Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Vues Nouvelles Sur le Psychodrame Psychanalytique

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Vues Nouvelles Sur le Psychodrame Psychanalytique

Article excerpt

Vues nouvelles sur le psychodrame psychanalytique edited by Isaac Salem1 EDK, Paris, 2013; 148; £18

The publication of this book is truly welcome news insofar as it takes up the threads of a previous work, now long out of print (Amar et al., 1988) and bears testament to 30 years of experience, both in the field of training as well as in treatment.

In his brief foreword, R. Perron sets the stage of recent advancements in psychodrama. From the outset, two aspects of this therapeutic device stand out, which differentiate it from cure-type, or classical psychoanalytic, treatment. Firstly, the number of participants, ranging from one to several patients, but always with multiple analysts, and secondly, the suggested method: play. If the word may be considered the working tool for analysts, this presupposes that the patient has sufficient at his or her disposal. This is often far from the case.

And so, he who cannot speak acts: it is upon this basic principle that psychodrama is founded. "Would you prefer to act it? Then let's act it..." but on condition that the acts are simulated to a certain degree in the mode of the children's game, "Let's pretend...". By this method, one seeks to use what has been or what has not been, to a degree for real, but also to a degree implausibly so. It should hit home but in a tolerable way, with the aim of freeing up a multiplicity of meaning right where it all had once appeared positively monolithic. This staging [mise en sce^ne] seeks to open up the perceptive space, mobilize the body and in so doing encourage the anchoring of body to word. For if one is doing psychodrama, one is also speaking. The group of analysts comprises the so-called play leader, who takes the helm, and the actor-therapists. The play leader does not play. The other participants however are there to play the roles suggested either by the patient, or by the play leader. This is a tricky exercise, as it means possessing the ability to express oneself immediately, with no time for reflection, while in play. It is for this reason - in addition to personal analysis - that this calls for specific training.

The following eight chapters each deal with a specific aspect of psychodrama. In the first chapter, I. Salem reminds us that it was J. L. Moreno, the psychiatrist of Romanian origin, who during the 1920s was the inventor of psychodrama, known then as "spontaneous theatre". It is to him that we owe the discovery of the cathartic power of dramatic improvisation, and the specificity of certain group- and role-interaction phenomena. His method, akin to a type of rehabilitative therapy, was based upon suggestion.

In the 1950s, French psychoanalysts experimented with dramatic expression in therapeutic groups with children. Introducing certain modifications to the Morenian model, S. Lebovici, R. Diatkine and E. Kestemberg posited the differentiation of individual and collective analytic psychodrama. They also performed early theoretico-clinical work with children, later widening the experiment to include adult patients. D. Anzieu developed work on dramatic play and groups, addressing the "symbolic effectiveness of dramatic improvisation for the investigation and resolution of psychic conflict". The practice was expanded and diversified; works were published, revealing the fecundity and the vitality of psychodrama in France. In 1962, the Socie^te^ franc^aise de psychothe^rapie de groupe was founded. Morenian concepts were progressively sidelined as therapeutic psychodrama became a variant of the psychoanalytic cure.

Indications are specified and are relevant primarily to patients presenting with splitting of the ego, poor capacity for regression and prevalent use of projective identification, evidence of significant instinctual unbinding. For these patients, play, the group dimension and figurability - all aspects deployed by psychodrama - facilitate the reduction of manifestations of instinctual violence, the support of patients in a well-tempered regression and the rekindling and reactivation of their elaborative capacities. …

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