From Big Medical Encyclopedia

GESHTALTPSIKHOLOGIYA (German Gestalt an image, a complete form, structure + psychology) — one of the directions of foreign psychology using the principle of degree of structure, integrity of mental acts for an explanation of the mental phenomena. Arose at the beginning of 20 century and was reaction to a mekhanitsizm and atomism of the associative psychology dismembering mental activity on a set of primary elements (functions). The concept «Gestalt» was entered by H. Ehrenfels in 1890 at a research of visions and extended afterwards to other types of perceptions. Further there was a so-called Berlin school G., representatives a cut are is mute. psychologists Vertkheymer, Köhler, Koffka, Levin (M. of Wertheimer, 1925; W. Kohler, 1921; To. Koffka, 1925; To. Lewin). Whole («structure», «Gestalt») was considered as special type of essence as something primary, arising and transformed under own immanent laws, subject to hl. obr. to the descriptive characteristic, but not an explanation. According to G., the principles of mental life are defined by internal patterns of «structures» (e.g., the law of a simple and accurate form, the law of transformation of images etc.), but not objective reality and activity of the person.

Original positions of G. extend further and from the field of psychology of perception extend to other problems of psychology — a problem of thinking, the personality, psikhofiziol, problems. Trying to find the material basis for mental «structures», G. representatives, e.g. Köhler, explained their emergence and dynamics with education and the movement in a brain fiziol, «structures». In it one of the rod ideas of G. — the false idea of parallelism of material (physiological) and mental processes was implemented.

Having arisen at the time of the general crisis of natural sciences when in biology idea of an organism as to the simple sum of discrete elements collapsed, G. played a significant role in overcoming mechanistic, atomistic tendencies of traditional functional psychology. G.'s merit is development of an experimental method of the research in studying of mentality which reached in works of representatives of G. of high degree of perfection. In the specific researches conducted by G. representatives many valuable facts are opened: a konstantnost of perception, a figure and a background, a transposition — fundamental phenomena in the field of sensory perception, etc. Köhler's researches over anthropoids made the significant contribution to comparative psychology. However interpretation of the obtained actual data from theoretical positions G. — a distinguished form of idealistic, fenomenalistichesky concepts. Methodological limitation of G., impossibility of a scientific explanation of the facts collecting as a result of an experiment were the reason of disintegration of G. as theoretical direction, psychological school. However G.'s ideas are still used by some representatives of foreign psychology. Theoretical provisions G. exerted and exert impact on views of a number of foreign neuropathologists, psychiatrists and patopsikholog. G.'s influence is connected with attempts to reflect mental as a certain qualitative phenomenon. Accepting the initial thesis of G. about consciousness as closed in itself whole, representatives of this direction, operating with such abstract concepts as distortion of «the semantic field», easing of «tension», etc., closed ways for studying of real mechanisms of disturbance of activity of a brain at different types of pathology of mentality.

The isolated consideration of the phenomena of mental life in a separation from social activity of the person, allocation of mentality in independent «essence», irrespective of life activity of a human body, characteristic of G., was criticized by many Soviet psychologists and physiologists — I. P. Pavlov, L. S. Vygotsky, S. Rubenstein, etc.

Bibliography: Köhler V. A research of intelligence of humanoid monkeys, the lane with it is mute., M., 1930; Rubenstein. L. Fundamentals of the general psychology, M., 1946, bibliogr.; Yaroshevsky M. G. Psychology in the 20th century, M., 1971; To h-1 e r W. Psychologische Probleme, B., 1933; Koffka K. Die Grundlagen der psy-chischen Entwicklung, Lpz., 1925, Bibliogr.; Wertheimer M. Drei Abhandlungen zur Gestalttheorie, Erlangen, 1925.

Yu. F. Polyakov.