I am a psychodramatist and hence a student of the work of J.L. Moreno. And I hold his philosophy and methods to be revolutionary in the sense of having potential to heal humanity. There is an area of his philosophy and outlook where he comes short of the potential, it is in the conception of mass action and the macro forces that operate in the world. He lacks a good grasp of Marxism. And I think Marxism lacks the science of sociometry, the outlook of small groups.
Moreno and Marx have a lot of common ground. Both Marx and Moreno have an experimental, scientific outlook. Action and learning go together. Its integrated. This is what is meant by dialectical, a term both Moreno and Marx use for describing the process of participation in the world. Its not one or another or even one and the other, Action and learning combine in the flow of life.
I will comment on the following passage by Moreno to show how it is similar to marxism and how it is progressive and also where it shows a gap in Moreno’s approach:
“All this, of course, could only happen if the warming up process of all human characters and all participating groups coalesce naturally into an experiment . (Rule of “gradual” inclusion of all extraneous criteria .) There are many steps and more barriers which a sensitive crew of coexperimenters might encounter on the way to a scientific utopia . However little or far they advance they never fool themselves and never fool others ; they prefer the “slow” dialectic process of the sociometric experiment in situ to social experiments which are based on inference and logic only or the social revolutions of mass action which do not know when to start and when to end .”
“Who Shall Survive?” P63
First the progressive:
Warm-up is a key concept in psychodrama, the process is complex, yet the term is somewhat self explanatory. I have written with approval of Moreno’s scientific method and the “Rule of “gradual” inclusion of all extraneous criteria.” It makes total sense sense when working with the group process of warming up. What is central, what is extraneous? How not to dismiss all that emerges? The group warms up together and a focus emerges. See my psychodrama thesis about finding the focal conflict and central concern in a psychodrama group.
In the next few lines “slow” is a word to review. It is sometimes slow and sometimes fast. He has it gradual and slow in quotes. I take it he means it is relative, and as he says. part of the “dialectic process” which can be seen as outside of linear time. There are moments of dramatic change in a psychodrama group. The oft quoted idea from Lenin comes to mind:
“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
― Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
I can imagine Moreno agreeing that this happens in psychodrama, though he does not address the flow of history in this way.
Moreno is also progressive when he contrasts “sociometric experiment in situ” and “social experiments which are based on inference and logic only”. Here again is a shared outlook with Marx. It is a moment where Moreno is clearly not a philosophical idealist, i.e. someone who dreams up a plan and then works out the steps to execute it. That way of thinking is anathema to both Moreno and Marx. When Moreno says in situ, he means in the world and not on the psychodrama stage. On the stage the enactment is as close to life as possible, but he regularly affirms that life itself is the most important arena.
A gap in his methods are revealed in his concluding negative comment about mass action: “the social revolutions of mass action which do not know when to start and when to end.” These are not according to Moreno the sort of group that “coalesce naturally into an experiment.”
This is where Moreno’s vision, focussed on small groups is at a loss to grapple with major social upheaval. It seems he does not have a problem with “social revolution”, but a particular type of mass action. It is true, there is no knowing what will happen when it comes to masses, social forces, large groups, classes and nations. So Moreno is then at a loss, he has no way of knowing where to stand on mass movements, how to be with them or assess them. He is not able to make use of his theory of the moment or concept of spontaneity and theory of change.
There is no denying that there is a conundrum. A challenge. A small group can have a life of its own that is bigger than the individual will of the participants. The methods, philosophy and history of psychodrama are about the collective relational processes. Moreno made unique contributions including the philosophy of the moment. But what about the clashing of multiple large social collectives? What about the moment in history? Marxism adresses this area, (but does not have ready answers.)
Note this classic statement from Marx:
“Men and women make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
But can it be done well? Marx is not always optimistic, here is the rest of the paragraph:
The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.”
― Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
For those familiar with Moreno will see that Marx is grappling with what Moreno would call cultural conserves. And Morenian theory has lots to say about cultural conserves. The theory of change, tried and tested in small groups is the Canon of Creativity. To become creative, to have the emergence of the adequate and new, the path is through warm up and spontaneity to creativity. But how does this theory of change apply at a macro level?
This brings us to an eternal discussion in revolutionary political discourse, where the word spontaneity is also used: the relationship between the spontaneity of the people and leadership. To get an idea about the debate, look at these two paragraphs from Wikipedia on Revolutionary Spontaneity
Revolutionary spontaneity, also known as spontaneism, is a revolutionary socialist tendency that believes the social revolution can and should occur spontaneously from below by the working class itself, without the aid or guidance of a vanguard party and that it cannot and should not be brought about by the actions of individuals such as professional revolutionaries or political parties who might attempt to foment such a revolution.
In his work What Is to Be Done? (1902), Vladimir Lenin argued fiercely against revolutionary spontaneity as a dangerous revisionist concept that strips away the disciplined nature of Marxist political thought and leaves it arbitrary and ineffective.
To counterpose the two perspectives as polar opposites in this way is to do them both a disservice, but the question of the relationship between spontaneity and leadership of revolution is clear. This is also a question of the relationship between small groups and large social forces. It is fruitful to have both the contributions of Moreno and Marx.
“Freud’s … therapy consisted in turning the patient into his past … instead of developing the direction of spontaneity into the future.”1
Wiese said that in to contrast with the work of Moreno. He’s right too. However embedded the present dynamics is the geneology. Whakapapa. Moreno talked of statu nascendi. It is in the swirl of unfolding from that moment of birth on that spontaneity happens and the new is created.
- Von Wiese, Leopold. (1949). “Sociometry.” Sociometry, Vol. 12, No. 1/3 (Feb. — Aug, 1949), pp. 202—214 Published by: American Sociological Association https://www.jstor.org/stable/2785387
Talking about Moreno’s approach German sociologist Leopold Von Wiese, (1949) said:
“the realm of subjectivity is never given up by him. But the use of the word subjective here should not imply that Moreno is limited in his studies by a personal involvement; it is just the opposite. His aim is directed towards the most exact objectiﬁcation of observations; but the object of these operations is the realm of the human psyche exclusively. This is so perhaps because he is a psychiatrist, a practical psychologist and physician. We too, in our “system of relations” do not neglect the psychological processes; but their penetration is one of several tasks so that we can recognize that realm of existence which. is crucial; the social one which lies between men and not within them. Particularly when one, as Moreno, like ourselves, emphasizes the signiﬁcance of the little word “between” one should not permit it to vanish into a “within”.”
I like this as a formulation of the relational paradigm.
More on this theme from Von Wiese:
“When we try to reproduce here the chief content of Moreno’s work, we may best start With a statement from White’s foreword to it, one Which is also an axiom of our system of relations: “Social groups are not a sum of individuals but a sum of relations which exist between them”.
Which makes them complex beyond imagination.
Von Wiese, Leopold. (1949). “Sociometry.” Sociometry, Vol. 12, No. 1/3 (Feb. — Aug, 1949), pp. 202—214 Published by: American Sociological Association https://www.jstor.org/stable/2785387
However important that past is as a dimension of time, it is a one- sided position, a “reduced time” which neglects and distorts the total influence which time has upon the psyche. Here we come to my first conflict with the Freudian view. I have pointed out that time has other phases which are important, one of which is the present, the dynamics of the present, of the Here and Now, hic et nunc. The experiences which take place continuously in the context of the Here and Now have been overlooked, distorted, or entirely forgotten. Therefore, early in my writings (19141-1924), in fact already in my first book in 1914, I began to emphasize the moment, the dynamics of the moment, the warming up to the moment, the dynamics of the present, the Here and Now, and all its immediate personal, social and cultural implications. But again, I considered these not only from the point of View of philosophy and phenomenology, but from the viewpoint of the therapeutic process as it takes place in connection with patients, in patient groups, the Encounter. The Encounter is a telic phenomenon. The fundamental process of tele is reciprocity – reciprocity of attraction, reciprocity of rejection, reciprocity of excitation, reciprocity of inhibition, reciprocity of indifference, reciprocity of distortion.
