Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy birthday, psychodrama!

J.L. Moreno
Today, April 1, is the birthday of psychodrama!

Psychodrama is 91 years old today and it was way back in 1921 that Dr. J.L. Moreno stood on the stage in Vienna, Austria, and presented his first public performance-- garbed as a jester on an empty stage. 

Psychodramatist Stephen Kopp, TEP, president of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama, usually decorates his office door with several psychodrama quotes. 

This is good to remember; if a psychodrama session goes poorly, we can take comfort in the fact that this initial drama -- investigating who would be a good leader in post-war Europe -- was misunderstood. 

"Because mistakes can be either doors into failure or doors to learning and growth. Moreno clearly used this as a growth moment, to continue developing his work in sociodrama and sociometry," Steve says.

Here are some of Steve's favorite quotes:

“Well, Dr. Freud, I start where you leave off. You meet people in the artificial setting of your office. I meet them on the street and in their homes, in their natural surroundings. You analyzed their dreams, I try to give them the courage to dream again." -- Moreno, as he described his one encounter with Sigmund Freud.

"A truly therapeutic procedure cannot have less an objective than the whole of mankind." -- From Who Shall Survive.

"Psychodrama can be defined therefore, as the science which explores the 'truth' by dramatic methods. It deals with inter-personal relations and private worlds."

Here is rare video of Dr. J.L. Moreno explaining psychodrama in the theater in his alternative hospital in Beacon, N.Y.,  in 1948. The method looks clunky and outdated by our modern standards, but it still is a treasure: