T HE PUBLICATION in 1951 of Gestalt Therapy; Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality by Perls, Hefferline, and Goodman-especially Goodman's theoretical presentation in Volume II-drew considerable interest in the new model from psychotherapists and others looking for alternatives to the often rigid psychoanalytic practice of the time. Out of the original study group that had spawned the book itself, the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy was established, with a regular discussion group as its main activity, which interested therapists and other visitors could attend. Among these visitors some time in 1952 were several young psychologists from Cleveland, who returned home to found a study group of their own, later importing Perls, Goodman, and other New York Institute members as teachers and visiting therapists. This new group in turn founded the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, in 1953, which became and has remained the most
vigorous and prolific center for publication and training in the field of Gestalt therapy over the ensuing three decades and more. (In part, this predominance of the Cleveland group over the years has been due to the relative failure of the original New York group to publish further in the field. Of the original founding group at the New York Institute, Goodman wrote hardly anything more in the field before his early death in 1971 [see only Goodman, 1977]; Perls concentrated for the rest of his life on the popularization of a particular, idiosyncratic brand of directed psychodrama, lecturing and demonstrating widely but writing very little of a directly theoretical nature; while Laura Perls and Isadore From, mentioned above as the "deans" of Gestalt therapy and both quite influential through their teaching, have both declined so far to publish extensively in the field [see Wysong and Rosenfeld, 1982].)
While the Cleveland group was thus exposed to the teaching of a number of the original New York Institute members, including both Perlses and Paul Goodman, it was Isadore From who quickly became their main outside lecturer, supervisor, and workshop leader-as well as individual therapist to many of the Cleveland group for a number of years. For five years, From traveled from New York to Cleveland twice a month for teaching and therapy. Then, after a hiatus, he resumed these trips on a once-a-month basis for another five years (From, 1982). Not surprisingly, the work of the Cleveland group is very much marked by the influence of From's teaching, which was generally based on the Goodman/Peds model, but showed certain characteristic shifts of emphasis which will be discussed below. From this basis (and with a characteristic tilt toward the Goodman/From perspective and away from Peds), various members of the Cleveland group then made a number of important and fruitful extensions, applications, and modifications of the original 1951 theoretical presentation-in the process often raising but generally not addressing systematically many of the same concerns of the theoretical critique developed in these chapters. These extensions and applications are discussed below:
In 1947 Perls outlined what he called (characteristically) the "metabolism cycle," consisting of six stages, to describe the
"achievement of organismic balance" -i.e., the meeting of a need, always conceived in the Perls model in terms of the prototype activity of eating (p. 69). The six steps or stages were (1) rest-a state of equilibrium (like the early Freudian, as we have seen, the Perlsian model is based squarely on tension-reduction); (2) a "disturbing factor ... internal or external" -presumably meaning either a need or a threat of some kind; (3) "creation of image or reality"- the meaning of this is unclear, but it does seem to suggest some reorganization of the field for action, though this of course would not be Perls's terminology; (4) "the answer" -that is, contact with the goal (always defined, as we have seen above, as "chewing"); (5) tension reduction, which is self-explanatory, if theoretically debatable; and (6) return to "organismic balance" (p. 45). Health is then equated with "organismic self-regulation" (p. 46)-the smooth functioning of the cycle-which presumably should be no more than a matter of eating when you are hungry, taking only what tastes good to you, and stopping when you've had enough, without interruption or interference from troublesome foreign introjects such as "conscience" (in other words, the same schema we have been criticizing as simplistic throughout this analysis). Dysfunction, or neurosis, is then the interruption of that smooth functioning, which may occur characteristically at any point along the cycle-with the various points of interruption corresponding to the various "resistances to contact," or neurotic types.