Friday, December 20, 2013

How Rudolph became a sociometric star

Rudolph, the reindeer with the red nose, is the classic character of Christmas lore. You know, the lonely reindeer bullied by other reindeer because of his unusual difference.

Rory Remer, a TEP and professor of educational, school and counseling psychologist the University of Kentucky, reminds us that this story is a lesson in the effect of changing the sociometric criterion of choice and the impact of aristotele.

Sociometry is the science of surveying preferences in relationships in groups of people -- or reindeer! -- and  aristotele is [x]. The reindeer bullied poor Rudolph until he was selected by highly respected Santa for his special talent -- which had been seen as a defect. Yet Rudolph was the perfect choice to guide the sleigh on a Foggy Christmas night because he fit the role that was needed.

Truly, Rudolph has guided our values in cartoon and song. since the 1940s and beyond. Originally created as an advertising gimmick to lure customers to the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago, he has become the protagonist in a charming often-told story.  

For more on Rudolph lore and legend, see Snopes.
As Ronald Lankford noted in his cultural history of American Christmas songs, Rudolph's story was a classic reflection of American values during the 1940s and beyond:
Much like the modern Santa Claus song, Rudolph's story is for children; more specifically, it is a children's story about overcoming adversity and earning, by personal effort, respect in the adult world. As a young deer (child) with a handicap that turns out to be an unrecognized asset, Rudolph comes to the rescue of an adult (Santa) at the last minute (on Christmas Eve). When Rudolph saves the day, he gains respect from both his peers (the reindeer who refused to include him in games) and the adult world. The story of Rudolph, then, is the fantasy story made to order for American children: each child has the need to express and receive approval for his or her individuality and/or special qualities. Rudolph's story embodies the American Dream for the child, written large because of the cultural significance of Christmas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Adam Blatner talks about "Beyond Psychodrama"

Adam Blatner, M.D., TEP,  is one of the biggest voices to assert that psychodrama is more than therapy -- and of the great need to contribute this method to education, law, personal growth, theater improvisation and coaching and the like.

In this video, he discusses "Beyond Psychodrama: The Global Reach of Moreno's Ideas and How They Merge with  Other Trends" as the opening plenary session of the 71st annual conference of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama in April 2013.

Life, art, play looks like psychodrama

Don't know if the playwright and actors of this new play "Psychodrama! A Tender Love Story in Five Sessions" in Cedar Falls, Iowa, actually know the meaning of psychodrama or not.

But they do appear to understand its therapeutic possibilities.

Grant Tracey, one of the playwright-actors, says the focus of the play is "the interface between life and art and how art can create transformations in identity." Here's the description: "A therapist tries to get a young married couple to open up about the dissonance they are experiencing.  In the course of their first session together he has them do a number of exercises that are more akin to theater than to therapy."

The writers developed the text through improvisational methods, crafting three-dimensional, quirky characters and exaggerated situations the audience will recognize. Read full story here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sociodrama conference in Italy looks at all the problems in the world

Just recently we shared details about Rosalie Minkin's new book about sociodrama, a kind of cousin to psychodrama.

But we forgot to tell you about the Fourth International Sociodrama Conference in Iseo, Italy, in September 2013. Psychodrama and sociodrama -- while always not well known in the United States -- are popular and growing in Europe, South America and elsewhere. Topics included political activism, creating groups and community, multiculturalism, diversity and working in organizations.  We can see the main part of the gathering took place in a basketball court, making the event highly accessible, and was offered in both English and Italian.

Watch a sociodrama gathering in action below and another day here. See sidebar for additional videos.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New "home birth dads" calendar shows the value of role reversal

We're always looking for good examples of the psychodramatic tool of role reversal and how it creates more empathy in our world.

Here's one -- in the form of the new "home birth" dads calendar coming up for 2014, just delivered by Kimberly McGuinness-Rook, a midwife in Racine, Wis., who happens to be a colleague and professional neighbor.

In this fun calendar, the husbands and partners of women who gave birth at home don skimpy sarongs and cooling head cloths  as they play act what it's like to be fully pregnant and ready to give birth. The men volunteered to take part in a photo project that recreated some of the experiences of their partners' most memorable pregnancy and birth moments -- holding a bulging belly, stepping into a warm-water birth tub, gritting teeth after a particularly strong contraction ...

Kim of InnerBirth Midwifery collaborated with professional photographer Katie Hall to create the calendar. She also created the fake "baby bumps" -- using a stretchy maternity support band stuffed  with soft sweaters and scarves for a mold-able shape.

The calendar, meant to be comical,  stirred strong emotions in several of the men. For sure, it was a consciousness-raising experience to find out what pregnancy and delivery "might" be like -- and at least one man started weeping when he was presented with his real-life baby during the photo shoot. That's the idea of role reversal -- to step into the place of the "other" and get a sense of the other's experience.

Oh, yes -- news of this calendar has gone viral! It's been picked up by NBC's Today Show and The Huffington Post, and news has landed in England, London and Vietnam along with a few mommy blogs like this one.

Ten percent of profits will benefit the Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes since this community has one of the highest African American infant mortality rates in the United States, affecting nearly 20 per 1,000 babies born.

Order the calendar here.

Midwife Kimberly McGuinness-Rook, left, and a birthing couple reverse roles. Check the differences!