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figure/ground

-basic concept in Gestalt psychology (or Theory of Form), developed further in Gestalt therapy. A healthy person must be able to discern clearly and with immediacy the current dominant figure (or Gestalt) which only assumes its full meaning in relation to the 'ground', the background. So, a reaction in the here-and-now (emerging figure) must fit into the 'whole' situation and personality (ground). [cf. awareness continuum]

Definition excerpted with permission from Ginger, Serge International Glossary of Gestalt Psychotherapy (Seven languages including English. Order from FORGE at 183 rue Lecourbe; 75015 Paris, France) Paperback 1995.

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