Inner Theater – a Tool for Developing Drama Intelligence


In following text I mirror the ideas of David Keir Wright (The Pedagogy of Experience and Drama Intelligence) to my own experiences about Inner theater. I have developed Inner Theater from Ego state therapy. It is a self help tool for transformational therapeutic learning using primarly creative reading and journaling in a ”drama imaginarium” of mind. It is an improvised play of our ego states . (Italic type of text by David Keir Wright).


Drama intelligence is a feeling intelligence developed in processes of self-exploration, self-transformation and meaning making through individual creative imaginative action and cultural-aesthetic practice in a collective context. It is an intelligence all humans beings have the capacity to develop – an intelligence that is empathic, intuitive, spontaneous and imaginative. Its basis is man’s ”theatrical instinct”. The ability to play personal is essential.


I have been using ego states as a tool for transformational learning for some years. The process started during my hypnotherapy studies (2004-2007) . I  started to use ego states as a personal tool for self-exploration during my hard period of life (burnout and breast cancer). I have published this personal journaling process as a book (Mielentilojen treenikirja 2007 – The training book of Ego states). It is a kind of self-analysis book using ego states as a reflexion tool for self- knowledge and ”new me” actualization.

I wrote a drama using my emerging sixteen ego states to get new insight of myself. The book is not a pearl of literature. Actually the purpose of journaling is not that, allthough some of my students have written really beautiful poetry.  Instead drama journaling is used in Inner Theater  for increasing self-knowledge and for finding better harmony inside of you and in relation to your community. I created in my personal Inner Theater for example a depressed ego state Mrs. Wrinkle, ecological state Mielikki, an inner Scientist, an inner hypnotherapist Anna, sceptic Thomas, and two inner children etc.


Through personal play and the use of his imagination, the man transforms himself and transcends into another reality. A reality where he can be different, do something different, be somewhere different than in everyday life and see things in a different perspective.


After that I started experimentally use ego state with journaling groups. About use of ego states in journaling and  experiences about groups I have written another book (in English something like Inner Theater – journaling as cultivating self-awareness). I and many of my students have been able to reach this ”another reality” Wright mentions.  As a hypnotherapist, I would call it creative trance or self-hypnosis. By the way, it is interesting that in hypnosis history automatic writing is well-known. In this trance state of consciousness you can for some moments let your rational ego states to give open imaginal space to deeper ego states emerging from unconcious mind. By this way you can enrich your Inner Theater.


The development of drama intelligence can be achieved through the practice of playing, play acting and acting, of being characters real or symbolic created by the individual herself alone and in conjunction with others – through practicing living. In drama, as in life, the individual is both the creator and the medium. The material to be transformed is herself. As an artist and human being she is both the subject creating and the object created.


I have used in my writing groups in first sessions as a tool ESI® (Excecutive State indentification). It is simple but genius tool for maping some of your superficial ego states. The method is developed by Australian Jan Sky. The underlying ego states are harder to reach – to get in touch with them you must use your self-hypnosis skills, imagination. Some of your ego states can be archetypal like Inner Child and Inner Wisdom but basically ego states are who they are. They are your personal unique structures of your mind.

In the process you can sometimes notice that you may have introjections, too, internalized peers for example. In my Inner Theater journaling method,  you can in addition make consciously new introjections. For example you can create in the journaling process a new strong adult ego state, which you have made from a trusted, emphatic adult role model from real life or literature.

The director of your theater has to have in social situations a mature and well-formed sense of reality.  Adult mature ego states and reading for example scientifical articles help to develop it.  You have to develop an eye for distinctions of more realistic and imaginal worlds.  The writer knows that she is all the time working in journaling in metaphorical worlds. When you move to China for example, you can study its’ culture and create a Chinese girl as a new introjection. She utilizes different metaphoric forms of reality for increasing self-knowledge and understanding.


