I would like to bring to your attention some work Gestalt psychologists have done on theory and treatment of psychosis. As a considerable number of our psychotherapist community (psychotherapy section of the GTA) over here in Europe, mainly Germany and Austria, are working in psychiatric hospitals this topic has always been in the focus of our interest.
In this context since two years we have a discussion here on how to understand and deal with severe psychic disorders.
This discussion started as Michael RUH - Gestalt Theoretical Psychotherapist in a German psychiatric hospital - proposed to resume the thread of an article by German psychiatrist *Heinrich SCHULTE: "A Gestalt Theory of Paranoia"*. This article was first published in German in 1924 and is attributed to Max WERTHEIMER. In 1986 it was translated into English and commented by Erwin LEVY, a former assistant of Max Wertheimer and Gestalt theoretically oriented psychiatrist in the United States. The translation and comments were published in GESTALT THEORY, 8 (1986), pp 230-255.
This SCHULTE/WERTHEIMER-Article on paranoia provides a Gestalt theoretical approach to a new understanding of paranoic (and other severe psychotic) disorders in its actual genesis (providing hints on how to deal with them). At the 9th Scientific Convention of the GTA Michael RUH elaborated on the SCHULTE/WERTHEIMER-theses and tried to show how it could be a basis for Gestalt theory based psychotherapy with psychotic patients.
From there an interesting debate developed within our community on various aspects of the SCHULTE/WERTHEIMER-theses and RUHs proposal. Just recently the American Gestalt psychologist Abraham S. LUCHINS (Prof.emer. of the State University of New York) contributed some very interesting comments and historical remarks on this debate and so did his son, Daniel S. LUCHINS (University of Chicago) from a biologically oriented perspective.
This discussion is still going on and will be continued at the on-coming 10th Scientific Convention of the GTA in Vienna. As I think that this discussion might hold some interest for other people on this discussion forum and most contributions to this debate were published in German I shall try later to give a short summary about that.
Perhaps some of you would like to read some of the articles this discussion is relating to and are available in English. I had the impression that the Gestalt psychological work on psychosis is not widely known, so these references might help:
Erwin LEVY, A Gestalt Theory of Paranoia. Introduction, comment and translation of 'Heinrich Schulte'. GESTALT THEORY, 8 (1986), pp 230-255.
Erwin LEVY, Some Aspects of the Schizophrenic Formal Disturbance of Thought. PSYCHIATRY, 6 (1943), pp 55-69
Erwin LEVY, A Case of Mania with Its Social Implications. SOCIAL RESEARCH (1936), 3:488-493
Abraham S. LUCHINS, The Role of the Social Field in Psychotherapy. JOURNAL OF CONSULTING PSYCHOLOGY (1948), Vol. XII, pp 417-425
Abraham S. LUCHINS, Restructuring Social Perceptions - A Group Psychotherapy Technique. JOURNAL OF CONSULTING PSYCHOLOGY (1950), Vol. XIV, pp 446-451
Abraham S. LUCHINS, Group Psychotherapy - A Guide. New York 1964.
Abraham S. LUCHINS, On Training Clinical Psychologists in Psychotherapy. JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, 5 (1949), pp 132-137