Starting from an experience of working with psychodrama carried out in a situation of social marginalisation linked to the pandemic period, the aim of this article is to return to the Encounter, the heart of psychodrama, to grasp the pulsating aspects that, more than a hundred years after its origins in Morenian thought, in a period of social instability such as the one we are currently experiencing, are still capable of activating useful resources to redirect one’s path, when unexpected external events interrupt the regular flow of life and make usual roles inaccessible.
Key words: Encounter, matrices, resilience, social marginalisation.
Psychodrama originated from an Encounter that touched Moreno deeply. In that encounter (I am referring to his experience in Chetmiz in front of the statue of Jesus) he had managed to access a scenario that prompted him to take on a new role, one that would later lead him to call himself a prophet, a prophet of a new creative revolution and of the religion of the Encounter. It was not an encounter with a statue, but rather with what it portrayed, the possibility of choosing a point of view other than oneself, in which the universe could be one's family and the human being could discover himself to be just like God; a creator and co-creator.
This first experience lays the groundwork for what will characterise the sense of the Morenian Encounter, which immediately goes on to include the qualities of universality and co-responsibility that come from feeling connected with a humanity beyond the walls of one’s home and social environment.
The Morenian encounter calls for regaining the primary ability to create, to take responsibility for becoming a co-creator.
Moreno invites, provokes and challenges man to the Encounter. He will do this constantly, both at the time of his debut, a time of great change marked by a global war and the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and after he arrived in the United States, when in the midst of a reorganisation of society increasingly based on technology, in “Invitation to Psychodrama” (New York 1960) he stated: “I invite man to turn to himself. I invite him to recognise the meaning of the living encounter: in the age of computers, robots, household appliances, automobiles and aeroplanes, I suggest that he relate directly to the people he encounters on the street, at work and at home, to become aware of the fact that they are valuable on an immortal and inextinguishable level, and not to regard them merely as numbers in a game”.
The Morenian Encounter is the creative act par excellence that takes place in a condition of
spontaneity and resonance between oneself and the other.
I believe that anyone who has undertaken training in psychodrama has intimately felt that they wanted to reply to that Invitation to an Encounter of which Moreno’s biography and work are replete, and that perhaps everyone particularly loves a specific phase of this story. As far as I am concerned, it is the Encounters of the Viennese period that always thrills me, and all the work on the Theatre of Spontaneity.
It is poignant, and at the same time vital, to see how Moreno, in a pre-war and post-war
historical period, offered the Encounter as a dimension to redeem mankind. Starting from the most marginal stories, he brings closeness to indifference and, by abolishing the distinction between audience and actors, between director and actors, he bestows a trust between equals. He recognises the connections that link one to the others and perceives that there is a whole affective and creative potential that can flow from one person to another, from one home to another, from one community to another. The story that is staged is the story of all men and women, of the entire community. In the Encounter there is therefore something more than an exchange of glances, which is in itself enriching, there is the possibility of co-creating and co-acting a change which then spreads through
sociometric networks and is what Moreno calls sociatry.
It seems to me that the topic of the Encounter is today a crucial one. We are coming from two years of a health emergency that has strongly impacted people's lifestyles. As it happens in every emergency situation, relations between people have reorganised themselves around criteria other than the usual ones, and sociometric arrangements within the various life contexts (social, work, family) have changed, not without creating conflicts and repositioning categories of people in the outermost regions of the sociometric network.
This is the reason why today I find it interesting to bring the theme of the Encounter back to the forefront. Perhaps for us psycho-dramatists, it can be useful to go back to the scene of the origins, when in a period of social instability and conflict, Moreno stated that the future of mankind is fulfilled in the Encounter, and for this I believe he had no difficulty in starting from the most marginal stories, because in the Morenian vision, a co-creation and a creating revolution cannot take place other than by putting all the roles on the biggest stage of life back into the scene. Therefore, I will stage a work experience and a story of social marginalisation related to the pandemic period. It is a story about all of us, which can elicit a feeling of rejection, attraction or indifference, and I do so with the intention of putting the Encounter to the test to see why even nowadays it can still represent a resource to be brought into play in the community.
Some background information
The professional experience I want to share dates back to early March 2022.
