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Brian O'Neill December 23rd, 2004 06:56 AM

Anyone want to comment???
I've noticed that in this new format there is an incredible shift from the previous one where everyone was posting to a place where there are lots of people reading yet a very few posting.... I'm curious and even perplexed... and I;d love some feedback....

Other forums here vary from being similar to this one to being very full of postings and dialogues... so what's happening here.... anyone want to comment???


Brian O'Neill December 23rd, 2004 06:57 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Post Script...

and I'd love to just chat with people about Gestalt therapy if anyone is interested...


JustBen January 11th, 2005 02:23 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
I can only respond by pointing out that it's happening in just about every forum on I've tried to generate some conversation in a couple of forums, but ends up being the same three or four people going back and forth.

Doug William January 21st, 2005 10:43 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Ben --- Brian---

Unfortunately, what you're experiencing here is kind of typical. I've participated in another network of school psychologists that you might think would generate a lot of common interest-- but, no, the same thing. And that's over a six year period. Lots and lots of people reading (or listening) but very, very few participating.

The other interesting problem is that when these older forums (especially the Nathanson Forum on Affect Theory), were more animated (and there's no question that the other format was more friendly) the exchanges became increasingly strident and nasty, and more and more people joined the site using pseudo-names or 'anonymous'. By the way, even Nathanson's new website, which you must pay to join, has the same meager participation!!!
So if you pay and still don't participate-- that says to me that some pretty strong inhibition must be going on. I think that a great number of people are interested but don't really feel they have something to contribute. So these sites become similar to a classroom. Most people prefer to listen. I guess there is much more involved to the experience of risk taking when you actively participate than is at all obvious. And I'm wondering if the same people who verbally participated in their classrooms are the same people who participate here! In fact, by extension, are we the same people who tend to talk up at conferences? (of course, I realize that the compulsive talkers sometimes only want to hear themselves talk, so it doesn't have to be a 'positive trait'!!)

For me, it's been 8 years of being surprised how difficult it seems to be to have 'conversation' and to talk about things in depth. Even the sharing of ideas with several people reading the same book would be interesting. But-- what happens instead is that people start defending a set of ideas and express the same things over and over and over again. So, sadly, what I'm saying is that even when more people participate, things don't necessarily get better.

I've been especially impressed with Dr. Pretzer's Forum and the richness of his thinking. For people (interested in cognitive therapy) to pass up the opportunity to interact with him is kind of sad!! He has actually verbalized his disappointment about how few participate opposed to the large numbers who just read.

Of course, this site offers us the opportunity to use private messaging as well-- which in fact I've done with Ben.


Brian O'Neill January 25th, 2005 01:02 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Thanks for this Doug...

I hadn't really compared or looked at other forums and so to hear from you is great. I know on email chat lists such as Gestalt L, we tend to talk more (more immediate?) and yet I still have hope that this forum can also be useful in some form....

I'm willing to keep experimenting and have just asked a variety of Gestalt therapists to join so I'm hopeful...

We are somewhere in between a book and a chat list...and to paraphrase Elie Wiesel a jewish mystic, ... when a writer is sincere and writes from this, and the reader also is sincere, then God is present.

Even you and I writing is a change in the field so I'm interested in what prompted you to write


Doug William January 25th, 2005 06:51 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Hi again Brian---

I find contacting people having similar areas of interest to be fun. I don't have to agree with them, but to have the opportunity to 'talk' with other people in this way I just thought was a great thing. Especially because in the normal course of our lives, we would normally speak with only a limited number of people. But then to my never ending disappointment this feeling I have about this kind of communication and is just not shared by the numbers of people I had anticipated. First, I thought this would be a great opporunity to talk about issues in some depth, but somehow without the 'structure' of a classroom, people just don't seem to want to do this. Or- and maybe this is more important- people want their work and outside lives to be different spheres-- so the idea of continuing to explore ideas after formal schooling just isn't appealing.The school psychology network I mentioned is far more closed and protected from outsiders than this one, but as I said in my other post, if people wanted to feel more "protected" to participate, this did nothing to spur participation either.

So I wander back here hoping things will be different, but they're not.

I can't claim a special interest in Gestalt therapy, but I certainly did respond to the content of your recent post!!

