April 14, 2010
Adam Blatner, M.D., TEP
Procedural Details: The workshop ran from 10:30 AM -1 PM on April
18. I began by introducing myself and doing a warm-up of the
director as people straggle in for the first few minutes after the
starting time. I mention that there would be a bathroom break
around 11:30. I noted an interesting bit of group dynamics,
the key principle of which is helping group members to say clearly what
is happening that in ordinary group settings tends to go unspoken.
"Whatever isn’t getting said, let’s get it said." For example, if
someone needs to leave the group because of a prior commitment, or even
just to go to the bathroom at an unexpected tim, unless this is
announced near the outset, other group members tend to feel vaguely
guilty that the leaving is because of whatever they as group members or
others in the group may have said or done. So, let’s apply that: Does
in fact anyone need to leave before 1 PM?
Imagination Can Be Developed
The first point to be made is that
imagination is a natural ability, like play, spontaneity, critical
thinking, and so forth. People sometimes become habituated to their own
style of thinking and imagination and forget that there is much room
for improvement. So suggest to yourself that an attitude of positive
expectation is appropriate. Dare to look for more inspiration and open
to more spontaneity and imagination. A related point is that
imagination is closer to spontaneity and play than logical thinking.
We’ll note these differences again a little later. Learning the basic
skills of imagination development will serve you in your roles as
director, auxiliary ego, double, and also in your own personal life and
It turns out that your brain is imagining all the time. When you relax
deeply enough you can glimpse its vitality in daydreams and
night-dreams. It’s more active and vivid than your conscious mind can
create, so the key skill to be cultivated is that of tuning in, a skill
that’s closer to listening to classical music. Part of that sensitivity
is helped when you know what to listen for. The subconscious mind is
prolific but also responds to very subtle shifts in attention and
expectation. The key, then, is to suggest a certain category and then
be open to what the imagination provides. You’ll hear words or sounds
as well as see pictures, and some folks even can access subtle imagined
smells, textures, tastes and feelings. So again, the key to
developing your imagination is to recognize that the imagination is
there for you. It’s just a matter of re-connecting with a natural
10:40. The Spectrogram: Okay, to further the warming up process,
we’ll do a spectrogram. It serves to give us all feedback about where
the group is at and also get us up and moving and talking with each
The theme will be the range of experience in
role taking. On this side of the room will be those who have done
a fair amount of drama, who can slip into a role fairly easily. It
doesn’t have to be psychodrama per se.
Now I’m walking a curved line—curved so
everyone can see each other. . . and here’s the middle and over
here on the other side of the room are those who are fairly new
to role taking, who want to learn this skill. And those in the
middle are in-between.
Please get up and position yourself along this line. This is a good
chance to talk to the people on either side of you, so you may find
that there are people who are even more or less experienced than you
thought you were. So you may move a bit up or down the line as you
check your perceptions out with others.
Okay, and what we see is that for some folks, role taking per se is
pretty familiar, and for some it’s new. 10:45 end spectrogram. Thank
you. I see that some of you are more experienced and others less so.
For those who are less so, the approach I use for imagination
development is also the approach I use for developing basic role-taking
skills. For those with more experience, in this workshop you’ll see how
I introduce people to the use of action methods, which for me also are
methods for promoting imagination and empathy.
Preparation for 2nd exercise, what’s it like to be: Will some of
you who are more experienced pair up with some of you who are less
experienced? When you’ve found each other, go away from the center of
the room and find two chairs to sit down.
Now the monitor passes out handouts while I continue to talk.
In about ten minutes we’ll have you do an exercise that begins to build
imagination. But first I want to warm you up to the knack of tuning
into your imagination:
10:50 Left Brain and Right Brain
Part of the problem is that our educational system over-emphasizes
habits of thinking with the left brain. For example, if this were a
science class, and I were the teacher—really do this exercise with me—:
What are three examples of applications of the internal combustion
engine. Watch your mind as you attempt to answer this question. . . .
Yes, it’s as if you have to go into a library
card catalogue, look up definitions, think of what fits, it’s real left
brain work. It’s like going to file cabinets and leafing through lists.
So that’s the left brain, what school taught us to do.
Now I’ll show you how the right brain works. Picture a forest. Raise
your hand and lower it when you have it in mind. Well, bang, it just
showed, as if you opened your mind and the little elves with the slid
projector were right there ready. It’s spontaneous.
