Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Psychodrama and Spence

Just got back from a week's vacation in the Black Hills which was an amazing experience to connect with that land and reconnect with the family. We toured Wind Cave, saw Mount Rushmore and spent a lot of time talking in the car. Of course there were other not so close moments, like the time when I spoke up and turned around to see everyone else oblivious, ipods on in their own worlds. Then there was the time at Evans Plunge when I, lounging by the pool, decided to pull out a file and prep for a case. When a teenage kid did a cannonball that soaked my file, and myself, I was mad for just a moment until I realized that the site of a lawyer trying to both lie in the sun and read a file were probably the epitome of an "attractive nuisance," I let it go and laughed wondering if I would have done the same thing at that age.

I suggested this location after attending a psychodrama workshop outside of Rapid City in the early Spring. It was close to Harney Peak, the place where Black Elk had his vision, at the age of nine, that was described to John Neihardt in Black Elk Speaks. Charlie Abourezk, the lawyer and documentary filmmaker, located the site which is close to his home in Rapid City and located on what still appears as sacred ground. Psychodrama is about exploring "innerspace" and is difficult to describe but amazing to experience.

I've found one of the best explanations of the magic of psychodrama comes from Joseph Campbell who wrote described the following "pedagogical stunt:" (Diagram here)

Plato has said somewhere that the soul is a circle. I took this idea to suggest on the blackboard the whole sphere of the psyche. Then I drew a horizontal line across the circle to represent the line of separation of the conscious and the unconscious. The dot in the center of the circle, below the horizontal line, represents the center from which all our energy comes… Above the horizontal line is the ego, which I represented as a square: that aspect of our consciousness that we identify as our center. But, you see, it’s very much off center. We think that this is what’s running the show, but it isn’t”

Psychodrama teaches us that what's below the line is running the show, although we rarely see this. It's been described as "cleaning out our psychic closets," which is another way of saying that it reveals to us the fact that what's below the line between conscious and unconscious is often driving us, even when we deny it's effect.

But every time I try to describe psychodrama, I end up getting strange looks. When I described this at the workshop, John Nolte, who sees more than anyone I've met, described writing or talking about psychodrama to describing what an apple tastes like. In other words, words won't do the experience justice. A thousand words couldn't describe what it's like to experience the "live event."

Gerry Spence devotes a chapter to his book "Win Your Case" to psychodrama, and discusses how the courtroom can be like a psychodrama on his new blog, but I still think there's no substitute for biting into that apple yourself rather than reading about it.

It's great to see Mr. Spence writing a blog and I hope he keeps it up better than I have these last few months. I remember picking up an audiobook at the library called "How to Argue and Win Everytime" and listening to it while I jogged in the country shortly after my now 14 year old daughter was born.

I'd picked up several audiobooks in the past but this was the first one in which the author read his own book. (Eckhart Tolle and Daniel Gilbert later read their own) Hearing the author not only read his own material but sound like he believed in it strongly made the material all the more persuasive.

I later bought the hardcover and, after a few reads, finally decided that law school, and representing real people, was a new goal and a distant dream, at least at that time. I especially love the chapter on "Arguing in the Love Relationship" and have thought of it often as I deal with my own family.

Check out his blog. I've been moved and influenced greatly by his books, his trial lawyer's college, and his belief in the power of psychodrama. I love the way he's thinks not only of locks, but of keys, of not only events but of thinking of these events as "gifts," a subtle shift that changes the mindset and becomes, to paraphrase Twain, like the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.


Caped Crusader said...


Thank you for welcoming me into the tribe. I just got back from TLC and well... I don't believe I need to explain it to you. I feel i am a better person for attending but I hope the world is ready for the new me.

Again thank you for the insight and I will be keeping in touch.


Glen Graham said...

Scott Greenfield disagrees with Gerry Spences ideas on what it take to win on his blog - simple justice, but most blogger's defend Mr. Spence and his new blog.
Personally, I consider Gerry Spence to be a master trial lawyer and I disagree with Mr. Greenfield.

Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,

Glen R. Graham, Attorney at Law, Tulsa, Oklahoma http://www.tulsacriminaldefenses.com

Karen Carnabucci said...

Thanks for giving press to psychodrama. It offers magic and power to storytelling.

Karen Carnabucci, MSS, LCSW, TEP

Anonymous said...