Presented at the Second International Congress of Psychoclrama, Barcelona, Spain, August 29 to September 3, 1966. 15
And published in psychodrama Vol 3. Pages 15, 16
Personal Development Weekend with
Walter Logeman 2020
9 – 11 October 2020
Love. Living life to the full. Finding meaning. Global and spiritual matters. Conflict, grief and illness. Examine and be challenged by matters of importance to you in this workshop. You can expect to gain a deeper awareness of yourself and others. Learn to be spontaneous, courageous and effective in relationships. We will use psychodrama to explore themes relevant to you and the group. If you are in a couple relationship you are both invited to attend.
Friday evening: 6:30pm — 9:00pm Saturday: 9:30am — 5:00pm Sunday: 9:30am — 4:00pm
$300.00. A deposit of $70.00 will secure a place. Please enrol by 20 September and pay in full a week before the workshop. (Some places available at a reduced rate, please ask.)
To enrol, or for more information, contact Walter Logeman: 021 2710610 email@example.com Maximum places 12. Please pay online: Westpac 03 0802 0144073 000
Enrolments now open!
See the link to the flyer here:
I want to be pure in the traditions I honour. I become something of a true believer. I want to prove I’m on the path with quotes. I use the method. I hold the line. I’m in the tradition. And I am moving on. Combining. Beleiving that I bring something new. Then there is uncertainty. Or is it openness. The new is unpolished. Can I question without anxiety. In the social sciences is there a place for the emergent, the playful. Even then I think I’m in the tradition.
Doubling is an experience.
In my art I’m at heart an abstract expressionist. It is dated. But it is also alive. Franz Kline
I love that
one of mine…
I think I’m in the tradition… but also utterly in my own being with it.
As I develop my psychodrama work how much do I bring and how much is it from the source?
100% from the source — 100% me.
The source does not define me.
Am I eclectic?
In my psychotherapy? No. I’m a psychodramatist – and within that I can do anything. I can incorporate anything.
However it is not anything plus action.
It is psychodrama principles psychodrama principles psychodrama principles plus details.
In 2017 Bona Anna & I presented a power point at the AANZPA Conference in Auckland.
It is a reflection on the purpose and phases of psychodrama and emphasises the value of naming and concretising the learning from a drama to ensure it goes beyond the therapy room in an adequate way.
I’m listening to Shane Birkel interview Laura Heck.
[You can listen to all Shane’s podcasts on your phone if you have a podcast app. Search forThe Couple Therapists Couch. I use Pocket Casts.]
I wanted to jot down some bullet points so thought – blog, why not.
I found this video by Elliott Connie useful! Elliott is a Solution Focussed Couple therapist.
Bud, a psychodrama colleague recommended the video, on Shane Birkel’s Facebook page.
Here a a bit of Bud’s summary:
… the vital importance of the difference between a goal for therapy and a desired outcome. He discuses it in the context of working with a couple who appeared to have mutually opposing or exclusive goals.
What a simple idea, and perhaps something we already know in an illusive way. Elliott’s teaching and examples in the video are just excellent.
$1,000,000 = Goal
Peace of mind = Outcome
Gets me thinking… he is showing us an example of assisting people to deeper into their being and sharing more. I like the SF questions.
I wonder if couples themselves using the universal space opening question: “Is there more?” would go from the goal to the outcome?
That way couple can do their own deep listening, with one question: Is there more?
This can be done – partner to partner. If they succeed they may get more confidence and hope for their relationship.
If they don’t… it is good for the therapist to have SFT at the ready.
