Change to and from

Change to and from :   The Paradoxical Theory of Change

What was tolerable then, may have no usefulness now. Growth is a collision of an every changing now . Growth is both erosion and assimilation. With relative autonomy , ( a slow developing set of behaviors in itself ) one may , as an agent of change , accelerate or stall the natural erosion and assimilation of:
people and things important ones life lilly-pad-blooming

  • values and meaning
  • experience
  • environment

As one reacts to pressures and novelties in contact with him and his internal health.

This is my summary of Arnold Beisser’s of Paradoxical Theory of Change.

Arnold Beisser wrote this as a preface for a Book by Fritz Perls , who developed a conceptual mix of humanistic psychology , experiential practice (or rather existentialism) and a graphical context into his so called “ Gestalt therapy ”. Fritz Perls did so with his wife , Laura and the help of numerous colleagues.

the purpose of Beisser’s “Paradoxical theory of Change ” was  introduce tthe humanistic psychology work by another.
However , there are important and brilliant observations in its rhetoric.

Change is seldom what a person thinks wants change  — at least initially and often do to desperation or boredom. change is a slow process.

that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is — to be fully invested in his current positions.

Beisser is actually describing a specific nature of change, with autonomy and agents in mind , more than postulating a science theory.

The Nature of Change may apply to integrated group than just a single person. and the Nature of change may describe a community , a social group or social movement.

But it is proposed that the same principles are relevant to social change, that the individual change process is but a microcosm of the social change process. Disparate, unintegrated, warring elements present a major threat to society, just as they do to the individual.

The Nature of Change can be compared in study by comparing what “is” to what it “is not ” , as they meet and mobilize .

First, there is an awareness within the system that an alienated fragment exists; next that fragment is accepted as a legitimate outgrowth of a functional need that is then explicitly and deliberately mobilized and given power to operate as an explicit force. This, in turn. leads to communication with other subsystems and facilitates an integrated, harmonious development of the whole system.

the construct or object or gestalt: “is” and “is not“.
Contact” is a graphical boundary of definition between what something is and what something is not — this is a fundamental point of gestalt therapy, where focus lies at the interplay of the two — the awareness of difference and similarity, cooperation , conflict, withdraw and assimilation.

A somewhat abstract social example:

How do we describe the feminist movement of the last 100 years ?
We’d define “what is feminism and “what is not feminism”
furthermore, we would need to create context for both.
“What happened when and where: ” What is Feminism ” met or meets “What is Not Feminism
As far as the changes is Feminism , Beisser would have us expect the pressures and agents of change, erosion and withdraws along novelties.
the social collision of what is and what is not Feminism.

The personal example :

A person may describe himself as
What I am ” meeting “What I am not
The observation of change of “I “and “I am not” is the erosion, the letting go of old tenants and the assimilation of new tenants. Beissers point in his essay, that person must come to realize all facets of this if he is to change “I” and “I am not ” in a healthy manner. the person must become aware of differences, past hindrances or resolve past parts of what he is , in the contrast , interplay , coercion and cooperation of what he is not.
Beisser extends this advise beyond the single person , so that groups community and movements can change in a healthy manner.

Paradoxical Arnold Beisser

Further more…

What happens at boundary of contact is more complex than a Boolean value of this or that. With that said, it is important to become aware of distinction of what two are compared.

Another important characteristic of perception is the tendency toward closure–that is, toward making meaning about a figure. Presented with a circle of unconnected dots, for example, the perceiver instinctively fills in the gaps mentally to create a complete, bounded image.

A description of the natural tendency of “far perception” to further relationships.

reification triangle image


What could be inferred is the desire to make connection between broken or non-wholes.
an autonomous body may seek beyond its boundary as much as take what it was minutes ago.

Today the ( growingly) controlled media outlets, especially the internet and pundits is full of standoffs and bullies, both in groups and as people.
Its almost like someone is teaching a foolish irrational ways of “change” or defense.
Whats at risk ? An integrated way of being , for single person , environment, and community.

The compartmentalization of old people, young people, rich people, poor people, black people, white people, academic people, service people, etc., each separated from the others by generational, geographical, or social gaps, is a threat to the survival of mankind. We must find ways of relating these compartmentalized fragments to one another as levels of a participating, integrated system of systems.

