Ego and Self in Gestalt Theory

Gestalt Theory 43 (1):47-68 (2021)
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The paper presents basic Gestalt psychological concepts of ego and self. They differ from other concepts in the way that they do not comprehend ego and self as fixed entities or as central controlling instances of the psyche, but as one specific organized unit in a psychological field in dynamic interrelation with the other organized units—the environment units—of this field. On this theme, well-known representatives of Gestalt theory have presented some general and special theories since the early days of this approach that could partly be substantiated experimentally. They illuminate the relationship between ego and world in everyday life as well as in the case of mental disorders. Not only the spatial extension of the phenomenal ego is subject to situational changes, but also its place in the world, its functional fitting in this world, its internal differentiation, its permeability to the environment, and much more. The German Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Metzger emphasizes the significant functional role that this dynamic plasticity of the phenomenal world and its continuously changing segregation of ego and environment have for human life by designating the phenomenal world as a “Central Steering Mechanism.” In this article, ego and self as part of this field in their interrelation with the total psychological field will be illuminated from the perspective of the thinking of the Gestalt psychologists Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Lewin, Wolfgang Metzger, Mary Henle, Edwin Rausch, and Giuseppe Galli.
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Archival date: 2021-05-25
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