What Gestalt Approaches Can Contribute to Climate Change Transformation

  •  Vikram Kolmannskog    


A main aim of this paper is to show how Gestalt approaches can contribute to climate change transformation. A fictional case loosely based on experiences from the Dadaab refugee camps serves as a basis for theoretical speculation. For many people climate change, natural hazard-related disasters and displacement entail major life changes. This paper discusses certain cross-cutting and overarching concepts that may be of value in the process of transformation in general and transformational adaptation in a refugee camp particular. The Gestalt concepts explored are field theory, existential phenomenology, relationships and contact, and conflict and change. Field theory, which posits that everything is in mutual interaction, can be the basis of an ecologically oriented worldview. Phenomenology helps people stand aside from their usual way of thinking, and have a more immediate and naïve perception of what is in the present situation. It is important to consider interpersonal relationships as well as relationships between people and trees, animals and the wider natural environment. Several contact forms may be particularly relevant in a climate change context, including collective "chewing" of certain norms. Sometimes contact forms, such as projection, are related to intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict. An essential task is to think about how a safe space can be provided for conflicts to be explored. The Gestalt theory of conflict sees the person as a conglomerate of polar forces. Change happens when one becomes what one is rather than trying to become what one is not. The paper concludes that Gestalt approaches have much to offer and points out future research possibilities, including carrying out actual case studies based on Gestalt-inspired transformation.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • Issn(Print): 1913-9063
  • Issn(Onlne): 1913-9071
  • Started: 2008
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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