The only problem is that it’s not a right answer. There are no right or
wrong answers with the right brain, which is why school tends to avoid
this category. Everyone in fact pictures a somewhat different
forest. So the second point is that imagination development involves
re-cultivating this natural knack to tap into the flow. There’s a bit
of un-learning of the habits they taught you in school, and redeeming
your receptivity to this resource. But it’s there for you.
10:55: Thinking in Gestalts, Complexes, Roles Role and Role Taking
Another thing about the mind is that it works in gestalts, wholes. The
best way I know to develop imagination is to work with the natural
tendency of the mind to thing in wholes. Scientists analyze, break
down, the mind into cognitions, feelings, perceptions, images, but in
fact they aren’t separate. They are all lumped together. Adler called
them complexes. Goldstein in the 30s called them Gestalts. But Moreno
noted that complexes are also social and dramatic, and he applied the
term “role” as the best way to think about the way the mind works at
The point I’m making is the best way, the most natural way, to build
empathy and evoke imagination is to work with roles, to picture scenes,
to recognize the Gestalt dynamic in the dramaturgical metaphor.
So we begin with simple role taking—which is what y’all did as little
kids. What’s it like to be a fireman or nurse, cowboy or cops and
robbers? Role taking. Much more on the website.
Let’s get on with an exercise for developing imagaination, empathy, and
role-taking skills—they’re all the same thing: 10:57 Oh,
one more thing: Play is also a natural dynamic of the mind—exploration
in a fail safe context. Kids learn this early, too, and it is also part
of the Gestalt. So we make a game of it:
- - -
11 am Exercise 1: The What’s It Like To Be Game, also known as
the Talk Show Host Game.
Imagine we have a television show called the “what’s it like to be
Show,” and we have all sorts of interesting guests and the audience
gets a glimpse of what it’s like to be in their role.
We play maybe 20 major and 100 minor and 1000 transient roles—just to
get a rough sense of the magnitude— and many of the major roles have
numerous sub-components, etc. For every role, whether you’re a king or
a slave, there are advantages and disadvantages. Notice on your sheet
the six questions. And in the course of the life of that role you have
experiences that evoke various emotions. This happens with roles in
life. The point for these four questions is to imagine more vividly the
whole situation that evokes feelings of happiness, sadness, anger or
fear, or some similar reactions. These four feelings are sort of like
the primary colors, and many other feelings are blends.
You can warm up to a role and also learn a lot by investigating these
six questions. Of course there are innumerable others, but this offers
a basic starting frame.
So the exercise is to imagine that, working in pairs, which we’ll do
soon, that one of you is the guest who is in a certain role—depending
on the category picked—and the other is the host, who is paid big bucks
to draw people out, to help the audience find out what it’s like to
Let me demonstrate and then you will do what I do for about 5 minutes
each—one being host, one the guest, and then de-role and change parts
and repeat the process for another 5 minutes.
(Pick someone: 11:02: Joe, will you please be a guest? The
category for this first exercise will be an intriguing, odd, funny,
kind of job, work. You can be a man or woman, any age—it has nothing to
do with your actual identity—just what pops into your mind. Pretend
you’re standing behind the curtain. I’m the host (and when you all be
the host you’ll do sort of what I do):
Good afternoon, this is the What’s It Like to Be show. Today we have
some guests with interesting occupations. Our first guest is—I’m a bit
blind so you’ll have to tell me your age and gender. ?
(Aside) I’m going to ask questions based on the
your name is? Are you a man or woman, how old? What is your job?
Go through list.
I’m not going to use up all the time, but rather abbreviate it. Thank
you. De-role. Can you go back and let another job pop into your mind?
Now we’ll do the exercise on role taking just like this, working in
pairs. The what’s it like to be game:
First, open your imaginations and let a job come into your mind. When
you have it, raise and lower your hand. Okay, most people are ready. If
you aren’t ready, let your partner be the guest and you start out as
the host or interviewer. Stick to the hand-out and make it easy on
yourself. Take about five minutes. After about 4 minutes start to bring
it to a close. Imagine there’s a need for a commercial break. De-role,
change parts, and start again for another 5 minutes. I’ll go around and
remind you 1 minute to commercial break and you can maneuver the
conversation to a comfortable close.
- - -
11:20 As a further exercise in de-roling and also promoting group
cohesion, playfulness, let’s go around let’s who we had in the room,
people say ... I was... de-role,
Let’s take a Bathroom Break now. Please return in x minutes.
