Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

New Ideas and Clinical Practices to Improve Corporeal Self-Esteem

Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

New Ideas and Clinical Practices to Improve Corporeal Self-Esteem

Article excerpt


According to many authors, the daily life may be described as a theatrical scene, and the personal identity as the set of roles that the person wears in the various contexts of the stage

(Berger & Luckman, 1966; Goffman, 1959; Watzlawick, 1976, 1981). Face-to-face interaction might be understood and analysed in terms of a theatrical representation where individual, when comes in contact with others, attempts to control or guide the impression that others might make of him/her by changing or fixing his or her setting, appearance and manner.

The parallels between performance and life is, following Goffman (1959), is disarming: an actor performs on a setting which is constructed of a stage and a backstage; the props in both settings direct his action; he is being watched by an audience, but at the same time he is an audience for his viewers' play. The social actor has the ability to choose his stage and props, as well as the costume he would wear in front of a specific audience. The actor's main goal is to keep coherent, and adjust to the different settings offered him. This is done mainly through interaction with other actors. To a certain extent, this imagery bridges structure and agency, enabling each, while saying that structure and agency can limit each other.

Communication and interactions create also what we call simply "reality". Constructive processes of "scenic" real, redeemed from the accusation of "draft," can then become a reference for understanding the birthing process of what we consider "reality."

In interactions, or performances, the involved parties may be audience members and performers simultaneously; the actors usually foster impressions that reflect well upon themselves, and encourage the others, by various means, to accept their preferred definition. Accepted definition of the situation and dominant roles become, after being shared within persons, the "reality".

The "self" is also the image that the person tries to pass to others, it does not originate from the person, from the so called "subjectivity", but from the scene and its actions between actors. The self, often wrongly attributed to a character, is the product of a represented scene, not its cause. It is not something with a specific location, but a dramatic effect that emerges from the situation, then, is the social institution that must be considered as the means to produce and maintain the self.

This is the premise from which it moves the "established role therapy" proposed by Kelly (1955) and the "psychodrama" born from Moreno (1985): strong experiences of self-transformation based on the role-playing game.

Therefore, the use of theatrical techniques, especially those that promote the entry into the character and the work of the actor, may represent an important resource for psychotherapy, when practiced consistently and accompanied by a reflection about the meaning of the laboratory. For these reasons we chose a theater course conducted according to the Stanislavski (1936, 1949) method. This method of acting is a set of techniques meant to create realistic portrayals of characters. It is based on the concept of emotional memory for which an actor focuses internally to portray a character's emotions onstage. The major goal of the Stanislavski method is to have a perfect understanding of the motivations, obstacles, and objectives of a character in each moment. Actors often use this technique for realistic plays, where they try to present an accurate portrayal of normal life.

Problem Statement

Starting from these examples of identity change obtained through the scenic fiction, the research is aimed to investigate the change in self-description of actors engaged in a theatrical activity. Reports provided by participants of a clinical group were collected and compared to reports of amateur actors engaged in a theatrical workshop. Both were interviewed about the perceived effects of the assumption of new roles during the construction of character and role play. …

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