Dr. Sergio Romano, Psychology Psychotherapy, Psychodrama

Psychodrama as analysis through the group

Giulio Gasca


in: Analytic Psychodrama, n. 0, December 1992, Turin.

"What contributes contrasts and elements
disagree that you have the most beautiful harmony "


The specific trait that characterizes the psychodrama group over other techniques is the development of the discourse of the group itself through the constant dialectic between two floors: that the expression of verbal and dramatic presentification. The talk of a member of the group or the group as a whole around an event, issue, conflict or symptom is constantly reported to the representation, with dramatic method, of a scene concrete, referable to a time and at a determined space of the history of one of the present (time and space that can be located in the world of the waking day, in one of the dream or even those of delirium or the fantasies of the protagonist as long as these events have occurred elsewhere and then in a very distinct from the here and now of the group).

This dramatization in turn, evokes feelings, memories, considerations, associations present in the other, process leading to the later scenes. Each scene is dramatized, as it were, a focal point by means of which are highlighted always new aspects of the network of meanings, dealing, possibility that continually weaves among the participants, within them and through them.

But, unlike verbal interpretation that often, inevitably, tends to refer to a code, to a theory default reference (such an act is nothing more than ...) psychodramatic as the scene interpretation refers to a multiplicity of codes, possible, sometimes placing them in connection, at other times in comparison, o in antitesi, pushing to process and integrate.

The structural unit and dynamic highlighted by the dramatic play, into which, as many partial elements, verbal codes, conceptual codes and still expressed by sequences of images or actions, is called in the jargon psychodrama role: we want to remember it as such term bears here a sense quite different, and more complex than what is usually attributed in social psychology. Role, in fact, in our terms means: function that integrates, coordinates and articulates the set of ways in which an individual is related to a given class of situations and contexts. Compared to the outside world the roles structure the way in which each interprets what it perceives and how it interacts with it.

Compared to the inner world the roles that individuals develop during previous interactions with other people and himself present as models of action to understand their own and others organized, giving them a sense, Pulse, traces minestiche, images, representations, so that they can interact with each other and present themselves to consciousness, such as occurs in dreams, through a real inner theater. The dream, Jungian perspective, is in fact considered as a "theater in which the dreamer is the scene, player, prompter, director, author, public and critical together "in which the" dream figures are personified the personality traits of those who dream " (Young 1916-1948).

Starting from this point of view, taken up by Hillman (1983), in Jung's view not only the dream, but also the inner fantasies, of everything that moves in the unconscious can be understood from the inside through a theatrical logic "if the viewer understands that it is his own drama being represented on the stage interior can not remain indifferent to the plot or its dissolution, you gradually realize that the actors succeed, and the plot thickens ... that is the unconscious that will appeal to him and makes these fantasy images appear in front of the. Therefore feels compelled, or is encouraged by his analyst, to take part in the recitation ".

The roles that are of genuine mediators between both the inner and the outer one is among the many aspects and levels of structure and integration present in each of two worlds.

The most superficial level of analysis originates in direct comparison through the multiplicity of codes activated much verbal as well as imprinted in the perceptual-motor models of each of the members of the group. The ways in which the protagonist, those he calls to impersonate other parties and viewers, act and perceive the situation, in the different versions of the same scene, due to the changing roles of the actors, introducing a plurality of points of view aleternativi. These allow you to examine the event in relation to its different possible meanings, the suffering it describes the various stakeholders and role with respect to the adequacy of context-, to its complexity, differentiation and integration in the overall personality of the protagonist.

But, at the same time, psychodrama affects to a deeper level: a careful examination of what emerges in each group for a certain stretch of time in fact shows a threefold correspondence:

1) In each group of these assumes and / or other attributes to the current roles, both in the way of being and interacting, both through the images that, with tell or dramatize certain parts of themselves, induces in the group.

2) The network of current roles reflects and is reflected (from)the network of roles and those of others who made the reports of the personal history of each.

