“Between” should not vanish into a “within”.

Talking about Moreno’s approach German sociologist Leopold Von Wiese, (1949) said:

“the realm of subjectivity is never given up by him. But the use of the word subjective here should not imply that Moreno is limited in his studies by a personal involvement; it is just the opposite. His aim is directed towards the most exact objectification of observations; but the object of these operations is the realm of the human psyche exclusively. This is so perhaps because he is a psychiatrist, a practical psychologist and physician. We too, in our “system of relations” do not neglect the psychological processes; but their penetration is one of several tasks so that we can recognize that realm of existence which. is crucial; the social one which lies between men and not within them. Particularly when one, as Moreno, like ourselves, emphasizes the significance of the little word “between” one should not permit it to vanish into a “within”.”

I like this as a formulation of the relational paradigm.

More on this theme from Von Wiese:Screen Shot 2020-06-13 at 6.49.13 PM

“When we try to reproduce here the chief content of Moreno’s work, we may best start With a statement from White’s foreword to it, one Which is also an axiom of our system of relations: “Social groups are not a sum of individuals but a sum of relations which exist between them”.

Which makes them complex beyond imagination.


Von Wiese, Leopold. (1949). “Sociometry.” Sociometry, Vol. 12, No. 1/3 (Feb. — Aug, 1949), pp. 202—214 Published by: American Sociological Association https://www.jstor.org/stable/2785387

Marriage and family therapy – Inter-psyche

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.

Moreno was not alone in noticing this phenomena

Ubuntu – A person is a person through other people




According to Michael Onyebuchi Eze, the core of ubuntu can best be summarised as follows:

“ ‘A person is a person through other people’ strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance”.[9]


Therapeutic Tele

I found a few pages in Psychodrama Vol I by J.L Moreno – I think this item was written well before 77 when the book came out – a Symposium in the 40s?

Moreno talks of the individual locus of physical ailments.  There is another locus for psychological work, the relationship.

Then he gets really radical.  The relationships in life are therapeutic.  The psychodramatist activates the healing potential of the relationships.

And then there is one more thing!

the medium of therapy [is separate] from the healer as well as the group therapeutic agents.

What is that “medium” – Moreno in other places calls it the sociometric matrix.

Here is how I sum up Moreno’s philosophy:  there is a network of social and cultural role patterns we are born into. Born out of perhaps, that is the matrix. Spontaneity is our ability to transcend that given.

Here is the selection in Google Drive.  It should be public – if not email me.

Thus the healing is in the relational paradigm.  (an imago book)

“Relational” TA and psychoanalysis, psychodrama and the relational paradigm 

I have been looking up anything to do with the relational paradigm  and keep bumping into relational psychoanalysis and relational T.A.

They seem fine. I’m surprised these branches of the tree are even needed – I would have thought that psychoanalysis and T.A. Were already “relational” in this way, i.e. Valuing of the relationship between the therapist and the client. Understanding attachment and early relationships as primary. Apparently not.

However I realise I’m in a different school altogether. One that see the relationship as the therapy, but not only the relationship with the therapist but the relationship people have with each other out there in the world. The marriage or committed loving relationship is the dominant one. I’ve come to understand that, especially in individual therapy, the relationship with the therapist can undermine the potential of the committed loving relationship with a partner. If there is no such relationship then the relationship with the therapist can be a surrogate, or if possible a way of facilitating the search for a mate. The rest of the time the therapist is there to facilitate the consciousness that will enable a committed loving relationship to be therapeutic. They are not naturally so – though they have a natural propensity to be so.

With this relational paradigm  more and more fully grasped of late I see that psychodrama has something of this philosophy well developed. Moreno speaks a lot of “in situ”. I think of that as working with the actual here and now relationships in a group.

Psychodrama does not require a theatrical setting, a frequent misunderstanding; it is done in situ – that is, wherever the subject is found.

Who Shall Survive? (1978) P86

However Moreno is not clear on this – Later in the same book he speaks again of therapy in situ

… it can take an immediate form, in situ, that is, in the course of all activities in which the individuals are en- gaged, in the home, in school, at work, for instance the handicraft shop, steam laundry, carpentry shop, department store, etc . The situations of living and working are at the same time used as therapeutic settings. We have found, however, that the analytic and activistic forms of group psychotherapy are not applicable to the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group; they require the application of deep action methods in the form of psychodrama. But they are applicable to social problems of the group in a setting in which, during the treatment, the group is artificially cut off from the community as if the rest of the community were non-existent and as if the influence coming from it could be disregarded.

He comes close to a relational paradigm, and then moves away for “the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group” to theatre where psychodrama clearly becomes treatment of or via a protagonist. Yet he stays close, because as we know, … the protagonist is a protagonist for the group. (ref?)

The idea that the relationship itself can be the source and vehicle for growth and healing, is not explicit in psychodrama – it is there in most psychotherapy, but only in the relationship between the client and the therapist. Yet this idea that the protagonist is working for the group can be translated to the protagonist working for the relationship. That helps!

The relational paradigm  is still to have its major impact, like any paradigm shift it is hard to get from the perspective of the old space.

Imago dialogue is one technique for activating relational healing, one that is easy to teach to clients. However I think T.A. Has the potential for that, Marshall Rosenberg NVC, and psychodrama does as well… Concretisation, role reversal, mirroring and doubling are potent methods. Psychodrama is not so easy without a director. How make the method easily accessible is what I’m working on all the time.

Evolution of consciousness

The book by Kevin Kelly “What does technology want continues stimulate my thinking.

He is eloquent on the evolution of tech. To make his case he draws on parallels in biological evolution. He comes up with principle after principle that are deep insights into any change process. He reminds me constantly of Frederick Engles and on the dialectics of nature. There are principles of change that go beyond one sphere.