It is important in journaling not to associate in ego states carrying painful experiences. Instead you write as an observer or director of your play.  The more painful experience, the more fictional story. You can for example write a fairy tale of orphan little girl. The goal is to prison the emotional experience in soft,  symbolic form.  You can enrich the fairy tale by using strong adult ego states for repairing experiences.


Playing is life. Playing at living contributes the acquirement of self-knowledge, knowledge of humankind in general and awareness of the creative power of the imagination. An awareness that provides insight, strength and the will to change reality. Through his imagination man has the capacity to transform ”the given circumstances” and be in ” a continual state of becoming”.


In successful ego state journaling process you can really feel how you are in ”a continual state of becoming”. Your life becomes a process of continuing moving and changing. You kind of get your energy and information molecules in motion. Daniel Siegel talks about mindsight. Gordon Emerson writes about Happy Parts, Happy Self. Inner Theater is in my opinion a method for developing mindsight by drama intelligence. You can learn to perceive your mind better, and that helps you to see others more precisely, too.

In addition to ego state journaling, some people have used their ego state as personae of comics. The whole idea of the process is to get to know your parts in ever flowing drama atmosphere including resepct, humor and compassion.


Life is not life if there is no moving and changing. Drama intelligence is about life and living. It is the individual’s capacity to relate imaginatively, intuitively, emphathetically and consciously to other human beings and oneself as a human being. Drama intelligence is man’s ability to make symbolic universal meaning out of symbolic particular meaning and vice versa.


I encourage my students to be spontaneous. I actually encourage them to merge mindfulness and other contemplation activities in their self-awareness practices. Although mindfulness and hypnosis have different historical backgrounds, they have a lot of common ground. For many people, journaling process is a spiritual process, too. Journaling can be one kind of contemplation. As in contemplation, in Inner Theater, the epistemiology of new knowledge is love.

And ofcourse, you can use ego states as in traditional actual drama play. The group members can play your parts, and the writer, the creator of these ego states,  can be a director of this play. Hypnotherapist, is a facilitator of the directing process. The athmosphare must be gentle and all the ego states must be respected.

Of course the journaling group have to be made of people who trust each other. The ego states can be unethically used for bullying. When you make your parts known, it is a very intimate process and everybody are not ready for revealing themselves to foreigners or even to close team members. That can be sometimes a wise decision.

My intention is always to encourage participants, students etc. to be spontaneuos. I want them to trust their intuition and believe in their feelings and emotional states while searhchig for their aesthetic impulse. I want them to be engaged in identity making projects.

 The play in the potential space where they are given the opportunity of attain personal knowledge in the area of cultural experience between ”me” and ”not me”. I. The writer is both the playwriter, and actor improvising her drama. New characters, ego states, tend to be created in this meaning making process.

It is my belief that individuals are more inclined to have an excess of energy and desire to work constructively with others, when they are conscious of choice and their own continual state of becoming. Self-knowledge and self-awareness cultivates the soil in which collective collaboration, democracy and solidarity can grow.


That is my idea too.   People can get to know themselves better and they can make more conscious choices and in this way grow more responsible citizens. In Inner Theater it is a question about cultivating self-awareness. The life is full of traumatazing personal and public  news. The global world is multicultural, traumataizing and full of contradictionary information. In this kind of situation, it is for most of the people liberating to know, that they are plural selves. We have in different situations possibility to choose which is the excecutive ego state in our Inner Theater. Our bodymind doesen’t have to be directed by autopilot. Ego states give you possibility to learn to grow and know your ever-flowing and changing consciousness.


A process of personal investigation always reveals something old and new. The philosophy and methodology enables individuals to see themselves as both fixed and not fixed. It gives them the opportunity of discovering and trying out other possibilities and the freedom, power and confidence to perceive themselves, other and the world in a new way. A process of discovery and meaing making that is anchored to their creation of a character and a drama and using both as a transitional object. The purpose is to give participants adequate time and space to work reflexively and the possiblility of ”losing themselves” in the characters and the aesthetic experience in order to expand and deepen their self-knowledge, knowledge of human beings and the world through inner dialogues, contemplation in solitude and reflexive conversation.


