The meaning of the term I'm looking for is something to the effect of:

the feeling that one person's gestalt leaves in another person's psyche

Or, to say the same thing in a clearer (thanks to the comments) way:

the feeling left in one's psyche by another person's gestalt

This quote from the show House should help make the concept's meaning clear:

You're abrasive and annoying and come on way too strong, like... vindaloo curry. When you're crazy about curry, that's fine, but no matter how much you love curry, you have too much of it, it takes the roof of your mouth off. And then you never want to see curry for a really, really long time... but you wake up one day and you think... god I really miss curry.

The speaker is attempting to convey the feeling that the protagonist's gestalt has in her psyche (by drawing an analogy to vindaloo curry). She is attempting to communicate the protagonist's... what???

Words, phrases, or idioms preferred.

  • 3
    I know what gestalt is, (and I think I know what you're asking) but I'm not sure you're using it correctly, and your question is a bit confusing. Also, "All parts of speech, words, phrases, idioms, etc accepted" makes this a pretty POB question. The example implies that the word will be a noun. Jul 17, 2015 at 22:55
  • 1
    From the curry analogy I think I know what you are saying but is the first quote actually a quote? It is very unclear: By "leaves in" do you mean "is left in" or "goes out in". By "gestalt has in her psyche" I presume you mean "gestalt is in her psyche" (and you mean gestalt in the psychological sense)
    – Avon
    Jul 17, 2015 at 23:05
  • @medica A noun would be preferable. I don't know what a POB question is. I believe I'm using gestalt correctly. Sorry that the question is a bit confusing. Jul 17, 2015 at 23:05
  • 1
    Oh I see! It is the feeling that is left. Not the feeling that the gestalt gets left. I suggest scrap the first one. The second is much clearer.
    – Avon
    Jul 17, 2015 at 23:27
  • 1
    @medica I figured out that POB means "primarily opinion based", but I'm baffled as to why you regard this question as such. Jul 18, 2015 at 3:05

6 Answers 6


Has been mentioned in the comments. Is the most fitting word I can think of: Impression

1. an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence.


  • Understanding "Gestalt" as a personality with a strong presence (as a whole or because of a special trait). Such persons tend to leave lasting impressions. "She is attempting to communicate, that the protagonist left a lasting impression on her." or even "She is attempting to communicate, that the protagonist truly made his presence felt by her."
    – Jonny 5
    Jul 18, 2015 at 16:51
  • This is the first word that came to my mind as well.
    – delliottg
    Aug 18, 2015 at 3:03

I still don't understand the question but I'll have a go.

Essence (noun):

  • the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character. "conflict is the essence of drama" (ODO)


  • quintessence, soul, spirit, ethos, nature, life, lifeblood, core, heart, centre, crux, nub, nucleus, kernel, marrow, meat, pith, gist, substance, principle, central part, fundamental quality, basic quality, essential part, intrinsic nature, sum and substance, reality, actuality;


  • This is the second word that came to mind after "impression".
    – delliottg
    Aug 18, 2015 at 3:04

Vibes, maybe?

  • noun: a person's emotional state or the atmosphere of a place as communicated to and felt by others.


  • Although worth noting that has a very informal connotation. It's a word that came into vogue in the '60s / '70s and is associated more with drug, hippie culture than anything else. You likely wouldn't say someone is giving "bad vibes" in a business meeting, for example, in the same way that you wouldn't say they were "harshing [your] buzz". Jul 18, 2015 at 0:08
  • +1 this is a worthy contribution; it's a similar idea; however, a vibe is something that a person is radiating for all to pick up on. It is more transient and superficial than what I'm looking for. Jul 18, 2015 at 0:19

The speaker is attempting to convey the impact of the protagonists personality on her own psyche:

2 A marked effect or influence:

The impact is expressed metaphorically in terms of the effect that vindaloo curry has on the speaker's palate: pleasant in small doses, but painful in large doses. Apparently the power of the protagonist's personality "burns" the speaker's psyche in a metaphorical sense, so that the she avoids interaction for short seasons, but not so much that she abandons the friendship altogether.

It is important to draw a subtle distinction. The OP seems to refer to the protagonist's gestalt as "an integrated personality that is more than the sum of its individual traits". Personalitypathways.com uses the word gestalt in this fashion to describe the difference between personality traits and types:

While these faces hide the true type, they are not masks in the sense of being false because they are a part of the overall Gestalt of type.

This is an application of the term that departs from the original principles of Gestalt Psychology, even if it is somehow consistent with it. According to its founder, Max Wertheimer, Gestalt Psychology is more about how a person perceives individual stimuli and organizes them into a pre-eminent cognitive framework, so that the whole determines the interpretation of the parts:

"There are wholes, the behaviour of which is not determined by that of their individual elements, but where the part-processes are themselves determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole. It is the hope of Gestalt theory to determine the nature of such wholes"
psychology.about.com emphasis added

Gestalt Personality Theory posits that personality is an expression of this pre-eminent cognitive framework, and that when personalities contact they should have a beneficial mutual impact on each other:

Contact: The relationship between "me" and others. Contact involves feeling a connection with others or the world outside oneself while maintaining separation from it.

The word impact recognizes this objective contact of subjective personalities, allowing for the fact that the speaker's pre-eminent cognitive framework determines her experience of the protagonist's personality traits, so that her impression of the protagonist is other (neither better nor worse, simply other) than the objective reality of the protagonist's personality. The protagonist is not necessarily vindaloo curry, but the speaker experiences vindaloo curry in her contact with the protagonist.


If you're open to a psychoanalytic term, consider imago.

The term is clearly related to the term "image", but it is meant to emphasize the subjective determination of the image; in other words, it includes feelings as well as a visual representation. Imagos are specifically images of other people.

For French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who used the term in his early writings, the imago is an experience of infancy, of either the individual himself in a mirror or a caregiver. The imago assists in ego development, the self-identification of a person as an individual. Obviously you would use the term more broadly, but note this

The infant experiences the imago as a Gestalt, a meaningful form. It is important to note that the imago is external to the infant. The "I" comes into being not as an emanation of the individual, but as the result of an encounter with an other.


I thought about "imprinting"(psychology), but "impression" and "impact" seem more adequate in this context, yet not perfect.

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