- - -
The Next Exercise carries this on but gets just a bit more real.
We’ll do a similar exercise, a dyad for about five minutes each partner
taking a turn. The subject will be role reversing with someone in your
actual real life social network. Since this is a bit more real, though,
let’s pause and do:
Some parts of this workshop are not meant to be confidential—what I
say, the basic techniques you’re learning, I hope you’ll teach it and
tell your colleagues. But what should be confidential are the personal
disclosures made about actual people. And since this next exercise is a
bit more personal, we’ll deal with this by inviting you to register in
your own mind your affirmation to be discrete, to keep personal items
confidential. Stand up for a moment, look at each other, and if ou can
make this commitment, take one step forward.
11:38 Okay. While you’re standing, pick another partner with whom you’d
like to do this next exercise. When you find that person, move away
from the middle of the room and sit down and I’ll give you more
What’s it Like to Be Relative/Friend?
Here are the instructions: Imagine your social network, your social
atom, as Moreno called it: Pick someone with whom you have at least
mildly positive tele. No one with whom you have a lot of complex mixed
tele or unresolved issues. Someone you sort of like and would like
understand a bit better: What’s it like to be to be your brother,
daughter, parent, friend, anyone with whom you have good rapport. When
that person is clear in your mind, let me know by raising and lowering
Okay, most of you are ready:
11:40. One of you becomes that other person in your life, and your
partner will interview you: Interviewers, use the six questions on your
handout to interview the other:
. The interviewer might ask, how do you know (your actual name) and you
in role will answer, she’s my sister/daughter, friend, whatever. You
become the other person, you role reverse.
The interviewer’s role is simply to help bring forth what it’s like to
be. Interviewers, please resist temptations to identify problems or
work out mixed feelings or otherwise be therapeutic. Stick to the list.
What’s it like to be. That’s quite enough for exercising the
Then focus on one role: What does (real name) know
that you do? Job, some role known generally by both of you. Then
ask 6 questions about one of those roles. Then ask a second role and 6
questions. We don’t have time, but optimally to get to know a relative,
go through 3-5 roles, and generally that’s sufficient. Try to guess
which roles are most important to the other person.
Finally, is there anything you want to say to (name
of actual person)?
Then de-role and change parts.
- - -
11:50 Again, who did we have in the room? My x, a how-old
12:00 Noon Exercise: What I Want to Hear:
One of the more useful techniques that develops
imagination involves getting the knack of applied auditory imagination.
Scriptwriters do this, they “hear” the dialogue. In everyday life, in
close relationships—well, let me talk about me and my wife. I love her
dearly but don’t always know the exact right thing to say to her. But
early on, over 30 years ago, I taught her to imagine scenes in which I
did say the exact right words—and report: “I hear you saying to me...”
and then she says what she wants to hear. And I smile and say yes and
she says “Oh you’re so sensitive.” And sometimes I say what I want to
hear from her, so it goes both ways.
It took a little practice because we’re
sort of conditioned in most ordinary social situations not to let
people know what you feel, want, it sort of makes you vulnerable. The
trick is to get past this social norm, which is deeply misleading and
crazy. Tell others what you want to hear!
So to practice this, let’s imagine someone in your
social network whom you would like to give you some recognition,
appreciation, to make you feel really seen, heard. Someone from whom
you’d like to hear something nice. When you sort of have it raise and
lower your hand.
Now again, look around and find someone
you might want to do another ten minute exercise, like the earlier
ones, with one of you for five minutes drawing out the other. Then
pausing, de-roling, and starting again.
Get up, look around go. Move out from the middle
when you’ve found your partner. And wait for more directions.
In this exercise, the host is sort of a
director—your job is to draw out from your guest or client what the
client would like to hear. Who from? Have that person become that other
person in surplus reality. A cousin, friend, relative. Could be someone
who’s died, or not yet born. This person says the most wonderful thing
to the actual person. You as host draw it out. Let me demonstrate
The trick is not to settle for abstractions or
generalizations. There is a strong tendency to do this. Aim for very
Part 2. When these words have been said, role reverse, you
as therapist/director become now the other person in the scene and the
protagonist becomes herself and listens to the words. That’s it. No
working through. Just getting specific words and then letting the
person hear them.
Then de-role and the other person does it. Demonstration.
