bits of information on Psychodrama, Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy, associated subjects such as ro

bits of information on Psychodrama, Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy, associated subjects such as ro
From the Presentation: ACORNography: The Theories of J. L. Moreno and Others

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Role Expansion

When first entering the enactment, the auxiliary ego approximates the role and continues to fine tune it for the remainder of the action. After approximating the role, the auxiliary focuses on the manner of speech, facial expression, body language, and general affect of the person being portrayed and of the protagonist when in that role.

Adjustments to the role can be subtle or major when new information emerges or after mistakes have been made. 

With a good grasp of the role, the auxiliary expands the role delving into areas ignored by, or unknown to, the protagonist.

In all situations the auxiliary uses affect
responses, statements and questions. 

The more the protagonist interacts with the auxiliary as the person being portrayed, the more the protagonist slips into the altered state. When in the altered state the protagonist may experience the auxiliary role as being similar to another role of an earlier, deeper origin. That brings to consciousness sub-conscious material that leads to a classic psychodrama.

As an auxiliary, try things after you get comfortable with the role. Make guesses as to what the protagonist needs and notice the response to what you do and say. If you are wrong, corrections can be made. If you are right, you've moved the psychodrama in the proper direction.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thoughtful Thoughts To Think About

Perhaps the empty chair should be called the "projection chair." We imagine someone in the chair and project that image upon the chair. The primary mechanism of transference is projection. Does that mean we in transference with a chair?

I recently finished reading John Nolte's book, The Philosophy, Theory and Methods of J.L. Moreno: the man who tried to become God. It is excellent and I can't recommend it highly enough. I believe it is the best book written about the subjects of the title.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Cornerstone of All Forms of Group Psychotherapy

Moreno wrote in Who Shall Survive? (1934, page xxx; revised edition 1953) the following that are divided into several parts for your contemplation:

"Four aspects of group psychotherapy struck me already then; they became later the cornerstones of all forms of group psychotherapy:
1)   the autonomy of the group;

2)   that there is a group structure and the need for knowing more about it, group diagnosis as a preliminary to group psychotherapy;

3)   the problem of collectivity; prostitution represents a collective order with patterns of behavior, roles and mores which colors the situation independent from the private participants and the local group;

4)   the problem of the anonymity. When a client is treated within the framework of individual therapy, he is alone with the doctor, his ego is the only focus, he has a name, his psyche is highly valued private property. But in group psychotherapy there is a tendency towards anonymity of membership, the boundaries between the egos weaken, the group as a whole becomes the important thing."

Who Shall Survive? is available on line at Click on "RESOURCES". The following screen has a title, "Books". There you will find Who Shall Survive? and    many other titles.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I Screwed Up

A few weeks ago I directed a psychodrama workshop for an alcohol and drug conference. The first woman, Flora, who presented herself as a protagonist said, "I'll do it if no one else wants to. But if someone else wants to do it, they can." Another woman Salli said that she would like to work. Flora said, "Well she can do it then." I encouraged her not to defer to another if she wanted to work. She said she was willing to defer to Salli.

Salli wanted to work on a friend who suffered extreme emotional problems and chose Flora to play that role. I carefully explained how role reversals were done. Flora could not understand what was required of her after several role reversals and additional explanations. The audience was making sounds of disbelief.

I screwed up. Flora should have replaced, but my concerns were that it would hurt her self esteem and that it would take too much time to bring in a new person. Bad decisions.

I screwed up. My first concern should have been for the protagonist and audience. I could have told Flora that I wanted to try someone else in the role. Formulating the words in the moment would not have been easy for me. I have now found words to use in the future.

The psychodrama worked out well; the protagonist had good resolution and was happy as was the audience. But I had to feed Flora words to use and found other ways of circumventing her lack of understanding. It could have been much smoother and better with a different auxiliary.

A newspaper interview of Jonathan Moreno and his book about his father, J.L. Moreno, titled, Rediscovering the Impromptu Man, can be found at:

Friday, November 28, 2014


John Nolte responded to a statement made on with the following quote. I think it needs to be brought to everyone's attention to review and refresh. The quote has been divided for easier reading on this blog.

