The Dance

I’ve been overdoing my exploration about the “relational paradigm”. I’ve been reading, writing, integrating & putting into practice Imago & Psychodrama ideas about systems and the locus of therapy.

So I thought I’d give myself a break and read a thriller.


Blinded by Stephen White
, who I have read before & enjoyed.

I am only a few minutes into it and there are passages that stimulate me right back into my work passion, no rest!

I will quote them here and share my reflections.

Continue reading “The Dance”

The Locus of Therapy – Moreno

When I was a social worker in the early ’80s and a person was waiting in the waiting room to see me, the receptionist would ring me and jokingly say your client system is here to see you.

Social Work has had a strong sense for a long time that the individual is always part of a system. This same systems theory was taught to me as being central to Psychodrama, specifically through an article by Lynette Clayton.

Recently I have read some good material in Imago Relationship Therapy : Perspectives on Theory, particularly by Randall C. Mason, Ph.D. who talks about the Relational Paradigm, and sees it as distinct from systems thinking.

I have been wanting to tie all this together, and Moreno’s contribution is significant. I love the way he sees the origin of our thinking of individual psyche ties in with the body as being the locus of treatment in medicine. What a fallacy it has been to continue to think like that in psychotherapy!

The opening of the Chapter on Sociometry in Psychodrama Volume one follows.

I’ve also added more notes on Sunday, 29 November 2015

Continue reading “The Locus of Therapy – Moreno”

Encounter, Buber & Moreno


Marineau, R. F. (1989). Jacob Levy Moreno, 1889-1974: Father of Psychodrama, Sociometry, and group psychotherapy. United Kingdom: Routledge.

The third idea is the notion of ‘meeting’. of ‘encounter’. Moreno has argued that Martin Buber, who wrote an article in the magazine Der Neue Daimon (see page 56) in 1919. was influenced by his own concept of ‘Begegnung’ (encounter) of 1914. It would be very interesting to establish the exact nature of the relationship between the two authors and clarify the extent of their mutual influence. There seems to be no historical basis for putting too much emphasis on direct influences. Buber’s thinking developed gradually, but can be traced back to his own childhood. His contribution to the journal Daimon was minimal. But Moreno and Buber did have common friends and relations in the persons of Max Brod and Franz Werfel.

The two men also had a lot of other things in common. Both read Socrates, Dante, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Both acknowledged the primacy of the original ‘encounter’: Moreno says that at the beginning was action and the group. while Buber says that at the beginning was the relationship. Both stress the necessity to alter the form taken by culture to arrive at a more ‘fruitful chaos’. Both also stress the importance of ‘experiencing’ reality as a means of change rather than just talking about it. Both were highly emotional people, giving prime importance to the body: Buber, still smarting from the loss of his friend and companion Landauer forty-five years after his murder, told Carl Rogers: ‘Now once more. I was compelled to imagine this killing, not only visually, but with my body.’ Moreno, equally sensitive to bodily experience, developed the concept of tele.

See also the post that confirms that Buber was influenced by Moreno.


I am intrigued by the parallel between the physics of particles/waves that change depending on the observer, and the psychotherapy process.

Once an observer is introduced we change the nature of the psychotherapy. The very stuff we grapple with in a diad, trust, engagement, transference are impacted in many ways if there is a third party observer. All the relationship stuff of the psychotherapy would be present with the observer as well. In addition what happens to the unconscious processes as a result of the invitation, allowed by the therapist, on the work with the therapist?

In a brief conversation today with colleagues I noted two comments that I’d like to reflect on more.

“Even inside the group there are things we can’t see.” (A)

And the other…

“Deciding to LOOK at the process changes the group as well, even when the observers are all members.” (G)


It might be useful to see how these observations relate to Moreno’s “Rules” of sociometry, which is a form of research relying on practice based evidence. I’ll quote my summary of them.

