Action or Enactment: the part of psychodrama when a situation or conflict is actually represented on stage, after discussion. People are encouraged to portray their life situations in dramatic form, to physically enact encounters and conflicts that exist only in their memories or fantasies. Thus the person whose situation is the focus of the group, the protagonist, is helped to experience the working out and working through of the attitudes and feelings involved, whether they be in the past, the present, or the future. The enactment takes place only after an appropriate warm-up and is followed by a post-action or sharing period. For Moreno, reliving a situation, the loss of a loved one, for example, allows not only for insight, but gives a proper distance to an event that can be looked at in a less dramatic or pathetic way when experienced a second time around.
Auxiliary ego or Ego auxiliary: a person from the group, either a co-therapist or a participant, who plays a role in someone’s else psychodrama; this person contributes to the enactment of a scene by playing an active role. For example, in a scene where the mother of a protagonist is needed, someone, under the direction of the protagonist and the director, will play her role. The auxiliary ego has to follow the indications of the director, since their role is ‘servicing’ the therapeutic needs of the protagonist. The phenomenon of tele often plays an important role in the choice by a protagonist of an auxiliary ego.
Axiodrama: drama that is based on exploration of social ethical values, and developed by Moreno as a way to do away with cultural conserves. Moreno published axiodramatic protocols,to illustrate this concept: the best known is the one where a spectator in a theatre confronts an actor playing the role of Zarathustra. The ultimate aim of this axiodrama is to force everyone, the actor, the director, the writer, and even the psectator, to let out his true ‘self’, rather than hide behind a mask or a role. Another axiodramatic protocol describes a confrontation with a priest who is forced to deliver his sermon on the street, rather than in church. Moreno saw axiodrama as the first stage in the development of sociodrama and psychodrama.
Chorus: the audience or a sub-group of auxiliaries are instructed to repeat certain phrases or amplify certain feelings as if they were the modern equivalent of the ancient Greek chorus. Repeating the haunting reproaches, doubts, or other anxiety-provoking words or lines, can deepen the protagonist’s experience. Confronting or supportive statements may be used depending on the actual psychological state or process, or the protagonist’s therapeutic needs.
Co-unconscious: see tele
Cultural conserve: the finished product of a creative effort. For example: a book, a play, a symphony. Moreno devoted a lot of effort to doing away with cultural conserves, especially in the field of theatre. He saw cultural conserves as a barrier to creativity and hoped to substitute a new, spontaneous way of behaving.
Director: in psychodrama or sociodrama, the leader or therapist is referred to as the director. In developing psychodrama technique, Moreno used theatre vocabulary. It gives some indication of the role or function of the person who creates and guarantees the group a safe place to explore a life situation. The director takes charge of the group, leads the psychotherapeutic session according to the rules and techniques of psychodrama, and has the responsibility of ensuring proper follow-up. The director has a more active and directive role than in psychoanalysis, for example, while minimizing the transference process.
Double: a person who plays the role, or an aspect of the role, of the protagonist. The protagonist sometimes needs a person who stands in for him or her, who plays him or her, who ‘doubles’ for him or her. This person, an auxiliary ego, can either be a trained therapist or a participant from the group. An example of the use of a double would be the following: an inhibited adolescent cannot let out his aggressivity, following a humiliating scene with his father; a ‘double’, in touch with the repressed aggressivity, is called to stand in for the adolescent. As the double plays the part, the adolescent, warmed-up to his anger, joins in, hence the need for the ‘double’ becomes superfluous.
Enactment: see Action. ‘in situ’: Moreno suggested that psychodrama should be applied in the very situation and place where the conflict might be occurring, ‘on the spot’ so to speak. This might be in the home, on the school yard, at work, or on the street. The idea of doing family therapy in the family’s home is one example of this idea, though Moreno would probably have the family use the kitchen and bedrooms to enact scenes as well as the living room. Moreno felt that Freud saw his patients in an ‘artificial setting’. In psychodrama, even though the action takes place on the stage, a good deal of time is taken for the protagonist to recapture the concrete elements of the setting, and he or she is invited to describe them in detail to allow the director to come as close as possible to replaying the exact details of a scene, as if ‘in situ’.
Mirror: the protagonist may be unable to represent himself, or the director may want the protagonist to gain some distance or insight: in such a case, the director could use the mirror technique: essentially, the protagonist is asked to remain seated and watch an auxiliary ego representing him in words and action. The auxiliary ego re-enacts the protagonist, copying his behaviour and trying to express his feelings in words and movement, showing the protagonist ‘as if in a mirror’. The auxiliary ego aims at as close a representation of the protagonist as possible, a type of ‘video playback’. However, there might be situations when the mirror is consciously exaggerated, employing the technique of deliberate distortion in order to arouse the protagonist, so that he or she changes from a passive spectator into an active participant, an actor, correcting the enactment and interpretation.
Protagonist: the person whose life, or aspects of it, is being explored through a psychodrama session. This person is then playing the principal role in an enactment from the psychotherapeutic point of view, even though the role played by the person may be secondary to that of other participants in the scene. The protagonist is often selected during, and as part of, the warm-up in the actual psychodrama session.
Psychodrama: a therapeutic method developed by Moreno consisting of exploring life situations and conflicts by enacting them rather than talking about them. Psychodrama aims at uncovering the ‘truth’ of each person’s life in relation to other people and the environment. A psychodrama ‘session’ is divided into three parts: warm-up, action or enactment, and sharing, and calls for the use of numerous techniques, including doubling, role reversal, mirroring, chorus, soliloquy. Different types of psychodrama were developed by Moreno, including the spontaneous psychodrama, the planned psychodrama and the rehearsed psychodrama. Even though psychodrama is usually done within a group of participants, individual psychodrama has also been developed, especially in cases of severe mental illness.