Arnold Beisser – Paradoxical Theory of Change

I wrote you a poem…

a one draft poem inspired by Beisser. I wrote this years ago:

All things are shaped by friction
Growth by by erosion,
the crash of objects against environment
water against rock, man against circumstance,
two crashing into one and other
I am no different,
except for the engine within that propels me
forward, fueled with past experience
with the gift of mind, sensation, and memory
and the awareness of the sparks
created between me,
and the who and the what
that I crash into.

titled by me “Self indulgence”. thanks Arnie.

Now I am Aware of – Fritz Perls in workshop


Today’s Gestalt Therapy, A humanistic approach to psychotherapy, evolved and matured out of the experimental workshops of cofounder’s Fritz Perls and Laura Perls. In session, the gestalt client’s aim is to “Get out of their heads”, or the computer thought process as Perls has stated many times. Its method is to experience the awareness continuum , that is happening right now — body into the sensory field. This method of experiencing awareness includes experiencing the awareness of how one avoids awareness and sensing in his world.

The exercise in the video (posted on youtube by Marin Tataru) demonstrates “becoming acquainted with the on-going process of awareness.” in another words, mostly talk about process in the video, for the purposes of explanation and instruction.
Give it a shot:

Now, I am aware of…


Gestalt Contact and Boundary Disturbances

According to  Gestalt Therapy Theory, Contact is the awareness of the meeting of differences. From a first person point of view, contact is the venue of the meeting of  “Subject” and “Other“;  Organism and  Environment, where the conceptual “Self” arises. as the subject.
Contact is “What- and- Who- I- am” (the subject self) and  “What -and- Who- I-am-not” ( Other in the field or present environment)   meeting  , interacting ,exciting, and influencing as interplay with each other.  Neither  takes  control of the other , instead   the subjects  (and in many cases two or more subjects in an intersubjective meeting )  decide what they assimilate or reject from the contact encounter, regarding new  ideas, values, outlooks, novelties, etc.

Previously I posted on Cognitive Behavioral Therapies  “Thought Errors or Thinking Errors“.   I thought I would take the time and list some of  Gestalt Therapy ‘s
Contact Boundary   Disturbances:

Introjection -“Swallowing whole”. One important process of Gestalt Therapy is the client  constructively learning to assimilate and reject, new ideas and novelties of his experiences as he is in contact with his changing  surroundings. Introject ion is fully assimilating and absorbing all without discretion,
Introjection maybe include the way take in our cultural values and norms when we are young, or identification and mimicking the behavior of celebrities or role models, for example.

Confluence – Consciously: the boundary-less sensation of singularity or one-ness, connectedness to surroundings, God,etc.
Confluence is the loss of distinction Self and Other and loss awareness of contact boundary.another case would be: the loss of boundary between “You” and “I” to become “We” for example. the unconsciously loss of self into surroundings, such as in mob mentality is also Confluence.

Projection – the confusion of “Other” (surrounding and environment) for what should be the “Self“; Placing feelings  of onto “Other” instead of the “Self”.
Examples: Artist may project themselves into their Art. Someone who had a bad day and is angry with themselves, may shift blame to another, or project there anger onto someone or something else. Someone attributing ones feelings onto a “sentimental” object.
As with the case with contact disturbances, they can be healthy, unhealthy or neutral, depending on the circumstances.

Retroflection – Holding back responses or emotions intended for the “other”, surroundings, or other people in surroundings and substitutes a response for himself.
Examples: If one is becomes angry with the boss, and holding his anger back at work, retroflecting may be a good thing, in this case.
Some people hold in Anger a lot the time, without channeling it later, the result maybe feeling of depression or shame for towards themselves.

Egotism -Between the  two sides, there  is no interaction or interplay… . only an exchange that goes one way. Example  a person is so into himself and talking about only himself at a meeting, without listening or  noticing anyone else.

Deflection is moving the contact boundary or more easily understood, changing the subject in a conversation.

Defense Mechanisms – Defense mechanisms are not actually contact disturbances like the  previous listed. Instead of manipulation of boundaries, they are patterns of action and thought  that the subject uses to cope with his surroundings, when feeling stressed or anxious. The appear during contact and I think they are worth noting here though.Example would be “Intellectualizing” and “Compartmentalizing”.

