Theory of Roles – JL Moreno

Quote from “Who Shall Survive?” pp 76

Theory of Roles*
Every role is a fusion of private and collective elements; it is composed of two parts,—its collective denominators and its individual differentials. It may be useful to differentiate between role-taking—which is the taking of a finished, fully established role which does not permit the individual any variation, any degree of freedom—role playing—which permits the individual some degree of freedom—and role creating—which permits the individual a high degree of freedom, as for instance, the spontaneity player. The tangible aspects of what is known as “ego” are the roles in which it operates. Roles and relationships between roles are the most significant development within any specific culture Working with the “role” as a point of reference appears to be a methodological advantage as compared with “personality” or “ego.” These are less concrete and wrapped up in metapsychological mystery.

Role emergence is prior to the emergence of the self . Roles do not emerge from the self, but the self may emerge from roles The hypothesis upheld by many that the genesis of role emergence and the genesis of language are one and the same is not tenable according to experimental role research. Long before language- linked roles emerge in the child’s world, “psychosomatic roles” operate effectively (for instance, the role of the eater, the sleeper and the walker). There is considerable psychic resistance against the intrusion of language in infants and even some resistance against gestural infiltration. There is no reason to assume that the language-free areas are non-human. There is overwhelming evidence that these silent areas are co-existent with the vocal ones on the human level and have great potentialities for independent growth. There may be forms of social communication without gestural involvement. The tele phenomenon operates in all dimensions of communication and it is therefore an error to reduce it to a mere reflection and correspondent of the communication process via language.

The roles of the mother, the son, the daughter, the teacher, the negro, the Christian, etc., are social roles ; the roles of a mother, a teacher, a Negro, a Christian, etc., are psychodramatic roles.

The term role itself comes from the language of the stage. Role playing may be considered as an experimental procedure, a method of learning to perform roles more adequately. The present popularity of the term and concept derives from the value it has proven to have as a training device in various social, occupational and vocational activities, and resulted from the initiative which the author has taken in developing them. It is through the study of roles in action that new knowledge about roles developed. In contrast with role playing, role taking is an attitude already frozen in the behavior of the person. Role playing is an act, a spontaneous playing; role taking is a finished product, a role conserve.

* See also “Two Schools of Role Theory,” p. 688-691. (in the same vol of “Who Shall Survive?”)

Roles Create Roles

“a role is the functioning form the individual assumes in the specific moment he reacts to a specific situation in which other persons or objects are involved” (Moreno, 1977, p IV)

Lets take a list of roles, these are from Max Clayton’s article (Clayton, 1994),  it is a convenient list, and it is the one that got me to think about this:

Artist
Playful fun-lover
Coach
Companion
Adventurer
Manipulator
Teacher
Despairer
Self-doubter
Guard
Frightened, abandoned orphan
Anxious and suspicious fantasiser
Angry controller
Condemning critic
Friend
Father
Good listener
Lover
Perfectionist

For each of these there is as Moreno puts it: “a specific situation in which other persons or objects are involved.” We can grasp the role it is possibly in relation to from the role.

Artist
Playful funlover
Coach
Companion
Adventure
Manipulator
Teacher
Despairer
Self-doubter
Guard
Frightened, abandoned orphan
Anxious and suspicious fantasiser
Angry controller
Condemning critic
Friend
Father
Good listener
Lover
Perfectionist
Art Materials or Audience
Playmates
Trainee
Companion
Wilderness, the unknown, adventurer
Compliant Follower, Sucker, victim
Student
The Void, Black dog, Stubborn controller
Critic
Invaders
Absent Parent, Threatening bully
Challenging person or situation
Helpless follower
Self doubter
Friend
Child
Speaker
Lover
Slob

Creating Change in a Role Relationship

These role pairs will change as one of the roles changes:

The teacher can’t teach without the student

Lovers need lovers

If the manipulatee ceases to be duped and becomes assertive the manipulator can’t manipulate.

If there is no speaker, become a good listener.

If there is no artist, become an appreciative audience and contribute materials

Be loving and love may come your way.

Stop criticising, appreciate and praise and you won’t be with a self-doubter for long.

Role relationships

There are different types of role relationship. Max talks of complementary roles and symmetrical roles.

