34 Chapters
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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: The mind and the senses: thinking in Gestalt therapy

Philippson, Peter Karnac Books ePub

This is another paper trying to make sense of a theme muddied by both Fritz Perls’ sloganising and the more recent wholesale dismissal that he had anything at all of interest to say. In this article, I explore around the theme of the therapeutic uses and abuses of thinking. Where does thinking help and where does it hinder?

In this chapter, I enquire about the place of “thinking-about” in Gestalt therapy, when it supports the therapeutic process, and when it becomes a deflection from the process. I discuss the differences between awareness and egotism, the limitations of the paradoxical theory of change, and the implications of neurological considerations.

“Body and Mind: this split is still popularly current, although among the best physicians the psychosomatic unity is taken for granted. We shall show that it is the exercise of a habitual and finally unaware deliberateness in the face of chronic emergency … that has made this crippling division inevitable and almost endemic. (Perls, Hefferline, & Goodman, 1994, p. 17, original italics)

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CHAPTER FOUR: Zen and the art of pinball

Philippson, Peter Karnac Books ePub

This is, for me, a very satisfying paper. I used to be pretty good at pinball when I was much younger. And I think the application of pinball to philosophy has been underrated. Why does it just have to be archery or motorcycle maintenance? I like how the principle is illustrated by such an accessible means. I am also proud that it was quoted on a website devoted to all things pinball!

“You know the theory of destiny: that we are destined to do what we do? Well I don’t agree with that. We are destined to be where we are; what we do with it is ours”

(Said by my younger son when he was eight years old)

Suppose you’ve never seen a pinball table before, and come across one for the first time. Stripped of all the flashing lights and noises, what you see is a large bagatelle game, most of which operates automatically. It seems the only control you have is the spring-loaded plunger and two flippers. If you then try to play the table, you discover that most of the movements of the ball are entirely random and out of your control.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Gestalt and regression

Philippson, Peter Karnac Books ePub

Once again, I am exploring territory opened up by psychoanalytic thinking, and wondering what it might become from a Gestalt perspective. I was aware, in writing this piece, that “regression” has taken on many different meanings in different approaches: “reparenting”, “past life regression”, “inner child work”, “hypnotic regression”, etc. Some of these have justified very questionable or even abusive practices. I decided this was a minefield worth stepping into. It is also one where I received angry feedback from people who did not want me to allow any meaning to the term at all, having had bad experiences in their own therapy.

Introduction

At the time of writing the first draft of this paper (30 September 1991), there was a controversy raging in the national media about “regression therapy”. There was particular concern that there had been occurrences of abuse within this kind of therapy. At the same time, there are a number of different attitudes to the meaning, usefulness, therapeutic approach to, and even existence of, “regression” within the field of Gestalt therapy. This paper is intended to give my particular perspective on the subject. I will argue that “regression” can mean a number of different things, some of them wholly alien to the theory and spirit of Gestalt, some of them thera-peutically invalid. However, there are ways of seeing regressive phenomena that fit well with the Gestalt theoretical and clinical approach.

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Appendix

Philippson, Peter Karnac Books ePub

In many ways, the approach I have been presenting are set in the same universe as the one described by Gestalt Therapy. I developed the ideas in this book while working as a Gestalt Therapist and training Gestalt Therapists. I am aware that some of my readers will be Gestaltists and wonder where this is compatible with our shared approach; while others will want to know the theoretical and clinical background out of which my ideas emerged.

Looking over what I have written, I do not have a sense of inconsistency between the approaches. Rather, by elaborating the background, I have found that aspects of Gestalt Therapy that seemed opaque to me and to others became more coherent and meaningful. At the same time, other aspects of Gestalt Therapy which some Gestaltists rely on become clearly unsupported by the approach.

In this Appendix, I will look at various areas of both agreement between this approach based on emergence, and areas where I was pushed into a critique of some ideas within the Gestalt spectrum.

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Chapter Four

Philippson, Peter Karnac Books ePub

4.1 Theory

From time to time, Light and Darkness met one another in the kingdom of Primal Chaos, who made them welcome. Light and Darkness wanted to repay his kindness and said “All men have seven openings with which they see, hear, eat, and breathe, but Primal Chaos has none. Let us try to give him some.” So every day they bored one hole, and on the seventh day, Primal Chaos died. (Chuang Tsu, 1974, p. 161)

The theme of this chapter is the progressive emergence of order from disorder, predictability from unpredictability, things from processes, continuity from fluidity. We will look at what grounds we have for our intuition of the continuity of selfhood and anxiety as an acknowledgement of discontinuity and unpredictability. We will look at the central “solid-me”, the human body. We will look at ways in which the therapeutic relationship becomes similar to earlier significant relationships, otherwise called transference.

Another three levels

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