Date:         Fri, 14 Nov 1997 09:03:26 GMT
Reply-To:     Psybernet Mailing List <[email protected]>
Sender:       Psybernet Mailing List <[email protected]>
From:         Walter Logeman <[email protected]>
Subject:      Roots of psyberspace ~ Psychodrama & the work of J.L.Moreno.
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== Psychodrama & the work of J.L.Moreno. ==

As an enthusiastic psychodrama practitioner, in the early days of
Psybernet I tried to envisage how the method might translate to the net.
Now I am clear that translations like that are not the way to go. We
are making something new. Never the less psychodrama has a lot to
offer, and much of the work of Moreno could be useful here to further the work.

Lets contrast the medium of Psychodrama with an Internet Mailing List (IML).

A Psychodrama consists of five elements: The stage, the audience, the
Director, the auxiliary egos, and the protagonist. The Psychodrama has
three stages: the warm-up, the enactment and the sharing. (See
Moreno's Psychodrama Vol. 1.)

An Internet Theatre?
The stage provides a container within which we can have the whole cosmos
represented. Can an IML be seen as a theatre or stage? I think it is a
sacred circle like a stage, and metaphors for the life in that circle
abound: a lake, a three ring circus, a family, a community and so on.

Where is the audience?
In Psychodrama the audience is also interactive, and perhaps the
"lurkers" people who read and rarely post are the audience. Or perhaps
those who read the archives? There is a major departure. The audience
and stage are not clearly delineated in cyberspace. A list such as
Psyber-L might be somewhat like a stage, but we are all on the stage, in
it, *more like life* in the sense that the whole world is a stage. It
is a microcosm.

Listowner as The Director?
The Psyber-L archives of October 97, and November 97 have in them the
discussions that led to some of the ideas here on leadership in
Psyber-L, which I think have broader implications for psyberspace. Just
as the audience is not delineated from the actors on the stage nor is
the . . . leader. People do not stand out as there is no "centre
stage". Hence leadership is affected by the new spatial laws. In
addition cyberspace has cybertime. IMLs are asynchronous, we can get a
sense of flow, of waiting, of rapidity, but there is rarely a start and
a finish. Thus the leader can't offer instructions such as "Choose a
partner and talk for 5 minutes each about your family". Even
suggestions such as: "lets hear from everyone" are rarely followed.
This is not out of lack of respect, but because people read the list at
different times, sometimes weeks apart. The instructions might no
longer seem compelling. Moreno defined the Director as the most
spontaneous person in the group. By that definition there is always a
director, and any of the list members could take on the role.

There are some things the members can not do. There is in IMLs always a
Listowner. This person can set the parameters of the list, and the INFO
and WELCOME files that define the list. In Moreno's language these are
the "conserved" aspects of the IML. In writing them the Listowner sets
the tone for the list and creates the warm-up that will influence it
throughout its life.

The listowner also can open and close the door on the list or on
individual members, choose to read posts before they are distributed
etc. The listowner can choose the way archives are created and
accessed. The ethos, ethics and skills of the listowner in this regard
have a lot of influence and have some kinship to the role of Director.

Until November 97 in addition to Listowner, in Psyber-L we used the
title: "participant-facilitator". This created a false promise, and as
list owner I changed my role to purely that of Listowner, making it
clear that everyone in the list is a participant-facilitator, to the
best of their abilities. The listowner has special powers as the
decision maker about what is in the conserved files. The intention is
that this file, for example, will be referred to in the WELCOME file of
Psyber-L, and thus be part of the files that create the warm-up in
Psyber-L. Discussion can occur at anytime, and the file can go through
various versions, however the Listowner by definition, is responsible
for what is posted.

Auxiliary Egos.
In psychodrama enactments a protagonist or the Director may choose
people to enact roles from the Protagonists life, the method of Role
Reversal is used to inform the auxiliary about the role, and in turn
mirror the role back to the protagonist. Clearly in a discussion list,
such methods do not apply.

Interestingly, something akin to this occurs spontaneously. Projection.
With few visuals to go on, the imagination is active and all the list
members become "Auxiliary Egos". Once this is understood it becomes
clear that much of what one sees in another is an aspect of ones self.
Life is like that, but psyberspace more so! In the Psyber-L archives of
October 97 this is discussed in various ways. The term meta-people was
introduced by Rob Carlson in the following post:

Rob Carlson <[email protected]>
Thoughts on meta-people and bananabean portrayals
Sun, 26 Oct 1997 14:37:44 -0500

worth looking at. The term bananabean was used humorously but seriously
to give the inner aspect that is being projected onto another person a
name. Those with a experience of the idea of an "Auxiliary ego" as used
by Moreno will see there is some similarity.

The chief actor for the group, the person who embodies the collective
syndrome of the group, who steps forth from the chorus for the solo. It
happens in Psyber-L. However in asynchronous time and in the imaginal
realms of psyberspace there may be many things happening at once, and
dramas overlap, and fold into each other. It is like a jam session.


Now to relate the "phases" of a psychodrama to what happens in an IML,
at least one like Psyber-L.

Warm-up, Enactment, and Sharing, in the asynchronous virtuality, all
occur outside of linear time, and they are Directed by All!

Sounds like chaos, but it is not necessarily so. Each time a person
contributes to the list, their post is part of a thread, the subject
header connects it loosely to the unfolding threads on the list.

Warm-up is also created by the Listowner in the conserved files that
influence the list. Some lists have etiquette rule, others have FAQs.
Psyber-L until now had an INFO file (The Description) and an assortment
of web pages which create a certain warm-up. It is intended that more
files like the one you are reading now will assist in creating a warm-up
and ethos for Psyber-L.

More on Moreno to follow:



Role Theory