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Gestalt Therapy Verbatim Paperback – February 1, 1992

4.7 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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About the Author

Michael Vincent Miller, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He lectures widely on his ideas about contemporary love and intimacy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: The Gestalt Journal Press; 2nd Revised ed. edition (February 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0939266164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0939266166
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Lee Sutherland on May 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read many books by the great psychological theorists like Jung, Adler, Horney etc., but none of them cut to the heart of becoming like Fritz does. Even the other third wave analysts like Rogers and Maslow still take a more abstract approach: they suggest ideas on how to function optimally in interpesonal relationships, but don't dig very deep into the application, or the how. This book uses practices that have parallels in Zen buddhism and other sorts of experience-oriented disciplines, but doesn't praise any particular system or thinker. The presentation of the material is very simple and informal--taken from live lectures. Thus, nothing is academically obscure. Rather, its as though one is listening to a very integrated human being who is beyond the need to aggrandize himself through helping others. This is a very good book for people that wish to open themselves up to the full experience of living.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fritz Perls was very masterful at working with people. The book contains transcripts of how he interacted with others in a therapeutic context. He was able to effect changes very rapidly. The book has the theory, too, but it would not have made as much sense without the transcripts. I felt I got what Gestalt was about from this book. I have since prefered the Focusing approach, even as an explanation of how Fritz Perls worked, but this book inspired me and gave me the courage to confront my own challenges and then work with others. The key is that our organism is trying to meet a challenge and find closure, to integrate a gestalt, come to a kind of wholeness. We block ourselves from this, partly by not giving ourselves permission to feel our anger.
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Fritz was a genius, and this book proves it. The therapeutic method he developed helped his clients get beneath the surface features of their difficulties and see and deal with the existential issues that underlay them. The transcripts the book contains reveal the dramatic results that his masterly application of the method could produce.
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By Rob on December 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
They used to talk about "getting it". Fritz Perls got it. Inside out, he was the original. In my opinion, there is no other figure in recent history who understood human beings quite as well as he did. He is still perhaps the only person who ever turned the key on compulsive repetition...and they all tried. He shows in this book that the way through our misery is not the more logical approach of fighting and resisting things, attempting to build a better concept, but instead, through fully accepting and experiencing all the discarded bits of ourselves that didn't seem to fit. It's a monumental paradox that human beings still cannot fathom. If we ever do finally turn that corner, this book will become one of the ideological cornerstones of that discovery.

Verbatim is rich material, a must read. Pure genius presented in an easy, conversational way. His only shortcoming was perhaps his inability to find the perfect word in English to translate some of his ideas, but even then, he keeps it real most of the time.
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Interesting read - great way to "learn from experience" so to speak. Via reading transcripts of Perls in session, the read learns the application of Gestalt therapy rather than just learning about the application of Gestalt therapy. He also drops "pearls" of wisdom (could help the pun) regarding his theory of the human psyche throughout the book. I was amazed by some parts and cringed during others, but I've found this type of experiential working through is essential to good and efficient psychotherapy. I think I learned a lot about Perls' psyche too, but maybe I'm over thinking things; he seems to like being in the spotlight in front of the crowd and is particularly resistant to coming in too close contact / encounter with those who have boundary issues (both aspects seem ways to maintain self-determination). The latter aspect, avoiding allowing clients who want to become enmeshed reaching enmeshment in the therapeutic relationship, precludes integrating some aspects of psychodynamic therapy which focuses on the transference relationship. However, I can imagine adjusting both approaches to treatment in order to take advantage of transference exploration and interpretations, and maintaining "I am I and you are you" (or however Perls puts it).
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I found a free copy of this 1969 version that my library was giving away.. Wow!
The first 76 pages are a talk he gave about gestalt therapy to a group who might choose to stay for a 5 week workshop on dreams at Esalen. The book is transcribed from his spoken talks, which gives the reading a lively and irreverent feel, like you are transported back to 1969 with his cursing, smoking etc.

The remaining pages are transcripts of his interactions at the workshop, one on one asking people to BE certain parts of their dreams. For example, a woman describes a dream about a house where she is walking up the stairs. Fritz says to her, BE the house and talk to the woman who is walking up you. Because he believes each part of the dream represents a fragmented part of oneself, and to give these parts a voice resolves their unfinished enlightenment or gestalt.

I did not read the book for the dream work however. I am giving it five stars for the first 76 pages about how and why people get stuck with unfinished enlightenments/gestalts.

A theory he describes beginning on page thirtysomething and throughout the 76 pages is the idea that people need to be frustrated. Our culture tends to avoid discomfort and frustration. But only through frustration, when other options are blocked, do we draw upon inner resources, our natural self and natural processes to bring forward the natural enlightenment about that issue, or gestalt. He gives an example of thanking Hitler for making it impossible for him to stay alive in Germany, for this trip through other countries, without guarantees of safety or income, exposed him to the processes that would become his great discoveries, enlightenments for himself and to share.
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