Just created version another version of the Outline for the course. Here is the link to the whole document and then some excerpts:
About Psychodramatic Couple Therapy Training
I’ve just listened to this episode of The Couples Therapists Couch
In this episode, Emotionally Focused Therapist, Figs O’Sullivan, conceptualizes a case from the standpoint of working from the EFT perspective. Relational Life Therapist, Shane Birkel, talks about how an RLT therapist would work with the same couple. Figs and Shane talk through some of the similarities and differences in the two approaches and how they view couples cases that come in for therapy.
I’m immediately drawn to the conversation, and want to participate. I appreciate the value systems in both models.
Continue reading “EFT, RLT and another perspective – Encounter”
In his Poetics, the Greek philosopher Aristotle put forth the idea the play should imitate a single whole action. “A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end” (1450b27). He split the play into two parts: complication and unravelling.
From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramatic_structure
Just like therapy!
Just read this here:
The reader is the musician of the book
“Books are frozen voices, in the same way that musical scores are frozen music. The score is a way of transmitting the music to someone who can play it, releasing it into the air where it can once more be heard. And the black alphabet marks on the page represent words that were once spoken, if only in the writer’s head. They lie there inert until a reader comes along and transforms the letters into living sounds. The reader is the musician of the book: each reader may read the same text, just as each violinist plays the same piece, but each interpretation is different.”
This of course rhymes and echoes with the concept of the Canon of Creativity – conserves > warm up > spontaneity > creativity.
I’m writing this post as it goes well with a thought we developed recently about The Writer.
The writer is the servant of the vision.
The writer can give the voice to the vision. The writer is not you, or the whole of you. The writer has a job to to. The vision needs no bounds. The writer will prune and edit in a way the visionary can’t.
The discipline of the writer will paradoxically enhance the vision.
On the first day of training in Imago therapy Maya Kollman characterised a couple relationship as “A microcosm of the universe trying to repair itself.” In different words psychodrama includes the same idea, the therapeutic tele is distributed in the group, it’s not just in the director.
And there is qualitative evidence for this… A group, or a couple, once the connection is established and there is a warm up, will hum its way to more and more enabling solutions. I see it so clearly in psychodrama groups – each drama assists the whole group in a quest that is finally resolved. The terminology of ‘disturbing motive’ and ‘reactive fear’ is used to describe this process. Even this naming implies that it is the ‘disturbing motive’ that arises first and the the ‘reactive fear’ is simply the obstacles of the cultural conserve (CC) that need to get out of the way. CC is a term from the psychodramatic theory Canon of Creativity
An earlier post grapples with the same idea. https://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/2018/the-survival-dance-that-gets-in-the-way-of-the-encounter/
There is a layer of conserved coping that is somehow “man made”, the reactive fear, which is usually followed by flight or fight i.e. Criticism and blaming or avoidance. There is another layer – the universe trying to heal itself. Lets just call it eros or love. Gt the crap out of the way and the love will come through.
Both psychodrama and Imago have the philosophy that the therapist is the catalyst, simply providing tools, like dialogue, or the 5 instruments so the eros can emerge.
I’m reflecting on the relationship between letting it happen and making it happen.
The inevitable can be helped along.
We are agents in the healing of the universe. i.e. in its progress. Towards eros.
We can make it worse or better. If this is a dead end it will proceed towards the omega point in some other way. The universe does not care, but it won’t stop its evolution, its development, its progress. These words are teleological.
We make history but under conditions of our choosing.
Surfing. We can but catch a wave or miss it.
Anyway, if we assume that a group or a couple is “A microcosm of the universe trying to repair itself.” then we are assistants to that process.
Thats what Marxists are too.
Strange that the right who advocate market forces somehow believe in the benign power of the market. Leave alone. Marxists might trust the market too if it was alive in a society that was free of the distortions of the capitalists. It would tend towards each to his needs. Just like in couple therapy – in my room I have to be a strong dictatorship of the eros forces. We fight the cultural conserves (part of the current cultural forces) of blame – attack and control.
