The gestalt prayer: "I am I and you are you..." Yes, but not.

Although called gestalt prayer was formulated by Fritz Perls in a very specific socio-cultural context such as the American Society of the 1960s, it remains for many a kind of absolute truth that still indoctrinated fervently.

Introduction to the controversy by the "gestalt prayer"

However, and even considering that interpretations arising from this prayer could make sense in the Decade in question, it does so in a social context as the present that counts with different and distant expectations in which demands and priorities regarding. Most likely, the proximity to postwar world of sixties invested that time of a few singularities that were powered by the inability of Americans to detached from many accessions that made them function badly as individuals and fostered individualism as an alternative or curative remedy.

However, we should not forget that, from its birth as a review of Freudian psychoanalytic theory, Gestalt Therapy provide innovation – then revolutionary - a transition of individualist thought to postmodern thinking, which, in principle, oppose individualism that distills the gestalt prayer subject of this article, a contradiction that at the moment we leave in suspense waiting to analyze it at the right time...

Let's make some history
In order to locate the reader, might be teaching go to the origins and remember that Gestalt Therapy was born in New York in 1951 when Perls marriage, along with a group of intellectuals, which include Paul Goodman and Isadore From, kept countless and fruitful meetings in which ideas of Perls were taking form to acquire enough for entity Goodman - equipped with ease in the art of writing at least much more than Fritz Perls - you transcribe them into text. It was thus, in 1951, was published a work entitled Gestalt Therapy: excitement and growth in the human personality in which appeared as co-authors Fritz Perls, Ralf Hefferline and Paul Goodman, work that is known as PHG, abbreviation formed with the first letter of the surname of each of them. This work was a milestone since it established as the founding text, which laid the theoretical foundations of this school of psychotherapy, and for the first time called Gestalt Therapy to this new trend.

It should be emphasizing that the main revolution of Gestalt Therapy was the transition from a model of thinking individualistic to a model's field, which was no longer the unit mind who sat the foundations of the concept of holism is included also the environment. Thus, the object of psychology and psychotherapy stopped being the psyche or the subject and happened to be "experience" of the person which takes place in the field which is an organism and its environment.

Perls evolves in its postulates

In the transition from the 1950s to 1960s, Fritz Perls underwent a profound change in its position, both so resigned to the origins and foundations of the current gestalt it created when he moved to California to teach Gestalt Therapy as way of life than as a therapy model.

Fritz Perls left the Institute in New York under the direction of his wife, Laura Perls, migrated to the coast West of the United States and joined the Esalen Institute in Californiain 1964, a centre specializing in the alternative of cutting education humanist who made possible the realization of interdisciplinary studies that generally were not served (or they were openly rejected) by the establishment traditional academic. This turning point marked the split or schism that, from then on, the two streams of Gestalt Therapy that still divide this discipline would be: Gestalt theoretical East Coast and the Of West Coast Gestalt Ateorica.

Theorical Gestalt

In the history of American Gestalt found as two streams contrasting in their way of conceptualizing the Gestalt Therapy: on one side we have called This coast Gestalt (New York, Cleveland) interested in theoretical systematization and fundamentally in the Theory of the Self in the PHG or founding text. On the other hand, that would be not unreasonable to consider opposite, are the West Coast Gestalt (Esalen, California) Claudio Naranjo called that "atheoretical experiencialismo" and whose characteristics - according to the author - are a "intuitionism that is recognized as such" and which does not provide the Theory of the Self as a theoretical basis.

We flaw some aspects that differ and opposed to both sides:

1. the therapy Gestalt theoretical slope on the East Coast (hereinafter call This coast Gestalt), consists of a large group of thinkers, representatives of the framework of this current therapeutic, philosophical and humanist which lacks a leader or champion of the same visible head. On the contrary, the Gestalt Therapy ateorica slope on the West Coast (hereinafter call West Coast Gestalt) considered to Fritz Perls as a myth or a sort of guru who would be his disciple, psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, a kind of Prophet.

