ABSTRACT

This article attempts to reestablish the importance of human aggression as a figural cornerstone in both the origin and practice of Gestalt therapy. Attention is paid to the early contributions of Frederick Perls in reformulating psychoanalytic theory with respect to what he considered to be the primacy of aggression over sexuality in terms of human growth and development. Distinctions are made between what would be considered “healthy” versus “unhealthy” applications of aggression within the maturation cycle of the organism, its social functioning, and the effective practice of Gestalt therapy. Problems related to the definition and application of aggressive expression are discussed through Gestalt-related literature and differences noted in more contemporary research. Practitioners of the Gestalt approach are encouraged to review the relevant literature as a way of revisiting and refreshening their understanding of the clinical importance of aggression in the practice of Gestalt therapy.

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