THE HISTORY OF PSYCHODRAMA IN BRAZIL
Adam Blatner, M.D.*

(Written and posted in 2002; Revised and re-posted June 14, 2003)

There is now a history of psychodrama of various South American countries, in Spanish, on the internet at the following website: http://www.psicodrama2003.com/es/historia.htm

Also, for news about psychodrama in other countries, see the other page on this website: click here.



Abstract:
Brazil has more psychodramatists than any other country, and the global community should recognize its tradition and pioneers as having brought a great deal of richness to the field. It is hoped that the appreciation of the history of the growth of psychodrama in Brazil can help people build more bridges for exchanging ideas and writings.
On March 21, 2000, in the city of Sao Paulo, one of the largest in Latin America with a population of 16 million (!), hundreds of sociodramas and axiodramas were held on the theme of "Ethics and Citizenship." 700 psychodramatists directed in 180 locations in 96 city districts, indoors, in libraries, schools and other auditoriums, and even outdoors in plazas, free and open to the public, about issues in the life of the community. An estimated 8,000 citizens participated. The programs lasted 2 to 3 hours. There were small and large groups, with 10 to 600 participants present at each sociodrama. Many people spoke about how powerful the experience was, both for the psychodramatists and the participants. Deep feelings of sadness were expressed, along with powerlessness, humiliation, sometimes happiness, and, at the end of the sociodramas, hope for better times. The Mayor of Sao Paulo, Marta Suplicy, who supported this project, and apparently has had some psychodrama training herself, participated in one of the scenes, taking the role of a victim of violence. She proposed to transform the city beginning by giving an injection of spirit to all the citizens so that they may dedicate themselves to work for improving it. Marise Greeb was in charge of the event. The president of the Federation of Brazilian Training Institutes, Heloisa Fleury, proclaimed, "... perhaps it is the new history of Psychodrama here in Brazil. Maybe the world!"

Because it has more psychodramatists than any other country, the Brazilian psychodrama community merits our attention and appreciation. There are over 40 different training institutes in the Brazilian Federation of Psychodrama (FEBRAP), and a number of other non-affiliated institutes. The total number of members of all these institutes is over 5000. The Brazilian community has generated a voluminous literature, translating over a hundred books by foreign authors (Moreno, of course, among these); and Brazilian writers authoring about a hundred books themselves! (Some recent ones are noted in the section on international books in the recent edition of Foundations of Psychodrama (Blatner, 2000-pp. 270-271.) In addition, they have published perhaps as many as a thousand articles or monographs, some of which have been published in professional journals or as chapters in books, but most of which remain unpublished as papers or theses written as part of their advanced training process.

In spite of this extensive literature, there have been few if any written histories of how psychodrama developed in Brazil. To rectify this omission, the author has corresponded via email and interacted personally at international conferences with a number of the leaders-presidents of the national association, authors of major books on psychodrama, etc. My sources have included the following: Carlos Borba, Ronaldo Pamplona da Costa, Fatima Fontes, Heloisa Fleury (recent president of the Federation of Training Institutes in Brazil [FEBRAP]), Jose Fonseca, Esly Carvalho, Moyses Aguiar, Dalmiro Bustos, Valeria Brito, Angela Marigny, Andre Monteiro, Sergio Perazzo, and Pierre Weil.

Early Developments

In 1949, Guerreiro Ramos, a Brazilian sociologist living in the USA, who had been trained by J. L. Moreno, directed a workshop about Group Psychotherapy, Sociodrama and Psychodrama at the Black's National Institute in Rio de Janeiro. In 1953, Blay Neto, a psychoanalyst and group psychotherapist, organized a play with the psychiatric patients of Franco da Rocha Hospital in São Paulo, based on the patients' lives, obtaining interesting results.

In 1955, Prof. Pierre Weil used educational psychodrama for trainingpersonnel for companies at a Social Training Center in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Then in 1959 and 1960 he was trained to the level of director in Paris by Anne Ancelin Schützenberger.

