PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION
Revised and Enlarged
PAUL E. JOHNSON
Found this while looking for the original Theatre of Spontaneity. The whole book is online. Looks like the author was strongly influenced by Moreno. Link and quote follow.
Moreno is best known for his pioneer work in sociometry, psychodrama, and group therapy. What is not so well known and yet is clearly stated in his writings is that the basic motivation for all of his work is religious. “The theory of interpersonal relations is born of religion.” 17 Sociometry (the psychological and experimental measurement of interpersonal rela- tions) he began first with a community of displaced persons at Mittendorf near Vienna, 1915-17. The classic study he conducted at the Hudson (New York) Training School for Girls, 1932-36, during which the essential con- cepts and procedures of this science were developed. Here the sociometric test invited the girls to decide with whom they would and would not like to live, and the psychological currents were shown in sociograms. In this way the emotional dynamics of group life were revealed and therapy for personal needs was provided. Psychodrama had its beginning in Vienna with the Theater of Spontaneity, which Moreno first conducted in 1921. He found the legitimate theater stifled by the practice of giving the actor lines to memorize written by another, to portray a character which he was not, on a shrouded stage with the audience in darkness. He invented the open stage in the center of the room with access from the audience all around. His theater invited actors and audience to portray their own dramatic situations from the here and now, and to speak impromptu, without written lines, in response to one another. He perceived this as a kind of dramatic religion, a theater to call forth the spontaneously creative self and learn with God what it means 16 Published at first by Moreno anonymously, now as The Psychodrama of God, by J. L. Moreno (New York: Beacon House, 1947). Note pp. 110-11. 17 See especially the “Preludes” in Who Shall Survive? by J. L. Moreno (rev. ed.; New York: Beacon House, Inc, 3 W. The quotation is from p. xxxi. Used by permission of the publisher
This became the therapeutic theater to heal the distresses and conflicts of the inner life by allowing the patient to act them out in the face-to-face encounter of psychodrama. This method has been widely used in schools, churches, and hospitals to provide catharsis, role learning, and the working through of individual and social dilemmas. Group therapy is another development in which the theory and practice of Moreno have played a significant role. Group treatment was given by Joseph H. Pratt, M.D., at the Boston Dispensary as early as 1905 for tuberculosis and by 1930 for psychosomatic disorders. But it was Moreno who diagnosed the structure of interpersonal relations in. small groups, and from this he went on to employ interaction within the group as psycho- therapy. In 1931 his monograph on Application of the Group Method to Classification was published by the National Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor. The following year he opened his address to the American Psychiatric Association in Philadelphia with this definition: “Group psychotherapy is a method which protects and stimulates the self -regulating mechanisms of natural groups through the use of one man as a therapeutic agent of the other, of one group as a therapeutic agent of the other.”