It is imperative that each participants in this drama methodology creates her own representational form that comes out of her level of knowledge and experience, the present everyday themes and together given circumstances in the specific context. The participants are responsible for their own production of knowledge. They produce and transform cultural knowledge, which is their own knowledge, expressed in aesthetic form. This implies a theory of knowledge that links sensuous experience to theoretical reflection.


As a hypnotherapist I emphasize that ego states are not just emotional states, they are physiological states, too. The purpose of inner drama is to get your inner energy and information molecules in flow, which for sure have a positive effect in your holistic well being. Hypnotherapy can be a holistic, integrative method for healing. Mindfulness and hypnosis share a lot of common ground.

For me GMM (guided mindfulness meditation) is hypnosis, allthough they have different paradigmatic backgrounds. I think that is why I, as a hypnotherapist, feel myself confortable in the world of mindfulness. In my work I stress western contemplation, spiritual, philosophical and hypnosis traditions. Ego states give us tool to integrate different wisdom traditions. My favorite philosopher is Danish Soren Kierkegaard, whose whole philosophy was written by his colourful and wonderful alter states. I believe Kierkegaard would have had some benefits of knowing the principles of Ego state therapy. For me,  this genius  was quite merciless towards himself and traditional authoritian priests. His parts were not very happy.


Playing” is different from, but just as important as, presention of meaning and knowledge ” a play”. A differens stands between theatre as communication and a drama created as an investigative and experiential practice not dependent on an external audience. A ”third” space for sharing and communication is to be found in the more intimate and secure cultural community, the space that theories on ritual call ”communion”. The ”third” space has its own valuable contextual aesthetic, between everyday social life and the artistic public sphere. This ”third” space was an essential arena in the methodology of the Pedagogy of Experience.


Thank you for your ideas, David Keir Wright. They matched perfectly with my ideas of Inner Theater of ego states! I think our views complement wonderfully each other.

Inner Theater in facebook.

PS. Sorry about my English mistakes…. I should find a speller.


Neural integration is the heart of health

Self-reflective integration is the heart of health, says Daniel J. Siegel.

Not suprise for me!  I have teached reflective journaling and written about it (by using ego states) for years.   I  call reflective awareness by name ”Inner theater” in this journaling method.  We can formulate the ego states from our inner feelings, sensations and emotions. They are the parts of us which we create through out our personal history.

Ego states are learned, habitual, ways to react in certain situations. Ego states are reflections of our culture they are constructed in our relationships. The ego states can be physical body sensations, too. To know them and to direct them wisely is one way to integrate yourself!  Introjections, internalized other people, are especially interesting parts of us.

We are able to create new ego states thourgh our whole life. That increases our resilience. To know our ego states means that we open ourselves to our inner and outer dialogue. We can be in mindfully in dialogue with our bodymind and with our culture and people around of us.  We don’t let us to be  directed just by an autopilot.

The ego states represent different life styles and world views in ourselves. We can use imagination for integrating ourselves in a state which I call ”psychodramatic trance”. Creative reflective journaling with ego states can be a wonderful mindsight practice for self knowledge!

The inner theater is a psychoanalytical tool which uses creative state of mind for self-reflection. We can use our unconscious mind constructively for increasing self-knowledge and awareness. The skilled metaphor work and getting to know our projections is in the basis of creative work in which we  widen our self-awereness!

We can unload the burdens of our ego states and open their barriers between them so that the barriers between the states will be more and more permeable. A healing self is a free flowing ego state process.

By knowing our ego states, we little by little free ourselves from sticking to our ego and it’s states:  We can release ourself to our true beeing, free from any kind of ego states.

Some thoughts about Ego state therapy as mind-body therapy

In a life crisis, like illness, we come to a situation where our old life´s narrative gets stuck. That is because our old way of making sense to our lives are not valid anymore. We are in the situation where we have to rewrite, self-narrate, ourselves. In these stories we have to be truthful to life as it has been lived. To be honest doesen´t mean that we have to tell our story with medical terms. For me medicine is dead poetry.