In 1957, Iris Soares de Azevedo learned about Moreno's ideas from Prof. Otto Kleineberg at the University of São Paulo. In 1959 Iris started her practice in Psychodrama, at Sedes Sapientiae Institute, São Paulo Catholic University with Madre Cristina Dória. Her auxiliary-egos were the psychiatrists Alfredo Correia Soeiro and José Manoel D'Alessandro, and the psychologist Lais Machado. In 1963, after finishing her specialization in Clinical Psychology, she directed 5 psychodrama therapy groups.

In 1960, Norma Jatobá, after finishing her training in Paris, France, started her private Psychodrama practice, developing with Paulina Rabinovich, some works on Psychodrama and Art Therapy. In 1963, Flavio Fortes D'Andrea, a psychiatrist who used Psychodrama in education and research at the Ribeirão Preto Medical School, located in the state of São Paulo, published the first article on Psychodrama in Brazil, at the Revista Paulista de Medicina".

In 1966, Anne Ancelin Schützenberger visited Brazil on a few occasions to work with Pierre Weil, directing workshops on "triadic psychodrama" in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. In that year, some Brazilian professionals such as Iris Soares Azevedo, A C. Soeiro and J. Maria do Rosário Carvalho attended the Third International Congress of Psychodrama and Sociodrama.

The Pioneers of Psychodrama in Brazil

In 1967, Prof. Pierre Weil published his first book on Psychodrama, containing a foreword by Moreno. In that year, the 4th Latin American Congress of Group Psychotherapy took place in São Paulo, during which Rojas-Bermudez directed a large psychodrama public, which resulted in he being invited in 1968 to give a complete course on Psychodrama to a Brazilian professional group. This group created the GEPSP - São Paulo Psychodrama Study Group, directed by eight chosen professionals: Iris Azevedo, A C. Soeiro, A C. Cesarino, J. M. D'Alessandro, Laercio Lopes, Pedro Paulo Uzeda Moreira, Deocleciano Alves and Michael Schwarzschild. The last two left the group. The GEPSP was affiliated with the Argentinian Association of Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy. In the end, three generations of psychodramatists finished their training, totaling eleven groups.

Although several of the more prominent and active trainers in the ensuing years came from Argentina (e.g., Jaime Rojas-Bermudez and Dalmiro Bustos), psychodrama in Brazil country took on its own distinctively colorful, bold and creative national flavor (Blatner, 2000, p.31-32).

Psychoanalytic psychodrama, developed in the 1950s in France, by Serge Lebovici and others, modified Moreno's technique significantly, but because psychoanalysis had become the dominant school of thought, it influenced many in Europe and South America., Antonio Carlos Cesarino, who had met Moreno during the 2nd International Congress of Group Psychotherapy in Milan, Italy in 1963, the next year trained with Lebovici, and a few years later also trained with Rojas-Bermudez. While psychoanalytic psychodrama hasn't much influenced Brazilian psychodrama, which became primarily Morenian, for a number of professionals, psychoanalytic theory has provided a somewhat more solid frame of reference than what they thought could be derived from Morenian theory. (Others feel comfortable with Moreno's own theories.) So clinical psychodramatists often use psychoanalytic terminology to describe dynamic issues, retaining Morenian terminology for technical issues.

In 1965, Flávio D'Andrea published another article: "The Sociodrama as a Dynamic Diagnosis Method of the Hostility Between Groups" with the help of Célia Pereira dos Santos, at "Revista de Sociologia, in São Paulo.

In 1966, Alfredo Correia Soeiro, Iris Soares Azevedo, and J. Maria do Rosário Carvalho traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to participate in the Third International Congress of Psychodrama and Sociodrama. Soeiro went on to become a pioneering teacher of psychodrama in Portugal, also, and Azevedo continues to apply the method to therapy with marital couples. Weil continued to teach and write during this period.

