Friday, November 15, 2013

* It is Unacceptable to say "I belong to no one' " Dr. Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therpist

Long before Robin Williams made Will Hunting doff his defenses and develop a repertoire of intimacy, 
I saw a filmed debate between the three prominent psychologists of the 1960's  Fritz Perls, Alfred Adler and Carl Rogers.  

Perls irritated me by saying "It is unacceptable to say 'I belong to no one.' " 

He appeared to be valorizing an  "intimacy" which has spilled over the bindings of romantic novels and the cellulose of Hollywood movies to infect our modern life with the obsession of finding the the Ezio Pinza person you are destined to meet 'across a crowded room.' "


At that ( 1978) time I was a student at Yale Divinity School, paying for my room and board by serving as an apartment superintendent in New Haven for a low-income apartment house of 88 units.  About 80% of those units were occupied by  folks living alone either because they had never married, had divorced, or had lost their partner due to death.

It seemed unconscionably cruel  for Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy,  to add to the pressure of the loneliness felt by all these single people by burdening them with this Hollywood imperative to "belong to someone." 

In fact, belonging to the group of neighbors in that apartment house seemed satisfactory and rewarding to many folks there.

The newly inaugurated  Yale President of 2013, , Peter Salovey, is a psychologist who espouses a theory of "emotional intelligence." (link above).  

One hopes that his emphasis does not preclude the possibility that those who do not have a repertoire of intimacy skills can find a rewarding and fulfilling life without being pushed into the unnecessary anxiety of the Perls imperative 'to belong to someone.'

Belonging is enough.



 a day ago
Emotional intelligence is my weak point. I might even be on the high end of the autistic/asberger's spectrum, if I wanted to engage in the self-flagellation of what used to be called 'morbid introspection' and is now called 'self awareness" . I prefer not to so beat myself into an analyzed pulp. Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences (chart ) suggest one can live a happy and fulfilling life without competencies or gifts in one or two or even three of the eight intelligences. I think he has added "ecological intelliegence" or '"environmental intelligence" since this chart was created.


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