“The diagrams made it easier to be aware of the complementary and symmetrical role systems that developed with other people and of the fact that there was an increase in complementary role relationships. As ability to analyse, plan and enjoy life came to the fore, so those roles pertaining to intimacy increased. There was a welcoming of closeness and an interest in complementing what others were doing. The aggressive approach to others diminished and along with this a lessening of symmetrical role relations and of the competitive dynamic that is associated with these. There was also a development of a real sense of being a role creator. Previously there had been much more of a sense of being a mundane person. A look at the diagrams also confirmed the ability to create forms of expression through which life purposes could be fulfilled. The experience of being a role creator was accompanied by an increase in motivation.”

An example of complementary role might be speaker / listener – and this would increase intimacy, as max suggests.

Symmetrical roles can escalate and be competitive e.g. Talker / talker can become shouter / shouter.

But some symmetrical roles can be intimate lover/lover gardener/gardener

Google search found the book online Note: I have a physical copy.

References

Clayton, G. M. (1994). Role Theory and its Application in Clinical Practice. In P. Holmes, K. Karp, & M. Watson (Eds.), Psychodrama Since Moreno (pp. 121–144). London: Routledge. Retrieved Tuesday, 9 February, 2016 from aanzpa.org
Moreno, J. L. (1977). Psychodrama Volume One (Fourth ed.). Beacon, New York: Beacon House.

Jung: Reciprocal Influence

Stumbled on this scrap: Jung wrote that

For two personalities to meet is like two different chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed. In any effective psychological treatment the doctor is bound to influence the patient; but this influence can only take place if the patient has a reciprocal influence on the doctor. You can exert no influence if you are not susceptible to influence.

(C.G. Jung, CW, vol. 16, para. 163)

This is close to describing Moreno’s tele with the emphasis on reciprocity, ie a flow both ways.

Later:
Friday, 18 November, 2016

This is the relational paradigm in Jung, but as in so many psychotherapies it is thought of primarily in the therapeutic relationship. The obvious leap is to see that this reciprocity is present among people, in families, groups. The more significant the relationship the greater the power of transformation.

That there is a therapeutic quality in tele differentiates psychodrama from “individual therapy”.

More on this from Zerka.

See especially this post. It has the link to the section of Psychodrama Vol 1 that is relevant to this discussion.

Transference and Tele: Section I, Roles

This is the fourth post while doing a close reading of Moreno’s lecture on Tele, “given by the author during his European journey, May- June, 1954.”

First Post – Intro
Second Post – Transference
Third Post – Tele
Transference and Tele (tag) This will produce a list of all of the posts in this series.

Quotes from the lecture, some book & Google research and my detailed comments follow.

Continue reading

Connected knowing and Role-Reversal

Imago World

A short article: Receiving Sexual Pleasure by Sylvia Rosenfeld, LCSW, again has that Imago reference to “connected knowing”:

The goal of Imago Relationship Therapy is to create the conditions in a relationship that will encourage positive change in partners. The right environment retrains the brain. The behavioral component of sex therapy does this as well. The integration of both therapies can help a couple move from “separate” to “connected” knowing. Dialogue and behavioral assignments, especially sensate focus, create the continual repetition, through words and actions that translate what their “brains” know to what their “hearts” know as well.

I just had a thought that this might be what Psychodramatists call “Role-Reversal” in a sense couples become more empathic as they dialogue, to the point where they have a knowing of each other that goes beyond empathy, they know so many of the dots that it is easy to fill in all the dots (if you get my drift). I can grasp these things more when I can relate them to my primary modality, that is where I learnt things in a visceral way.  In Psychodrama the role reversal is enacted where people literally change places and enact the role that the other had.  It is an important technique.  However it is also used as a way of speaking about an ability people have to step into the shoes of the other.  Again to mix modalities, someone with a narcissitic wound can’t role revers – that is the same wound.  It is also one of the latest stages of child development, and builds on other skills such as mirroring.

I heard about how in the grieving process for a miscarriage the parent role-reversed with the spirit of the child. They had named the unborn baby Martha. In the role reversal the child revealed many feelings and some gratitude for its brief in utero time on earth. She also made it clear that she did not like the name Martha & would they please change it. What sort of knowing is that!