A person I had previously met and who had had an experience with psychodrama contacted me to see if I would be willing to conduct a 6-hour workshop session. Since she was naturally inclined to listen and very active in volunteer work, over time she had come across a number of people who were going through difficult times: people who were terrified by the possibility of falling ill, who had lost family members, their job; people who had been suspended from work because they had not complied with the mandatory vaccination or because they had chosen not to adhere to the green pass legislation. Her intention was to create settings in her local area where people could meet to
share experiences and help each other.
Since it was a proposal open to the local community, I put together a poster with a short text that she would share on her FB profile and with the contacts she had in various associations; as for the rest, we allowed for the event to freely circulate among people by telic resonance. We did not know who and how many people would show up.
Given the objective, I wrote a text for the poster, which I reproduce in the box at the side, which I “Invitation to an Encounter”. For a long time, I had wanted to experiment with the same audacity as Moreno, having unlike him a safety net, in other words a method to follow. I felt open, willing not to have a canvas, nor a precise theme, but only the desire to work on the possibility of meeting with others. It seemed to me that we were like in the days of Invitation to an Encounter, in a non-ordinary situation where it was important to start expressing ourselves as a community, towards whatever direction we would decide to go.
Twenty people showed up on the day the workshop session was held.
Before going into the specifics of the experience, it seems important to me to bring to your
attention some regulatory elements that can help put into context the experiences that surfaced from the group.
On 26 November 2021, Law Decree 172 was published in the Official Gazette, later converted into Law no. 3 of 21 January 2022, which introduced the reinforced green pass (obtainable through recovery from Covid or completion of the vaccination cycle).
At the same time, a table of allowed activities was drawn up, according to which access to public transport, including local public transport, bars, restaurants, either outdoors or indoors, hotels, gyms, swimming pools, museums, theatres, shops other than the essential ones (grocery shops, pharmacies and para-pharmacies) was forbidden from the age of 12 years to non-holders of a reinforced green pass. High school students who used local public transport to get to school were prohibited from riding on means of public transport even with a negative antigen swab. On 7 January 2022, Law Decree no. 1 was passed, which came into force on 15 February 2022, establishing mandatory vaccination for people over the age of 50 and extending access to work only with a reinforced green pass to workers over that age.
For several months now, the social roles to which people usually had access had been
conditioned by the possession of the green certificate . In a short time and with a gradual
acceleration, everything kept changing for everyone, with rapidly changing rules that became new criteria around which to organise one’s sense of identity and relationships in the various contexts of life.
Faced with this outburst of events, which had already disrupted everyone's life since 2020, everyone had to make their own choice. Some readily accepted these criteria as they deemed them necessary, some in the process of adapting endured them, others chose not to comply with them. Each of these positions tells a different story, brings to the fore specific aspects and subjective experiences that until now, in my opinion, have not been able to find an adjustment and an integration at the community level. Emergency situations force each of us to face unexpected, unknown events, and whether willingly or unwillingly, everyone faces themselves and the need to make choices without any prior experience in the matter. Suddenly one finds oneself having to deal with previously unexplored aspects of oneself, with unknown anxieties, and in fact, to make a conscientious choice in order to decide how to respond.
Little by little, scenarios unfolded that seemed to be mutually exclusive. For some, life began to restart as they had all that was required to move from one role to another in a state of apparent pre-pandemic normality; others, however, found themselves drifting towards increasingly marginal positions as they were no longer even able to work as usual.
On a social level, it was a very complex, painful and difficult period for everyone. The media used a style of communication that left no room for discussion; on the contrary, the words used, as well as the headlines, contributed to polarising roles and creating stereotypes such as the responsible ones/the irresponsible ones, the ones with civic sense/the uncaring ones, the healthy ones/the unhealthy ones, the altruists/the parasites, those who believe in science/those who are ignorant, those who can do things/those who cannot do them, those who will be rewarded/those whose lives we will make difficult.
Even a certain type of information that did not go through official channels created its own
stereotypes: the wolves/the sheep, those who understood everything/those who understood nothing, those who sleep/those who stay awake and so on.
The war in the Ukraine had broken out just a few days before the first psychodrama session was held: another hot topic that had made an impact on our consciences but had yet to be verbalised.
One emergency was followed by another. This was the climate and the setting of our first meeting.