- - -
Extending this, stay with your same partner for the final exercise. Now
the director host draws the guest-protagonist out, best future scene.
Again the point is to be very specific rather than general. This is a
big part of imagination development, letting go of the
school-system-reinforced tendency to generalize and speak in
At this point in the workshop, we bring up another
dimension of imagination development: Learning to sensitize your mind
to what you want to hear.
Partner helps you find the words before you role
take. Empower partner to draw out, to get words clearly, not
abstract. Have director say words and have other correct them.
Reiteration step of correcting your double. Director is the person who
has been hearing other who is,
In the next exercsise in dyads ul be doing 2
things, u as interviewer will be helping your partner to say what would
be something really positive. And you’ll goning to say that ,
You’ll have opportunity to role take, and partner
will be able to correct tu, so it’s just the way they want to hear it.
Then you’ll take turns.
- - - - -
12:25 Final Exercise: Future Projection and Surplus Reality
This is sort of a mixture of what you
want to hear and imagining more vividly.
Now we’re gonna move into an exercise, be with same
partner again, make that personal. I invite you to imagine that its 10
years from now, and something wonderful is happening to you. When you
get it would u raise & lower ur hands. If u have eyes closed, open
Ull be working with your partner, your partner will be helping u
visualize where and how it’s happening. I invite you to be creative in
setting a scene.
You’re invited to imagine a specific scene five to ten years in
the future. Again, with another partner, there will be an interviewer
and the one imagining the scene, a protagonist of sorts. We haven’t the
time to weave in auxiliary egos, so the interviewer will double also
for helping with a modest supporting auxiliary ego. You’ll each get
again about 5 minutes. Interviewers need to take responsibility to
control the time! Draw out your partner. After one finishes, de-role,
change parts, and the one drawn out now takes the role of the director.
4instance, graduating, when is it which moment, getting the
parchment, back at dinner celerating. Scene set. What specifically
happens? Is it a toast, what words are used. That’s your partner’s
chreative challenge, to get to that specific moment . Ur partner will
be that other person, the baby your holding, play it.
Feel free to get up, go elsewhere in room, use stuff
here as props, whatever will make it whole exercise 4 both of you 20
minutes, about 10 minutes each.
What are some some positive
future experiences. Future projection and surplus reality. People
repress future and good things, dream dream onward.
If we thought about something, what if
it’s gonna be great, west side story. Think of some wonderful things
that could happen for anybody. Same partner playing role bigger way,
same partne, but tele, skill, but best scene future.
In around 10 years... anything could happen, be with
yourself 4 a minute, if u want to close ur eyes fine. What could
be happen for somebody 10 years in future, anybody. Having a baby,
graduating, getting my tep, surviving recession. Make it more specific
act... own house.
Great uv got the idea.
Ask numbers, volunteer monitor, I need
to stay out, 5 minutes get it clear.
12:45 or so Final Comments?
- - -
important component of spontaneity training is imagination
development. The workshop offered some experiential exercises designed
to gradually build basic skills in this domain. This webpage offers
supplementary information for those who may be interested in the
theoretical rationale and some further practical techniques that may be
used for this end.
I envision this skill being woven in with others in the experiential
learning of psychological literacy. It's not just for therapists, but
applies to anyone wanting to develop the skills of empathy as well as
for expanding the sense of self and enjoying life more fully!
Further Comments (Very Provisional)
Comments on The Function of the
In the basic role-taking exercises,
having someone act as an interviewer or talk-show “host” in a dyad
works because the activity of being interviewed itself draws forth
Spontaneity for many people runs at a medium-low level. There are a
variety of factors that can raise it. One of those involves the
experience of meeting someone who is actually interested in what you
think, how you feel, what you imagine, finds you interesting, perhaps
amusing (when that is your intention, to be funny), worthwhile,
respected, and so forth. It’s as if someone said, “how’re ya doin?” and
you answered, “Huh. As if you cared.” and they said, “Actually, I
really am interested!” and you said, “So you really want to know?” and
they said, “Yes!” Now this conversation rarely happens—except
implicitly in surplus reality—but if you do experience some sustained
interest from another there is a tendency for you to feel, “Well, since
you’re interested, I guess I’m a bit interested myself!” and you start
talking—and they’re really listening, and more, they’re drawing you out!
