Organismic theory

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Organismic theories in psychology are a family of holistic psychological theories which tend to stress the organization, unity, and integration of human beings expressed through each individual's inherent growth or developmental tendency. The idea of an explicitly "organismic theory" dates at least back to the publication of Kurt Goldstein's The organism: A holistic approach to biology derived from pathological data in man in 1934. Organismic theories and the "organic" metaphor were inspired by organicist approaches in biology. The most direct influence from inside psychology comes from Gestalt psychology. This approach is often contrasted with mechanistic and reductionist perspectives in psychology.

Examples of organismic theories and theorists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goldstein, Kurt. (1995) [1934]. The organism: A holistic approach to biology derived from pathological data in man. New York: Zone Books. ISBN 0-942299-97-3.
  2. ^ Bertalanffy, Ludwig von. (1968). Organismic Psychology and Systems Theory. Worcester: Clark University Press.
  3. ^ Deci, Edward L.; Ryan, Richard M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum. ISBN 0-306-42022-8.


  • Hall, Calvin & Lindzey, Gardner. (1970). Theories of Personality. (Second Edition)
  • Maslow, Abraham. Motivation and Personality (1st ed.: 1954, 2nd ed.: 1970)
  • Perls, F., Hefferline, R., & Goodman, P. (1951). Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality.
  • Rogers, Carl. (1951). Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications and theory. London: Constable. ISBN 1-84119-840-4.
  • Werner, H. (1957). The concept of development from a comparative and organismic point of view. In D. Harris (Ed.), The concept of development. Minneapolis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press

Further reading[edit]

  • Harrington, Anne: Reenchanted Science: Holism in German Culture from Wilhelm II to Hitler, Princeton University Press, 1999.