Today it is this S curve that grabbed me.

Evernote Snapshot 20121119 133549

You would need to read the chapter to fully get it, but take the example of rail road air as the three levels of technology that work together to ensure that transport increased at a constant level, of say miles, speed and lower costs.

What I do is relate this to the evolution of psychotherapy. Or lets call it conscious intimate relationships. A mere 40 years ago there were about 10 therapists/counsellors in Christchurch, now it is more like 400. What is that curve about? The psyche is on the move!

I imagine the three technologies are:

Analytical psych
Humanistic Psych
And now still in the lower reaches of its s curve, relationship psych

Small Graces: Mapping a Route of Beauty to the Heart of the World


Small Graces Mapping a Route of Beauty to the Heart of the World
by Jason Sugg
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
Pacifica Graduate Institute
14 February 2012

Has a whole section on Participation Mystique and I-Thou.

Well researched.

Below is an enticing quote. The reason I’m attracted to this work is that I think that the very relationships we are discussing here, participatory, with the ego dropped, with heightened awareness of self and other, are also the relationships that are needed between therapist and client, and partners in a relationship. It’s not well grasped: they are vital to knowing each other. We can’t know others at this level of consciousness without participating in the relationship with full role reversal. Continue reading “Small Graces: Mapping a Route of Beauty to the Heart of the World”

The Origins and History of Consciousness: Erich Neumann

Further to my exploration of participation mystique in the last two posts I’m led – as some may expect – to:


The amazon page has excellent reviews, the description of the book is at the end of this post.

Below are a couple of quotes that give me the sense that he thinks the participation mystique is of a primitive or childlike state of unity that is lost.

This is interesting as it might relate to attachment theory and Moreno’s notion of the matrix of all identity. The idea that it is a primitive state (presumingly leading to individuation) might skip the importance of adult attachment as Susan Johnson talks about it.

Is adult attachment really a stage of not being quite grown up. Schnarch might say that?

Here is a quote by an anonymous reviewer on Amazon:

An interesting side effect of this view of consciousness is the resultant synthesis of linear and cyclical notions of Time. To Neumann, Time is an open-ended linear progression (development) which is recursively cyclical. The recursion occurring in the subject self’s perception of time: That the individual’s subjective perception of time in an early part of his development, corresponds with the Human’s perception of Time in a corresponding earlier point in history.

For example, using Neumann’s framework, one can see the ‘mythological’ persona and teachings of Jesus (and his semi-contemporary Buddha) as the collective expression of the coming ‘personal’ transcendence and autonomy of the Ego (as in: “The Kingdom is in You!”).

Perhaps we are moving forward (and backwards) to the relational paradigm?

Quotes I found from the book follow:

This integration was not necessarily anything mysti-
cal, as the rather nebulous term participation mystique might
lead one to suppose. All it means is that, in the original group,
the solidarity of the group members is to be conceived more on
the analogy of an organ in relation to the body, or of a part in
relation to the whole, than of a part in relation to the sum, and
that the whole exercised a paramount effect, so that the ego
could only free itself very slowly from the tyranny of the group.
This late birth of the ego, consciousness, and the individual is
an incontestable fact.



Originally it was impossible for the ego
to distinguish the source of these images, for at the stage of
participation mystique an outside could not be perceived as distinct from an inside; the two sets of images overlapped, so
that experience of the world coincided with inner experience.

This original phase, when consciousness was a sense organ,
is marked by the functions of sensation and intuition, i.e., the
perceptive functions 84 which are the first to appear both in the
development of primitives and in that of the child.


The Origins and History of Consciousness (Bollingen Series,42): Erich Neumann,R. F. C. Hull,C. G. Jung: 9780691017617: Amazon.com: Books: “Book Description
Publication Date: 1970
The first of Erich Neumann’s works to be translated into English, this eloquent book draws on a full range of world mythology to show that individual consciousness undergoes the same archetypal stages of development as has human consciousness as a whole. Neumann, one of Jung’s most creative students and a renowned practitioner of analytical psychology in his own right, shows how the stages begin and end with the symbol of the Uroboros, or tail-eating serpent. The intermediate stages are projected in the universal myths of the World Creation, Great Mother, Separation of the World Parents, Birth of the Hero, Slaying of the Dragon, Rescue of the Captive, and Transformation and Deification of the Hero. Throughout the sequence the Hero is the evolving ego consciousness.”

History of the Relational Paradigm

It occurred to me that before Imago therapists came up with the idea of the relationship paradigm there were earlier attempts at the formulation.

I’ve mentioned Moreno and ‘tele’, Martin Buber and I-Thou today it occurred to me that Jung also had a concept for something similar: participation mystique. [Turns out I’ve written on this earlier in this post.]

Sure enough, I’m not the first to notice this.

Bridge to Unity – By MD Wilford W. Spradlin, Susan Renee Amazon

The connection between I-Thou and participation mystique is mentioned at least twice in this novel. I’ve also found thesis and other comments I’ll add in later posts.

Page 60:

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Page 96:

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Psychological Eclecticism and Nothing

I recall being advised by my then supervisor, about 30 years ago, to look around for a psychotherapy modality that grabbed me and then to learn it thoroughly and not become prematurely eclectic. I followed that advice. Psychodrama was that modality for me and I am steeped in its traditions and have practiced it for decades and hope to do that for a few more.

However I have more than a passing familiarity with a some other fields of practice, I have a grasp of Archetypal Psychology and I am qualified in Imago Relationship Therapy. I have grappled with my multiple perspectives, and have written a paper about my tension with Imago for the AANZPA Psychodrama Journal: The Imago Affair. I’ve been thinking about this more of late.

Continue reading “Psychological Eclecticism and Nothing”