The next year, another center formed around the Argentinian psychodramatist, Jaime G. Rojas-Bermudez. Following an invitation by a state hospital professional team to give some classes in Sao Paulo, they started the first actual training program. This group, in 1968-1970, (GEPSP- Sao Paulo Psychodrama Study Group) included the aforementioned Azevedo and Soeiro, as well as A. C. Cesarino, J. M. D'Alessandro, Laercio de Almeida Lopes, Jose Fonseca, Osvaldo Di Loreto, Miguel Navarro, Anibal Mezher, Pedro Uzeda, Paulo Moreira, Deocleciano Alves, and M. Schwarzschild (The last two left the group shortly thereafter.). A number of other groups around the country also began.

Esly Carvalho, who has been a trainer and psychodramatist for 18 years, working in Brazil, the United States (becoming certified as a T.E.P.), Equador, and other countries, speculates that psychodrama grew and flourished in Brazil because it dovetails incredibly well with the Brazilian personality: "We're extremely creative, we do the best improvisations in the world, especially with our lives (and our economy!) and we have a inborn dramatic quality that makes for a perfect fit for psychodrama. I also think people got fed up with psychoanalysis because it was long and expensive and the results were not that great. And behaviorism was never that strong because it really goes against the Brazilian grain. So psychodrama offered a middle ground, a wonderful alternative: practical, financially within reach of a lot of the upper and middle class. Group therapy became an option for those who couldn't afford other kinds of therapy."

Moyses Aguiar, another prominent Brazilian psychodramatist, notes in addition that from 1964 through 1984, Brazil was dominated by a military regime, yet a subtle opposition was expressed through the pedagogical method of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed ("teatro do oprimido"). (These figures have become widely recognized internationally in the fields of interactive theatre as pioneers of "emancipatory theatre"-with a goal somewhat resonant with Moreno's vision of "sociatry.") Within the mental health professions psychodrama represented an analogy to these subtle forms of opposition and so it had a special appeal, which may have accounted in part for a rapid expansion of this method. That was a dark period in Brazil's national history, because many citizens felt oppressed by the military government, every political meeting was forbidden and people were imprisoned for even being suspected of having an anti-dictatorship opinions. Psychodrama became popular because in a sense it was a revolutionary tool disguised as a professional practice.

Political Reorganization

A preliminary organization, the Grupo de Estudos de Psicodrama (Psychodrama Studies Group--G.E.S.E.P.) formed, as mentioned above, but political problems ensued and it dissolved, with local groups re- forming. However, for various reasons and in the face of some controversy, in 1970 Rojas-Bermudez interrupted his course in Sao Paulo, which led to that study group breaking into two others: The Sociedade de Psicodrama de Sao Paulo (SOPSP); and the Brazilian Association of Psychodrama and Sociodrama (ABPS). (Rojas-Bermudez continued to teach in this latter group for several years and a number of years later moved to Spain, where he has continued to write and teach.). Interestingly, the ABPS followed Bermudez main ideas that included a new theory called the "nucleus of ego theory", a mixing of Morenian spontaneity development theory, physiology, the psychosomatic roles of early childhood and psychoanalytic ideas about the child sexual development (Rojas-Bermudez, 1971). Although the Nucleus of Ego theory in some ways appears to view psychopathology in an almost medical model fashion, in practice the goal is to combine insight with psychodrama techniques and Morenian ideas. Also, whether or not Bermudez' theory is used, many of his techniques are widely applied, such as the construction of symbolic images instead of scenes, or the use of objects replacing persons (Hug, 1997). For example, some of Bermudez' theoretical ideas have been incorporated in the work of Alfredo Correia Soeiro, who further developed the nucleus of ego theory formulated by Bermudez and described the concept of emotional reality. Victor Dias (1987), in Sao Paulo, took Bermudez' ideas, and with Jose Fonseca, added concepts of the communication theory and developed the methodology of the internal psychodrama.

Dr. Dalmiro Bustos, another Argentinian psychodramatist, taught widely in Brazil, also, and has been a seminal figure in influencing the course of psychodrama there. Bustos continues to teach both in Brazil and Argentina. Of course, once psychodrama began to take hold, many Brazilian innovations in theory and practice have continued.