In psychodrama, the activity of the director, the auxiliaries, the
group, when the warm-up is proceeding, leads many in the group to feel
supported, encouraged, and as if they may well have an occasion to
express themselves with others as an interested audience! This doesn’t
really happen very often in life, so there’s a sense of getting
attention, being special. Nor is any of this spelled out, but I think
we should recognize that one of the powerful influences in psychodrama
is this drawing-forth process.
Another way to appreciate this point is to recognize the active
dynamics that can potentially operate in the interpersonal or group
field. Kids haven’t got so many distractions, social inhibitions or
role demands, so their imaginations are more vivid. Adults are more
likely to be inhibited. It becomes harder to imagine on your own. But
if another person is asking you, that sort of gives you permission. So
one of the elements in psychodrama is the dialogue between the director
and protagonist. It’s possible to do some auto-drama but it’s much
easier if others are interested, so this speaks to Moreno’s recognition
of the social psychology and group dynamics of insight and imagination.
More About the Spectrogram
This technique was first written about in the early 1960s by Delbert
Kole in the Group Psychotherapy journal. We imagine a line, actually, a
slightly curved line, so everyone can see each other. Over here are
those with the most experience in role taking, doing any kind of drama
or psychodrama. Over here are those with the least amount of
experience. Okay, go position yourself. This gives us all some
feedback about the composition of the group relative to a given
variable, the distribution of certain qualities. Asking those to your
left and right how many times you've done role taking encourages
conversation, group cohesion.
Well, for those who are less experienced, today’s workshop will
show you how to develop your imaginations. For those who are more
experienced, we’ll show you one approach I’ve found useful for
introducing this skill-building to beginners—and that category can also
include fairly experienced psychotherapists who have spent years doing
talk therapy, but never really imagined what it’s like to be from an
- - - -
10.52: We’re going to do our first dyad experience. Suggest that people
with more experience partner up with people with less experience. In a
moment I’ll Ask you to choose partner, then move away from middle of
room, go to side and sit in dyads–which means partners---... I’ll show
you what to do then. Okay, go.
Introduction: Further Comments:
Creativity was a core theme for Moreno,
and more recently scores of books have been written about it, there are
organizations such as the American Creativity Association exploring
ways it can be developed, and the dynamic has become more recognized as
relevant in the realms of business and industry. Moreno also noted that
spontaneity or improvisation is an important way to promote
creativity and within that I’d like to add that imaginativeness and
play are also important elements. Even as we learn to walk and talk, so
also do we learn to play and imagine.
Because the nature of work a century ago was more routine, imagination
and play was relegated to childhood, but these qualities can be
developed as much as walking and talking. Much more could be said about
this and is commented on in the webpage complement to this
presentation. I use that for those who might want more opportunities to
ponder the psychology and philosophy of imagination development.) This
workshop needs to focus on the skills of imagination development, which
are inherent in the activity of effective role taking, and those skills
in turn are basic to becoming an effective auxiliary ego, double, or
I mentioned in the program the category
called surplus reality. What a term! How can there be more than
reality? Well, Moreno called psychodrama the Theater of Truth not
because what happens there is realistically true, but often the
opposite—what is portrayed there never has happened and often never
will or never even could happen—but what needs to be experienced is the
protagonist’s psychodramatic truth! It involves what is wanted,
sometimes clarifying what is feared, bringing into consciousness what
tends to be brushed away—and often these are activities that cannot
happen in actuality. But they have a psyhological, phenomenological
kind of truth.
Surplus reality is the name given to acting out what happens in
imagination, whether it has or could happen or not. It’s a wonderful
category, and I’ve added it as another dimension to my life, especially
as I explore alternative possibilities with my wife. Surplus reality
also gives a stamp of sort-of reality or validity to imagination, just
as dramatic play validates make-believe fantasy.
Hearing What You Want to Hear
I’m going to leap ahead and give a
little rap on one of the most powerful things people in relationships
can do with each other—especially in families. They can listen
imaginatively for what they wish the other person would say that would
be most positively supportive.
I love my wife dearly and with her help I’ve become significantly more
sensitive. I’m highly educated in psychology and pretty mature.
Nevertheless I regularly fail to deliver the kinds of perfectly worded
support for my dear wife that I want to. And vice versa. But we’ve
developed a compensatory backup plan. If she doesn’t say exactly what I
want to hear, I have been given permission to say, “I’d prefer to
hear....” and then I fill in exactly, precisely the preferred words.
All she has to say is “okay” or “yes.” And in turn she kindly corrects
my inadequacies and omissions by saying, “I’d like to hear...” and
saying what needs to be said. It all happens so naturally, but it
occurs to us that many families operate without this corrective
communication technique. Oh, my. That means that not infrequently
otherwise loving family members are hearing things that could be taken
wrong, that aren’t exactly supportive enough, or may seem a little
critical, that don’t reflect the mood of the moment, and these slight
misses and lapses leave if not hurt feelings slight missed
opportunities for optimal strokes. Once you know the ideal
alternative—a variation of show me exactly where you want your back
scratched—this lack of optimal communication seems tragically
Why does it happen, then? If they really loved you they’d say exactly
the right thing every time. Not. If I ask for what I want I will show
my vulnerability, or I’ll seem controlling or prideful or needy. Or
other inner inhibitory sentences. Most people just don’t know it’s okay
to communicate at this level of specificity.
There is a hitch: To say what you want to hear means to imagine others
saying something good, which means getting in touch with what you want,
which means getting in touch with the idea that you want strokes, that
you’re a little needy, vulnerable, which to some people isn’t okay.
This all goes on unconsciously, but it’s a mixture of a thin layer of
false pride that is very common, mixed with a neglect of imagination,
just getting out of practice, plus a slight edge of inhibition: If you
have to spell it out in the exact words than that’s too narcissistic or
presumptuous. So this little tiny exercise captures many lessons
about why folks are afraid to imagine and yet the tragically
unnecessary consequences of this defensiveness.
Regarding Future Projection: Dare to
Dream New Dreams
Another way to say this brings us back
to Moreno: When he told the story of what he said to Freud when he,
Moreno, was in medical school at the University of Vienna and Dr. Freud
was a visiting lecturer, speaking on dreams, there’s a point to be
made: He said that he said to Freud, “Your talk was I interesting, but
I see one difference between us. You analyze people’s dreams, but I
want to give then the courage to dream new dreams.”
The courage to dream—that’s the point, here, because it does take
courage. If you dare to imagine what you want, and then you don’t get
it, it may seem as if you’ll be more disappointed, feel more hurt, than
if you sort of blur out, don’t let yourself even want it, or want it
clearly. This again is unconscious defensiveness, chronic guardedness.
Live low key and be hurt less.
I want to suggest that people repress the future as much as they
repress the past. They fear disappointment, rejection, hurt, and so
they avoid daring to imagine and plan, activities that may involve the
frightening activity of daring to want, to care. Folks need to become
more sharply aware of this deep tendency towards defensiveness, towards
avoiding being hurt. So imagining is what gets inhibited.
Now an interesting compromise generated by the mind is the following.
Okay, I need to anticipate, to imagine, but I won’t really—I’ll just
pretend I do. What folks do is to name some general abstractions, to
anticipate without thinking through some overall circumstances. This
gives the impression of having thought or anticipated but in fact no
specific anticipations have happened, so the person unconsciously
avoids the deeper experience of commitment.
In therapy, patients talk around things, narrate them as if they
happened at a distance, and this generates a similar buffer and ssubtle
avoidance. To this Moreno would say, “Don’t tell us; show us!” So we’re
talking about a similar dynamic—how to get more immediately and vividly
into the situation.
These comments are meant to note two things: Imagining needs to include
a side function in which temptations to be critical of oneself must be
actively recognized, confronted, and released. Mix this with other
activities that warm up the imagination - connection. The imagination
is there, but what needs to warm-up is the sense of access, connection,
letting it flow. This is a big part of spontaneity training.
Further Techniques for Imagination
“Articuline”– This latest magical pill
can help that which in ordinary reality cannot express its feelings,
such as a baby, an embryo, or even an inanimate object, with its help,
can put things into words in a clear way.
It may be mixed with or used separately from another magic pill:
“Depthanol.” This pill can help those who are otherwise not
particularly insightful to express deeper feelings that might otherwise
remain unconscious. It’s sort of a truth serum. It might also be
combined with Articuline so that what is expressed is stated fairly
clearly, whereas in actuality it might remain quite confused due to a
lack of vocabulary.
Advanced Imagination Exercises
Take the role of someone you hate,
someone whose policies you abhor. Try to find a way to state these
policies in the most plausible and favorable words.
The “Self System”
The pioneer of person-centered
psychotherapy in the 1940s, Dr. Carl Rogers, spoke of reflecting the
client’s efforts to express himself using the client’s own self-system.
