chapter  5
4 Pages

The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of lts Parts

The foundation of the ftrst principle of Gestalt therapy is holism. The essence of the holistic conception of reality is that all nature is a unifIed and coherent whole .... Holistically, we cannot understand ourselves by summing our understanding of our h~art, our brain, our nervous system, our limbs, our circulatory system. We are not simply an accumulation of functions. The ordinary language expression of this is: The whole is greater than the sum of the its parts. "Greater" means different in quality fonn; it also refers to the entirety of the object or event. Therefore, the whole is a new event, as water is greater than two parts of hydrogen and one part oxygen, and a hand is greater than four fmgers and a thumb.)

When I ftrst moved to Ohio, I saw an advertisement on television. It began with a single black dot." Over the course of the ad, the camera panned back from this single black dot. It became larger and larger; and slowly I could tell what it was: a black bug. This was an ad for a bug killer for crops. It was an example of the holistic view of Gestalt. Black dot by black dot, it was just that: a bunch of black dots. As a whole, it was much more.