3) The first and second network of interpersonal roles also reflect and correspond to the network of each participant roles intrapersonal. These can be understood as both parts of the self, not employed in relating to the outside world, and sometimes attributed to other, but not recognized as their, or as complex or as stand-alone functions or instances structuring the psyche, Jungian perspective what are the shadow and the aninus.

The scene is played so to speak, that focuses on the relationships between those three polarity: the here and now of the structuring of the group, emerged through the choices made by each, of certain actors for their scene, show through like these embody their parts, clarified and modulated through the experiences later expressed, interprets (and is interpreted through) elsewhere and then the scenes played. The formation of the current ways of being (interpersonal or intrapersonal) can, through the succession of games evoked, reconstructed historically come from plunging, combine and crystallize their own or others' roles presented themselves in the course of past existence and, at the same time, the past history, relocated from the game in the horizon of this, is so to say illuminated by a new light (or better with many new lights as there are parties of the participants) and view through them. The roles internal or intrapersonal then show through the scenes proposals, mainly those concerning dreams, but also scenes of reality daytime because the roles of intrapersonal determine the way in which everyone sees, understand, interprets other people significant to him.

The roles are thus attributed to other intrapersonal out of himself: characters of the past history and evoked members of the group called to represent.

In the series of games psicodrammatici the protagonist if reappropriates, recognizing them as parts of their, through the change of roles or identifying with the parts that, in turn, other members of the group attribute to him. In each session, the dramatic play can reveal only some of the many threads of the plot that continually weaves, you intrica, you change, melts, you reweaving between the parties inter-and intrapersonal of these. We have therefore chosen to exemplify following threads drawn from some of the sessions of a group characterized by net roles with a few symbolic references, as this will make it possible to isolate, without altering the meaning too, the plot below infinitely more complex.

Fillide, which has just been introduced in the group, visibly ignore the discourse of this, to be the center of attention for help for his symptoms or to concrete problems such as the feeling that he is rejected by all. This role, in the group, is then translated into a series of scenes in which is highlighted as its only and constant way of relating to other (therapists, paenti, Friends) both in the part of ill needy.

Continued on what a scene of a recurring event childhood: nn the mother pays attention because it reserves all its care to the two sisters, both sick, suffering from congenital hip dislocation. Phyllis repeatedly to choose the part of that mother Flora, as she, at first it was compared to the group through the symptom and expressed problems of rejection by the mother. But this assumes Flora in group roles from time to time different: ill need to, veteran of the group of protective and maternal towards the newcomers or woman energetic and aggressive or even rich person of interest. The scenes had shown previously played her role as ill need to be identical to the one she often seen playing from the mother to the father.

Will emerge from later games as the mother, suffering from a serious impairment of an aesthetic nature feared abandonment and thought it could not be tethered with its other positive qualities: will use its bisognosità to accuse others of unfairly neglect.

But the role sick in need of Flora is also revealed to a complementary role played by the mother towards her when he criticized and devalued every ability to act independent of the daughter. It, through the gears with the role of mother, proves to be a rational function male assertive that this, in alternative to that of sick needy, had boosted the excess in order to feel (as in fact happened) self-sufficient in case of abandonment. The same role, initially present in Plant as an attitude hypercritical and destructive, was gradually taken from her in its constructive aspects in the first group later in life. It differed from another role for other, in this case with non-rational and male, but rather emotional and maternal, that Flora, elementary school teacher, can express with children.

This role did not appear in the previous family history of Flora, but reveals itself as an alternative to those role played by parents and she observed (or imagined and idealized) in the parents of his classmate. In the game, constructive role to impersonate that is called one of the conductors. It is complementary to the scene and the role of the child in group (patient), collaborative. Iris, that is chosen by Flora sometimes for the parties to mother assertive, sometimes for the parts of father accused of too many interests outside the family, sometimes even for parts of diligent pupil, presents to us in their games a mother conformist, but reassuring and a philandering father, seductive, but unreliable: such models, show us the games, are repeated by Iris in this. Separated from her husband eighteen year old son plays with the mother's side from which these conformist (played by Marzio) try to be self-.