Another minor trend towards applications in education (pedagogical psychodrama) was begun in 1969 by M. Alicia Romana, an Argentinean psychodramatist.. This group (within the G.E.P.) had sixty persons, divided in four class, each with a own program.

In the 1970s, a number of psychodramatists were becoming active: Jose de Souza Fonseca Filho (a.k.a. simply Jose Fonseca, who continues to be quite active in the IAGP) correlated Moreno's philosophy of the moment with Martin Buber's dialogic philosophy, developed the concept of identity matrix and created the psychotherapy of the relation based on his understanding of the contemporaneous psychodrama. Alfredo Naffah Neto, who is no longer with the psychodrama movement, studied, redefined and developed themes such as spontaneity, creativity, and role theory-and regarding role theory, he differentiated between imaginary and psychodramatic roles. M.R. Seixas also made contributions during this period.

Training

Most programs include basic Morenian theory and technique, sociometry, growth games (jogos dramaticos), director and auxiliary workshops for training the respective roles, and specific application of psychodrama to couples, family, group, individual, organizational, education, etc. Psychologists and medical doctors are trained to apply the method in psychotherapy, while others are trained to do "pedagogical" psychodrama, applied to educational settings. However, this division seems to be dissolving. Instead of a two-track approach, new curricula include a common basic program and differentiation is attained only in the final steps, with separate supervision and bibliographic help.

Supervision hours are also required, as well as at least 300 hours of participation in psychodrama training groups in which personal and interpersonal issues are addressed. The equivalent of the American Board's "Certified Practitioner" is called simply "Psychodramatist," while the T.E.P. in Brazil is called a "Supervisor." They also have a category called "Didactic Therapist", a practitioner who is certified to do the group therapy hours required for practitioners. Psychodramatists are certified by their own institutes rather than a central Board (as is the situation in the USA), and this status is in turn is recognized by FEBRAP (in those cases where the institution is affliliated).

Current Trends

A significant aspect of psychodrama in Brazil has been a revival of spontaneous theater. A number of groups have developed new techniques, revising the classical spontaneous theater, improving the basic procedures to get an aesthetic result; on "playback" oriented theater, using masks, on dramatic multiplication etc.. All these groups have done public sessions, side by side with institutional works, workshops, community interventions, opening and closing of congresses, and so on. Another important trend has to do with family therapy. In this case, there are efforts to put together systemic and psychodramatic techniques, in a fashion similar to the work of the Australian psychodramatist Antony Williams works.

In the last decade, Moyses Aguiar wrote three books on psychodrama: The Theater of Anarchy; The Therapeutic Theater; and (most recently) Spontaneous Theater and Psychodrama, and edited an anthology (on J.L.Moreno). He wrote, "In my country this trend is considered a innovative one in sharp contrast with the traditional psychotherapy oriented psychodrama." Aguiar has most recently written about new psychodrama techniques and a chapter for an international anthology of papers on using psychodrama in one-to-one therapy (Jensen, 2001). Aguiar redefined tele and transference as co-creation, studied the sociometry of relationships, understanding all the psychodrama and its modality as variations of the spontaneous theater, among other contributions.

Wilson Castello de Almeida - located psychodrama in the field of phenomenologic- existentialism as an open field, wrote Moreno's biography and first lessons of psychodrama directed by students. Sergio Perazzo did a study on critiquing tele and transference, constructed a beginning design of a fantasy and imagination theory in psychodrama and a study about death and mourning from a psychodramatic point of view. Geraldo Massaro - reviewed the studies of the scene theory and of the psychodrama with psychotics. Manoel Dias Reis - studied the phenomena of the tele through the sociometry, expressed from a phenomenologic-existential point of view. In addition, other Brazilian psychodramatists have recently written books proposing new ideas on the theory and practice of psychodrama (Blatner, 2000, pp. 270-271).