[1. On 6 August 2021, on the other hand, Law Decree no. 105 of 23 July 2021 had come into force, introducing the Covid-19 green certification, which meant that for several months now, access to everyday settings had been conditional on possession of a green pass As of 15 October 2021, Law Decree no. 127 of 21 September 2021 had come into force, under which access to the workplace was only allowed with a green certification, under penalty of
suspension without pay from work, a certification that could be obtained by means of a molecular or antigenic swab valid for 48 hours or by completion of the vaccination cycle. As of 1 April 2021, the vaccination requirement was introduced for the health professions, and was then extended, by Legislative Decree no. 172 of 26 November 2021. converted into law no. 3 of 21 January 2022, to teachers, educators, school administrative staff, law enforcement agencies, military personnel, police forces, public rescue personnel, and health administrative staff, which provided for suspension without pay from work for those who failed to comply with the vaccination requirement.]
As I mentioned above, 20 people participated in the workshop, and since it was written on the poster that every story would be welcome, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with the group during the initial round of introductions. At the end of the presentations, I realised that the group was made up of:
1) people who had been suspended from work for months because they had not complied with the vaccination obligation;
2) people over 50 who had not only been unable to access their workplace for the past three weeks but, since the beginning of January, also to almost all other contexts of daily life;
3) people who performed other professional duties and had been suspended from work since 15 October;
4) retirees over 50 who had been left out of all contexts of social life. Many came from even faraway areas, however always from the Marche region and some from Abruzzo.
They were therefore people who had been living for longer or shorter periods of time in a
condition of social marginalisation without knowing how long it would last.
I am referring to social marginalisation as a phenomenon that features specific characteristics. In the Treccani Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences (1996), C. Ranci defines social marginalisation as a condition that also concerns groups of people who are stably integrated in society and who find themselves on the basis of inclusion/exclusion dynamics, far from the centre, at the outermost borders of a system. These specific characteristics distinguish marginalisation from all those processes linked to relations between social classes and from social inequality, which is instead given by the distribution criterion of economic rewards. Social marginalisation thus expresses a condition in which people find themselves outside the reference system to which they belong: although in contact with it, they remain excluded from the possibility of enjoying the guarantees that the system ensures at various levels, despite the fact that they are in fact entitled to them. As we
shall see shortly, the experiences that surfaced during the psychodrama session revolve around the theme of inclusion and exclusion from a system to which one feels they belong, with which they are in contact and, at the same time, in relation to which they are prevented from crossing previously accessible spatial and relational boundaries.
Stories of social marginalisation, Encounter and resilience
In this paragraph, I will go over the activities carried out and the topics that came up.
As usual, after some time dedicated to welcoming the group, the session began with warm-up activities. Considering that none of those present had ever participated in a psychodrama session before, I suggested very simple activities aimed at encouraging a feeling of spontaneity. Initially we arranged ourselves in a circle in order to work on contact with our breathing, with the bodily sensations of tonicity and relaxation, as well as stretching. The activities were accompanied by background music (Earthsong by James Asher).
Next, I asked the participants to start walking and instructed them to change pace, direction. Then, I added a further instruction: at my signal to stop everyone had to stop in the position they were in at that precise moment. There were several steps and then at the stop each person would go and look for one person, then two, then three, then five, increasing in number. Once this initial psychomotor and relational warm-up phase was over, I asked the participants to start walking again. As background music, I chose Symphony No. 2 – Under the Trees by Ezio Bosso and invited the participants to test themselves in an activity on the spontaneous and creative movement of the body and then come to a stop, at which point I would interrupt the music and each person would take on a posture to give form to what they were feeling at that moment. During this phase in which everyone was in a position to give voice to their own sculpture, I introduced the technique of the double, with the aim of facilitating within the group the surfacing of a co-conscious and co-unconscious dimension through the acceptance and sharing of experiences, mutual mirroring and resonances. Gradually, the emotions that flowed between the participants became a shared experience and created connections between them. Afterwards I placed some illustrated cards on the floor and gave them the following assignment: “Choose a card that says something about you, about this moment in your life”. When I gave the go-ahead, everyone took a card. I then asked them to form subgroups of five, looking for other people whose card echoed their own.
Once the subgroups were formed, the assignment was first to verbalise as a group what the chosen card said, then to create a static or fluid sculpture in which all the elements that emerged were present, ordered within a sequence, so as to have a story with a beginning and an end. I provided the participants with various materials: pieces of fabric, colouring tools, sheets of paper, small percussion instruments, balls, etc.
When the time was up, I invited each group to present their sculpture. For the sequence of the stories, I suggested as a criterion that one group would be followed by another without deciding on the order a priori, so as to let the stories follow each other spontaneously by telic resonance. In managing the sculptures, I made sure that each part present on the scene could tell its story and as I approached each participant, I asked them to complete the following sentence: “I am….?”. Then at the end, I asked them to choose an element, from among those that made up the sculpture, to which they could give a message. I can say that the verbalisations, the references, the messages, were very rich but it would be impossible for me to transcribe them in this paper. Therefore, Imchose, however reductive, to draw up a summary of each story told.
There was no shortage of moments when it was necessary to allow some extra time and contain the emotions when, in expressing their part, some people burst into sudden tears. Especially in these phases, the audience proved to be an important resource. Through the technique of the double, the various protagonists were helped in putting the events of the moment into words and experienced an encounter in which their emotions could be witnessed and confirmed.
For each sculpture, I report the title that each subgroup chose at the end of the action, starting from the audience’s references.
1st group – Title “The inner journey” – The first sculpture featured a vertical progression of movement from the ground upwards. The movement starts from a person crouched down. The story tells of an inner, painful journey, of a paradoxical choice, which forced people to awaken parts of themselves and to ask who they really are and in which values they identify themselves.
There is a key passage in the story. It is not enough to draw on one's own resources since one has to mix them up, recombine them, in a painful process, driven by circumstances that hurt and quickly push a person out of their usual roles, their work, their relationships, and their passions. A path in which one faces one’s emotions such as pain or anger at the impossibility of having one’s story acknowledged, of hearing it told by others in a way that distorts it. The action becomes more intense and concentrated when one reaches the point where the resources are mixed up, because it is from this passage that the climb back up begins, an exhausting climb back up that leads to a centring, to a
trust in one’s own being and feelings.
2nd group – Title “Life is a journey” – The scene starts with a boat adrift in search of a direction it has yet to find, then arrives at a snow-covered, completely white land in which there are no footprints, a land on which no one has ever walked. There are no tracks to follow but many emotions to go through and lastly a destination that seeks a fulfilment it has yet to be found. The sense of drifting tells of the bewilderment of someone who sees his own direction suddenly interrupted, denied in his professional role and in the practices and knowledge he shares with other colleagues. An abrupt change of position, from good and esteemed colleague to a no-vax who does not believe in science. He lacks the opportunity to speak, to tell his story and above all to be recognised as an interactor, an otherness. There is an urgent need to recompose everything, to find a meaning to this experience of seeing oneself disowned. The goal then can be accomplished by seeking within oneself an understanding.
3rd group – Title: “Tornado” – The scene begins in a dynamic way. All the people are wrapped in a rather large brown cloth. One person starts to move the cloth and stage the tornado. Another person created a cube with sheets of paper that he placed on his head, spinning it around. On each sheet is a face expressing a different emotion. There is sadness, anger, sorrow, astonishment and finally happiness. Two people give birth to something that begins to sprout. Who is the tornado? It tells of a difficult time to live in, when emotional tones change quickly. It is also a time when one discovers that one can begin to blossom again as a person, regaining that sense of self that a tornado can destroy. But a tornado can also push towards an unexpected transformation that opens and frees. One discovers that transformation requires coming to terms with one’s inner shadows and
4 th group – Title: “Rights denied”, anchor denied, anchor of salvation – The scene begins with a central element. The group created a kind of hourglass. The person in the centre is motionless in a crouched position. Another person plays a percussion instrument and the person setting the time starts a movement which then stops. He bursts into tears. The scene stops. After several doubles, I ask the person/timekeeper for a soliloquy. They say: “I am a time that starts to beat again”. The scene continues and small actions begin to intertwine and form a shape. The story tells of a time that stood still. Of a watershed day in which many roles became inaccessible, of a mother’s suffering. Then, however, an action comes into play that is necessary to go on living, that pushes itself since it is vital, that asks to find an anchor of salvation. The action begins to take shape. It is the encounters, the solidarity networks that were created, the exchanges with those who are experiencing a similar situation. A network made up of restaurateurs who refuse to leave people out, of coaches who do not want to leave any player out, of odd jobs that turn up and help to get
by financially, of groups that spring up in the area. Spontaneous actions that, once the usual barriers have been broken, lead to finding one's own anchor of salvation, in a spontaneous way, through encounters that seem to happen by chance but that are able to build an inner anchorage.