2. after his transfer to California and the addition to the Esalen Institute (1964), Perls gave a hit of rudder to Gestalt Therapy upon entering a dynamic that still many identify with the movement hippy, and practices of alternative therapies that are distanced from the foundational theoretical framework referred to in the PHG. Meanwhile, his wife, Laura, in New York, remained faithful to the origins of Gestalt Therapy and its theoretical framework.

3. in a way, the Gestalt of the East Coast is characterized by the intellectualization and the respect to the theoretical framework and methodology in the mode of addressing the therapeutic relationship, while the Gestalt of California would become in visceral, intuitive, theatrical and cathartic.

The Gestalt prayer

I am I and you are you
I do my thing, and you do your thing. 
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, 
and you are not  in this world to live up to mine. 
If by chance we meet, it's beautiful. 
If not, 
it can't be helped.
You are you and I am I
(Fritz Perls)

Once read carefully, the Gestalt prayer created by Perls, which many consider a mantra capable of helping in thousand conflicts or a key that will open you the doors to a full knowledge, is easy to conclude that, in its content, this sentence doesn't fit with gestalt approaches.

Taking into account of which was the evolution of Perls and his vital-biografica career - existential, most likely when he formulated the famous prayer, did at a point in time and only as a pedagogical tool which will help to spread its model, regardless of the broadcast would reach, effects that would give place, the controversy that would generate and the negative consequences that would have for a discipline seriously and set a framework for theoretical and methodological as it is the Gestalt Therapy of the slope theoretical and Orthodox, i.e. the of the East Coast.

Consider that in our current social and cultural context, this "sentence" implies an invitation to egotism, understanding as such the granting of one of excessive importance to itself and own life experiences that we could summarize the tendency to speak or write over so if.

There is a pathological egotism that the interruption of the process of contact. He is this a form live constantly insulation and with a great difficulty for the Exchange with the environment. It is a rigid attitude which, as a way of life, can give rise to a narcissistic personality.

There is also a healthy egotism which involves the closure of the frontera-contacto and is not the imterrupcion but the withdrawal from the environment. We could explain it to simplify that, when already the need is met and has completed the Exchange with the environment, comes a period of withdrawal, of relaxation, in which the assimilation of experience is possible.

I am aware of the complexity of these concepts may pose to the profane by having to face and assimilate into a few lines, something that requires years of training, but as it has been necessary to record the egotism, it is also giving a few brush strokes to which Gestalt Therapy means contact. The words more simple and intelligible, contact is the operation that takes place between the "I" and the "not-I", i.e. between the organism and its environment. It must take into account that no living being can survive without environment and that the fundamental function of the contact is survival (breathing, eating, protect) thereby 'I' (body) will go to the meeting - in the environment - that which is "non-self" and that is one novelty.

And that has this to do with the gestalt prayer? wonder many, no doubt with good reason.

Taking into account that it is through the contact (i.e. in the encounter with the other) where we are enriched in Gestalt Therapy, prayer made by Perls ceases to be gestalticamente coherent - if I may put it this way — so that to make it copper a real sense, would restructure, for example as did the renowned clinical psychologist and Gestalt therapist Carmen Vazquez who by way of respuesta-reaccion the prayer of Perls, you modified it leaving it as follows:

"I do my stuff and you do yours.
In many of the things that I do, you have much to see,
And in many of your stuff I've contributed.
I can be me with you as you can be with me.
I will be me while you are you;
And even if by chance we have found,
Let's move together or apart,
Our lives will never be the same as
Our meeting will have enriched us"

Personally, and if you find me in the position of having to Choose one of the two sentences, I would choose the 'modified' version of Carmen Vázquez, and would do so with the forcefulness and respect also gave those who opt to choose the first, the 'original' and created by Fritz Perls, in spite not commune with it in some of their approaches. Could be summarized this personal approach in a phrase from extracted from his book manifest thanks to another Jean-Marie Robine:

"Without the other, does not open anything. Without the other, there is nothing. " Without the other, the self does not exist; without the other, there is the expression; without the other, there is the word"
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