Adam Blatner, M.D., TEP

April 14, 2010

(Some 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 relationships.

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 source.

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 other.
     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 many levels.

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:
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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 be...

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 handout.
           Hello, and 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?
Finish 11:08

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.
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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.

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 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:

Confidentiality Exercise:

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 instructions.

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 your hand.

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 imagination,
    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.
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11:50  Again, who did we have in the room?  My x, a how-old gender?

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 briefly.

    The trick is not to settle for abstractions or generalizations. There is a strong tendency to do this. Aim for very specific words. 
   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.

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Future Projection:

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 abstractions.

    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.
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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 ur eyes.

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?
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An 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 Director-Audience

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.

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 in-role context.
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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 director.
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Surplus Reality

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 unnecessary.

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 Development

“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 imagination.

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 boy            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 viewpoint?

Different Levels of Disclosure:

In every relationship there are at least three levels of disclosure and non-disclosure:
  – 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 narcissitic.)

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 voices
   3. To convert yearning into words, get past abstractions to specifics
   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.
   - - - -
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.

Spontaneity training.
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, etc.)

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 up thereby.


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