Moreno and his Philosophy

Jacob Levy Moreno (1889-1974) created psychodrama, sociometry, group psychotherapy and sociodrama.
Jacob Levy Moreno (1889-1974) created psychodrama, sociometry, psychotherapy and sociodrama.

Moreno had a positive view of humanity and a strong belief in human inherent resources and ability to make choices. Moreno’s basic philosophy was that he meant and believed that all people have the ability in them to create their own lives. He believed that all people were genuine, but he also realized that not everyone was given the opportunity to develop and live out their resources.

In order for people to create themselves and their lives, they had to connect with their spontaneity and creativity. This is central to Moreno’s philosophy. He understood this when he observed children’s play and games in the different roles they naturally created when listening to fairy tales and stories. He was concerned that people should fill their roles appropriately. By connecting with spontaneity and creativity, the roles could be renewed, refreshed and/or changed. He was concerned with the whole of a person and that it was an important process to develop their role pertoar. He saw this as the creative process and that it was the process that nourished our souls.

Moreno was born in Bucharest in 1889, moved to Vienna at the age of four, where he grew up. In 1925, Moreno emigrated to the United States, where in 1936 he built a center for psychodrama in Beacon NY state. It was in Vienna in the 1920s that the basis for psychodrama, sociometry and sociodrama was created.

What happens in a psychodrama
– about working ways in a psychodrama

A psychodrama is led by a psychodrama director. The one in the group that emerges with its life theme is called protagonist and the word originates from the ancient theater that Moreno was inspired by. Protagonist, along with a psychodrama director, decides which scene to set up. It could be something that happened or didn’t happen. The drama can touch on an intrapsychic theme between different inner parts of the protagonist (the vulnerable, the tough one) or be a meeting between the protagonist and important people in his or her life. The protagonist plays out his subjective truth on stage and everything represented in the protagonist’s mind can be portrayed as a role on stage. The protagonist reverses roles with the characters he/she wants to include in the drama. It is possible to reverse roles even with the mirror in the hallway, or the image on the wall.

Through such a reverse of roles, the protagonist can come into contact with circumstances surrounding what he/she wants to explore, such as the mood of the family. It is the protagonist who, through the first rolereverses, shows the auxiliary ego the content of the role. If the protagonist wants to explore the relationship with a friend and something that has happened between them, short rolereverses will show how events have unfolded and how the protagonist perceives the friend. In this first stage, it is important that the auxiliary ego is faithful to what the protagonist conveys in the role of allowing the subjective truth to come to light. Longer rolereverses where one really explores the inner workings of the role help to expand the protagonist’s perspective and understanding of oneselves and the other. Auxiliarey egoes can then, based on their own immersion in the role and by using all the information the protagonist has provided, come up with their own responses that arise in this genuine encounter on stage.

The psychodrama director is responsible for ensuring that the auxiliary ego does not follow its own agenda, but is in the service of the protagonist. The protagonist’s choice of auxiliary egoes is often based on intuition. The fact that these people meet on stage often turns out to have an impact on both parties that was not obvious at first. When team members enter roles as auxiliary egoes, they act as a therapeutic agent for the protagonist. In the group participant/spectator role, they can also come into contact with something that is relevant in their own lives. Audiences in ancient theater could experience catharsis, a kind of soulful, emotional or cognitive purification through watching a tragedy or comedy. Likewise, a group participant in the spectator role can experience deeper contact with their own themes and emotions and gain new insight. It is always the protagonist’s perception of the outer world, that is, the protagonist’s inner representations that become visible as a role on stage. The extent to which the role is consistent with the reality of the other reflects the protagonist’s ability to non-projectively change roles. So first we get the protagonist’s own experience and in it furthermore, this experience can become more nuanced.

A psychodrama can be a single scene that lasts a relatively short time, 20-30 minutes, or a longer drama with several different scenes that are staged and explored at the pace at which the protagonist is comfortable.