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Fritz Perls (1883–1970), codeveloper (with his wife, Linda Perls) of Gestalt therapy, was born to lower-middle-class German Jewish parents in Berlin, Germany. He grew up before World War I and then lived through the chaos of the Weimar Republic—a time of great economic stress, hyperinflation, and the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism in the early 1930s. He served as a medical officer in the German army during World War I, developing an abhorrence for war and causing his politics to drift decidedly to the left.

After completing medical school in 1920, Perls was living and working in Berlin, immersed in his friendship circle of artists, philosophers, poets, intellectuals, and, especially, members of the Bauhaus movement. He began his own psychoanalysis with Karen Horney, which ...

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