The second phase of the work
The first phase of the work ended to coincide with the lunch break. When work resumed, I instructed the participants to start walking while I put on a song by Santana, Smooth, which has a good rhythm. People started dancing, interacting with each other in a very spontaneous manner.
Once the song ended, we sat down for a moment of sharing. I provided information on the rules of sharing and why they are functional to the process. After the sharing phase, I had planned to do short jobs with a protagonist, but people had so many resonances to share that I opted for active sharing in which I interspersed small actions and dialogues.
Although the group was made up of people who were experiencing very similar situations, the sharing was rich in nuances and transitions. Undoubtedly everyone had recognised themselves in the initial elements of the scenes. Everyone had found themselves in a “dark forest for the straight path was lost”. Everyone’s journey started from there. The sequence in which the individual groups created their scenes told the unfolding of a path that started first of all inwardly, in search of a direction. No path is marked on the map, there are no tracks to follow. Never before had such a situation been experienced. There is bewilderment, disorientation, a desire to fight, a need to put order to the ensuing confusion and to understand, starting first of all by confronting one’s own ambiguities in order to blossom anew, in order not to feel stripped of one’s social roles, but rather to replay them with greater inner freedom, without being crushed by external definition, by the rejection one is going to encounter. The path then reaches a definition. It is an inner journey through a condition of marginalisation and denied rights, coming to terms with pain was a necessary stage for everyone, a painful stage and at the same time a precursor of a fertile and vital, necessary action, which leads to encounters that become anchorages to rediscover the meaning and the goal of one’s journey.
Another element that brought people together was the dimension of darkness to which each felt confined. The darkness that stopped time, taken them into territories never explored before, to the fringes of the system, that had impacted like a tornado: it was the denial of the right to speak. Being cut off from the various contexts of life meant that it was others who told their own story, with words and definitions that in the narration by interpersonal persons, or in the social representation that ensued, distorted the sense and complexity of a choice. What emerged during the sharing was that the staging had allowed everyone to look at themselves through the other, to grasp through similarities and differences the exact point at which they had arrived on a path they felt they shared.
The action allowed them to narrate and make themselves visible, to play more roles and have more counter-roles.
From the sharing we moved on to the closing phase.
People started walking again, inwardly retracing the feelings and emotions they had experienced, then the assignment for each person was to write down on a piece of paper what they had found good for them and how it could be of help.
The words that surfaced had to do with listening, with the possibility of speaking out, with
feeling seen, with having had time to process together with others experiences related to a very complex period, with the joy of meeting, with the courage to move forward, with the fullness of sharing, with the possibility of giving meaning and significance, with the feeling of having mapped out together routes in order for each one to continue with their own journey.
The small actions introduced during the sharing had the aim of starting to look at this whole thing also from the standpoint of those who had made a different choice, in other words, those who had accepted that groups of people ended up in a marginal position or had remained indifferent about it. This was a very present need in the group and had come up in the story “Life is a journey”, where there was a goal that could be reached by trying to understand the other’s point of view.
What was shared during the session could be of help in appeasing the inner conflict between oneself and others, in gaining self-confidence, in finding clear and assertive communication in the various contexts in which one felt lonely and isolated, in not forsaking the need to create communication, in not losing a human outlook in a condition of denied speech (‘experienced’), in regaining vital impetus, so as not to forget that there is a spiritual component in every path. so as not to forget that there is a spiritual component to every path, which in this case called first and foremost for overcoming internal divisions because only in this way can one work to heal the divisions created externally.
The Encounter as a relational matrix: a key to interpretation
In this last paragraph it is my intention to connect the dots by understanding how the Encounter enabled the group to trigger resilience.
At the end of my training at the Centre for the Study of Psychodrama, I presented a thesis
focused on the Encounter in which I had already defined the Encounter in psychodrama as a relational matrix.