“5)  The Sociometric Experiment—The objective of Who Shall Survive? Was to describe a sociometric experiment and not merely to introduce a number of techniques. The first sentence in the book ‘A truly therapeutic procedure cannot have less an objective than the whole of mankind’ indicated my intention. It is disconcerting that this has been so completely misunderstood although in writing the book I have put this idea straight under the nose of the reader. It is stranger yet that this sentence is the most frequently quoted phrase of the book and that still its meaning has rarely been appreciated. 

To demonstrate the idea, the book analyzes and enfolds an entire community and tries to turn it from an untherapeutic community into a therapeutic one—within the limits of its setting—by means of various methods. It appears that for many this sentence has been taken at best as a poetic metaphor for an ailing society and gently pushed aside. As a consequence, the immediate meaning of the entire book has been overlooked.

....The principle task of the experiment was to initiate a therapeutic process which involves then entire community, not only the so-called ‘inmates’, but the entire staff, from the superintendent down to every teacher, social worker, minister, clerical worker, farm worker, manual laborer, chauffeur, carpenter, electrician. The old adage ‘Physician heal thyself’ was replaced with a new one, ‘Community, heal thyself’.”

     SCIENCE OF MAN. Sociometry A Journal of Inter-personal Relations 
     and Experimental Design, Vol. XVIII, December, 1955 No. 4 pp 23-24.

My trainer, Carl Hollander, stressed that the goal of sociometry was to find the criterion/criteria to bring people together. The purpose was to create an environment so that all could express their spontaneity and creativity.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Moreno History: Questions and Answers


1.   Where was the first recorded Psychodrama and what year was it done?

2.   Moreno interacted with children at a park in Vienna.
     a.  What was the name of the park?
     b.  What was the year in which he first did this?
     c.  What was the significance of this in Moreno history?
     d.  What did this interaction with children lead to?

3.   What was the significance of Kömodienhaus?

4.   What is the date of the first edition of Who Shall Survive?, Moreno's               seminal work.

The answers to the questions above can be found in Who Shall Survive? by     J. L. Moreno and/or in Rene Marineau's Jacob Levy Moreno 1889-1974, the only unbiased, un-glorified, well-researched biography of Moreno.

Who Shall Survive? can be found online at, click on Library. Pages xiii through cviii contain a lot of historical information.

Take some time to think about them and then scroll down to the answers below.


1.   Many people believe that 
April 1, 1921 marks the first psychodrama at the
      Kömodienhaus,                                               .                
      It was not.
      Marineau wrote (pages 67-68) "In or around 1921, he met a patient who was instrumental in teaching him something about mental health.… He [the patient] wanted Moreno to help him die and asked him to be a partner in his suicide…" Moreno and Marianne, Moreno's love interest, helped the client act out various scenarios relating to the patient's desire for death. "Here, Moreno is giving psychodramatic treatment for the first time."

2.   Moreno interacted with children at a park in Vienna.
     a.  What was the name of the park?
          The Augarten. (Moreno, p. xviii)
     b.  What was the year in which he first did this?
     c.  What was the significance of this in Moreno history?
          As Marineau wrote (p. 39), " Moreno not only told stories. He played games with the children, games that called upon children's spontaneity, but also challenged the values inherited from their parents and teachers." Too much is read into the Augarten anecdote. Answers given on some CP and TEP exams were that this was the beginning of psychodrama, the beginning of sociometry, or was were Moreno developed spontaneity theory. Neither Moreno nor Marineau make mention of these three items. 
         Can we liken Moreno's position in front of or on the limb of the tree as being on a stage? Of course, but it was 10 years later before psychodrama came about. And where would you naturally stand if running a group for children in such a park? Moreno (p. xviii) does mention that his choosing the theater over religion was idée fixe. 

     d.  What did this interaction with children lead to?
           Marineau suggests (p. 39) that the insecurity of parents, the school administration, and the police may have been the reason that Moreno stopped the Augarten experience. At about this time Moreno had also created a theater for children to invent and improvise plays presented in the Augarten or in a small hall. This came to an end because of World War I. Moreno realized that he should enter the larger world of the adult while using children as models to, "...envision a new order of things or to create a new form."

3.   What was the significance of Kömodienhaus?
      Marineau (p.71), "From a historical standpoint, the evening of 1 April 1921 was the first demonstration of what Moreno called sociodrama."

4.   What is the date of the first edition of Who Shall Survive?, Moreno's                     seminal work.
     The first edition was 1934. Many people use the 1953 date of the second edition. This is unfortunate because it does not acknowledge Moreno until almost twenty year later. This allows others to slip in and take credit for portions of his work.