For example, people very rarely think of themselves as “seeking power.”
What they do is focus on what they perceive that needs to be done and
recognize that they have some strong opinions on how it should be done
right, or/and also perceive that others who might want to do it might
well do it terribly foolishly.
Re-framing a quality or situation is a matter of spin-doctoring,
semantics, working with the phrasing, rhetoric. The very same quality
may be presented as a terrible fault, a mild dig, or even a virtue!
This is just a matter of shifting frames, and is a good exercise of the
I’m not suggesting that you be morally neutral and implicitly if not
explicitly agree with stances that go against your values. There’s a
place even as a therapist to confront a client with the fact that what
they’re doing is bad. (The eminent psychoanalyst and psychiatrist in
the 1950s-1980s, Karl Menninger, wrote a book titled, “Whatever Became
of Sin?” critiquing a foolish ideal of “neutrality” exhibited by some
practitioners.) Nevertheless, it is good to learn to empathize with
that which you disagree, even violently.
This is also useful for your own personal shadow work—dealing with
qualities within your own unconscious that you’ve repressed and
disowned. A hint that such qualities are there happens when certain
people for unclear reasons get your goat, push your buttons, arouse an
intense feeling of annoyance in you. An example of such a trigger might
be a person who without shame lives out some quality that resonates
with what might in you be a denied weaknesses.
Since most of our shadow complexes contain certain elements that may
deserve to be redeemed or utilized to some small degree in a
well-balanced life, mixed with other qualities that may be excessive
and negative, it is worthwhile and soul-developing to allow life to
confront you with reflections of your shadow complexes, or to imagine
that this is happening, and use the opportunity to do some
introspection, enjoy (or suffer) from some insight, and re-balance.
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Elementary exercises: Get in touch with a range of roles and “hear” in
your imagination some of the kinds of things or issues that come up
between yourself -in-role and the other:
You are a: Age, gender, relationship— other person’s
age, gender, relationship, plus issue:
70 year old
grandfather And your 14 year
old granddaughter Wants to Get a Tattoo.
40 year old working woman + 74 year old
aunt — she’s getting feeble
7 year old
And 10 year old Older
brother Riding new bicycle
Make up all sorts of other combinations. Reverse
roles. What is the predicament from both people’s
Different Levels of Disclosure:
In every relationship there are at least three levels of disclosure and
– What I admit or express to you openly;
– What I choose not to tell you to your face, though I think it
to myself and might admit it to my therapist or another close friend.
. . . and here is the most important category:
– What occurs to me, perhaps only briefly, but is
uncomfortable to think and I tend to push it away:
(This third level is where most doubling is effective! Or
interpretations in therapy.
On the other hand, clients tend to deny or brush off any reflection or
interpretations of what might be thought or felt at deeper, more
unconscious levels! Also, there may be a deep pang of feeling that
one’s therapist “just doesn’t understand.”)
Imagine a situations in which someone is introducing you and using the
words that really evoke in you a feeling that you are indeed being
accurately recognized and appreciated, that you feel good about what
that person is saying to an audience or third person.
Do it again, but this time you’re in a completely different role. (For
example, one situation might be a family affair, another something at
work; or at your church and then again in some club. The point is that
you play many roles, and in some of those roles you give of yourself,
and it would be nice of someone noticed.)
Application: Using this imaginative exercise, make sure you tell people
who are supposed to introduce you, put a caption to your picture, or
otherwise be informed about exactly the words to use. You’re not
commanding them, but simply letting them know which elements to
emphasize in the way that you value these words. (It resonates with the
semantics of your self-system, as discussed above.) If you don’t tell
the other person, it is unreasonable to expect them to know what to say
and how to say it. The old “if they really cared they’d know what to
say” is really a childishly unrealistic expectation, however prevalent
it may seem. Done gently, it is not excessively vain or foolishly
A Variation on Getting What You Want:
When you are composing something, balance the attention to saying
what you want to say with some willingness at certain phases of the
process to imagine what it’s like to be your probable ideal audience.
Who are you, and what are you wanting to know? In what order do you
need to learn things in order to stay optimally oriented.
I frequently encounter co-professionals, even
within our field, who are so intent on what they want to say that they
leave out key journalistic elements—the who, what, when, why, where
type of things—which might lead a reader to feel somewhat bewildered.
By role reversing with the audience, you exercise your imaginative role
taking in the service of getting your ideas across.