In 1976, as a result of José Fonseca's efforts, all fourteen organizations of psychotherapy Psychodrama got together to found FEBRAP - The Brazilian Federation of Psychodrama. FEBRAP was founded to regulate the teaching of Psychodrama in the country; to congregate all the affiliated organizations; to organize a Brazilian Congress every two years; to promote the communication among affiliate organizations; to increase the promotion of Psychodrama in Brazil and abroad. The first president was Içami Tiba. Today, FEBRAP has 41 affiliated organizations of psychotherapy and educational Psychodrama divided in five regions: São Paulo, south, southwest, north-northeast and mid-west. The board of directors is elected every two years. As noted at the beginning, the president for the last four years has been Heloisa Fleury.

Apparently there are also some training institutes not affiliated with this umbrella organization. In the state of Sao Paulo, there are over 15 separate training institutes or schools. A good deal of psychodrama is conducted as individual one-to-one (" bi - personal") therapy, and of course, it continues as a group therapy. In addition, more than in the USA, there is public psychodrama and spontaneous theater.

FEBRAP publishes a scientific journal twice an year, and a newsletter with circulation of 6 thousand copies! They hold a National Congress of Psychodrama every two years, which include meetings for people throughout Latin America and often reaches across to network with their colleagues in Portugal and Spain. Generally these draw about 700 participants. There are also Ibero-American Psychodrama Congresses, with even more cross-fertilization. which include also psychodramatists from Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay. (The 1st Ibero-american Psychodrama Congress was in Salamanca, Spain, in 1997; the 2nd in Aguas de Sao Pedro, Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1999; and the 3rd will be in Oporto, Portugal, in April, 2001. In addition smaller professional meetings are held, sometimes in conjunction with larger institutes.

More recently, some institutes have affiliated with academic institutions, universities, with a goal of offering training in psychodrama as a recognized form of graduate education and of having a Masters' degree in Psychodrama recognized by the Governmental Department of Education. There are some disadvantages, because in the academic setting it is no longer permissible to require personal or group "therapy"-- a practice which is more acceptable in private training institutes. There may be other subtle problems in the loss of autonomy. However, the pay-off seems to be more social recognition and respectability regarding the seriousness of the socionomic project, as well as more emphasis on the possibilities of systematic research through action methods paradigm. Andre Monteiro and Valeria Brito are negotiating such an arrangement with a university in Brasilia.

In the 1980s and since, some other developments include:

Rosa Cukier - Among other themes, studied particularly the bi-personal psychodrama and the dynamics of narcissism from a psychodramatic viewpoint and has recently published a listing of quotations from Moreno's writings, which is a valuable resource for students--now in preliminary form also in English!.

Arthur Kaufman & Maria Alicia Romana studied the psychodrama particularly under the pedagogic and educational point of view.

Altivir Joao Volpe - to the roots of the Greek Theater, studied the psychodrama based on the concepts of protagonist, unseen trauma, chorus and integration catharsis, retaking it as spontaneous theater.

Luis Falivene Roberto Alves - restudied the concept of protagonist, differentiating it of the group emergent or representative.

Albor Vives Renones - restudied and deepened the concept of integration catharsis.

Devanir Merengue - studied the psychodrama through passion, particularly the protagonist "out of self".

Anna Maria Knobel - took Moreno's sociometric laws and applied them to the group direction strategies.

Camilla Salles Goncalves - restudied psychodrama with children from the viewpoint of the fantasy and the imagination.

Anibal Mezher - he was the first to question the validity of the concept of psychosomatic role.

Domingos Junqueira de Brito - re-located the psychodrama in the sociologic and anthropologic perspective and amplified the notion of identity matrix.

Mariangela Pinto da Fonseca Wechsler - correlated Moreno and Piaget and in another book, psychodrama and constructivism.

Regina Fourneaut Monteiro, Julia Casulari Motta, Ronaldo Yudi K. Yozo and Aldo Silva Jr. - psychodramatists that studied specially psychodramatic games.