The Encounter insofar as it is an intersubjective dimension is also a relational matrix that allows us to trigger and retrace the matrices that Moreno identified as specific relational places from which the roles we take on in the course of our lives emerge, and it is precisely this role/counter-role dynamic that we go to replay on the psycho-dramatic scene and in the Encounter with the other. The Morenian Encounter, as designed from its origins, in fact offers itself as an experience in which it is possible to feel welcomed, recognised, co-melted. We can define ourselves and be recognised as the other pole of the relationship, be the subject of affective experiences that are aimed at the other or be its object. It is possible to experience one’s own ability to enable the other as a counterpart and to
be enabled by them in turn. In the group Encounter one can discover the many relational planes, you and I co-melted, you and I in the group, me in your role and you in mine, me in the world, us as a world to belong to, to feel part of, to be reflected in, to share values and principles that guide the action of playing as many roles as possible. In the Encounter one experiences the maternal, identity, family, social and value matrix, and in experiencing it the Encounter itself acts as a matrix-envelope within which growth takes place through a process that allows us to return to experience and develop what we need to continue on our journey. The action makes it possible to give body and shape to that internal dialogue that has been structured between us and the significant counterparts in our lives, it makes it possible to bring them back onto the scene, to act them out and to observe them in action. And it is in this possibility of playing and replaying them, within an inter-subjective
relationship, that scenarios of change can open up and the relationship between oneself and oneself can change. And it is from this new space that opens up in the inner representation that resources can surface and be activated.
Going back to the experience I recounted, it seems to me that the core conflict specifically
concerned value roles. The straight path was lost because there had been a disruption in feeling part of a community. The value matrix organises the experience of belonging to a community, we are already on a plane that we can call transpersonal, that is, on a plane that connects us to one another through the values we give to the founding aspects of our existence and the key words that define a culture. Values are the elements upon which the covenant of alliance between people living in the same community is based. They define the boundary not to be crossed if one still wants to be part of the community, and at the same time give body and substance to the community itself. They define who we are as humanity. The things we believe in, the values that guide our actions, our choices.
At the time of the session, our society was experiencing a clash of values around words such as responsibility, freedom, choice, right, duty, inviolability, plurality, science, knowledge, life, death, care, self-determination, informed consent, and compulsory consent. The regulatory measures that had been introduced brought about a change in the meanings hitherto attached to the aforementioned values. The denial of speech through the physical removal of people from the places of social life corresponded to a denial of exercising both the usual social roles and of being able to bring their meanings into dialogue with everything else. There were in fact several questions bouncing around within our community. Questions such as: “How far is one entitled to exercise
self-determination?”, “How far can coercion be pushed?”, “How does this reshape the job of care and the role of the patient?”. “Is it legitimate to subordinate the exercise of a right such as the right to work to a health condition?”, “What does it mean for our society to draw a line in one direction or another?”.
As in any emergency situation that disrupts the flow of life and places people, the community, before the need to react appropriately to unfamiliar situations, necessarily passing through a replay of the usual roles, there always comes a point where it is necessary to decide how we are going to get out of it. Not so much what we will do, which is important, but how we will do it. The question of how necessarily involves value roles because, by changing the structure of the background, what is in the picture is no longer the same as before.
Referring to the group whose experience I am describing, the Encounter made it possible to
activate resilience since, thanks to the process of double, mirror, and reflection, which activated the maternal, identity, family, and social matrices, everyone was able to return to their own value roles and retrieve certain aspects felt to be fundamental: listening, the possibility of defining oneself, of opening oneself up to an encounter in which to relate the different experiences. The Encounter allowed everyone to rediscover a sense of belonging given by the possibility of returning on the same level as the others, at the centre of the scene, to tell in the first person and as a protagonist, one’s own story and the meanings it conveys. Inwardly, this reactivated a dialogue and a different dynamic between role and counter-role, between the I and the you, between me and the community from which I now see myself shunned. Inwardly, a dialogue was reactivated, acted out and observed, such as playing the role of someone who had made a choice different from their own.
If social marginalisation expresses the condition of those who find themselves, due to a series of circumstances, on the fringes of the system, but in contact with it, without enjoying the same rights, including the right to narrate themselves, the Encounter through psychodrama, in the exchange of glances, allowed access to a narrative that, stripped of attributions that do not belong to it and do not represent it, allows one to reconnect more spontaneously to one’s own Self.
For some people, the action of speaking again gave rise inwardly to a new scenario, a scenario in which pain and sadness rekindled the desire to overcome the closure that was used to defend oneself, to protect oneself, to open oneself up to others, to look beyond this division that had marked the souls and created very deep fractures between people, in the working, family and social contexts. As is typical of the psychodrama group in which what happens is for the benefit of all, this new scenario that became apparent to some, was recognised by others, who instead felt that they had not processed the anger or pain, as a point to strive for that shed light on the path.