Scott Greenfield, a New York Lawyer, stated attacking Spence in 2007, on his blog Simple Justice,
and noted it is only going "to get uglier", on his attacks,
He has sucked the issues on the Norm Pattis blow up into his network, and did issue very vile pieces on Spence etc in October of 2009.
He brands people who he thinks are associated with TLC as
psychopaths, who respond to his very ulgy attacks, then cuts off comments. Some other ugly M O.
His latest was on confronting the Spence cult(as he called it) at TLC in Oct 2009,(in his blog piece) where he kept up his agenda, & very ugly attacks on Spence, TLC and ranch club members.
Most curiously, Scott seems to be some ally with Pattis fueling this very ugly attack on an 80 year old Gerry Spence, and any who are even noted as going to a CLE session at TLC matters.
This ugly Greenfield crusade has been going on for 2 or so, years.
Greenfield has the mirror now where it is laser focused:
On Scott Greenfied.
His ego trips are way over the line, when he employs the tactics he has employed, for what he admits are his ugly agenda, as his amis are to make them uglier, as he admitted, noless.

Anonymous said...

J . R Clary has now started his attack on
person(s) who note how Greenfield at
Simple Justice Blog has fueled
the notion that TLC is ont big
fruit cake cultist colony.
Talk about shoot the messinger,
just mentioning the dynamics
on how this started, has seemed to
result in Mr Clary going on tirade.
Thank you for your candid, and
forthright blog.
Mr Clary once said " Pattis is dead wrong".
What is it " about dead as an adjective
did he mean, or was he playing
a psycho-drama role ?
If it was only Clary play acting,
then is Pattis right,
as he claims TLC is filled with
" nuts".
Those are Pattis words all over
the blog-o- sphere
those are not mine
So, does one just telling you
what Pattis has on his blog
make one a crazy. ranting fool
in some Clary drama method ?
Real weird. Indeed
thanks for keeping the updates.
I enjoy reading your great blog.

Anonymous said...

Norm Pattis, ex TLC instructor, took 3 years and over 25 pieces on his BLOG to reach the conclusion that "Spence is a flawed human being".
What, do any of you know a perfect human being, really MR PERFECT ?
If Pattis was looking for flaws, and he could hardly come up with any, only to find out Spence is not perfect, then who is really the
major kool aid jugger.
But, if you all feel like you are closer to perfection, than what you otherwise would be, hey, your cup of tea.
The Pattis perfect human being red herring, was such a display of so many words, over 3 years, of his Bloggings. But, he says he got(wipped) all the dust off his boots, his latest(Oct 2009), as he now tells why he was rejected by the CIA.(moving into Nov).
Gee, the CIA did not find Norm a "perfect human being", but can he find out what his flaws are, from the CIA perspective.
I would leave my name, but then you would be just looking to prove I have flaws.
You don't have to tell me that, I knew that about 40 years, ago.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if any CLE course has ever been deemed a matter of a cult, religious cult ?
The TLC claims it provides CLE credits, namely continuing legal education credits, and those are required in most states.
TLC is not exactly a quasi-religious entity.
I looked on the Bar WWW site for Wyoming on its CLE section.
I did not even see any TLC courses/ programs listed on that site.

Anonymous said...

TLC is not just another CLE.
Rather it is like being baptized in the River Jordan(Wind Rivers).
How many other CLE's are there were people are being impacted by such courses many years, after the classes.
Go out into the world, and do good, and yet you will find the world is a hard cruel world, and you idealism will be tested, and you will have doubt, and you will
learn more.
But, Gerry never said he was the SON of God. he made that perfectly clear.
Because Norm was rejected by the CIA, gets money for defending rogue cops, and brags about his Professor stints, that is largely beside the point. It is all NORM the cult figure of Conn, his own ego on a SUPER Avatar flight.
Not many places have CLE courses where the guy at the Center is over 75 years old.
Gerry is slipping into the outer reaches of old age.
Some remember him when he was younger.
Norm is a mere snipe, who gets his rock off on his INSIDE TLC games.
It is so silly, but Norm is a SILLY guy when one gets down to who is who...As he---Norm-- gets older he will be even more farcial.

Anonymous said...

You may put Lionel Hutz's picture all you want, but you will NEVER be as great a lawyer as Lionel!!!
- a die-hard Simpsons fan!
(jokes apart, luv luv luv the Lionel pic)