Pitruzzella, Salvo

The Dramatic Self hypothesis.  A paradigm of human identity according to dramatherapy.
 

L’ipotesi del Sé drammatico.

Un paradigma dell’identità umana secondo la drammaterapia.
 

Salvo Pitruzzella
 

I have been growing fond of the ‘Knight of the sorrowful countenance’ in spite not only of the fact that he is a literary fiction, but also that even within the literary frame he is an imaginary character, devised by the ‘madness’ of the lonesome hidalgo of La Mancha, whom, in its turn, is influenced by the literary world, including Cervantes’ book itself.

To some extent, Don Quixote is the forerunner of the postmodern identity fragmentation (Gergen), which has eventually led to the deconstruction of the concept of Self at the beginning of the Third Millennium: the idea that there is nothing like a ‘noumenal’ Self behind the ‘phenomenal’ manifestations of the person; the Self is considered instead as an illusory construct (Metzinger), which can be either a necessary armour, or a dangerous hoax.

But if the Self is a delusion, what about therapy? We have been thinking that restoring people’s ‘real’ selves is one of the therapy’s aims, but what if there is nothing to restore? Where can we find solid ground upon which we can establish a transformative process? 

One of the basic tenets of dramatherapy is that, given that the dramatic tendency is an inborn human feature, manifesting itself both at ontogenetic and phylogenetic levels, the structure of drama itself can provide us with a pattern to understand human nature.

The Dramatic Self Hypothesis, at which I have been working for some years, is an attempt to integrate the emerging concepts of intersubjectivity (Bråten, Trevarthen), enaction (Varela), ecological perception (Gibson) and homeostatic processes (Damasio) – implying the dismissal of the traditional concept of the Self – into an enlarged and revised version of the ‘dramatic metaphor’. I think it can suggest to us new tools to comprehend people’s distress and use our methods in a more aware and effective way.

 

L’ipotesi del Sé drammatico.

Un paradigma dell’identità umana secondo la drammaterapia.

Col tempo, mi sono sempre di più affezionato al “Cavaliere dalla trista figura”, ancorché non solo sia una finzione letteraria, ma sia anche dentro la cornice letteraria un personaggio immaginario, partorito dalla “follia” del solitario hidalgo della Mancia, a sua volta influenzato dal mondo della letteratura, che include lo stesso libro di Cervantes.

Per certi versi, Don Chisciotte è il precursore della postmoderna frammentazione dell’identità (Gergen), che ha infine portato alla decostruzione del concetto di Sé all’inizio del Terzo Millennio: l’idea che non esiste un Sé “noumenico” dietro alle manifestazioni “fenomeniche” della persona; il Sé è piuttosto considerato come un costrutto illusorio (Metzinger), che può diventare una necessaria armatura di protezione, ma anche un pericoloso auto-inganno.

Ma se il Sé è un’illusione, quali conseguenza per la terapia? Abbiamo imparato che il rafforzamento del “vero” Sé è uno degli scopi della terapia, ma che cosa succede se non c’è niente da rafforzare? Dove possiamo trovare un terreno solido per attivare un processo trasformativo?

Uno dei principi di base della drammaterapia è che, considerato che la tendenza drammatica è connaturata all’essere umano, e si manifesta sia a livello ontogenetico che a livello filogenetico, la struttura stessa del dramma possa suggerirci uno schema per comprendere la natura umana.

L’Ipotesi del Sé Drammatico, alla quale lavoro da diversi anni, è un tentativo di integrare i concetti emergenti di intersoggettività (Bråten, Trevarthen), enazione (Varela), percezione ecologica (Gibson) e processi omeostatici (Damasio) – che implicano l’abbandono della tradizionale concezione del Sé – in una versione ampliata e rivista della “metafora drammatica”. Sono convinto che il modello che ne risulta possa suggerirci dei nuovi strumenti per comprendere il disagio, e usare i nostri metodi in modo più consapevole ed efficace. 

 

Biography

Salvo Pitruzzella is a pioneer of dramatherapy in Italy. He has worked in many fields, including mental health, education and community care.

Dramatherapy course leader at the Arts Therapy Centre, Lecco, Italy (https://www.artiterapie.it/).

Professor of Arts Education and lecturer of Creative Writing at the Fine Arts Academy of Bari, Italy (http://www.accademiabelleartiba.it/).

Regional Representative at ECArTE (European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education) (http://www.ecarte.info/).

Honorary Member of the SPID (Società Professionale Italiana di Drammaterapia) (http://www.spid-drammaterapia.org/), on behalf of which he attends the Executive Committee of EFD (European Federation of Dramatherapy) (http://www.efdramatherapy.com).

International Member of the BADTh (British Association of Dramatherapists), and member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Dramatherapy Journal (http://badth.org.uk/).

 

Recent Publications

Pitruzzella, S. (2018) The space that divides and connects. Betweenness and the intersubjective perspective. Dramatherapy Journal, vol. 39, n.1, Routledge, London.

Pitruzzella, S. (2017) Educazione all’arte/arte dell’educazione. Il paradigma CREARE: un contributo al rinnovamento pedagogico, Milano, FrancoAngeli.

Pitruzzella, S. 2017) The Lost Treasure of Paidia. Drama Therapy Review, Vol. 3, N. 2, Intellect, Wilmington, NC.

Pitruzzella, S. (2017) Cultural Landscapes in the Arts Therapies, ECArTE - Plymouth University Press, Plymouth (editor, with R. Hougham, R. and S. Scoble, S.)

Pitruzzella, S. 2016) Drama, Creativity and Intersubjectivity: Foundations of Change in Dramatherapy, London, Routledge

Conference presentations

2018: Firenze (Italy), 28-29 June. International Conference ‘The Future of Education’, I CREATE: a new paradigm for arts education (paper)

2018: Nürtingen (Germany) 27-28 April. 4th European Dramatherapy Conference ‘Borders in Action’, From a seed to a sapling (keynote address, with J. Williams-Cymniewszki)

2018: Cracow (Poland) 14-16 September. 14th European Arts Therapies Conference ‘Traditions in Transition’, Steps to a paradigm shift: intersubjectivity in the arts therapies (long paper)

2017: Gent (Belgium) 6-9 April. 3rd European Dramatherapy Conference ‘Setting the Stage’, The way of Imagination (workshop)

2016: Cirencester (UK), 9-11 September. Annual Conference of The British Association of Dramatherapy, Betweenness and the roots of empathy: an intersubjective approach to dramatherapy (paper).