(This content is from presentations in the 1970s by Kenan Branam, then on staff at the Gestalt Institute of Houston. May 13, 1977)
Gestalt as a psychological modality was first developed in western laboratories as an approach similar to Skinnerism with a focus on basic perception such as sight, taste, touch and the cognitive process: how the human mind/body translates and responds to contact with everyday life situations.
The Gestalt approach to individual therapy as practiced by Fritz Perls, is a way of being with your self and in relationship that enhances personal growth and healing. The technique combines, not only the ancient concepts, but modern exercises developed in the last forty years by psychologist such as Abraham Maslow (Maslow Hierarchy), Carl Rogers (Person Centered Therapy), Moreno (Psychodrama), Eric Berne, and many other humanistic psychologists. Gestalt techniques are also used by many therapist in individual, family systems, and recover programs. Even mass marketed personal enhancement programs adapt some powerful aspects of gestalt, but, the essential interpersonal ethic is not always honored.
Recent business and marketing concepts: analysis of problems and solutions "in context" and emphasis of "process" oriented management theory are some of the references to the gestalt appreciation. Some of Marshall McLuhan's ideas can be easily interpreted with gestalt theory.
The importance of the gestalt perspective is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the media where context and demographics must be understood. In the television and advertising industry, we ask "how" will this message be seen, heard, or read by our customers and how will this customer be motivated to action.
Perceptual theories as they are being used in business and formal education are very primitive when compared to the expertise being developed in institutions and laboratories around the country.
Gestalt theory aids the media professional in understanding and molding technical systems and working teams into effective processes for communicating creative selling concepts. The path between desired objective and meaningful action is the focus of any gestalt technique, whether the task is visual composition of the television image or the manufacturing and distribution of the product. The gestalt principles apply to the specific as well as to the general results: "the bottom line."
Basic gestalt awareness and how you, as a viewer, respond to the various aspects of color, shape, and sound that form the gestalt presented on the television monitor. The "how" of your response to the television phenomena is determined by who and what you are physically, emotionally, socially, and idealistically. This is your Gestalt.
Whether you are a psychologist, artist, technician, business person, or corporate entity, your effective use of media is dependent on your knowledge and understanding of cognitive processes.