Kurt Goldstein  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Kurt Goldstein (November 6, 1878 – September 19, 1965) was a German neurologist and psychiatrist who created a holistic theory of the organism. Educated in medicine, Goldstein studied under Carl Wernicke and Ludwig Edinger where he focused on neurology and psychiatry. His clinical work inspired the establishment of The Institute for Research into the Consequences of Brain Injuries. As a Jew, Goldstein was forced to leave Germany when Hitler came to power. After being displaced, Goldstein wrote The Organism (1934). This focused on patients with psychological disorders, particularly cases of schizophrenia and war trauma, and their ability of the body to readjust to substantial losses in central control. His holistic approach to the human organism produced the principle of self actualization, defined as the driving force that maximizes and determines the path of an individual. This later influenced Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. He was the co-editor of Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

During World War I, Goldstein took advantage of the large number of traumatic brain injuries at the clinic, and established The Institute for Research into the Consequences of Brain Injuries in close cooperation with Adhémar Gelb, a gestalt psychologist. The collaboration between the two resulted in 16 papers, the most notable reported on a case of visual agnosia. Goldstein served as the director of the clinic until 1930. It was here that he also developed his theory of brain-mind relationships. He applied the figure-ground principle from perception to the whole organism. In this application, the whole organism existed as the ground for the individual stimulus which formed the figure. This idea became an early criticism of the simple behavioral stimulus-response-theory.

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