Women's Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society

Students, as part of an advanced seminar, examined and wrote about the lives of these women, their intellectual contributions, and the unique impact and special problems that being female had on their careers.

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Laura Perls

Laura Perls was born Lore Posner, in 1905 (Litt, n.d.). She became interested in psychology when she was 16 (Fadiman & Frager, 2002). Like many before and after her, her interest began after reading Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams" (Fadiman & Frager, 2002).

In 1930 she married Frederick Perls (Litt, n.d). They had met while working at the Frankfurt Psychological Institute (Litt, n.d.). The Perls had to flee Germany during the rise of Nazi power (Litt, n.d.). They then spent ten years in South Africa (Litt, n.d.). It was there that the Perls wrote their first book together, Ego, Hunger and Aggression, in 1942 (Litt, n.d.). This work held the beginnings for their new theory of psychotherapy, Gestalt Therapy (Litt, n.d.).

In 1951 the Perls published Gestalt Therapy (Litt, n.d.). By 1952 with the help of Paul Goodman, they established the Gestalt Therapy Institute in New York (Fadiman & Frager, 2002,Litt, n.d.). This new style of therapy consisted of facing the client to notice his or her postures and gestures (Fadiman & Frager, 2002). After a few years Frederick and Laura separated (Fadiman & Frager, 2002). While Frederick traveled, Laura stayed in New York to continue working with the institute (Litt, n.d.). She was loved and respected by her colleagues (The Gestalt Therapy Page). Sadly Laura Perls died in 1990, at the age of 85 (Litt, n.d.). Her memory lives on in the Gestalt Therapy Institute.


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