“She doesn’t sing or dance, but don’t miss her.”

(Article from The New York Times about a performance by Lola Flores in New York.)

Who does not want to be spontaneous and authentic? Who has not felt in the transition to adult life a certain loss of freshness and candor? This is the theme of lost childhood shown in the story of Peter Pan, or, in some ways, the myth of the expulsion from Paradise.

Gestalt therapy’s main objective is to recover the spontaneity of the individual. This sums up, to a large extent, the whole approach. We have to specify what is meant by spontaneity. There is a popular meaning of “spontaneity” and “authenticity” which seems to have more to do with eccentricity than anything else. It is sometimes said that someone is “authentic” when he or she is weird, or when they do what they want, regardless of their environment. There are people who are spontaneous because they are capable of making a scene in all circumstances.

In Gestalt therapy, spontaneity has nothing to do with this. Spontaneity occurs when the deliberateness falls, when we can let the organismic self-regulation take control of the movements. The grace of a dancer, the freedom of stroke of a painter or a pianist’s fluidity are the result of a large part of their movements being self-regulated. The body, if left to its natural state, knows how to be graceful.
Neurosis prevents spontaneity understood in this way because it is a permanent state of deliberateness. A neurotic person controls every move and prevents the body to naturally produce solutions.

The final contact, i.e., when you get what you really need, is a moment of spontaneity. Gestalt therapy therefore aims at making our ability to contact the environment grow, so we can experience the feeling of authenticity that it brings. “Contact is the simplest and most immediate reality.” The feeling of having a real, authentic life is provided by the contact with the environment.

This text has been extracted from a set of more “technical” texts in Spanish available at Gestaltnet.net

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