"Psychoanalysis is an illness that pretends to be a cure" - Fritz Perls
Psychologist Fritz Perls was born as Frederick Perls in Berlin in 1893. He was a developer of the Gestalt school of psychology.
He started a psychology practice in Germany in 1925. In 1926 he became interested in German Neurologist / Neuropsychiatrist Kurt Goldstein's "organism-as-a-whole" concept, but rejected it because of his loyalty to Freudian ideas.
He married his wife Laura in Berlin in 1930. They fled the Nazi regime in 1934, moving to South Africa to teach the "Gospel" of Sigmund Freud. In 1936 he abandoned Freudian Theory after having a paper he believed in rejected by a Freudian congress. Perls searched for a new psychological paradigm and reconsidered Goldstein's "organism-as-a-whole" concept. He felt the concept was too narrow, and found the answer in ecology: "organism-as-a-whole-embedded-in-environment" (a Non Aristotelian orientation). By this time he had rejected Freud's notion of "unconscious impulses", proclaiming that "The neurotic is a person who is blind to the obvious." His understandings blossomed at this time:
A new approach to man in his health and plight emerged. I ceased to be an analyst. I understood aggression not a mystical energy born out of Thanatos, but a tool for survival. Concepts such as reflexes (stimulus-response) and instincts as stable properties became obsolete, tumbled down, making room for a new perspective, although still in dominance today. Mechanical, causal thinking of the last century had to give way to process, structure, and function to the thinking of an electronic age. The "how" replaces the "why." Perspective and orientation supersede rationalization and guesswork. Even the "I" (and to Freud the Ego is "I", and not a concept of self) is dissolved into identification function.
He further criticized Freud for breaking down the psyche into the id-ego-superego distinction. What was needed, he felt, was assimilation rather than dissection, synthesis rather than analysis, to become whole: Gestalt.
In 1946 Perls moved to the United States where he published a book outlining his ideas. The book was not very well received, however the Gestalt Therapy movement gained momentum in the coming years and by the late 1960s enjoyed widespread recognition. Many of Perls' ideas were picked up on by John Grinder and Richard Bandler and incorporated into their emerging field of psychology: Neurolinguistic Programming.
Perls died in Massachusetts in 1970.