Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gestalt Theory: Growth Toward What?

Gestalt theory assumes that the primary motivation behind human behavior is the innate tendency for humans to satisfy both biological and psychological needs (Murdock, p. 206). Due to a Person Centered-esque valuing process, human beings discriminate between what is good and bad for them, which is said to lead to acceptance of the good and rejection of the bad. In addition, Crocker, 1999 as is cited in the Murdock text propounds that organismic regulate is innate, and " humans adapt easily to the changing environment" (p. 206).

I don't know if it is as easy as Crocker says to adapt in ways that are positive. We live in a world full of counter examples. Six out of eight Americans say they are over stressed, eating disorders run rampant amongst a population of men and women who feel inadequate or at a loss of control, and the abuse of substances leave individuals and families in shambles. I don't know that anyone would say that these coping strategies and serious illnesses are a shift toward positive or optimal functioning of the organism. Perhaps it would be better to say that when given the choice between alternatives the organism chooses what is apparently "good" for it. But if the experience is only apparently good to whom or what do we turn for the standard of good? Is it the GT therapist? The society they believe has become toxic to human growth? Or does the person simply stick with what feels right, in effect becoming their own standard of truth and proper functioning?

Answers cannot come from a closed and corrupt system. In order to find a standard of health we must look outside of ourselves, we need a hypodermic needle to inoculate us against the ever growing cancer of self-imputed internal certitude that weakens us toward growth. GT theorist seem to promote growth, but growth toward what? What is the standard of health in an ill system? Perhaps before speaking about things like growth we should first seek to better understand the object of growth by asking questions such as, "what is a person?"


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