TEMPORAL PERSPECTIVE FROM THE GESTALT THERAPY ASSUMPTION OF PRESENT-CENTEREDNESS

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Abstract

After noting the growing emphasis upon present orientation in contemporary psychotherapy, temporal orientation was considered from the view of Gestalt therapy's notion of “present-centeredness.” More specifically, the relationship between temporal perspective, neuroticism, and anxiety was examined. Assuming that one's personality is reflected to some degree in his language and that verb tense reflects orientation in time, verbal samples were obtained from 30 female college students in stressful and nonstressful situations. The expectation that subjects would “flee the present” (use fewer present tense verbs) in ongoing stressful situations was confirmed. Contrary to another Gestalt notion, however, was the fact that the characteristically more neurotic, anxious individual remained in the present to a greater extent as evidenced by an overall greater use of present tense verbs. A theorectical discussion integrating temporal perspective with neuroticism, anxiety, and stress is presented. These variables are also discussed in terms of Gestalt therapy theory.

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