Ask yourself such things as what
abbreviations, allusions, words, and such need to be more fully
explained; what information is not essential to the key points being
communicated and therefore could be trimmed; how you can emphasize
those key points; and so forth. Be more crisply aware that people
become quickly numbed by “too much information.”
If you want, write everything and then trim, edit, and trim more.
Surplus Reality, talk about couldn’t have been, theatre of truth, truth
of what was wanted but never expressed, even to oneself, never was but
was in aother ways. Sing love could be.
Dare to dream new dreams. Rap on learning to hear what you want.
1. To get in touch with the yearning
2. To counter or turn away from negating or inhibiting
3. To convert yearning into words, get past abstractions
4. To say words so another can hear them
5. To allow other to say words.
If you were to get an award, what would you want them to say,
explicitly, specifically, exact words, no generalities. If you
were to have a caption under your photograph, what exact words do want
there? What do you tend to leave out? I’ve been through this with
various colleagues and it’s not easy to draw forth these specifics..
Grief, Surplus Reality
Choose something from past, unresolved, work, family
ember. Surplus reality parner uses 3 levels disclos
help you explore
Somebody who has died, or past, work, family,
died, pet who could be helped to talk, if you had a chance in surplus
reality for that person to contact you, by phone, through a medium, to
say something to you. It would be wonderful in surplus realit if
that person could appear and say something, and what would that be. Sit
quietly with self, allow a specific individual. Raise and lower.
In a minute you’ll be working with same partner, and getting clea .
Helping your partner, help them to make it as clear,
specific, so you can role play as an auxiliary that is calling or
speaking to them and saying that wold be the perfect thing to say to
help resolve that aspect of unfinished business in the relationship.
Take turns, one of you will be the auxiliary speaking words that the
pt. wants to hear.
Other’s job is to cut through narration, show me, don’t tell me,
tendency to explain distance in background, distancing, cut through
this tendency, especially the host/auxiliary dropping into playing
therapist. Part of crispness as a directorial technique is to say, show
me don’t tell me.
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Exercise 5. Future Projection what I want to hear: Stay with same
partner. Partner not a talk show host, but as a friend. Theme is
getting what you want. People repress the future, the positive. Fear of
asking and vulnerability. Rap on website. Identify either specific or a
role, someone in role, say to me. And partner helps get the words
specific, and then does it. Imagine I’m that person. Set the scene.
E.g., Graduation or being honored: “Because she has distinguished her
self in the principles in the way she’s lived, made a major
contribution in the area of her expertise, today they aare honoring her
with this degree. Honorary... “
Go for really wha you want, it’s gonna be the
best outcome of this scene. Go for it. This is what moreno meant by
surplus real. Fill yoursfle, fulfill yourself, don’t shrink back, give
it to yourself.
An honorary doctorate for your workk in bringing art to everyone.
Doctor in teaching the art to everyone. ...
choosing and being chosen skills dyad, choose, talk about. Do
again,dyad, choose, talk about, again. Take 40 mintes.
Volunterring pulling back, go against habitual responst, spectrogram,
given a chance to volunteer, speak up, do you tend to jump forward or
pull back (daylight savings time, )
drawing others forth, you want to get to know me, true encounter is I’m
actively interested in audience, becing surprised, pleased, perplexed,
curious, drawn forth myself,
When in child defelopment do kids sense that they
may be entertaining and engaging to others in terms of their
spontaneity vs role as needy. Obect.
Empowering director to draw out, genius of psychodrama is
inclusion of active roles of drawing forth, director and to some degree
ae and double, as if team is saying we really want to get to know you
and know what it’s like in a supportive and appreciative fashion.
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About the choosing and being chosen part of the workshop.
(Comment here. There is a parallel dynamic going on. Why and how did
you pick this partner or let the partner pick you? This is basic
sociometry. We won’t pursue it here, but you might on your break,
afterwards, or in another session. How you feel about choosing or being
chosen, about not being chosen by the person you would have preferred,
We’re not taking time to get into this. In another workshop, I can
imagine doing just choice exercises for a while: You choose, pair up,
talk with partner about why you chose; choose again, only notice your
pattern of whether you tend to go forward or wait, and reverse it. Talk
about what this was like for you. Choose again based on another
criterion and talk with your partner about what that criterion was.
This way you sensitize yourself to the whole business of choosing. This
then deals with sociometry, rapport, tele, and all the issues that come