In  C. B. T , a client learns to catch and correct Thought Errors, and change unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior .  In contrast,  in  the  Gestalt Therapy setting , a client learns to become  mindful  of what happens in the interactions, including contact disturbances and mechanisms, non judgmentally. This in part of a larger awareness so that a client may understand himself, needs, drives, interactions, and  so he may ultimately  become who he is.  Just as well,  mindfulness of contact will aid one in understanding his relationships to others.


In Gestalt therapy the self arises in contact, and consists of what ever is integrated into “What and Who I am”, and is not experienced as Other. This is a technical definition of self different than an everyday definition. It is a constantly changing process and needs contact with “Other” (surroundings, environment, other people,etc.) to be experienced. The healthy regulation of self happens at the contact boundary with “other” where the subject (Client, organism, family,etc.) maintains relative control of the “metabolism”. The other or environment, surroundings, may change quickly… the self or subject is usually more stable, but is a process in change none the less.

Metabolism And Self Regulation.

Metabolism is a term coined by Fritz Perls, one of the co founders of Gestalt Therapy. Metabolism takes place at the Contact boundary, its the subjects (organism, self, group, etc.) process of assessing novelties and new experiences in “small bites”, for assimilation or rejection. Metabolism  and Contact are important concepts of self regulation in Gestalt therapy theory.
It is the gained ability to regulate what will become part of oneself and what will not, including new beliefs, attitudes, actions, etc.,  that reflects an organism’s “autonomy” .  All though, all things influence each other, a subject (organism, person, family, etc.)  has the ability to relatively self regulate, to become who  he , she or it  is.


Everyone is different and different therapies, methods, and  paradigms  work better for some than others. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is more popular right now , possibly due to its strict method for practitioners and scientific data that puts in on par with the medical science. Gestalt Therapy  asks for creativity from the therapist and the client, is based on more philosophical thinking, and is often measured in personal growth.
I think it is beneficial to have as many tools around as possible,  I hope Gestalt Therapy is here to stay for a long time.

for  further reading:


moon breath vibration


meditation happens anywhere and anytime.

Laying on my porch glider and enjoying the warm damp pleasant evening:
I observe the moon and the faint blue clear sky. I observe the moon. I give the lonely moon, that is evening sky, my full attention….
…until it is just my breath and the moon… then… just the moon.

The is a hoard of neighborhood  children playing outside.The sounds of laughter and yelling…and the sound of skateboards chattering against the pebbled sidewalk distracts me.

I turn my attention to my breathing, then back to the moon.
The swirling sound of the children-at-play becomes a vibration through me, proving light stirring of feeling.

A momentary interdependence arises in the lazy evening: The interdependence of The moon, vibration and breath, that fill my awareness.

ten, 20 , 30 minutes pass by, who knows… Its time to inside and make dinner.

Rain, Shine, Catastrophization

Catastrophizing—expecting or concluding only the worst possible outcome.
We often catastophize are circumstances present, past and future.
Bad Things are usually never as terrible as they seem. Our defenses often overplay and distort circumstances that scare us.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
posted by  alefernandeschaves at youtube.

Beatles: “Rain” from 1966

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads.
They might as well be dead.
If the rain comes, if the rain comes.

When the sun shines they slip into the shade
And sip their lemonade.
When the sun shines,
when the sun shines.

Rain, I don’t mind.
Shine, the weather’s fine.

Can you hear me, that when it rains and shines,
It’s just a state of mind
Can you hear me, can you hear me?

Full Lyrics of Rain

*Catastrophizing is a form of thinking where one leaps to the worsed possible out come..

  • “My son is out driving and he is two hours late… my God he has been in a accident.”
  • “I made a mistake at work… I’m gonna lose my job”
  • “if this party doesn’t go perfectly… my relatives will hate me.”

The first step in reducing catastrophic thinking is awareness. writing thoughts down in journals.
working through this kind of thinking error takes time. One way is to right down the possible out comes.

“My son is out driving and he is two hours late…possibly Because :

  1. He was in a accident.
  2. He lost track of the time
  3. He is stuck in traffic.

which is more likely? This is a rational approach.
Also  we must find ways to express our emotions about the possible outcomes. create a dialog between the our thoughts and feelings.

  • ” I feel afraid and powerless over the possibility of my son being in an accident.”

The more aware we are of our thinking process :the more we are able to control the useful tool..

….and integrate it peacefully with the rest of our being.