I have considered creating my own network of people I've met over the years online who did participate more actively.


Joelle March 3rd, 2005 09:57 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
I like this thread!

It addresses 'what is' here and now, head on. And what is, is the number of thread visits in the hundreds and the number of posts equal to zero - still the case to date 3rd March 2005. And since behaviour is function of the field, I am just wondering about the behaviour of members in the Behavior Online field!

I stopped visiting this forum over a year ago, because it seemed that it was filling up with spam type postings and requests for help with university papers, and... I did not have the energy to say or do anything about it. As if the field was polarising into expertise and helplessness, with some disruptive stuff thrown in. Doug, you are right, it is really like a bad classroom! Except Brian is not the teacher, we are not the pupils.

And this reminds me also of silence in groups possibly being another way to conflict.

[Any student wanting reading material on this, check out an article by John Bernard Harris from the Manchester Gestalt Centre at:
That's the request for materials out of the road!]

And a thought on completing this posting:

I am resisting the urge to edit it, and wonder how many postings were deleted before sending (retroflected). Suppose we'll never know. I am imagining the hundreds of spontaneous thoughts that were typed and never sent, and feel a bit sad. And before I lose my nerve, I'll click on Submit.

Phil Brownell March 5th, 2005 09:22 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Okay, I'll jump in on this one too. I'm usually busy elsewhere, and I've been away from this forum for awhile for various reasons, but tonight I wandered back in. (HI, BRIAN!) As I have discussed with Brian, I think the new interface slows people down. It's just easier to scan what's here than to go through the hassle of registering, then remembering one's username and password. Like, I could not recall what I'd logged in as last time, and between then and now my email address had changed so even if I asked for a reminder, they wouldn't have sent it to the right place. So, here I am under a totally fictitious name (NOT).


Brian O'Neill March 7th, 2005 01:52 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Thanks for posting folks.... must be some sort of paradoxical process in play here... here we are talking about not talking.... paradoxical theory of change ? :)


Lindsay Smith March 8th, 2005 06:24 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
[Any student wanting reading material on this, check out an article by John Bernard Harris from the Manchester Gestalt Centre at:

Hello Brian,

My response to SILENCE is that being silent is a great way to come to terms with what is going on inside yourself. Most people seem to have a 'busyness' thing which extends right into their leisure time. The TV or radio is on 'for company' so I'm often told. Now the family have left home & my wife is often at my daughter's place minding the grand child I seldom have anything on in the background.

I used to offer to 'concentration & relaxation' workshops at the end of term to students who wanted an alternative to sporting activities or watching a movie. I would explain how to 'look at the wall' & then give students about 10 minutes to try. Then I'd reform the group & ask the students what they had discovered without putting any interpretation on anything except perhaps to say, "that's interesting."

Then we'd 'look at the wall' again. Some students chose to lie on the floor & look at the ceiling. Some chose to close their eyes. Some chose to have their eyes half open. Some chose to close their eyes for a while & open them for a while & close them again. Some students stood a faced the wall, some sat on chairs, some sat cross legged.

I had feedback from students at the time & since that the learning the skill of 'looking at the wall' was beneficial for them. That they are still doing that. That being able to fix attention like that has been an important way of managing their lives.

I sometimes give Hypnotherapy clients instruction on 'looking at the wall' for a few minutes & suggest that they do some every day as homework. As I've mentioned elsewhere on one of the forums I ask two questions while people hold focus.... "what are you thinking now?" ... "what are you feeling now?"

I am not expecting answers. Often there is no response because people are completely involved in holding focus & that occupies all their attention.

amy mcgraw March 12th, 2005 11:32 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
I found this thread quite thought provoking, having recently returned to the "formal" setting of university education. The trend in education presently seems to be a 50 to 100% online format. Initially I was excited about the opportunity to participate in forums etc., geared to relevant topics. However, like the response to BOL, I have found that in reality, there is little interest in discussing issues and problem solving online. Perhaps a reflection of our "me" society in general...if doesn't interest me personally, then it doesn't exist? Is it an attitude of laziness or feeling inadequate in ideas or writing ability?

