s Own - A Reply to Amendt-Lyon 

Book Reviews:

Here Now Next, Paul Goodman and the Origins of Gestalt Therapy, by Taylor Stoehr; and of Crazy Hope and Finite Experience, Final Essays of Paul Goodman, edited by Taylor Stoehr - Michael Mackmin 

Becoming a Stepfamily: Patterns of Development in Remarried Families by Patricia L.Papernow - Philip Joyce 


When Does Supervision Become Therapy - Philippa Lubbock