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What is gestalt
A gestalt is a whole that is made up of many components, but is more than the sum of its parts. Simply put, a car is a gestalt, but a mountain of spare parts is not. The term gestalt itself can be translated from German as “figure”, but in this context it is more correct to designate it as “integrity”.
The concept underlies Gestalt psychology. It was popularized by German psychologists Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler and Kurt Koffka at the beginning of the last century. They tried to understand how the brain manages to adequately perceive a lot of chaotic data. For example, why do we define a melody in a different key as the same, and not as a set of sounds or another motive.
One of the first experiments of Gestalt psychologists showed that two flashes of light, lit up at different points alternately, are perceived as one light that has moved from place to place. That is, you can see movement where there is none.
Later, the concept of gestalt extended beyond the processes of perception. It has come to be used to explain how we make decisions, learn, and think. According to the ideas of Gestalt psychologists, the brain “catches” certain images and forms integral pictures – gestalts. At the same time, our motives and expectations have a great influence.
How modern science relates to Gestalt
The first Gestalt psychologists only found some regularities in the work of the human brain, but did not explain their origin. However, neurophysiological observations helped to do this.
Since the 1950s, experiments have been conducted to study perception. Neurons have been discovered that respond to complex stimuli. For example, on the face in general, and not on signs like the shape of the nose, eyes, and others.
Further studies have shown that we perceive the whole picture much earlier than we capture its individual components. It is enough just to look at the image of the forest for a moment, and we will immediately say that we have trees in front of us, but we will not notice whether these are maples or oaks.
In the early 2000s, scientists discovered another way the brain works—predictive coding. It turns out that our mind does not analyze all the information from the outside at once. First, he ” predicts” the possible development of events, relying primarily on experience, and not new data. It works like this: the brain sends information from higher neurons to lower ones, and then correlates with data from the sense organs . This is done on the basis of past knowledge, that is, some holistic images or, in other words, gestalts.
So neuroscience indirectly confirmed the hypotheses of Gestalt psychologists.
Why you need to close gestalts
The studies of Gestalt psychologists are useful not only from a theoretical point of view, but also from a practical one.
It helps maintain mental health
Gestalt psychologists believe that human needs sequentially replace each other when they are satisfied. It can be both natural needs like thirst or hunger, as well as aspirations, dreams, plans for life.
If these needs have not been realized, they begin to disturb us, pull the resources of the brain and body. Such needs came to be called “unclosed gestalts.” They cause feelings of unresolved anger, pain, anxiety, and other negative emotions.
It helps to be more organized and finish what you started.
Unclosed gestalts greatly affect all areas of our lives. This demonstrates the effect discovered by the Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. The researcher noticed that the waiters remember the current orders well and almost immediately forget the completed ones.
The Zeigarnik effect shows that unfinished business is strongly embedded in our memory. They do not give us rest, as the brain periodically reproduces them. Therefore, it is important not to delay the resolution of issues that concern you. Unclosed gestalts not only harm the psyche, but also distract from other things.
It calms us down and gives us a sense of control over the situation.
According to predictive coding theory, the ultimate goal of the brain is to learn how to predict the situation as accurately as possible. A correct guess is reinforced by a dose of dopamine . Remember how ecstatic you feel when you say: “I knew it!”.
A problem solved in time brings a sense of satisfaction and a feeling that you did everything right, because the brain’s prediction was confirmed.
How to close gestalts
For this, Gestalt therapy was invented. Its task is to teach the patient to better understand himself. This practice borrows some elements of Gestalt psychology, but is not directly related to it. In fact, this approach is rather a set of techniques and attitudes.
Gestalt therapists, together with the patient, find out what unfinished business is bothering him, and figure out how to close this gestalt. For example, they simulate situations. In particular, there is a technique when a person is offered to talk to himself.
Such therapy can help you become more confident, productive, realize personal responsibility for your life, develop self-love, get rid of symptoms of depression and anxiety .
Before contacting a Gestalt therapist, you should make sure that he has a certificate. Another important indicator is adherence to professional ethics. The doctor must be tactful during the sessions, and you must feel comfortable and trust the specialist. If all conditions are met, but the treatment does not bring the desired result, perhaps this type of psychological rehabilitation is not suitable for you.
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