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.
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.
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 fro Marshall Rosenberg:
It may be most difficult to empathize with those we are closest to.
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.
Psychodrama is a form of therapy. Jacob Levi Moreno founded the the early forms of the philosophy and practice in Vienna early in the last century. On page one of his seminal book: “Who Shall Survive?” he wrote about a therapeutic procedure.
Clearly a therapeutic procedure that has as its objective the whole of humankind stands out as a special case of psychotherapy. Psychodrama is a special case… Continue reading “What is Psychodrama?”
Just announced a Psychodrama Weekend. I have conducted many psychodrama weekends and I’m pleased to have warmed up to something new for this one.
As I become more steeped in the relational paradigm everything becomes more relational. While not a workshop specifically for couples this one is “couple friendly”. I’m conscious how important this is, not just in the flyer but in the actual way I will conduct the group. The relationship is the “third entity”. The relationship can be the protagonist. And if one partner is the protagonist then there is a specific focus on the other partner as auxiliary.
A small change? Not really. This is a small expression of a major phenomenon. “Personal Development” is the word we use for these types of workshops. Moreno may never have called them that, he used the word encounter and was always focussing on the relationships more than “the self”.
Any relationship could be the protagonist. Is that what love stories are? Movies about a couple? Maybe. Maybe it is not such a new genre? Love relationships are not any relationship though and there is a qualitative difference between an intimate loving committed relationship and all the rest. Parent child is another form of relationship that stands out as quite distinct.
As a psychodrama director I am learning new skills. How to direct a relational drama, where both people are present as themselves. That is an exploration that I’m right into at the moment.
“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
The space between is invisible – we can only talk about it in metaphor e.g. “broken heart”, “bound together”, “muddy path” and here as “sympathetic fibers”. Not only do we use metaphor, we can use images and symbold – rings, hearts. And in psychodrama we have the simple act of concretisation: place people or objects at a distance to show where they are in your life. Distance becomes visible and conveys meaning.
All humanity is thrown into a tangled bloody heap from which no nation can extricate itself on its own. Though there are more and less advanced countries, this war has bound them all together by so many threads that escape from this tangle for any single country acting on its own is inconceivable.