There is a good amount of confusion in Who Shall Survive?. The following headings he used will tax you. They are listed in the order found in the book. He did not list these and other headings in strict chronological order:
1910, Genesis of Psychodrama
1911, Genesis of Spontaneity
1912, Genesis of Sociometry
1911, The Psychodrama of God, the Axiodrama
1914, Definition of Psychodrama [Good for a laugh.]
1913-1914, Genesis of Group Psychotherapy
The question to ask: Did he create these at the dates given above or did he apply later thinking to previous happenings? One heading that is accurate is the last. He was the first to do true group psychotherapy; where participants interacted from the start (pages xxviii-xxx.) There were groups of eight to ten prostitutes that met two or three times a week. It wasn't until 1932 that the term, "group psychotherapy" was used. 
Do you know what happened during that year?

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Cultural Conserve For You

A while ago, I wrote a paper on presenting psychodrama to psychology-related classes and various organizations. My purpose was to suggest ways to promote psychodrama (which we certainly need to do.) These presentations are meant to be voluntary endeavors, but may also result in getting psychodrama trainees and clients.

The paper is too long to be included here and is in a pdf format. If you would like a copy, email me: In the subject line put, "PD Offer".

This cultural conserve will give you a platform to stimulate your warm-up, spark your spontaneity, lead to creativity, and result in your cultural conserve: a complete cycle of Moreno's Canon of Creativity. Let me know what you do.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Too Warmed-Up

Early in my Psychodrama training, I directed a woman who had an issue with her brother. Being a new director, I did a very thorough, elaborate scene setting. It took a long time because I was apprehensive about getting into action. I must have had the protagonist role reverse with everything in the scene; a picture on the wall, a rug on the floor, a pot on the mantel, a get the idea.

Finally when there was nothing left with which to role reverse, I had her select someone to play her brother. She selected my trainer, Carl Hollander. I had her do a self-presentation of her brother, reversed her back into her role, and brought Carl (as the brother) into the scene.

My words were, "What would you like to say..." She screamed and jumped on Carl. Carl grabbed her wrists to protect himself. She tried to harm and cursed her brother. Carl turned to me and commanded, "Bill, do something!"

My less than functional brain had me loudly stutter, "R-r-r-reverse r-r-r-roles!" By sheer luck this happened to be the right thing to do. And it was only luck because I couldn't think of anything else. After calming down I managed to hobble through the enactment and brought it to a conclusion.

I dreaded the processing that was to follow. Some of our training-group processing sessions lasted two and a half hours and they were brutally hard on trying-to-be-perfect trainees like me. The worst part is that I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong and stated that at the beginning of the processing. Carl replied that when you do a prolonged scene setting, the protagonist gets overly warmed-up and will impulsively jump into action when faced with an antagonist.

May you never experience what happened to me.

Do efficient scene settings covering the most important elements. Beware of very long scene settings (See above.)

Directing a role reversal will get you out of a lot of trouble. It is a primary and major intervention for the director to use.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Prevent Role Confusion

In my training group, a trainee director finished a psychodrama and left the protagonist in an auxiliary ego role.

Don't do that. It leads to role confusion and may be detrimental for the protagonist and some group members. 

The protagonist may believe that you, the director, want him/her to be like the person the protagonist is playing in the auxiliary role.

End the psychodrama with the protagonist in his/her role.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Doubling Statements by the Director

As mentioned in the last post, Moreno opposed director doubling, except in an emergency, to avoid role confusion. Doubling statements by the director allows the director to interject suggestions to the protagonist to move the action.

A doubling statement is kin to a direction by the director. It is used to clarify, suggest actions and words, and call attention to affect, gestures, or body posture. It is expedient and used when the double has missed something, doesn’t understand, is unaware of what the director wants expressed, or when the double is not being used. Some of the following statements may be subtle and you may choose not to use them. It must be clear to the protagonist that the director is not also being the double. The director can make doubling statements as in:
     “Why don’t you and I go to that place and see what happens?” 

Notice the wording to indicate a separation between the protagonist and director. That statement is different from what a double would say:
     “I want to go to that place to see what happens.”

Other doubling statements by the director:
     “You seem very sad.”
     “That relationship didn’t work and you want to know why.”
     “Do you feel what your body is doing?”