One of my favourite posts in this blog is called Whole Earth Catalog – 50 Years. Read through to the end of it to find the gem, in my opinion, which is to understand the sad contortion of humanity’s destiny with the creation of the Whole Earth Catalog. That subtitle, Access to Tools, is so significant, more significant than Stuart Brand realised or that any of us realised at the time.
The year 1933 may have been the official, but the year 1923 was the conceptual origin of sociometry ; it was the publication date of my book Das Stegreiftheater which contained the seeds of many of the ideas which later brought sociometry to fame .
J. L.Moreno, 1978 edition, “Who Shall Survive?” p xiv
THE MATERIAL ASPECT OF THE SOCIAL SITUATION
The dynamic logic of social relations is particularly intricate and has remained unconscious with Man because of his maximal proximity and involvement in his own situation. For millennia therefore, the activities of human society perhaps have been a greater mystery to him than every other part of the universe. Because of their greater distance from him he could see the movement of the stars and planets, or the life of the plants
and animals, more objectively. Therefore, the science of human society is today hardly as far developed as physics and astronomy were in the minds of Democritus and Ptolemy. It takes enormous sacrifice and discipline to view and accept himself as he is as an individual man, the structure of the individual psyche, its psychodynamics; but the degree of invisibility of the structure of human society, of its sociodynamics, is much greater than that of the single individual. The effort of becoming objective toward the socius encounters many more obstacles than to be objective toward his own individual mind. The involvement of the ego he can still grasp, perhaps he can pretend to know it because it operates within him. The involvement of the socius, however, he cannot pretend to know as it operates outside of him; but it is an outside to which he is inescapably tied.
This is a quote from Moreno — SOCIOMETRY, EXPERIMENTAL METHOD AND THE SCIENCE OF SOCIETY AN APPROACH TO A NEW POLITICAL ORIENTATION
J.L. MORENO — Foreword by GARDNER MURPHY
The same paragraph appears in a different context in Who Shall Survive? P73.
Here are my thoughts about this passage which I think has some important concepts and raises a question for another post:
- “The dynamic logic of social relations is particularly intricate”
This might sound trite, but it shows how he is focused on the relationship, not the individual. Not like Freud, Jung and all those on that tree of thought, who were predominantly individualists, in theory and practice. And note the words dynamic logic. Dynamic, moving changing, alive, and logic, something that makes sense, that can be grasped. Moreno wrote this in 1949 so this is written at the time of the upsurge of systems theory, cybernetics and the Macey conferences in New York. Maybe he was influenced by the zeitgeist of the time, or influenced it.
- “…remained unconscious with Man because of his maximal proximity and involvement in his own situation.”
- Unconscious. He uses the word unashamedly even though he is equally unashamedly anti Freud later in the same essay. The words maximal proximity are nice. McLuhan used the analogy of a fish not knowing what water is. It is because of the water’s maximal proximity to the fish. While so much is made of the bias of maximal proximity we see that for the study of humans Moreno turns this problem into the crucial advantage. Science is turned on its head, the group studies itself. Of course! Humans are explorers of space, of stuff outside of us, minimal proximity, so to study ourselves we have to make that inescapable maximal proximity a feature of the work.
- “… the degree of invisibility of the structure of human society, of its sociodynamics, is much greater than that of the single individual. The effort of becoming objective toward the socius encounters many more obstacles…”
The invisibility of the structure of human society is a phenomena. Invisibility … we can see people, but not ‘systems’. someone famously said “you can’t kiss a system”. Now the meditation on Moreno’s writing here gets interesting… note the title of the section: The Material Aspect of the Social Situation. So does the relationship, the network, have a material aspect? What does that look like? You can see two things but the relationship between them is a space. The space between is a cherished notion in Imago Relationship Therapy. I’m not sure how Moreno resolves these questions about the material aspect. (I think I heard Timothy Morton talk sense on this. For another post.)
