Self & Self-Concept
In stating that the goal for Gestalt therapy work is self support, we put the unblocking of a positive sense of self at the heart of the maturation process.   In an earlier paper (Korb, 1984) I described one of the reasons for the slowness of the maturation process:   the necessary change of the "core" self concept from the (to some extent) negative and shameful (Yontef, 1993) sense of self that is learned in childhood and reinforced by personal experiences throughout life.   The mature "core" self is basically acceptable;   the sense of personal identity is positive. 

      Negative beliefs about the self are built up in early years of life (perhaps before age 6) as a reaction to the input from significant others.   Often this self-concept, or sense of personal identity, is a response to the lack of validation or the negativity and criticism (as experienced by the child) that are addressed to him/her.   Although there may be praise also, these criticisms are built into a set of beliefs about the self that is based on the perceived truth of the criticisms.   The person will behave then in a way that reinforces the negative concept.   If I have been convinced that I am stupid, I will behave in stupid ways—although in fact I may be quite intelligent.   If I believe that I will never amount to anything, I will sabotage any way in which I might be successful.

      However, in keeping with the Gestalt belief in the wholeness of each person, in the possibilities that are present in the "core" self, there is also an inner knowing of the truth, a knowing that I am not stupid or that I can be whatever is in me to be, that it is wonderfully unavoidable being one's self and making one's own decisions—that I am important and want to do important work.   This knowing is the foundation for interacting appropriately with the natural and personal environmental field. 

Copyright© The Gestalt Center of Gainesville, Inc.

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