The group developed resilience because in the Encounter with the other, everyone was able to bring their own value roles into play, and in this playing oneself and playing it was possible to readapt the role in a more functional way. Having as a goal not to shut down communication even when the outside deeply hurts becomes a value that enriches and expands the role, and from the margins puts one back at least inwardly at the centre of the system.
The final thought with which I end this article is that having access to the possibility to narrate oneself puts one at the centre of the system and is what makes the difference between being marginal and not being marginal. I think this is the key point why in our society, depending on the criteria adopted, groups of people end up in a marginalised situation. There are many examples. Let’s think of the Muslims after the attacks in Paris, London, Madrid, Nice, who ended up in a marginal position because they were portrayed in a very stereotypical way without having the same amount of space to tell their stories, let’s think of the long struggle of women and so on.
In the light of these considerations, Moreno’s Encounter seems to me even more valuable.
Starting from the non-ordinary conditions in which he found himself as a very young man – just think of the outbreak of the First World War – Moreno showed us that in emergency circumstances we can choose to either cross arms or cross gazes by putting the Encounter at the centre, to access a co-creative process of change in which everyone is called upon to participate because, as Moreno stated, psychodrama cannot begin until the very last inhabitant of the city is also present. In general, I think there are still many stories from these last two years waiting to be heard. I am thinking of the stories of those who died alone, of those who could not attend the funeral of their loved ones, of those who felt betrayed by those who chose not to be vaccinated, of those who were forced to get vaccinated in order not to lose their jobs, of those who were left alone, of the vital things that have sustained us and of the stories that we still wish to experience together.
Perhaps just like then, after two years of a health emergency and an ongoing war, we are called upon to answer the question Who shall survive? What shall we choose? What kind of action will we put into play? Are we going to choose to take responsibility for our creative potential, to become co-creators, to trust each other as equals by resolving conflicts and accessing in a new way the social, value-based, customary roles that each of us plays within the community, or do we succumb to the various “robots”, as Moreno calls the cultural crystallisations we produce (logarithms, economic laws, criteria regulating relations between people, social theories, superstructures in which our society is organised), forgetting that we are the creative agents?
It would be nice if, as a community of psycho-dramatists, we would tackle this question by
creating moments of encounter in which we could tell each other the stories of the past two years, so that each story could have its own role on stage, and in this playing and replaying ourselves we
could treasure what we have experienced. ■
De Leonardis P. (1993), Lo scarto del cavallo. Lo psicodramma come intervento sui piccoli gruppi, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2011.
De Leonardis P., “Il tele come chiave della facoltà trasformativa dell’individuo e della società”, Quaderni AIPsiM, n.1-2, agosto 2009.
De Leonardis P., “Struttura della personalità e dinamica intrapsichica nella pratica psicodrammatica”, Quaderni AIPsiM, n.1-2, novembre 2018.
Dotti L., Lo psicodramma dei bambini. I metodi di azione in età evolutiva, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2002.
Moreno J. L. (1946), Il Teatro della Spontaneità, Di Renzo Editore, Roma, 2007.
AIPsiM, n.1-2, agosto 2009.
Moreno J. L. (1953), Who Shall Survive? Principi di sociometria, psicoterapia di gruppo e sociodramma, Di Renzo Editore, Roma, 2007.
Ranci C., Marginalità Sociale, Enciclopedia delle Scienze Sociale, Treccani, Torino, 1996.
Tamanti D., L’Incontro nel gruppo di psicodramma come processo di crescita e cambiamento, tesi conclusiva Corso quadriennale di specializzazione in psicodramma e metodi attivi, Centro Studi di Psicodramma e Metodi Attivi, Milano, 2020.
Materiali Didattici forniti dal Centro Studi Psicodramma e Metodi Attivi, Milano, Via Montevideo, 11:
La teoria dei ruoli: una chiave di lettura relazionale della formazione della personalità.
Bisogni e desideri: dialettica intrapsichica di base e dinamica del cambiamento.
Approccio filosofico e psicologico dello psicodramma.
– Official Gazette General Series no. 282 of 6 August 2021, Urgent measures for the safe exercise of school, university, social and transport activities.
– Official Gazette General Series no. 282 of 26 November 2021, Urgent measures for the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic and the safe performance of economic and social activities.
– Official Gazette General Series no. 19 of 25 January 2022, Urgent measures for the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic and the safe performance of economic and social activities.
DEBORAH TAMANTI, psychologist, psychotherapist, psychodrama director.