See more search the Tag – theory of change https://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/tag/theory-of-change/
We flee or fight to avoid pain. In psychodrama we call those ways of being the coping roles. The path to the progressive, being fully alive, is to be with the vulnerability of the pain and attend to it. This can’t really be done alone, yet no-one can do it for you.
This is a universal idea and present in many modalities.
The title of this post comes from Hedy Schleifer’s ECcT – Encounter Centred Couple Therapy. On her website she says:
“I want them to leave knowing that the “survival dance’ that they have been dancing for such a long time is “not’ who they are in their essence.”
The concept of medial understanding was the forerunner of what I call today co-conscious and co-unconscious states. Such a technique of reciprocal comprehension and “interpersonal memory” seemed to make possible astonishing matrimonial psychodramas, husband and wife reaching back into their first encounter and reliving, often with astonishing detail, all their moments of love and suffering, their silent tragedies and their moments of great decision
Just how to produce such dramas remains somewhat obscure to me. Will experiment – and research!
The quote above is from this article by JL “Interpersonal Therapy and Co-Unconscious States, A Progress Report in Psychodramatic Theory” originally from: Group Psychotherapy, 14 (3-4), 234-241 (Sept-Dec., 1961) See PDF below.
Chapter from Psychodrama Since Moreno – Amazon
[pdf-embedder url=”https://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/files/2012/Psychodramatic-moral-philosophy-ethics-JonathanDMoreno.pdf” title=”Psychodramatic moral philosophy and ethics – Jonathan D Moreno”]
Here is a quote from Moreno that has major implications for how we conduct psychodrama in groups or with individuals when they want to work on significant relationships and the other party is not present.
And the other question that flows on from this piece of wisdom from JL is how to do “re-enactment a deux”. The phrase ‘psychodrama a deux’ when I have heard it come up has referred to doing psychodramatic psychotherapy with an individual. This is different. Couple therapy using psychodramatic processes is something that some of us have well developed. What about working with a couple when both are present in a psychodrama group?
I have been exploring that question in practice.
What about when someone does a drama involving an intimate other who is not there?
What if a couple are in crisis? Do we recommend they attend a psychodrama group?
These are questions I will be addressing in a workshop at the AANZPA conference in Brisbane in January. ‘Addressing’ here means exploring in action with colleagues.
Even a Genius of Perception Can’t Role Reverse with an Intimate Partner
Yes, Moreno said something like that. In this this group we’ll produce dramas involving intimate relationships. Enactments will be followed by sharing and reflection on working with intimacy. Five principles for working with psychodrama and intimate relationships will be presented.
Marriage and family therapy for instance, has to be so conducted that the “interpsyche” of the entire group is re-enacted so that all their tele-relations, their co-conscious and co-unconscious states are brought to life. Co-conscious and co-unconscious states are by definition such states which the partners have experienced and produced jointly and which can therefore be only jointly reproduced or re-enacted. A co-conscious or a co-unconscious state can not be the property of one individual only. It is always a common property and cannot be reproduced but by a combined effort. If a re-enactment of such co-conscious or co-unconscious state is desired or necessary, that re-enactment has to take place with the help of all partners involved in the episode. The logical method of such re-enactment a deux is psychodrama. However great a genius of perception one partner of the ensemble might have, he or she can not produce that episode alone because they have in common their co-conscious and co-unconscious states which are the matrix from which they drew their inspiration and knowledge.
Psychodrama Volume 1, 4th edition, page vii
Later — Friday, 22 December, 2017
Just noticed this quote from Marshall Rosenberg, here:
It may be most difficult to empathize with those we are closest to.
Moreno was not alone in noticing this phenomena
This is my summary of what Moreno means by the social atom. In psychotherapy that “atom” or pattern is the client. When two of these “patterns” connect in love, then a lifelong process can follow. Maybe it is true love at first sight? Unlikely, love is blind. One possibility is to move from blind love to deep mature connection. The other possibility is hell. A third is lifeless boredom.