This article focuses on the contributions of the founders of Gestalt theory, not only for the high value they carried even back then, but also for the strong relevance they have today. The main purpose is to point to the deficient, even wrong transmission of this perspective particularly in the past 50 years and to highlight its potential to connect the immense amount of accumulated but disconnected scientific facts and pieces within psychology as of today. The first part of this article discusses Max Wertheimer’s important 1912 “phi phenomenon” article, and recounts the Gestalt theorists’ launch of their influential journal Psychologische Forschungen in 1922, the rise of the oppressive and life-threatening Nazi regime in Germany, and the resulting emmigration of the Gestalt founders to the US where they had to face a radically different perspective to psychology. The second part discusses the main postulates of the theory. Since this requires a rather wide scope of analysis, the present article is the first of a series of three articles, focusing on how the movement emerged, its main theoretical perspective, and its work on perception. In a second and third article (in preparation), I will review their intriguing research and conceptualizations on memory and productive thinking, respectively. Hence, the current article should be read as the first in a series of three.
Gestalt theory, parts and wholes, figure-ground, principles of grouping