Fritz and Laura Perls
Frederick "Fritz" Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, grew up in Germany where he obtained his medical degree. During the 1930s he fled Nazi Germany for South Africa, and a number of years later, he emigrated to the United States. Perls was influenced by many people and philosophies over the years. For instance, some of the key concepts he took from these influences included the anti-deterministic approach of the existentialists, the belief that each person’s reality is unique and true for that person (phenomenology); the holistic notion that mind, body, and soul act in unison; and a number of ideas by the Gestalt psychologists, including the concept of figure-ground, which suggested to Perls that pressing needs move into the prominent perceptual field until they are fulfilled, that humans have a need to find closure or resolution in their attainment of needs, and that personal attributes tend to come in pairs or polarities. Eventually, his theory would become a novel approach to therapy and one of the first theories developed in the humanistic tradition.
Laura Perls, the wife of Frederick, became interested in psychology at a young age and was instrumental, with Fritz, in the establishment of the original Gestalt Institute of New York City.
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