Lillian March 29th, 2005 06:24 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Hello, I am from the Netherlands. (so maybe my english is not all that good) I'd like to say, that in my country I also searched for a gestalt-forum. There is one, but also hardly any activity. I recently tried to start discussion, however there are only 3 active writing users, ..more who only read! This seems to be due to the subject "gestalt". On other forums (health, psycho, etc.) there are many active users. I don't understand the hesitation of gestalt-users to discuss. I am happy to have found this international site.


Phil Brownell March 30th, 2005 07:53 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Dear Lillian,
While not wanting to take anything away from the Gestalt Forum at BOL, there is another international Gestalt group. That would be the on-line community known as Gstalt-L ( While BOL is a bulletin board format, Gstalt-L is a listserv, with a web-based archive. While the BOL forum seems to be largely focused on topics, Gstalt-L is topics within the context of relationship. As with any on-line, interactive group, the contributing subscribers comprise a small per cent of the total members. There are people at Gstalt-L from the UK, the USA, Brazil, Korea, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Australia and New Zealand, France, Germany, Russia, Kyrgyzstan ... well, it is international. Because it is also about relationships, in addition to discussing Gestalt therapy theory and practice, the people at Gstalt-L play, talk about their personal lives, get angry, talk about politics and religion, and they explore these things, and the connection people have with one another - as most Gestalt oriented people would. The members are students and established clinicians, Gestalt trainers and trainees alike. Thus, I would advocate that people interested in Gestalt utilize both BOL and Gstalt-L.

Philip Brownell, M.Div., Psy.D.
Sr. Editor, Gestalt! (
Manager, Gstalt-L

Anna Freud April 2nd, 2005 09:47 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???

I am replying to the post where someone spoke about others not responding thus ending up as sort of a classroom atmosphere. What I have found is that some who are of a learned background become upset if anyone "below" their intelligence or education speaks. Then there is this spiral effect. The undereducated person who spoke is ridiculed and cast down and kicked to the corner and the higher uppity-ups continue in their high dialogue. Thinking, it appears that no one else is good enough to join their club. Then those great discussions are played out and wondered of why others do not speak? Anyone else with this view?


Doug William April 3rd, 2005 07:25 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
I'm not aware, at least not in the Forums I participate in here, of responses that would make participants feel 'put down' or made to feel in some way inferior. In another forum I've joined made up of only school psychologists, participation is also very low. The posts in that group could not be more positive or welcoming, but it doesn't seem to matter. I regret my reference to a 'classroom' setting, because that is really very, very different from this context.

What is true elsewhere on the internet, is that the 'disinhibition effect' rules the day and people can be incredibly nasty. I prefer to think that the reluctance of people to participate here has something to do with the feeling that they are interested to read what others say here, but genuinely feel that they have nothing to contribute. I think if more people would take a chance, they would quickly discover this is really not the case.


victor daniels April 10th, 2005 12:35 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Hi Brian. I'm not sure how these threads work and whether I should reply to message 1 or the last message, so am trying in both places. I'm visiting your forum for the first time in about three years. Actually I like this format where you have to log in to look at the messages. I tend to be more of a "lurker," checking in on postings and only participating when I find something that really grabs my interest. I used to get frustrated by the frequent habit on Gestalt-L of one person posting ten messages a day or more--it happened on a humanistic psychology listserv I previously was on and sometimes happens on the Amsterdam Conference planning listserv. I try to limit myself to one posting a day in order not to clog others' inboxes unless there are multiple messages I'm responding to.

Three substantive messages:
1. It occurred to me to check in on your forum while in the middle of radically rebuilding the Gestalt site at Sonoma State University, which I am still in the middle of redoing. (If you want to visit, it's at

I notice that the GANZ journal is hardcopy only. Perhaps you might consider the possibility of posting a few of your most interesting articles to establish an online presence there. You could probably get Phil to put in links to them, and I certainly would.

2. If you know anyone who is going to the Amsterdam Conference who has something interesting to offer, PLEASE SUGGEST THAT THEY SUBMIT A WORKSHOP OR PRESENTATION PROPOSAL. Including you if you plan to attend. So far proposals are coming in more slowly than we would like. Entirely new presentations should be sent to


and presentations that have been done at another Gestalt conference elsewhere in the world and have already been peer-reviewed should be sent to

3. When I went to register at Behavior Online, I got a bad connection that went nowhere when I was in Netscape. I got in through Explorer. I haven't tried Safari or Firefox.

