Wolfgang Metzger

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wolfgang Metzger (born July 22, 1899 in Heidelberg , † December 20, 1979 in Bebenhausen ) was a German psychologist . He is considered one of the most important representatives of the second generation of gestalt theory of the Berlin School in Germany - together with Edwin Rausch and Kurt Gottschaldt .


Wolfgang Metzger studied philosophy and psychology in Berlin with the founders of Gestalt psychology , Wolfgang Köhler and Max Wertheimer . After Wertheimer's move from Berlin to the University of Frankfurt am Main , Wertheimer brought him to Frankfurt as an assistant in 1932 . As early as 1933, the year Wertheimer was dismissed for political reasons, Metzger joined the SA and in 1937 the NSDAP . In 1942 he accepted a position at the University of Münster (chair for psychology and pedagogy) and built up a psychological institute there.

After the Second World War, Metzger became the most influential representative of the gestalt psychology school in Germany. His main works have been translated into numerous languages. His connections to shape theory-oriented researchers and scientists in Japan and Italy were particularly close , where his work was highly valued and, above all, had a strong influence on research on perception . The relevance of his research in this area is reflected not least in the fact that his 1937 first published perception psychological masterpiece laws of vision was translated into English in 2006 ( 'Laws of Seeing').

In 1947 Metzger, together with Pastor Bodelschwingh and Father Marquardt , the philosopher Romano Guardini , the psychologist Wilhelm Hische, and the psychiatrists Heinrich Schulte and Gustav E. Störring, was one of the founders of the Interdisciplinary Study Society (ISG) with the aim of “that a phenomenon like that 'Third Reich' can never repeat in Germany ”.

Until his retirement in 1968 he was professor of psychology at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster . At the beginning of the 1950s, one of the first educational counseling centers was set up at the institute , showing Metzger's interest in the practice of educational psychology , a field on which he also presented numerous publications. His educational psychological work is also close to the thinking of Taoism and Zen Buddhism .

Wolfgang Metzger has also made an outstanding contribution to the empirical-experimental verification of hypotheses in depth psychology and psychoanalysis . An overview of this is provided by contributions in his Selected Works , which were edited by Michael Stadler (former Metzger's assistant, professor at the University of Bremen ) and Heinrich Crabus. From 1972 he wrote numerous explanatory forewords to the works of Alfred Adler published by Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag .

He was the first chairman of the German Society for Psychology (1962–1964) and since 1970 its honorary member. In 1962 he was co-founder and first chairman of the Alfred Adler Society (later the German Society for Individual Psychology ) and honorary chairman of the Society for Gestalt Theory and Its Applications (GTA) . The latter announces an international scientific award named after Wolfgang Metzger every two years.


His main works are:

  • Psychology - development of its basic assumptions since the introduction of the experiment. 6th edition. Verlag Krammer, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-901811-07-9 .
  • Laws of Sight. 4th edition. Klotz Verlag, Eschborn 2008, ISBN 978-3-88074-492-9 .
    • English translation of the 2nd edition: Laws of Seeing. MIT Press, Cambridge (USA) 2006.
  • Creative freedom. Kramer Publishing House, Frankfurt 1962.
  • Gestalt psychology. Selected works from 1950 to 1982. 2nd edition. Waldemar Kramer Verlag, Frankfurt 1999, ISBN 3-7829-1101-6 .
  • Psychology for Educators. 3rd, revised. Edition. Kamp-Verlag, Bochum 1976, ISBN 3-592-71510-0 .
  • Psychology between the natural sciences and the humanities. In: Heinrich Balmer (ed.): The psychology of the 20th century. Volume 1, Kindler Verlag, Zurich 1976, pp. 27-40.


  • Henrik Eberle: The Martin Luther University in the time of National Socialism. Mdv, Halle 2002, ISBN 3-89812-150-X , p. 383.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Mitchell G. Ash : Wholeness and Shape. How Jewish and non-Jewish scholars in Frankfurt deal with contested cultural codes before and after 1933. In: Moritz Epple , Johannes Fried , Raphael Gross , Janus Gudian: “Politicization of Science.” Jewish scientists and their opponents at the University of Frankfurt am Main before and after 1933. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2016, ISBN 978-3-8353-1438-2 , p. 382. Also volume 5 of the series of publications in the Frankfurt University Archives .
  2. see the analysis of the American historian Mitchell Ash: Gestalt Psychology in German Culture, 1890-1967. Cambridge Univ. Press., New York 1995, pp. 342-354. In summary, Ash finds that Metzger's "reaction to academic life under Nazi rule was just one of many examples of fearful adjustment under uncertain conditions" (p. 354). The psychology historians Juan Carlos Pastor, Francisco Tortosa and Cristian Civera from the University of Valencia come to a similar assessment in their 1999 work Wolfgang Metzger en la tradición de la escuela Berlinesa de Psicología de la Gestalt. In: Revista de Historia de la Psicologia. 20 (4), pp. 69-92.
  3. see also AA Galli, G. Bartoli and others: Wolfgang Metzger's trips to Italy. 2013.
  4. see: The goals of the ISG. on the homepage of the Interdisciplinary Study Society (ISG)
  5. On Metzger's activity in Münster see: L. Kemmler, H. Heckhausen: Die Psychologie an der Universität Münster. Of the educational psychological publications, the following should be mentioned in the first place: Wolfgang Metzger: Psychologie für Erzieher. 1971. (3rd revised edition. Kamp, Bochum 1976)
  6. see Rainer Kästl: On the relationship of Wolfgang Metzger to Taoism and Zen Buddhism. 1990 (full text see web links)
  7. See also: Wolfgang Metzger Award / Wolfgang Metzger Prize .