It didn't start with the Sparts...and it won't end thereeither, if these comrades keep it up...

Sam Pawlett rsp at
Tue Nov 23 20:33:29 PST 1999

Doug Henwood wrote:

> My god. What is it about Trots? Put three of them together in a room
> and in 5 minutes you'll have two new parties and a tendency. Is there
> some conjunction between the doctrine and a particular
> psychopathology? Can someone explain this?

The closest I can come with is the mid-20's psychoanalytical technique of *psychodrama*. The sects are engaged in a kind of therapy albeit unconsciously which makes it all the more therapeutic.

>From Fads and Fallacies by Martin Gardner:

"The psychodrama movement of Jacob L.Moreno also seems yo have passed the peak of its popularity, though the cult was never very large. This is a form of therapy which places the patient into impromptu dramatic scenes related to his neuroses or psychoses.

Psychodramatic skits take place on a relatively bare circular stage with three concentric levels, the levels having symbolic meanings. There are no scenery or curtains--only two pillars in the background, a table, and some chairs. About eighty people are accommodated in the orchestra, and there is a high balcony for patients in the audience who have delusions of grandeur. The first theater of this sort was founded by Dr. Moreno in Vienna in 1922. At present, headquarters for the Psychodrama Institute are at Beacon,NY though there are similar theaters in Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital and St.Elizebeth Hospital, Washington D.C.

"The patient may play a variety of roles --his mother,father, himself as a small child, Hamlet, God and so on [Lenin,Trotsky,Stalin etc.SP]. If his neurotic situation involves a love triangle,an effort may be made to get the three real participants on the stage at one time. Their spontaneous reactions, as one can easily imagine, are often dramatic. Colored lights are sometimes provided for mood atmosphere. Thus if a patient feels a need to portray the role of Satan, only a crimson light is cast on stage. This gives him the feeling that he is surrounded by the lurid flames of hell, and increases the effectiveness of therapy.

... "The dramatic scenes are used both for diagnosis and therapy. Sometimes the patient achieves a Freudian catharsis (purging of a neurotic drive) while he is acting. At other times, catharsis comes later when the scene is being reviewed and analyzed by the therapist. Sound and movie recordings often are made so the scene can be reviewed more accurately. MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE ALSO EXPERIENCE A THERAPEUTIC BENEFIT FROM WATCHING THE ACTING, THUS MAKING POSSIBLE AN INEXPENSIVE KIND OF GROUP THERAPY.(emph.mine).

"Naturally, this far too brief an account of psychodrama to give much insight into its theory which is almost as intricate as dianetics. There are many neologisms-- like tele, warming up process,sociodrama, audience constellations, psychomusic, physiodrama and statu nascendi-- but we lack the space to go into them here. explanations for them may be found in the Psychodrama Collected Papers, printed by Beacon House in 1945." p288

In the same essay and also worthy of note:

"Moreno's methods, like a good part of the Reichian therapy, are part of a recent trend toward having patients play active dynamic roles rather than lie passively on the couch. Dr.Francis I. Regardie, for example, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, is now inducing patients to vomit as part of their treatment. "Initiating a gag reflex" is his way of putting it. Here is the doctor's description of this valuable new technique, taken from his article on "Active Psychotherapy" in the Winter 1952 issue of Complex.

...'My procedure is to let him gag anywhere up to a dozen times, depending on the type of response. In itself, the *style* of gagging is an admirable index to the magnitude of the inhibitory apparatus. some gag with finesse, with delicacy without noise...But the emotional discharges that occur by using these devices are altogether remarkable. In all of the dozen or more years of practicing psychotherapy I can say in all honesty and humility that I have never witnesses such awe-inspiring demonstrations."p290

Sam Pawlett

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