Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gestalt Therapy – Past Pains and Current Relief

Am biased in a view that holds NLP as a phase transition from Gestalt Therapy. History records that Fritz Perls revived action pieces from a theory that may have died without practice. Martin Shepard records wilful encounters that accounted for this in interactions between Perls, Karen Horney and Wilhelm Reich.  

I particularly note the anchoring effect Dick McHugh chooses when he brings on the 'mindfulness' of contemplative practices to heighten the potential of the unused right-brain. The conjunction between 'use of self' and the 'here and now' experience is realized in the distinction that non-judgmental awareness is different from an evaluative introspection. Awareness increases chances for responsibility and ownership. Introspection can lead us to explain away things, and words fail us to 'experience' our feelings. This is the part of process for facilitators in groups to discern.

The mystical mind plunges each moment towards, Truth, God, Love,  and such depths whose mysteries are not to be 'solved' the way we address anxieties that block our awareness. In fact, approaching emotional intelligence through an
empirical basis of neurology, may be an inefficient way of reaching a truth about our human essence that mystics have accessed for centuries. This is why I wished to know or learn from Masters as to how this dimension played out in the founding of Organisation Development (OD).

Dick’s delight in ‘feelings’ is in my opinion overindulged, for it does not offer the cognitive balance required to make headway in intervention. The meta-model of 'get out of your mind, and get into your senses' is possibly the reason for this. My inference comes from what I sensed as his selective neglect of the following in his approach. There have been topics that were not schematically laid out. They are to do with the levels of neurosis, as also the classification of blockages or avoidance

The introjection that participants are likely to have experienced would preclude their projections and their consequent transferences left unobserved and unattended during practice sessions. That boundaries get violated in ways that precipitate Confluence.  Retroflection  and even Deflection are anathema to those who would have gone solely by witnessing experiential learning, for it requires a discerning observer to be present and observe how the client holds up feelings in the moment.

In OD, Gestalt can easily be seen as co-evolution as opposed to traditional ‘diagnosis’ or the pathology of the organisational system. When reviewing the deeper purpose of 'competence' and 'commitment' that Argyris speaks about, I was fascinated that the wheel within the wheels that Gestalt’s grist for the mill grinds, is its stubborn anti-intellectualism. In Argyris’ analysis of dysfunction in organisations, reasoning about our behaviors is core.  Experiencing 'authenticity' may have been unfairly labelled as too 'touchy-feely' to be 'analysed' in learning loops. In fact, hard-nosed, result oriented expectations may have suppressed the expression of truth. I wonder often if this is what precipitated the pretence on which the pursuit of profits was made legitimate. 

Increasing our capacity to think critically about behaviors is in fact a way of reaching greater awareness. Introjection reduces awareness, evenas an overdose of curiosity may take away from the moment's splendor. Contact is an associated state of feelings that the body can signal, either as a twitch of a muscle, a tension in the calves or a vascular headache.

There are 21 books referred to us for reading beyond the Dick McHugh course experience. These include the works of Polster, Passons, Shepherd, John O Stevens, Simkin, Perls, Zinker, Nevis, Carl Rogers and Barry Stevens.

In terms of how the work is affecting me, I am currently reviewing my skills of discernment, presence and giving! Am also open to range of choices in consultative style - confrontation, elicitation, modeling and
direct provocations, that may be useful in the moment, within a larger intervention process!

Am most taken on the by instrumentality of polarities for the figure and ground probabilities that they present for leadership transformations. The grey zone for me is this : The numbness of modern capitalist enterprise could easily be generalized as intellectual riff-raff of the left brain, when Gestaltists encourage losing the mind and coming to one's senses. In an age of awareness of plasticity of the brain, what categories can be easily retained as left and right brain in a working language that we can rely on?