For your Psychodramatic Toolbox:
The Dimond of Opposites
By Carley Foster
Cathy learned The Diamond of Opposites from her early teacher and life-long mentor and friend, Ann E. Hale. Until her death in December 2021, Ann was a luminary in the study and application of sociometry. As a tribute to Ann’s extraordinary contributions to the field, we offer The Diamond of Opposites in this edition’s toolbox.
Originally created by Linnea Carson Sabelli and Hector Sabelli, Ann elaborated on the original version and popularized it among her students. The Diamond of Opposites is an action structure that can help protagonists explore ambivalence toward change or decision-making. The Diamond can be created using paper and pencil and/or put into action on the floor, making it a versatile intervention for individuals, couples and groups. The action structure utilizes a dual spectrogram to determine how much conflict the protagonist is experiencing and to increase insight about the dynamics underlying the protagonist’s ambivalence. Below are the basic steps for completing The Diamond of Opposites with a protagonist.
You Will Need:
- Diamond of Opposites template [see attached pdf with template] OR blank paper to draw it on
- Pencil, pen or markers
- For action: Masking tape to create diamond shape on the floor
- Props and/or auxiliaries to hold roles
- Explain the purpose of the Diamond of Opposites as a tool for exploring ambivalence, and contract with the protagonist to use this tool to explore the situation under consideration.
- Invite the protagonist to consider their “pull to” and “pull not to” make a choice or take an action, marking where they are on either axis of the diamond. Let 0 represent the lowest intensity and 12 the strongest intensity. The protagonist may find it helpful to write out a few reasons for their choices in the margins.
- Let the right axis represent the “pull not to” or “repelled” side of the Diamond, and the left axis represent the “pull to” or “attracted” side.
- After marking the point on each axis representing the strength of the protagonist’s pull, identify the Union of Opposites. This is the point inside the diamond where the two marks intersect.
- Mark the intersection point or Union of Opposites and identify the quadrant within which it lies.
- If the intersection point tends toward the right side of the diamond, the protagonist’s greater pull is NOT to make the choice or change.
- If the intersection point tends toward the left side, the protagonist’s greater pull is TO make the choice or change.
- If the intersection point tends to the top of the diamond, the protagonist is experiencing a greater level of inner conflict.
- If the intersection point tends to the bottom of the diamond, the protagonist is experiencing a lesser level of inner conflict or even indifference.
- If the protagonist is warmed up to action, invite them to choose three props (scarves, stuffed animals, found objects, etc.) to concretize their “pull to,” “pull not to,” and the Union of Opposites. Place the auxiliary objects on the floor in the appropriate positions.
- Invite the protagonist to explore their choices by starting at 0 (neutral) and approaching the prop on the axis chosen to represent their “pull to” or “pull not to,” making a soliloquy about this choice. When a clear message has been given, the protagonist is asked to move to the Union of Opposites position and hear back the important parts of their soliloquy. This can be done using an auxiliary if in a group. Once the protagonist has heard the message, they are invited to return to 0, re-center, and the process is repeated with the second axis.
- Depending on the protagonist’s issue, it may be beneficial or necessary to concretize some resources that have supported them with changes in the past using props or auxiliaries.
- The protagonist is now invited to modify their Diamond of Opposites with the new insight gained from exploring their ambivalence. Modifying the diamond may reveal a Union of Opposites that is closer to a clear answer, furthering the protagonist’s warm-up to change. These new points can be explored in the same way described above. Psychodramatic exploration of the extreme points (rated 12 on the spectrograms/axes) can also reveal parental messages or narrative labels that create disruption. Then moving back to a less intense position, the protagonist may have a new perspective on that position.
This post is an excerpt from BTS-LPTI: Winter 2022. Read more and subscribe to follow further LPTI updates.
Catherine D. Nugent
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Laurel, MD 20707