  1. Participants are informed, ready, willing and able to participate.
  2. Participants in the group are “researchers”, and the leader is also a participant.
  3. Participation is done in action. Learning is experiential, it is learning by doing.
  4. There is acknowledgment of the difference between process dynamics and the manifest content. To quote Moreno: “there is a deep discrepancy between the official and the secret behaviour of members”. (1951:39) Moreno advocates that before any “social program” can be proposed, the director has to “take into account the actual constitution of the group.” (ibid)
  5. Rule of adequate motivation: “Every participant should feel about the experiment that it is in his (or her) own cause . . . that it is an opportunity for him (or her) to become an active agent in matters concerning his (or her) life situation.” (ibid)
  6. Rule of “gradual” inclusion of all extraneous criteria. Moreno speaks here of “the slow dialectic process of the sociometric experiment”.

References are to: Moreno, J. L., 1951, Sociometry, Experimental Method and the Science of Society . Beacon House, Beacon, New York. Page 31

Unfroze and Compulsory

I just bought & downloaded “The Concordance” as my friend Simon calls it.

Vocabulary of Quotations from Psychodrama,
Group Psychotherapy, Sociodrama and Sociometry

It is an index to some of Moreno’s main writing, handy!

It is often translated from the Portuguese or Spanish etc. Hence we get some interesting words.

This is the first passage quoted:

… A variety of improvisation is often called “abreaction.”
Whereas improvisation has an esthetic aim and is characterized
by some degree of freedom, abreaction has no conscious esthetic
aim, it is unfroze and compulsory. Both have a low degree of
mental organization.
Theatre of Spontaneity p. 79
El Teatro de la Espontaneidad p. 141
Teatro da Espontaneidade p. 96

“unfroze and compulsory”, I love that.

I wonder what the original was, was that in German?

I imagine the idea is one that I think of as central to the psyche.

What emerges in states of spontaneity, a state of freedom, comes unbidden, autonomously from the self, from beyond the ego. Jung calls this the autonomous psyche. Feelings are like this, but whole ways of being, roles can emerge as well.

“How are you?”

There is no choice, you are who you are right now, in this moment… compulsory. Yet there is choice as to how to express that, how to be with that, how to transform that, unfroze.

Action Research and Sociometry

In my exploration of Moreno’s ideas on Methodology I have come across Action Research. Kurt Lewin’s name comes up again. I recall he had something else that was *like* Moreno, but not quite? Yes, Force Field analysis, (see next post). I wonder how connected it all is, and how useful? Or if it is important to see the specific Moreno aspects that might be overlooked? I imagine the ideas of wap and Maximum Voluntary participation might not be present. Will check out, and would be interested in comments from people who know!

Action research
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Action research is a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a “community of practice” to improve the way they address issues and solve problems. Action research can also be undertaken by larger organizations or institutions, assisted or guided by professional researchers, with the aim of improving their strategies, practices, and knowledge of the environments within which they practice.

Kurt Lewin, then a professor at MIT, first coined the term “action research” in about 1944, and it appears in his 1946 paper “Action Research and Minority Problems”. In that paper, he described action research as “a comparative research on the conditions and effects of various forms of social action and research leading to social action” that uses “a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action”.

Action Research

I am interested to get hold of the article by Philip Carter

And one by J Guntz

Continue reading “Action Research and Sociometry”

Alan Lightman

Alan Lightman is a novelist, essayist, physicist, and educator. Currently, he is Adjunct Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I got interested listening to him being interviewed, with the first part of the interview mainly about the relationship between art & science.

Click to play, right click to download
Kim Hill last week

Heartening because he & Kim were able to broach this interrelationship at all. That is what makes this such a treat to listen to. He is a writer & a scientist. He is married to a painter.

Frustrating because he sees a gap between the sciences and the arts, creativity, that need not be there at all. I am thinking of the science that Moreno advocates, and I write about in my paper, see this post & link here.

He speaks about how the idea is more important in science than the presentation. But is it? Beauty & truth are more interrelated than that. Also the expression about the world is always a map, the nature of the correspondence between the map & the territory is varied but at this level e=mc2 is a map in much the same way as the Mona Lisa.

True, the terms are defined in scientific language. But language itself is also defined, with more fuzzy, and hence often more effective rules. Science has not learned the sociometric method yet. Just wait till it hits the world! The sociometric revolution is yet to come.