Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Moreno’s Broader Vision

Originally posted on August 7, 2017

One of my many roles is that of trying to articulate and extend the work of Dr. Jacob L. Moreno, a physician who is best known for inventing psychodrama, although he did so much more. As Moreno wrote in the opening lines to what he called his Magnum Opus—a Latin phrase for “greatest work”—, i.e, “Who Shall Survive”—written in 1934 about sociometry, “A truly therapeutic procedure should not have as its goal less than the whole of mankind.” In other words,Moreno had dreams of helping the whole world. Yes, he was grandiose, but I agree with him that he did envision approaches that, were they to be accepted and used more globally, could indeed help much of the craziness of international relations. I do agree, though, that his hopes that his ideas would be understood and used were grandiose.

Even his method of psychodrama, although spread through many if not most countries in the world, is a relatively small movement that may not catch on. (Perhaps I’m mistaken.) His other interests are known by a few, misunderstood by many—and the total is a tiny number, proportionately.

Meanwhile, psychotherapy has been becoming far, far more expensive—at least in the USA— pricing itself out of the market of anyone not  diagnosed as "sick"—to be “helped” by professionals paid for by health insurance. Also, internationally, more therapists in the guise of coaches are cropping up with little quality control over qualifications. Psychological-mindedness is moving from the far periphery to the near periphery in our culture (though it’s still on the periphery!)

Various non-evidence-based therapies also are being excluded in favor of those few that work with Cognitive-Behavior Therapy—or for really "sick" people, Dialectical Behavior Therapy—or for addicts or food-aholics—Motivational Interviewing—, though even fewer patients are being treated.

The category of what goes on under the label of “psychotherapy” can be decon-structed as separate schools of thought and efforts made towards a united front; psychotherapy as an informal aggregate of efforts make some effort at psycho-education; etc. I envision the many forms of psychological-mindedness (including social-minded-ness and Moreno’s thoughts) some-day being recognized. Maybe, though I doubt it, his work might making significant inroads into the medical model of therapist-patient setting.

This all leads to an increasing of non-psychotherapeutic efforts toward these ends, a wider recognition of such a trend, and efforts perhaps aimed not at individuals but at society in general, through education, for example, and in-service training at work, magazine articles, et cetera.

What I’m suggesting is that a majority of people in general and even psycho-dramatists don’t appreciate how much of Moreno’s work is not aimed specifically at the sick role. This parallels Freud’s venture into psychoanalysis and its extensions in the 1930s to anthropology, sociology, and intellectual life in general. This went beyond the depth psychologies of not only Freud, but also Adler and Jung and others, well beyond the medical model of the doctor- patient relationship and for that time, the significant costs.

All these lead back to Moreno (in my argument): Perhaps those supporting  Moreno’s methods should begin to more clearly and definitively prepare to begin to make the break of over-identification with psychodrama as psychotherapy for those who are in the sick role, and turn recognize how Moreno’s efforts might be integrated with many approaches, in education, in religion, in business, etc.


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