At the same time looking for a perfect companion and through the study of the motivations of this research captures and appreciates the sense of ways of seeing the father, until then refused. It is uncertain between two companions: one heavily dependent on her, against whom he feels dominatrix, safe but unsatisfied, the more self-confident and elusive as the father, but also sweet and maternal, from which feels and fears to depend. Iris seems to integrate in its models the masculine and feminine traits in opposing those of Flora (chooses to play such parts from time to time Flora, Marzio, Martina, or one of the conductors according to the prevailing, in the particular situation represented, of certain traits of other) and realizes to play with each of the two lovers a role identical to that played with her hand. "They are my mirror," says. See also these roles in two parallel relationships, one spent with parents, current one with his son which sometimes feels to mother sometimes from father. Processes as well as different positions his conflict between dependence and independence. Martina, often chosen by Phyllis (e talora di Iris), in the part of sister-rival, play scenes in which this takes a break with family values, in opposition to a sister or a friend (parts for which often chooses Iris) that appeal to it. Other games reveal his mother's attitude towards her younger boyfriend, vero Puer Aeternus, who like to perform in the part of the male philanderer and that calls into aspects of his brother, of male privilege which previously, era assai invidiosa. Call for impersonating both Marzio. A dream asks her to untangle such opposition: in it the boyfriend is represented by two identical twins corresponding to the boyfriend of reality, but one of the two (played by Marzio) stay with her in the house, while another (played by another member of the group) the waiting outside. This allows us to find out whether two parties, a, which determined its behavior during adolescence, tied to traditional values, the other that, emerged in this, is autonomous and rejects any rule estremisticamente.

Martina takes, at this point, to question what his true identity, below of the two parts, in each of which recognizes only within certain limits.

Marzio finally play scenes in which reacts sharply to the female figures, personified by Martina, with which he tries to establish a relationship, but when you feel devalued and threatened and scenes in which it appears (even if he has trouble recognizing) deeply dependent on a mother devaluing and backwashing, almost always personified by Flora. Playing a dream in which are attributed to two cars, a spider (Martina) and a family (Iris) captures his two identities: the first child of mother superficially shining like a rooster but actually still dependent on the mother and infant, which thus fulfills a wish, the second the adult autonomous and responsible, capable as the father to maintain a family of his own and would like to be self-sufficient as he himself.

As a whole it can be said that the group has elaborated the relationship between maternal and paternal functions seen in their different aspects related to conservation and innovation, dependence and autonomy, affectivity and rationality, male and female.

What we have described can be considered as the one and the other of different moments through which it performs the action of psychodrama: the catharsis, analysis and detection.

Regarding the catharsis, First, we want to emphasize that it is to reject the vulgar conception that this consists in reliving an unpleasant emotion almost to evacuate. That image, over all, with the abandonment of past hydraulic model of the psyche, appears substantially meaningless. The intensity of emotional discharge often impresses those who have had an experience of psychodrama surface, as is often overestimated the importance of the use of the body. In fact, emotion and thought, body and speech are present at the same time as elements of a situation that is experienced in its full complexity.

However, there are very significant scenes whose affective tone is very attenuated, and the pari, eg, you can dramatize an episode staging a pure and simple dialogue, without that the body is more in the game than it would be in a verbal therapy.

Common to all of the scenes is the fact, instead, that the event is presented in what Aversa (1987) calls, contrasting the univocal discourse reductive, equivocalness understood as ability to contain and return to a multiplicity of connections, languages ​​and meanings.

Not so the emotion and the body as such, but the fruitful dialogue between the opposition here and now being in the group and elsewhere and then the scene evoked, between story and event, between saying and represent, Direct and indirect speech, unique and misunderstanding is the essence of psychodrama.

In this context, the concept of catharsis comes from Moreno developed from Aristotle's argument that it is, in the tragedy, connected to intense emotions that "they unexpectedly and are therefore at the same time of one another". According to Moreno, however,, it is linked to the "spontaneous and simultaneous realization of a dramatic poetic work in its process of development" at the hands of a group of people. "The patient-actor is like a fugitive who suddenly reveals new strength because he set foot in a world more free and wide. The catharsis is generated by the vision of a new universe, and the possibility of new growth, while the abreaction of emotion and relief are just surface manifestations. The catharsis begins in the actor when he exposes its drama and ends when it reaches the turning point of his destiny ".

