The experience of fate in what happens to someone in a certain situation is strongly related to internal processes and actions that run automatically without the person having any control over them. These situations are typical candidates for protagonist dramas as they can cause severe pain and helplessness, a vulnerability to fate.
Psychodrama is an excellent tool for breaking vicious fate cycles. In role theory one can formulate fate situations that evokes only one role option which is taken automatically without any other role options available. Concretization and enactment of fate situations with high spontaneity may help in stepping to a state where new roles are born as alternatives to the old ones. Role theory is an adequate tool to develop an elegant framework to integrate examples into a unified view.
Mary is a 42 years old woman, with a strong educational background and worldwide working experience. She has been struggling to enter an intimate relationship with men with almost no success. She has bitter experiences of being rejected, left, not called back and so on. During a 180 hours drama process she slowly gets more aware of what role she is playing in her “fate”.
In a protagonist drama she concretizes a recent event, when she is invited to participate in a group event of a dance group that she has become a member of recently. The event takes place quite far away from her home, so she has to get up early to get ready for the journey. In this moment, the the dance group leader calls her and asks for many favors from her like going for shopping food for lunch for the whole group. She arranges the time-consuming shopping and therefore she gets very late. She realizes that she would miss the important first part of the event, when participants meet, share experiences and groom. She gets upset and angry, feels being used and goes home. At home, she feels lonely and (not without any reason) being rejected by the dance group leader and the dance group.
At this point a lot of internal content is expressed via doubling that highlights that she didn’t even want to go for that particular event and feels being an underdog. Also, the only reason for her taking care of the shopping was to feel loved and accepted. By going home, she manages to get rid of these inner burdens, but immediately feels being an outsider. Being used or being rejected — these are the options she can choose from.
In the next scene of the protagonist drama the scene is divided into two sides. On the left side Mary is standing with the Dance group leader, and is trying to do her best to gain his approval in order to feel accepted. On the right side of the stage she is at home, feeling close to herself but at the same time bitterly lonely. Between the two sides there is a Wall separating the two worlds.
Role names are created to grab major functioning in the role and the atmosphere in which the situation is carried on (“angry”, “isolated”). Role connections are also presented. Note, that the Dance group leader is an outer social actor (in blue), but he also plays an inner role in Mary’s inner psychic landscape.
The director of the drama lets her put her Loneliness on the stage. The Loneliness is with her at home, very close, very intimate. Mary warms up to take care of her Loneliness, caresses her and talks to her warmly, using a motherese style. After many role reversals and increasing warmup to this relationship she tells the Loneliness that she never wants to separate from her and never wants to betray her again. She stands up hand in hand with the Loneliness and goes through the wall to the Dance group leader and introduces him her Loneliness. She clearly states that she doesn’t want to go shopping and wants to be with herself. She also grabs the Angry servant and tells her that she doesn’t need to serve others anymore in order to be loved. She looks at the Wall and says that “the wall is smaller, more penetrable, but I keep it in case want to be alone”.
During the integration phase of the drama a major shift in the role relationships occur. First of all, a new actor, the Loneliness as a double, is put on the stage, connects the protagonist to her true feelings in this situation. Role reversals and expression establish and strengthen the accepting relationship, deep beliefs and old pains can be articulated and accepted in this relationship. Backed by this warm relationship Mary is able to confront the Dance group leader. A mutual rejecting relationship is formed (signaling fight). The Servant–Dance group leader relationship is diminished and a new mutually accepting relationship is formed between the protagonist and the Servant.
To understand how Mary is functioning in the above aspects we concentrate on role-relationships using role theory. This approach is in harmony with Moreno’s original thought that roles are born and develop in relationships, and can be related to current views in object-relationship theory as well. The first scene in Mary’s protagonist drama and her life as well is dominated by two role relationships. The most important role relationship is the Abandoned, rejected child–Abandoning, rejecting parent relationship (Abandonment relationship in short). This relationship is internalized by the child and generates further role relationships during development.
In the above drama, the Dance group leader is put into the role of the Parent and to avoid the pain of rejection the protagonist tries to please him, far beyond her limits. The core relationship is the Pleasing child–Pleased, accepting parent relationship (Pleasing relationship in short) that manifests itself as the Servant–Group leader relationship in this drama. In this relationship the child seeks acceptance and tries to figure out what roles the Parent will accept. She pays the price by avoiding expressing her true needs that makes her angry.
The two relationships are separated by the Wall, the result of dissociation in Mary’s functioning. It is important to note that the Abandonment relationship forms earlier and supports the Pleasing relationship.
So far we can see how Mary’s functioning is generated by deep role relationships and how they are strengthened in a vicious circle. At least at the beginning of her journey of self discovery, Mary is not aware of how she is contributing to her experiences what generates a sense of fate in her. Her believes tell her that rejection and abandonment are in the outside world, and she is a victim of the environment (“You will never have a good relationship. Man are rejecting you.”).
The very fate breaking, spontaneous moment in her drama is when she is able to form a mutually accepting relationship with the Loneliness and take the role of the Cherishing Mother.
The role relationship of the Accepted child–Cherishing mother (Acceptance relationship in short) that enables her to confront the Dance group leader. In a deeper sense this is an Invader–Boundary defender role-relationship (Boundary defender relationship in short).
To summarize how role relationships generate or break (negative) fate we look closer to the two role-relationship pairs enacted in this drama. The important aspect here is that the Abandonment and Acceptance relationships belong to an earlier phase of personality development than the Pleasing and Boundary Defender relationships. Fate breaking should start on the deepest level possible as it will alter more superficial role structures as well. The experience of a close connection warms up the protagonist to defend her boundaries.
In the above drama and in many other dramas high level of warmup and mutually accepting relationships help the protagonist to generate a new role answer to an old situation, where the situation is not else than the maladaptive role relationship itself. This new answer may have a lasting trace, a role that can be strengthened in life situations: Fate ends by having a choice in situations that influence life for the better in the deepest sense.