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Flip remark within serious news conference opens a glimpse of psychodrama

Barrack Obama in his first news conference as United States President Elect makes a couple of light remarks. One about the White House children’s dog selection. The other turning a titter at having said he had spoken to all past presidents. First he says “All living past Presidents”, then “I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing”. Afterwards there were many things to deal with, tie up or follow up on. One has priority. He phones Nancy Reagan apologises and has an engaing and mutually satisfying conversation. A correspondent noted that it was not only flip it was innacurate. That former First Lady had consulted astrollogers. In fact the report continues it was First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton who had spoken with the dead. A seance? no, not that. In a counselling consultation her therapist had guided her into a conversation between herself and her heroine First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

That may have been “guided imagery” or it might be “psychodrama”. In psychodrama the space that becomes the stage where encounters occur whether a space in our minds for creative imagery or a space cleared on a floor, within which to stand and be “self” and then to cross the floor turn and speak for and as “the other”. Active body movements and speaking free-flow out loud can release what we don’t know we know inside, and have us discover what we otherwise will fail to recognise.

Not then seances, but stars and planets for one, and being a star in her own psychodrama with her hero in “surplus reality” for the other. Hilary Clinton is not with a medium but a therapeutic guide facilitaing a warming her up to herself and her vision of her hero, her dreams and her own aspirations.  The psychodrama producer is a companion watching for the body cues that a person themselves wil not see so that Hilary or any client can be alive to them and gain motivation and confident flow towards making her goals a reality in her life. Psychodrama is not weired or spooky and nothing to do with letting all hell rise up and run loose. Psychodrama is about meeting and integrating ones own truths.

A big difference with Role as I see it

“Role” is a word that Jacob Levi Moreno took from his theatre experience and his fascination with staging, producing and creative acts. He coached children in freedom to be themselves in Vienese parks while first a philosophy and then a medical student. He created impromptu theatre with teenagers and Vienese actors. He produced theatre early last century as a newspaper in action. He explored stage craft and stage design devising stages that embraced and wove their way through an audience. He was challenged by the encounter of catharsis as the audience is moved and changed by the dramatic warm up and the human truth that is soul opening as each actor enters, plays and creates the role they have in a dramatic slice of life.

Having migrated to the United States in 1928 Dr Moreno psychiatrist wanted word “role” to carry a wider meaning that fitted the reality of the “stage” of life where women,  men and their children are the players. Players not of parts prescribed, or with lines contrived, but acting authentically in the reality of what is.

There are real social pressures and restrictions on each of us. There are also creative realities that arise in each of us. Our creative realities are constructed by our wilful, mindful and self chosen paths built on our visions, our hopes, our dreams together with our spontaneity to to be ourselves and act freely for ourselves as ethical and inclusive beings.

Role for followers of Morneno’s experimental enquiry is a dynamic concept to discover who we humans are and how we operate within ourselves and in community. Moreno recognised the societal moulding and structuring of our various places and responsibilities within any community. He saw that social apsects of “role” are how we develop to be who we are. He saw our personal individual life learning to become who we can be involving taking up role positions enacting the requirements and adding in our way of being to gradually learn to be who we are becoming. The self he said arises from the roles we bring to life, rather than that the roles emerge from or are constructed by the self. The self - our individual personality – is not a pre-existent entity. We act and therefore we are. We produce roles as we interact and encounter the worlds realities day by day and minute by minute and we in that create ourselves. Others play there parts with us as co producers in their power over our path taking. We ourselves co produce the interactions within the power differentials of our shared cultures of the smal or wider systems in which we are set. Original family is majorly influential. However so too is our dreaming, our imaginations, our wishes, desires, our humour and our fearfullness and our indomitable spirit.

My next blog turns from the familiar social cultural aspects of role to an aspect Moreno recognised had not been recognised and deserved to be seen not only as an aspect but as the foundational reality of “role”.


During this week David Beckham in the news for his effort to maintain his level of competiveness for being selected to play for England in another world cup is to play on loan for Milan during the US off season. Accused of turning his back on the LA Gallaxy he said:”I am not leaving Gallaxy or desertingmy role at Gallaxy”. Role is being more and more common usage. Words are currency like capital that is a restless comodity and will move to the place of greatest opportunity words a word will move its meaning to the place in language where it can have impact and consequence. Its meaning is shaped by use in the population. Like fashion of clothing fashion in word usage drifts with popular choices one person uses a word and another copies a mass effect sees first a distintive set of use and then a greater mass of followers unthinkingly taking for granted that usaage, shape colurs and style.

