It's interesting to me that here we meet on an electronic forum as Gestalt practitioners, or those interested in Gestalt, and we come to discussing what is and what isn't Gestalt. I think this is a reflection of what internet communication does to a portion of the field. It condenses it. Also, internet communication is rapid, and people who wait too long often get left behind as the ideas develop through interaction. In that sense, we are in an active "group" with one another. There certainly is value in telling group members that you want to wait on something, in order to get it right, to express yourself as you really are and to be able to stand on it, but on the other hand, that can also be a defensive posture that is less maliable, less available to be shaped by others' response. And that, of course relates to the issue of growth in Gestalt Therapy theory. I believe that Gestalt practitioners will utilize the net more, not less in the future, and that they will adapt to its characteristics. As a result, certain changes will take place in Gestalt theory and practice, and these can be attributed to a condensing of the field.
Reduce the distance between people and you contract their relationship; reduce the distance between molecules and you condense the mass of an object, its gravitational attraction increases, and it carries more impact as a physical body. With these metaphors in mind, the same may be said of the global Gestalt community. Reduce the distance between its members and the relationship among them grows more figural, contact becomes more exciting, and differences become increasingly evident. So do similarities and collaboration. In fact, the field itself grows more dense and carries more weight, it attracts more attention and creates more impact in the larger field of psychology and psychotherapy.
This condensing of the field of Gestalt therapy is what is currently taking place at an accelerated rate due to the influence of internet communication. What used to take months of preparation and discussion through the slow process of traditional postal systems, utilizing paper and ink, now occurs in a matter of days, if not moments, utilzing electronic media. People separated by oceans can now interact as if meeting at the back yard fence. News of events, informative explanations, protracted debate, and critical decisions can all be shared within hours. Not only is speed a factor, but also the nature of the process has become altered; instead of a few people being brought into a discussion around a conference table, hundreds can meet simultaneously over a particular issue, or evesdrop on a clinical case presentation by gathering at a web site. The media themselves have been augmented. Now, a person does not just read an article, he or she interacts with it. Consequently, people have become more immediate with one another. Often, community itself is experienced as a part of the field becomes self conscious, aware of itself.
I think I observe the condensing taking place in such things as our clarification of ideas, what is and what isn't Gestalt, as well as our differences. What I'm hoping is that resistance will not truncate the possibility of our relating. Resistance is here, of course; it happens when we project upon someone's words, and respond defensively or overly aggressively. On an email discussion list such resistance often leads to a "flame war."
I would be interested in what others think about the concept of a field becoming increasingly dense as a result of internet communication.