Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Replacing “Psychodrama”with “Enhanced Simulations”

Originally posted on January 20, 2018

Although I’ve given part of my life to promoting Moreno’s psychodrama, I don’t really like the word itself.  “Psychodrama” as a word has several implications. It suggests drama, a word that originally mean something done, enacted, rather than talked about, but has come to mean something heavy, “dramatized” for effect, given visual and dialogue cues that emphasize emotional significance. Instead, what I call “enhanced simulations” need not be all that dramatic—in the sense of emotionally weighty.

The second objection to the word is the prefix, which is “psycho-.” This implies psychoanalysis or psychotic—although I’m sorry to confess these common unconscious associations. Furthermore the prefix “psycho-“ suggests something wrong with the mind of the individual. But these enactment draw on “socio-“ also, in that the attitudes are shared by many in the population. (Moreno used the term “axiodrama” also, to refer to attitudes that had become almost axiomatic, assumed. For example, it was axiomatic that some were supposed to be masters and others slaves a couple hundred years ago, although this was an idea that was becoming questioned and even challenged.)

So I sidestep psychodrama as a word. It is established internationally as a form of psychotherapy, created in large part by Jacob L. Moreno, written about by myself and many others. For non-psychotherapeutic purposes, though, I choose to use the phrase “enhanced simulations.”  Simulations involve playing through the situation in advance to catch flaws, and enhancement brings to the surface the thoughts of those involved. Not just the performance, but the thoughts also require adjustment — hence “enhanced.”

So for non-therapeutic applications of what Moreno called “psychodrama,” I use enhanced simulations. The point I’m making in an anthology I’m drawing together is that is there are many and varied applications to Moreno’s method beyond psychiatry!

Jacob L. Moreno, M.D., was a physician who emigrated from Vienna in the mid-1920s and began in the next 20 years to practice what he called “psychodrama.” This spread nationally and internationally. But his work transcended psycho-therapy and has applications in many fields not involving the medical model: “enhanced simulations”

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