Meaning follows use. First recognition then acceptance and then common use and then meaning is formed and tightened by the regularity of the pathway of use. One word is out of fashion and another in. One word is common and then it is belittling insulting and not acceptable is “politically not correct”. An individual defiantly takes a common insulting word and uses it of themsleves and the “kind”. It is restored. New life is given to it. It becomes a symbol of hope and pride not a defiant act a redemptive movement. “Christian”, “Black” and “Queer” have all taken that path. A label of derision becomes a badge that honours its community. 

“Role” has tightened around organisational place and systemic function in sub sets of society. Used by organisational consultants learned by managers and especially HR managers. Soon everyone knows not to say “my job”, “my work”, “my job description”, “my responsibilities” or “my task” any more. To earn approval without realising the process they take the higher rated word. As in fashion people don’t know they have changed their usage. It is not preference it is common coinage.

During this same week an advertising trailer. Oh Oh I’ve used and old fashioned word for a brief segment of a programme to open a trail of viewers to watch that show. “Show” used to be a performance as in “circus” or “baudville”, but now its of political or current or financial affairs programmes. Serious drama or musical comedy are also shows. Any way in a “trailer” advert for a “show” there is a man encouraged to dress differently and he says:”This is great I leave behind my old ‘role’ I feel different”. Role it seems like suits and shirts are seperate from humans and can be put on and taken off; like any “fashion” they can go out and be left behind.

Where am I going with this? If you’re intersted watch this blog.

Playing with links – will it work?

Struggling to put in a link and eventually Walter discovered that by putting a name highlighting and clicking link the dialogue box appeared and the link could then be inserted. Why did this struggle ocurr? Walter usually works with HTML and so was unfamiliar with the visual screen and the faded “link” button!

For example a word document for trainees final weekend with sparkles and wordart title: here it is

Wandering the pages

Setting up a Blog with the intent to place writing I have done and will do is a challenge. Walter thank you for revising and developing the site. I am getting a strong feel for its workability. I will continue to explore. With your being away for a while when you return I should be bubbling with possibilities.

Canon of Creativity

 A group of psychodrama trainees, a colleague and I recently explored Jacob Moreno’s Canon of Creativity. During the weekend the question came what is a “canon”. It is a rule or law. A law by decree a gathering together of religious rules, principles and precepts can be called a canon. The canon may however be a natural and repeated pattern of events or phenomena that are able to be recognized and expected because of their consistency. The relationship of warm up, spontaneity, creativity and conserve are seen by Moreno as a canon that can be described and pictured.

Components of a Role


A clue from Moreno

4 Components & 2 Interactive Factors

The first clue is about there being thinking, feeling and action in every and any role.

Second in the graphic that follows there are three additional factors alongside and essential to a concept that role has thinking, feeling and action. They are that:

a. values arise from interactions of thinking and feeling;

b. every enactment of role is influenced by and in part limited by context;

c. every enactment of role has consequences that can be imagined in advance – though are never absolutely predictable.

RolesClick for Larger Image

Four components and two interactive factors of role

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I am myself and I want to be ME – when I really am me

Spontaneity is the freedom to be each of us ourselves. To be freer and freer to be who I am or you are and for us to become who we really can be.

I want to be truly myself. Spontaneity is the factor in us that releases that freedom. Healthy spontaneity is mindfully directed and ethically controlled. It is lovingly gifted to the health of the whole human community. The planet’s interest is served and we are co-creators of the cosmos. A dynamic holistic system where we each are a particular and unique self with our own way of being is never able to be separated or absolutely isolated.

Here is a paper first produced September 2004 for Trainees working with Role Dynamics. Only to be copied with permission and acknowledgment. It is a work in progress with revisions and additions on going. Words highlighted in italics are to keep myself conscious of J & Z Moreno. Words in common use within ANZPA Inc. communities are underlined.

I am Myself and I want to be Me

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A Poem by W.H. Auden

Walter Logeman who has been guiding me into the world of blogging and web pages on
Word Press sent me this poem to lead me into the how to post or page an article or

You will see that I posted a comment on his posting and I copy it here after the poem.

Continue reading ›

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Freedom to Act in New Ways

Freedom to act in new ways (Word)

Freedom to Act in New Ways co-authored with Charmaine McVae is an article for the Australian Psychologist’s December 2007 edition.

The article presents a spontaneity-creativity-mindfulness approach to psychological counselling where the client makes new choices and develops new ways of being him or her self in settings that have challenged and defeated previously. The client’s warm up and activation as a competent experimenter is the key. The potent art of the psychodramatist is to coach in such a way that the client’s spontaneity is heightened which increases mindfulness and freedom to be who they are inside more openly and fully. The playful companion coach has as their task to promote creativity in the main one the client taking charge.

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