Piaget (1960) that was too vague definitions moreniane, wanted to explain the catharsis in psychodrama as a consequence of socialization affectivity hidden namely the fact that the subjects, experimenting with different roles in a play of interactions, to pool the actual feelings of each and those who hitherto were only virtual, not having encountered a situation in which materialize. Such pooling, involving the most intimate aspects of the lives of individuals and together with their symbolic thought, allows differentiation and at the same time to articulate the distinct points of view by introducing between them a reciprocity.

Ancelin Schutzemberger (1975) whose psychodrama triadic, centered on the group and synthesis of positions moreniane, analytical and phenomenological-existential, has several points of contact with the one we practiced, describes the catharsis as "freedom of expression that allows detection of trends ignored, mobilize what was static Grabbing therefore consciousness, becoming more accessible to change and to new roles ". This would be closely linked to being able to communicate emotions even negative group, yes to be issued in consonance their "being in itself, be themselves and be for others .... the ideal image of self and self-image to others ".

Integrating the concepts above can be seen as the catharsis is not to be understood as a download affective, but rather as a kind of insight, the birth of a new gestalt, the end of a research and donation of meaning, which is realized with the prove, through dramatic play, transpersonal unconscious of the group and its constitution, through a network of roles and possibilities of relationship, in a group consciousness.

As regards the analysis, The period may not be used in a univocal sense because there are different schools of thought that are based on sometimes radically different conceptions of the structure of the psyche and what makes it different implicitly also the subject, purposes and sense of the analysis itself.

But here we can consider different possibilities, that does not even believe we exclude each other.

1) You can understand the function of the analysis as the making explicit and conscious causes and motives of their actions. In psychodrama, as seen in the example, this is possible on the one hand through the historical reconstruction of how roles with implications dynamics have been formed. They typically appear identical or complementary to the roles of significant people of the past history: are in fact have not made through a mechanism of introjection, but thanks to the interaction with these people in the real world, or with their representations in the fantasy world, the, more, with the drafting of a new response, creative, in situations involving conflicts, tensions, static-de-sac, but also to explicit messages or latent courting new openings. On the other hand the work of making explicit their actions take place by giving voice to parts of themselves are not recognized as such because they are not consistent and can not be integrated with your model of conscious feeling and acting, or because not sufficiently differentiated and experience. In other words, you could say, with the take ownership of their projections on other currently encountered in the group or evoked from the past through games of this.

2) Function analysis can be understood meanings change throughout the dynamic structure that is the basis and prerequisite of the shallowest function of learning to adapt to the current environment. This is done in psychodrama as understanding - through games of past events showing situations from which crystallize the current situation it has - it creates the condition to change this structure. In terms of Piaget (1945) the make explicit the model which the successive situations have been assimilated (the subject before the analysis is aware of the perceptual-motor model, but not of its origin) allows you to make Reversible assimilation starting. The dynamic structure of personality, however, is also modified by relating to parts of itself is not recognized or non-integrated. Such party, with being personified in the game Psychodramatic establish a dialectic relationship between them and with the ego complex, through scenes, although only representations with respect to the objective reality, are, however, real-world experiences within the inner dynamics. They may for this reason make real changes in the balance between internal parts both in the sense of a better integration between them and differentiation of each, both in opening them a way to interact productively with the corresponding parts of other.

