Reconnecting with our Ancestors: a Transgenerational Approach to Psychodrama and Dance Movement Therapy
The integrative framework of Transgenerational Psychodrama and Dance Therapy creates a safe space to initiate a moving dialogue with our ancestors and experience the embodied images of their legacy. The purpose of Transgenerational Therapy is to clarify patterns of invisible loyalty and facilitate individuation. Transgenerational Therapy is based on the premise that our way of moving and being in the world is shaped by emotional and sensorimotor aspects transmitted by our ancestors and that self-awareness is deeply embedded in a transgenerational context. Transgenerational Therapy is a work of imaginative psychotherapy, a body-based medicine which finds evidence in neurobiological research. Rituals reinforce the dynamic matrix and the holding function of the group experience. Awareness allows the interruption of unconscious identification, breaks the cycles of repetition and deals with unresolved legacies. This workshop will demonstrate the methodological integration of Transgenerational Psychodrama and Dance Therapy and how to generate awareness and creativity by reconnecting with our ancestors.
In her pioneer work on psychogenealogy, Ancelin Schützenberger posits that “as mere links in a chain of generations, we may have no choice in having the events and traumas experienced by our ancestors visited upon us in our own lifetime” (1998). The integrative framework of Transgenerational Psychodrama and Dance Movement Therapy creates a safe space to initiate a moving dialogue with our ancestors and to experience the embodied images of their legacy. The purpose of Transgenerational Therapy is to sieve through unconscious prescriptions and expectations, clarify the dynamic patterns of invisible loyalty (Boszormenyi-Nagy, & Spark, 1973) and facilitate the psychic process of individuation (Jung, C. G., & Franz, M. L. v., 1964) by which the individual Self develops out of an undifferentiated family unconscious.
Our bodies, minds, emotions and spirit are dynamically interrelated. Transgenerational therapy is based on the premise that our way of moving and being in the world is shaped by emotional and sensorimotor aspects transmitted by our ancestors and that our self-awareness (Damasio, 2010) is therefore deeply embedded in a more encompassing transgenerational context.
The meta-theoretical and interdisciplinary approach of Transgenerational Psychodrama and Dance Therapy finds evidence in the scientific research regarding the neurobiological basis of our experience. Ramachandran (2009) speculates that we are biologically programmed to be introspective and self-aware. Not only does the mirror neuron system help simulate and understand other people’s behaviour: when turned inward, it creates meta-representations of our own brain which are transgenerationally transmitted.
Silence is a fundamental process in the transgenerational dynamic (Tisseron, 1996). Unable to speak the unspeakable, the unbearable emotions caused by the conspiracy of silence obstruct the process of individuation whereby the psyche can develop and gradually expand its consciousness. Secrets break through the confines of psychic skin and live on in the unconscious as a constellation of unintegrated, split-off energy.
The concept of radioactivity (Gampel, 1996) suggests a sort of leakage, a process of psychic contamination due to which internalized fears and traumatic feelings are transgenerationally transmitted. This radioactivity cannot be described in words but is revealed through dreams, symptoms and non verbal behaviour. The unexpressable is thus implanted by previous generations and later emerges through the unconscious manifestations of the body. Transgenerational Psychodrama and Dance Therapy is a corrective experience which sheds light on our ancestral heritage, disentangles invisible loyalties, prevents anniversary syndromes (Ancelin Schützenberger, 1998) and connects the bodymind to the emotional and spiritual experience of our ancestors.
The therapeutic use of ritual evokes the crucial healing aspects of traditional ceremonies which have the power to sacralise time and space and to strengthen bonds between people. Transgenerational rituals of transformation, gratitude, restitution and reconciliation are an integral part of the experience and provide a feeling of safety, connectedness and belonging. Rituals facilitate the expression of feelings in a symbolic manner and establish trust by reinforcing the dynamic matrix and the holding function (Winnicott 1953) of the group experience.
Transgenerational Psychodrama and Dance Therapy is a work of imaginative psychotherapy in which movement is both container and process, a body-based medicine that heals and weaves the threads of the plot between past and present. Transgenerational Therapy is a setting for creative reparation and renewal. It is a privileged way of intuiting associations between apparently unconnected meanings and creating a meta space for reflective feeling. Transgenerational encounters with our ancestors, experienced as embodied and incarnate images, create awareness which allows the interruption of unconscious identification in order to break the cycles of repetition, deal with unresolved legacies and heal emotional wounds.
This workshop will demonstrate the methodological integration of Transgenerational Psychodrama and Dance Therapy and how to generate transgenerational awareness and creativity by initiating a dialogue and reconnecting with our ancestors.
Ancelin Schützenberger A., (1998). The Ancestor Syndrome: Transgenerational Psychotherapy and the Hidden Links in the Family Tree. London: Routledge.
Boszormenyi-Nagy I., Spark G. M., (1973). Invisible Loyalties: Reciprocity in Intergenerational Family Therapy. New York: Harper & Row.
Damasio, A. (2000). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
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Perrotta L. Reconnecting with Ancestral Roots: Transgenerational Psychodrama in Brazil in Public Psychodrama in Contemporary Times, Agora, 2016
Ramachandran V. S. (2009). “Self-Awareness: The Last Frontier” in http://edge.org/conversation/self-awareness-the-last-frontier. Edge Foundation original essay.
Tisseron, S. (1996). Secrets de famille, Mode d’emploi, Paris: Marabout.
Winnicott, D. W. (1953). “Transitional objects and transitional phenomena” in International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34: 89-97.