Summary

Psychodrama is indeed quite active in Brazil, and we should seek ways of promoting increased professional communications. Their books and other writings are quite numerous and I hope we can arrange for more translations or anthologies of some of their best work. It is hoped the readers of this will become interested enough to travel more to Brazil, to attend conferences, offer workshops, and exchange experiences.

REFERENCES:

Aguiar, Moyses. (1998). Teatro espontaneo e Psicodrama ( Psychodrama and Spontaneous Theatre). Sao Paulo: Agora.

Blatner, A. (2000). Foundations of psychodrama: History, theory and practice (4th ed.) New York: Springer.

Borba, Carlos. (1998). The Memory of Psychodrama in Brazil Project: Eighteen Interviews Recorded on Video. Sao Paulo: Febrap.

Cesarino, Antonio Carlos. (1974)., Psicoterapia de Grupo e Psicodrama (a translation of Moreno's book in German, Gruppenpsychotherapie und Psychodrama. Einleitung in die Theorie und Praxis.

Dias, V.R.C.S. (1987). Psicodrama -Teoria e Pratica. Sao Paulo: Ed. Agora

Fonseca, Jose. (1999). Psicodrama da loucura: Correlações entre Buber e Moreno (The Psychodrama of madness: Correlations between Buber and Moreno) (5th ed.). Sao Paulo: Ágora.

Hug, Ed. (1997). Current trends in psychodrama: Eclectic and analytic dimensions. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 24(1), 31-35.

Jensen, Klaus (Ed.) (2001). "Psychodramatic Psychotherapy - Reports from 5 countries." (Title translated from German-and the book is in German.) Germany: Author. www.shaker.de

Navarro, M.P. (1981). Avaliaçao critica da psicoterapia psicodramatica no Brasil enquanto historico (Historical critical evaluation of psychodramatic psychotherapy in Brazil). In: Psicodrama, ano III, n. 3/9, pp.56-58. Editada pela Sociedade de Psicodrama de Sao Paulo (S.Paulo Psychodrama Society).

Navarro, Miguel Peres. (1988). Caminhos e descaminhos do poder no psicodrama no Brasil (Power, success and mistakes in Brazilian psychodrama). In Anais do VI Congresso brasileiro de psicodrama, Vol. 3, pp.248-256. Editado pela Federaço brasileira de psicodrama (Brazilian Federation of Psychodrama). Sao Paulo: Salvador Publishing.

Pamplona da Costa, Ronaldo. (May, 1999). History of Brazilian Psychodrama. Sao Paulo: Unpublished Paper (And e-mail preliminary report).

Perazzo, Sergio. (Sept., 2000). Email report to the IAGP International Psychodrama Network.

(Other email information from: Borba, Carlos; Schutzenberger, Anne Ancelin; & Fonseca, José. (1999). History of Brazilian Psychodrama. Email preliminary report.

Rojas-Bermudez, J. G. (1971). Nucleo del io. Cuadernos de Sicoterapia, 6(1). Buenos Aires: Genitor.

Souza, J.M.C.M. & Davoli, M.A. (1984). Fatos do psicodrama no Brasil( Landmarks of Brazilian Psychodrama). In Revista da Febrap, ano 7, n. 4, vol.4, pp.5-11, Editado pela Federacao brasileira de psicodrama. S.Paulo, 1984

Weil, Pierre. Psicodrama. Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, CEPA, 1978,
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Some other recently published books:

Goncalves, Camila Salles; Wolff, Jose Roberto & Almeida, Wilson Castello de. (1998). Licoes de Psicodrama (Lessons of Psychodrama) (4th ed.) Sao Paulo, Agora.

Naffah Neto A. (1980). Psicodramatizar - Ensaios (To Psychodramatize - Essays). Sao Paulo: Ed. Agora

Seixas, M. R. (1992). Sociodrama Familiar Sistemico (Familiar Systemic Sociodrama), Sao Paulo, Editorial Aleph.


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