In my book Change and Gestalt Psychotherapy, I affirm that conceptualizing behavior as a movement is fundamental to answer human questions, whether experiential or theoretical. From this concept, I draw implications for the human process, its development, its problems, and its treatment. Being-in-the-world implies changing, moving, and the continuity of change is fundamental, since human development is a continuation of denied theses, affirmed antitheses, syntheses constituting new theses, antitheses, etc. in other words, human development is change, it is overcoming the established, the context of adjustment; it is updating oneself, responding to the questions, to the stimuli of being-in-the-world.
Change not always encompasses the scope of availability and, although it is always decontextualization, it can create maintenance or a rigid organization. In divided structures, pulverized in symptoms, change can correspond to the neutralization of possibilities, where problems are transformed into justifications and then stagnation establishes itself, positioning arise, creating static perceptual contexts, which are autoreferenced.
In situations of permanence and stagnation, there are exchanges, which do not correspond to changes, only substitutions. When the contexts remain, everything is perceived as a function of this permanence. All perception (Gestalt Psychology) is given in terms of Figure/Ground, we perceive the Figural element, while the Background (Ground) is never perceived, although it is the contextual structuring of perception; there is reversibility, which means Figure turns into Ground and vice-versa: we perceive a person in the street, for example, the person is Figure and the street is Ground; when the attention is focused on the street, the street becomes Figure and the person becomes Ground.
This reversibility is the dynamics of the perceptual process. Staticism breaks the dynamics, generating the permanence of the Ground, of the frame, creating a series of stigmas, of prejudices, as much as certainties and confidence. To think of someone as ‘coming from a good family’, being ‘good-looking’, always gentle, polite, without realizing that the person may be a manipulator, a stubborn liar - even when being a direct victim of his/her manipulations - is a very common example of perceptual stagnation: the determinant of perception is the maintained frame (‘good family’, ‘good-looking’, ‘gentle’, ‘polite’). Everything is perceived in the context of this variation: transformation of what is evident, contrary to all previous certainties, into irrelevant data.
When conviction - derived from guarantees other than those experienced - and fear replace motivational voids, this constitutes an instrument, a tool that allows us to live: to build a house, a company, a family, and several relationships. The dense replaces the subtle as much as it embodies it. Everything converges to the concern of being well, of being accepted, of being recognized by one’s functions and status. This process creates images, opportunism, fears, anxiety, aggression, timidity, make-believe situations, emptiness, boredom, anguish, which always denounce a humanity crumpled by commitments that create emptying limits.
Changing is the result from dispensing patterns and contexts of reference, from finding what is here and now, what is and what is not. It is the present perceived in the context of the present. This interruption creates discontinuity, breaks previous contexts, and brings up the new. The former, once decontextualized, is the new, since its reference, its meaning changes. One can only relate to the new when there is availability - that is changing.
If there is no availability, substitution takes place and everything remains as it was; everything can be replaced and look the same, as well as different, when it is only partially perceived. The distortion part/whole creates an infinite number of substitutions and conveys the varied experience that consists in simply coloring the black and white of the void, of expectations. The more substitutions, the more is maintained, the less is changed and transformed. The masters of political exploration and convenience have already said and still say that it is necessary to “change to maintain”, that is, they know how to replace figures, images and, thus partializing, they transform totalities into labyrinthic mosaics.
At the individual level, “changing to maintain” (taking care of the symptom) is the constant rule when one turns problems into justifications. The conflicts created by this artifice turn the problem into support (justification) and into oppression (conflicting impossibilities).