Gestalt psychology or gestaltism (German: Gestalt – "shape or form") is a theory of mind of the Berlin School. The central principle of gestalt psychology is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies. This principle maintains that the human mind considers objects in their entirety before, or in parallel with, perception of their individual parts; suggesting the whole is other than the sum of its parts. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world.
In the domain of perception, Gestalt psychologists stipulate that perceptions are the products of complex interactions among various stimuli. Contrary to the behaviorist approach to understanding the elements of cognitive processes, gestalt psychologists sought to understand their organization (Carlson and Heth, 2010). The gestalt effect is the capability of our senses to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements (points, lines, curves...).
In psychology, gestaltism is often opposed to structuralism. The phrase The whole is other than the sum of the parts is often used when explaining gestalt theory, though there is a common mistranslation of Kurt Koffka's original phrase to "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts". Gestalt theory allows for the breakup of elements from the whole situation into what it really is.