I hope all is going well with your presidency of AAGT. Are you going to Amsterdam?

All the best, Victor

Brian O'Neill April 16th, 2005 07:47 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Hi Victor and thanks for the post. I am going to Amsterdam and I believe you, Peter, Tine and others have done a great job preparing the thanks ....with all the great energy that people like you are bringing to AAGT we are creating an exciting association which is continuing to advance Gestalt therapy...


Anna Freud April 29th, 2005 11:34 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???

Maybe it is because you are not an :( interesting person.


Ranada May 2nd, 2005 09:24 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
It isnt that I dont want to respond, it is for me at least, very difficult to figure out the flow of this forum and be able to find the rythmn. I am used to IM with its instant responses so I am trying to make an attempt, but am not sure I will be able to figure it all out and be able to ride the wave.

Brian O'Neill May 5th, 2005 11:13 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Hi Ranada

I hear what you say... I 'm interested that this thread is paradoxically the one with the least "content" yet has the most responses now... so I the difficulty of finding the wave or rythym of the Forum has indeed also been in the slow responses.... I felt that also...

Seems like the thread with the most responses has been one about our personal process here.... are the other threads at IM more personal?


Doug William May 13th, 2005 10:25 PM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Hello again Brian!

I wish I could offer more "Gestalt' content. My probably unfortunate association to 'Gestalt Therapy' has to do with the evolution of T-Groups and Sensitivity training groups back in the 1970's when participation in these sorts of groups seemed all the rage!!

Getting back to the other subject----I think the temptation to blame the mode of communication here at BOL is probably misplaced, because as I've pointed out my experiences with various formats have not been any different.

I think there is a strong bias in these written types of communications to offer brief types of replies, and the 'post and reply' format brings that out. More spontaneous give and take does take place in an IM format, but then the typing skills of the participants becomes important. I have had one experience in organizing a group conference where 5 or 6 participants all joined for a conference type exchange (it was a discussion about psychological testing), but here the burden is trying to keep track of the sequences (who is responding to whom!) and keeping up with the exchanges (we tried the method of having anyone type- STOP-- if they fell behind or needed more time to read or reply--that worked pretty well). But my point here is, that this mode of communication can be challenging, even when its possible to have rapid responses in conversational speech. I've also noticed that when you do write a lot, people tend to respond to only the last three sentences or last question that's asked and don't reply at all to the earlier content in a message.

The old BOL format never gave us a chance to see how many people were actually reading posts, so at least it is interesting to see that people are curious and apparently keep coming back to read more. It's also kind of puzzling to see what's happening in the Control Mastery Forum where several particpants were writing quite long and complex replies. This forum was intended to extend what had been a study group in San Francisco. What started out looking quite promising now seems to be dying on the vine. It's difficult to tell exactly what happened there. That Forum had the requirement that all participants had to read a certain set of materials and comment about those articles.

I think that adding some structure like that might be helpful.


Brian O'Neill May 20th, 2005 12:42 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
Thanks Doug

Everything you say makes sense and I will think about some possible structures that might asisst here... I'm a compulsive teacher/trainer :-)


jinky mesias June 6th, 2005 01:37 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???
I agree with Phil, in fact it kinda took me quite a few minutes just trying to figure out my password and then my user name. Thank God I finally remembered it! Hello Guys!

Blood Pressure Monitor Store

briddy October 20th, 2005 04:19 AM

Re: Anyone want to comment???

I agree with your assessment and the effect of "learned" ones on potential participants. I too have seen these mighty attitudes you speak of. What really gets under my skin are ones who not only dialogue in their specialized tongues... they are forthright in claiming they have no interest in giving energy to underlings who want help, be it for a university paper or otherwise. Sometimes all that is wanted or needed is a couple of websites or the name of a book. If a professional can't think of something off the top of their head - what does that say about their working knowledge of the subject matter? It behooves me to think of what the therapeutic relationship would look like with a patient or client (depends on language)....

Case in point: Joelle who should have gone with her gut feeling and hit "edit". :p

My God - its a FREE club - there are no hoardcurves or ooystirs with frilly napkins the size of tablecloths in this room - throw those who are of lesser minds a bone for crying out loud. At least make yourself look smart even if you dont have a personality.

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