Use template. Search this site. Home About Contact. Partha Banerjee. Erickson New Edition - by Dan Short. Mace and Peter V. Fiona Zandt. If you are in the now, you cant be anxious, because the excitement flows immediately into ongoing spontaneous activity. If you are in the now, you are creative, you are inventive. If you have your senses ready, if you have your eyes and ears open, like every small child, you find a solution. Perls, a; p. Perls, much like Jung, also found that boredom was telling. For Perls, boredom resulted from blocking off genuine interests.
Perls in his autobiography, In and Out the Garbage Pail b , claimed that boredom even shaped his behavior as a therapist. It was boredom in therapeutic situations that motivated him to be obnoxious to people or be a caster of gloom. In other situations, he said it motivated him to flirt, be sexy, or to write his autobiography. In defense of Perls, he was nonetheless greatly loved despite his often gruff image and his putting of his patients in a hot seat in front of hundreds of people.
He actually believed in creative frustration, that is, placing people in situations that not only forced them into the here and now but also forced them to be real and not full of automatic trite phrases like, Hello, how are you? Topdog and underdog Perls postulated another block to being able to live fully and freely was a war within the psyche between two parts which he called topdog and underdog. Perls imagined topdog as righteous and authoritarian much akin to Freuds superego. Perls said topdog is sometimes right, but always righteous.
Topdog bullies our awareness with automatic prescriptions for living such as you should and you should not. Topdog also threatens our consciousness with demands and threats of catastrophe, such as you wont go to heaven if you dont do this, etc. But Perls thought we have evolved a worthy adversary, underdog akin to Freuds ego , who in some ways is even more dastardly clever.
Underdog manipulates or dominates our awareness with being defensive, apologetic, and whiny. Underdog often defeats topdog by saying such things as Im sorry, and I tried but its not my fault that I failed. Also, underdog very cunningly places blame elsewhere and has us join organizations such as adult children of formerly abusive parents. Perls firmly believed that even if you were hit with a potty chair in Cincinnati in by an alcoholic father, it is very well time to get over it.
Perls believed that people should take responsibility for their actions right now. Perls felt that blaming others was unhealthy and blocked us from being psychologically free. Perls thought that this self-torture game could even be carried to others. Perls noted that we usually automatically accept that topdog is always right and that we should be better humans, better children, better parents, etc.
Yet, there is never any release from these demands for perfection from the topdog. Even if we have achieved some goal e.
Furthermore, Perls thought that topdog always extends itself to others, and so we often berate others for failing to live up to our unreasonable expectations of them. For Perls, these unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others are a damaging.
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Yet, he said, we take the fantasy for reality: it is an impasse. Perls believed that the impasse could be broken through a satori insight. And this satori might come through some awareness of how we are stuck. Undoubtedly, Perls also believed that these satori could come through the most spontaneous expression of our existence that is, dreams. The Gestalt prayer Although it has been taken out of context and even ridiculed, Perls reiterated his Gestalt prayer. It was not meant to be a moral code for evaluating all human behavior.
Its primary purpose was to free people of the continual disappointment we feel in ourselves and others when we, and others, fail to live up to the unrealistic expectations of topdog. The Gestalt prayer is: I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, And if by chance we find each other, its beautiful. If not, it cant be helped. Perls always emphasized how rather than why. He thought answers to why would simply perpetuate our anxiety created by the gap between now and then.
Dream Interpretation as a Psychotherapeutic Technique
It would also perpetuate our continued failure to take responsibility for our own actions. For example, an overweight adult might blame his or her alcoholic father for driving him or her to equate food with love. Perls fought strongly to abandon that blaming game and the search for a why.
Perls thought it much better to live in the present. Of course, living in the here and now is a continuum. We cannot always ignore where we have been or where we are going. However, Perls was undoubtedly right: people can spend too much time worrying about the past and future and ruining a perfectly good present.
Here and now The contemporary Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh , stated this practice of the here and now eloquently and mundanely: Washing dishes To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you arent doing them.
Once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water,. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living.
That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles! If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert. With the fork in my hand, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the texture and the flavor of the dessert, together with the pleasure of eating it, will be lost.
I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment. Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane.
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I must confess it takes me a bit longer to do the dishes, but I live fully in every moment, and I am happy. Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them. Hanh, ; p. Furthermore, Perls firmly believed, as most therapists, that awareness, per se, was curative.
The use of dreams in Gestalt therapy helped the person become aware of their problems. However, as an existential therapy, the purpose of Perls dream techniques was not simply to find a problem. Perls believed that people were systems that sought balance. He felt that imbalances were perceived as a need for correction, and stated: Now, practically, we have hundreds of unfinished situations in us. How come we are not completely confused and want to go out in all directions? And thats another law which I have discovered, that from the survival point of view, the most urgent situation becomes the controller, the director, and takes over.
The most urgent situation emerges, and in any case of emergency, you realize that this has to take precedent over any other activity. And I believe that this is the great thing to understand: that awareness per se by and of itself can be curative. Because with full awareness you become aware of this organismic self-regulation, you can let the organism take over without interfering, without interrupting; we can rely on the wisdom of the organism.
Rogers postulated a mental health motive, arising from the unconscious, that would impel people ultimately to correct themselves. That is why. The natural and inherent wisdom of the organism would self-regulate and self-heal. How exactly does this healing process occur? The word gestalt in Gestalt therapy means form. Perls saw a law that he felt was constant in the universe, that is, the tendency for the world and every organism to maintain itself, and the only law which is constant is the forming of gestalts wholes, completeness.
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