The socius. Another potent word. He uses it as if there is a reality that exists. I think of his other wording: the sociometric matrix as being somewhat similar, if not the same. The socius is similar and just as slippery as ‘the psyche’.
• “The involvement of the ego he can still grasp, perhaps he can pretend
to know it because it operates within him.”
Note the word pretend. For Moreno it’s all roles. There really is no inner even though he uses that language here.
I’m looking forward to writing another post on the whole section on the material aspect of relationship
The Philosophy, Theory and Methods of J. L. Moreno
Some quotes from Moreno in “Who Shall Survive?”
Continue reading “Psychodrama and the body”
The term “group centered” is used in Australia and New Zealand psychodrama circles with respect to warm-up and also with respect to the drama itself.
Firstly with respect to the drama. I recall Max Clayton’s teaching when the group was under the misapprehension that sociodrama was always group centred i.e. without a specific protagonist, and psychodrama always had a protagonist. He then demonstrated a protagonist centred sociodrama, i.e. one based around the social roles in one person’s work situation. On rare occasions, I have seen a group centered psychodrama, one that began as a sociogram. An isolate emerged and the group then worked collaboratively with that person to include them.
With respect to warm-up, I am familiar with the usage where a “director directed warm-up” is contrasted with a “group centered warm-up”.
I have found a passage in “Who Shall Survive?” where Moreno talks about “centeredness.” and his usage is a bit different.
I doubt that we would use “leader centered” for psychodrama. If there is a psychodrama, then it is based on the group or the protagonist as the central focus. Emergent psychodrama sounds interesting but is not related to this discussion as far as I can see. I imagine all our groups are “group centered” in the way the word is used in the passage from “Who Shall Survive?” Even director directed warm-ups lead to group or protagonist centered psychodrama.
What has sparked my interest in this linguistic exploration is that I have been working with couples in groups in a variety of ways. I want to use the words “relationship centered psychodrama”. I think there are many ways to be “relationship centered”. I think more exploration is needed as being protagonist centered can run counter to the needs of a couple. I am writing another post on relationship centered psychodrama as I research the variety of ways this can be done and also the way Moreno tackled this in the past.
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.
(Moreno, 1977: vii)
Moreno, J. L. (1977). Psychodrama (Volume One, Fourth ed.) Beacon, New York.
For Moreno spontaneity was “a new response to an old situation or an adequate response to a new situation” (1953, p. 336), with creativity adding the element of inventiveness.
Moreno, Zerka T. (1987) “Psychodrama, Role Theory, and
the Concept of the Social Atom.” in Zeig, Jeffrey K., Evolution Of Psychotherapy, first Conference. Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
Zerka is quoting from the definition that is on the same page in the 1978 edition, 366.
Here is another quote from “Who Shall Survive?” 1978 edition, Page 42:
Spontaneity operates in the present, now and here; it propels the individual towards an adequate response to a new situation or a new response to an old situation. It is… the least developed among the factors operating in our world; it is most frequently discouraged and restrained by cultural devices.
So is spontaneity the response, or that which propels the response?
From the Dictionary:
noun: ontology; plural noun: ontologies
the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.
a set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them.
“what’s new about our ontology is that it is created automatically from large datasets”
early 18th century: from modern Latin ontologia, from Greek ōn, ont- ‘being’ + -logy.
I have long had a phrase I use “It’s only ontology”. I use it to listen to people as they talk about Jesus, Chi, Shan, God, spirit or soul and so on. My little phrase reminds me to listen to the person rather than get into a debate about the existence of this or that. Also, irrespective of the existence of stuff, ontology “shows properties and the relations between” categories. For an archetypal psychologist, for example, there is a fundamental distinction between soul and spirit. Other people may use the words differently, yet they can reveal much about their world view. It’s only ontology.
I am looking back on earlier posts in relationship to ontology. Here is one where my phrase does not hold:
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.
Continue reading “The Moment in History”