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Fritz Perls

The name of Frederick "Fritz" Perls has always been a part of NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming), but his claim to fame extends well beyond that.

Born in 1893 in Germany, Fritz Perls earned his M.D. degree in 1926, and subsequently worked at the Institute for Brain Damaged Soldiers in Frankfurt. He was influenced by Gestalt psychologists, existential philosophers, and psychoanalyst Karen Horney, and became a psychoanalyst.

Fritz Perls was not satisfied with psychoanalysis, however, and he and his wife Laura founded Gestalt therapy - the goal of Gestalt psychology was to offer a new type of therapy that focused on the whole person.

He moved to South Africa in the early 1940s, and on to New York in the early 1950s. it was here that he wrote "The Beginning of Gestalt Therapy" (with Ralph Hefferline and Paul Goodman) in 1951, and founded the New York Institute of Gestalt therapy.

Although he died in 1970, he was still a major influence in the foundation of NLP - this came about when mathematician Richard Bandler was asked, in 1973, to edit transcripts of Perls' lectures and workshops.

Bandler and John Grinder, a linguistics professor at the University of California Santa Cruz, then worked together to model the language patterns used by Perls, Satir and renowned hypnotherapist Milton H. Erickson.

The result was the birth of NLP, published in Bandler and Grinder's books "The Structure of Magic Volumes I & II" (1975, 1976).




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