Some concepts of Gestalt Psychology

When the gestalt psychologists established the concept of Geographical Environment - the environment as science describes it - and Behavioral Environment - the environment as the individual perceives it -, when they said that neurological configurations (Gestalten) are equal to psychological ones, or yet, "what is inside is outside" - Isomorphic Principle - and when, through the Principle of Contemporaneity, Kurt Lewin said that the present changes the past, that what happens changes what has happened, they got global and unitarian view of the human psychological processes without any a priori. This was a strong criticism to the causalist, determinist, reducionist approaches normally found in psychology. The classical gestaltists reached the human essence without valorative attributions.

Law of Figure and Ground - This law has been exhaustively experienced and confirmed by the gestalt psychologists and physiologists. It is valid to any perception, even the conceptual ones, as thought is the prolongation of perception, not being subordinated to any other relations than this continuity, it shall be dealt with only in this way. In an other way, we would fall in dualisms, we would start admiting sensation and perception, the last as elaboration of the first, creating inferior functions resultant of the sensorial data and perception would be, in this ratiocination, an elaboration of sensation, and thought a superior function (the thesis of Graz's School), an abstraction or intelectualization of the concrete datas from perceived, experienced reality. We will not make a deep study of this subject here, as it would demand epistemological analysis of methodological positions and finally, it would lead to the conflict between elementarism and antielementarism, functionalism and structuralism, empirism and phenomenology, psychoanalysis and gestalt, dualism and unity.

Gestalt in German, means form, structure, configuration. We prefer maintain the original word, as only in this way all its meaning is expressed, what would not occur with the english word - FORM.

Insight is the self-determination before what is perceived, which comes from be situated in all its configurative dimensions, which is, by definition, the geographic withdraw with consequent behavioral approximation.

Wholeness (Totality) - the statement: 'the whole is not the sum of the parts', allows the perception of the whole as unity, as well as propitiates dualistic explanations like part / whole (the last position occurs if we are positioned in aprioristic referentials, meaning: the part as integrated element of the whole, in spite of not constituent of it). This mental gymnastics is typical of Holistic Theories. For me, the part is a whole and in this sense, parts do not exist. We can speak of part only as mnemonical experience, when we configure our perception in referentials of the past. The perception of the present, configurated in the present, makes possible the apprehention of totalities. When I perceive the eye, it is a totality, nevertheless, I know it is in a context, it is part of one's face, that is why we say it is part of a face. If I would not have a previous knowledge of face, I would never think of part.

Vera Felicidade de Almeida Campos
- August 1996 -