messages from worldwide psychodramatists



Jorg Burmeister



Dear Psychodramatists,

The universal legacy of J.L. Moreno to the world has been reinforced and
kept alive ever since his death some 25 years ago. He attempted to
encompass the bio-psychosocial, cosmic/spiritual and sociological
dimensions of our existence within psychodrama, sociodrama, sociometry,
axiodrama, group psychotherapy and group work.

Regarding myself as a member of the third generation of psychodramatists,
and without having known Moreno personally, but owing so much to my
teachers (especially to Grete Leutz), I strongly believe that we have to
continue to develop psychodrama by keeping this tradition in its most
original essence. Together we might find answers to the various struggles
of human existence  today: to war, hunger and the lack of human rights;
including discrimination of gender, colour of skin and age.

During the past months, I have had the privilege to conduct psychodrama in
several countries, including Bulgaria, Russia, Turkey, Finland, Spain,
Portugal, Italy, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. From that experience, I
feel that we still have to bridge many differences between us. However, by
using the basic elements of the Moreno legacy, I have also experienced
evidence of our ability to create opportunities for encounter and mutual
understanding. Even in the most painful quarrels, the basic attitudes of
personal sharing and role reversal have facilitated transitions of the
conflicting perspectives.

Presently, it is vital to support the development of diversity of
applications in psychodrama. This includes using psychodrama in the
spiritual field, in the arts and the theatre, the pedagogic field, the
sociological field, the intercultural and the political fields, and last
but not least, also in the psychotherapeutic field.

Though I have attempted to contribute to projects in all these fields, as a
medical doctor and psychiatrist, I like to emphasize specifically the
psychotherapeutic or healing dimensions of psychodrama. Psychodrama as
psychotherapy still doesn`t receive the official recognition that it
deserves in comparison with other psychotherapeutic approaches, such as
psychoanalytic or cognitive behavioural therapy. One of the prevailing
difficulties encompass the broad absence of psychodramatists in the
academic scientific community. 

According to Moreno, psychodrama itself is based on experiences of direct
evidence that resist being frozen in solid structures of scientific
thinking or psychotherapeutic guidelines. However, I propose that the
future of psycho-therapeutic psychodrama will depend on its capacity to
overcome the gap between scientific fixation and true emancipatory freedom.

In Germany we have recently obtained the official acknowledgement of the
largest psychological association as one of the basic scientific approaches
in psychotherapy which is the first requirement of official recognition
also by Federal Offices and the network of national insurance companies.
Together with Ernst Diebels and Barbara Legeler, we are now going to
compose a complete scientific paper which encompasses the different
methodological applications of psychodramatic psychotherapy. This project
will first include papers and studies published in Germany and later
various international contributions.

I hereby invite you all to share this project and to contribute to its

The list of subjects and authors already involved in the project is
available upon request. This cooperation can become a wonderful expression
of our vivid   psychodrama community. And it might help to develop future

All our intentions may fail if we are not ready to do research on the
process and the outcome of psychodramatic psychotherapy. JL Moreno himself
always claimed scientific investigation to be an essential part of his
psychodramatic project (J.L. Moreno, 1934, 1937, 1948, 1956). His efforts
included several formats of research that explicitly related to two basic
assumptions: First, that research should be based on action, on direct
experience and vivid evidence (J.L. Moreno, 1951). He refused strongly the
idea of questionnaires because they isolate the individual and restrict the
possibility of a learning experience of the whole group (J.L. Moreno,
1951). Second, that the focus of research should be the self-responsible
subject; it is his or her own interest which gives the impetus to research
(J.L. Moreno, 1959). In the psychodramatic practise, Moreno tried to
stimulate the systematic investigation of the structure and dynamics of
networks and groups by sociometric measurements including the deep
socio-emotional level of relationships, the spontaneity level and the role
performance level of its members.

Psychodramatic psychotherapy is presently the focus of several research
projects, including one national scientific study on out-patient group
psychotherapy in Germany and Austria which investigates conjointly group
analytical and psychodramatic group psychotherapy with the same instruments.
The study will last at least five years. This project started in 1996 and
the preliminary results are very exciting, clearly demonstrating the
efficacy of psychodramatic psychotherapy in more than 15 groups with more
than 80 participants, numbers that will increase considerably during the
next years.

Here is a part of my plans for the future: In September 99, I will
participate in a symposia organized by Maurizzio Gasseau and others in the
university of Torino/Italy about the basic structure of group processes.
Also in September, Gabor Pinter from Budapest and me are going to present
our intercultural approach with Psychodrama on the lake of Konstanz. In
October 99, and in February 00, I will give workshops in Helsinki
concerning the treatment of post-traumatic disorders and the
multigenerational work with families and groups by action methods. In May
2000, I am going to organize for the German group association a congress in
Berlin under the title: "Conflict and Solidarity in and between groups."
The cooperative and beneficial coexistence of different groups and cultures
forms the topic of the second edition of the summer academy of the DAGG in
conjunction with Spanish group associations and the ÖAGG (Austrian group
association). It is hosted in Granada/Spain and tries to establish a vivid
learning community for one week gathering different group approaches,
different cultures and perspectives of the world around us. It is entitled:
"Between Cultures and Worlds - Identity in Change."

As you may apprehend, I am convinced after all that peaceful encounter and
exchange with other colleagues and their visions will prepare us in the
best way for the future.

Hope to see you all in Jerusalem next year.

Jorg Burmeister, MD
Co-chair of the Psychodrama-Section in the IAGP