Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Psychology


This dissertation examines the theoretical precursors of Gestalt therapy as proposed by F.S. (Fritz) Perls. Perls' complete published works were examined, and his acknowledgement of other theorists and philosophical/religious approaches noted. This examination yielded 27 individual theoreticians, plus Gestalt psychology, Zen Buddhism, Taoism and phenomenology as the major sources mentioned by Perls.

Wherever possible, the original works of these individuals were scrutinized to reveal the extent of their influence on Perls. Where works were originally published in languages other than English, English translations were used.

Comparison of the works of these theorists with those of Fritz Perls showed that all had significant commonalities with Perls' works; often, these commonalities lay in areas other than those acknowledged by Perls; many of these have also been overlooked by other commentators. It was concluded that Perls made extensive theoretical borrowings in formulating Gestalt therapy, and often minimized his reliance on others' work, or failed to credit them at all.

Additionally, the dissertation contains three appendices--a glossary of terminology, a summary of interviews with 22 Gestalt therapists in the U.S.A. in 1980 (in which they indicated the directions in which Gestalt therapy has been developing since Perls' death) and an index to the complete works of Fritz Perls.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.