3) Function analysis can be understood also determine the conditions for a more free and lively dialogic relationship with their unconscious, the development of the ability to stand outside of the rigidity of the dominant patterns preconceived consciousness, to make themselves available to listen and use the infinite potential of the unconscious itself innovative and mythopoietic, for ritradurle in new visions of the world and in new projects included in the reality. In this context, the Jungian point of view it is useful to define in a more precise and at the same time to develop a reference with deeper insights moreniane on spontaneity and creativity: they are carried out through dialogue with the figures of the unconscious made possible by the fact that they are represented by the parties involved; also the willingness to grasp new elements and permeability to content other than conscious is facilitated by the experience of getting in and out continuously in a variety of alternative points of view, coll'assumere different roles. And yet the dramatization of identity and contrastsi is through scenes that can be considered symbolic (in the specific sense of analytical psychology) in that they put together most aspects of external realities related to multiple matrices socio-relational and emerging realities from the depths of the psyche of each, the weight of the decisions of the past and the possibilities rinvianti to future prospects of a creative tension that requires continuous synthesis. In this sense psychodrama active, and this is another possible definition of analytical, quella che Jung (1921) called the transcendent function that is the complex function that, composed of other functions of the psyche, does not identify with any of them, nor with their sum, but promotes the transition from one attitude to another, overcoming fractures, divisions and antithesis between unconscious and conscious, creating a new content able to channel the trends in contrast to a common river bed.

4) In a further way of seeing the psychodrama is analytical, from a point of view as it were akin to that of Binswanger (1930 and 1935) as the game allows the individual, that when playing is no longer the same as then he had acted in the scene represented, not to do one with each other but lived reflexively stand by it and the role it played in, while assuming responsibility. This means developing the subject function - it also in a sense transcendental, ie higher order, able to operate on the way and on the way of other operations - which, through a dialogic relationship with the ego and roles related to it, can give a sense of both its own history and the multiplicity of parties present or possible, own and others'. But in a psychodrama group it also assists to assume a, in frequent changes of scene, that function from a plurality of individuals in a complex comparison intersubjective aiming to find a way (or more senses) diachronically and synchronically to the history of the group to the multiplicity of points of view represented in the Committee.

The last point to be considered is the identification: Strubel in a study of the relationship between groups and identification notes as Selbst is translated symbolically in the group and this, your back, as symbolic totality dissemini its totality itself on the individual, expressed through the most diverse impulses, from the most noble to the most abject. The identification, states still Strubel always includes a game of trade between the individual and the collective research according to the meaning of life.

But specific groups of psychodrama is how the individual functions and bodies, veri Sé parziali, you staglino, thanks to the game, meaningful in the background less differentiated forms of group dynamics. Psychodrama is also, as the dream, a theater of the inner world, me if in a dream, come osserva Binswanger (1930), events just happen to the dreamer, transported from experience inconsistent and fragmented, in psychodrama as in Binswanger become awake, individual becomes an active subject, introducing a continuity and consequential events in, images and experiences.

The parts played, the roles with their size imaginal and symbolic as it were unconsciously tend to become creatively, to differentiate and develop, to integrate with the size of somatic and social, in a synthesis which constitutes a project in perpetually renewing new possibilities, express themselves well in a dialogic relationship with the logos of the group that consciously order, collects, builds a sense, to act as a central unifying experiences and facts, sentiments and objectives, to transform the aspect of life in the history of life.

Returning to the manner in which a group of psychodrama are actualized catharsis, analysis and detection, two aspects strike us: the first concerns how the same group events can be explained postpone or from time to time according to a plurality of different visual angles: next to the model Morenian, the psychoanalytic - for us primarily, but not exclusively Jungian or analytical - existential, that cognitive, that of symbolic, those of group dynamics and group analysis, each suited to highlight different aspects or nuances, but does not in itself incompatible.

And 'as if the analog technique and experience of psychodrama, in itself not bound by rigid a priori theorizing, would create a field in which theories and harmonize different codes, in view of a possible synthesis.

The second point is the significant overlap of very many points of the descriptions of catharsis, analysis and detection, which appear as three aspects of a single become: the catharsis seems to evident better when you take into consideration the space of a session or part of it, analysis in the case of some sessions, the identification mentioned ... seems to find the entire sequence of sessions, by a succession of references, an infinitely complex web of plots because ..., as Heraclitus says: "The boundaries of the soul go and do not find them also to travel all the roads, so deep that it entails is the Sermon ".


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