Role reversal: a participant in a psychodrama or sociodrama, especially the protagonist, changes role with someone else in order to gain perspective and look at a situation from the other’s point of view. The protagonist, a son for example, in an interpersonal situation with his mother, ‘steps into his mother’s shoes’ while the mother steps into those of her son. The mother may be the real mother, as is done in psychodrama ‘in situ’, or may be represented by an auxiliary ego. In role reversal, the son is now enacting the mother, the mother enacting the son. Distortions of interpersonal perception can be brought to the surface, explored, and corrected in action. The son, who is still himself, must now warm-up to how his mother may be feeling and perceiving himself; the mother, now the son, goes through the same process. Role reversal was for Moreno the single most important technique of psychodrama and sociodrama, the one that allows everyone to understand everyone else’s inner world. It requires a capacity for empathy, but goes one step further by enacting the other person’s world.
Sharing: the third part of a psychodrama or sociodrama session when everyone, from the protagonist to members of the audience, is invited to share their experience of the just-finished enactment. What is shared is everyone’s feelings and thoughts, not interpretations and explanations. Through the sharing, people can become aware of their identification with certain roles and other people in the group. It often leads to insight or to the enactment of another member’s own psychodrarna. The sharing on the part of the auxiliary egos is especially important because they have been cast sometimes in good, warm, and supporting roles, and sometimes as the villains of the scene. The phenomenon of tele is an important factor in the process of choosing someone for a role and needs to be acknowledged.
Social atom: the representation or configuration of all the meaningful relationships in one person’s life. For example, a person’s social atom could include a spouse, family, friends, co-workers, possibly even a pet or a deceased relative who still carries meaning for him. The social atom can be represented in graphic terms, identifying significant relationships, past or present, in terms of intensity and/or distance. The development of the genogram was greatly influenced by Moreno’s concept of the social atom.
Sociodrama: a psychodramatic treatment of social problems developed by Moreno and subdivided in the same way as psychodrama into spontaneous, planned, and rehearsed categories. It is different from a ‘social drama’, the product of an individual playwright only vaguely or indirectly related to the audience and the playwright himself. ‘West Side Story is a good example of a representation of a social drama. The difference between psychodrama and sociodrama is one of structure and objective. Psychodrama deals with a problem in which a single individual or a group of individuals (family psychodrama) are privately involved. Sociodrama deals with problems in which the collective aspect of the problem is put in the foreground, the private relation in the background. A good example of sociodrama is the exploration with a group of black and white people of racial problems. In sociodrama, subgroups are ‘protagonists’; the session includes warm-up, action and sharing.
Sociometry: a scientific method whose purpose is the measure of interpersonal relationships in a group. It involves the study of psychological properties of populations through the use of experimental methods and the representation of results by way of mathematical formulae and/or graphs. By this means the rules and laws of interpersonal relationships in a particular situation can be deduced.
Soliloquy: a protagonist shares thoughts or feelings that he or she normally keeps inside or suppresses, as an aside. For example, the director may suggest to a protagonist about to meet his dying mother in the course of a psychodrama: ‘Before we enter the room, lets take a little walk, and tell me what is going on inside as you are about to enter your mother’s room.’ The protagonist then says aloud what he or she thinks and feels. This may give the protagonist or the director new insights, may be useful as a warm-up for a future real meeting between the protagonist and his dying mother, etc.
Spontaneity: the capacity of an individual to give an adequate response to Glossary of Morenean terms 159F a new situation, or a new response to an old situation. In other words, the response of the individual is based on what is required now, and not on what he learned in the past, applied almost blindly in every situation, all the time. Moreno links the capacity for a person to be creative to the capacity to maintain or regain a spontaneous state. Children, ‘unspoiled’ by conventions, cultural conserves, or stereotypes are Moreno’s models of spontaneity.
Stage: a place designed and reserved for psychodrama sessions. Since everyone is a participant in a session, being a member of the audience or the protagonist, the stage could be seen, as in Moreno’s first model, as the whole theatre. In a more restricted sense, the stage is that portion of the theatre where the protagonist stands and enacts a particular situation. There have been different models for stages, but the ones used by Moreno usually had different levels, representing various degrees of involvement, and a balcony. In a psychodrama ‘in situ’ the real place of action becomes the stage.
Surplus-reality: that realm of dramatic action in which the ideas of the mind can find a proper expression. Thus, events of science fiction, fantasy, and the emotional happening that we fear or yearn for, can be vividly experienced in an imaginative realm created as a space for their manifestation. In other words, surplus-reality is reality modified, amplified, or minimized by one’s imagination. In psychodrama, as in reality, people are invited to add to life, to make it better or ‘larger’ since this process may help them to change their perspective on reality. This ‘supplement’ to reality can be used in ‘real life’ insofar as it does not create or represent a loss of contact with reality.
Tele: according to Moreno, tele is the factor responsible for the degree of reality of social configurations as they deviate from chance. Gordon AlIport defines tele as insight into, appreciation of and feeling for the actual make-up of another person. In operational terms, tele could be seen as immediate, non-verbal communication (for example, the unspoken factors that draw two strangers together in a crowd); or unconscious ties of a reciprocal nature (for example, in psychodrama a man would choose another participant to play the role of his mother and she would ‘know’ that he was going to chose her). Tele is an essential factor in group work for ultimately it allows people to become aware of their identification and transference dynamics.
(1989) The main sources for the definitions or explanations are: Anne Ancelin-Schutzenberger: Precis de psychodrame; Adam Blatner: Psychodrama; Rene’ F. Marineau: Ainsi parle Jacob Levy Moreno; J.L. Moreno: Psychodrama, Volume 3.