Sometimes for example fairytails, drama and poetry can express our truthfulness more precisely than cold language of medicine. To be truthful, we have to create our new identity narrative from different kind of rationalities. For me as hypnotherapist it is quite clear that plural ways, like Ego state therapy, gives us opportunity to free us from one sided medical unifying truth.

Waitkin characterizes medicine as an ideological system that ”calls” the patient to be an identity that medicine maintains for him; the diagnosis is the most prevalent form of this identity. The ideological work of medicine is to get the patient to accept this diagnostic identity as appropriate and moral. When the patient accepts this identity he aligns himself as subordinate in a power relation.

To me as a medical professional, it is clear that medical truth can be in many cases useful, but it is not the only perspective. If we want to really give patient-centered health care, the patient have to be able and free to narrate his own story. To be free means that he is free to choose the worldviews he wants for his illness narrative.

A transmodern physician is a dialogue companion of his patient. This is not very pleasent for some professionals, because  the paradigm of materialistic medicine, has offered to medical professionals and whole society a asymmetrial power system. The transmodern world, where we are on our way, is more equal. The old power hirarchies seem to be dying. The change appear to be happening first in grass level. It looks like the patients have realized the plurality of worlds before the medical experts.

Medicine is for me an ideological system but often quite useful such one. For me both as a patient and medical professional, patient -physican power relation is symmetrical. Medicine has been a part of authoritarian materialistic culture. We are at the moment moving towards dialogical more equal world, where every creature has a voice. I think that world is liberating for the medical professionals, too.

Medical experts have given – and often their patients have even waited for – their unifying view for narration of the patient´s illness story. To be in dialogue means that two equal persons are communicating and listening to each other. Medical professionals have useful views to their patients but in the transmodern world an adult patient has basic right to choose if he wants, or if he does not want, to take the medical unifying view as a part of their illness story.

The patients are becoming narrators of their own life. That is good because people are taking more and more responsibility of their own health. It has been talked for ages about patient-centered health care.  In transmodern world, health care is becaming truly patient-centered.

There are many professionals nowadays who think that the illness narration is a process based on plural identity. We live in the middle of different ideologies. We can be rational in many ways. I think that the perfect way to self-narrate is to find from ourselves ego states and an observing self, out side of our ego states (the director of our inner theater). We can by this way make self availble for ourselves.

New narrative after illness or other life crisis is a self-reflexive process. One quite handy way to do renarration work, is using ego states our ”subpersonalities”. In reflexive monitoring process we readjustment perpetually past and present to sustain a good story in which we listen to our body. By getting to know our plural self – ego-states – by for example metaphoric creative writing, we are often able to build a new coherent and strong identity story.


Audre Laurde, american black feminist an poet, went through breast cancer and mastectomy. Lorde noticed many different worlds she moved through and she also noticed the plurality of the self that is reclaimed needs to be noted. The issue for most ill people seems to be keeping multiple selves available to themselves.

She is really not the only one. My opinion is and more and more people in many kind of life crisis notice the plurality of the worlds they are going through. Also Franklin writes that Stewart Alsop observes that his book after his illness was created by different mes. Actually according to Franklin most ill people seems to be keeping multiple selves available to themselves. Schafer pays attention to the fact that for many ill people, there is an experiential self, who may be seen as a set of varied narratives that seem to be told by and about a cast of varied selves. And yet, like the dream, the entire tale is told by one narrator. Nothing here supports the common illusion that there is a single self-entity that each person has.

Franklin continues: Sue Nathanson went through abortion and tubal litigation. It was a years trauma for her. She could not anticipate how much the loosing of the baby and her fertility would meen to her.´The realization that she is not one person but many, and some parts of her have to act in ways that contradict the values of other parts… Nathanson realizes that her own cast of varied selves includes the destroyer and the nurturer, and these selves can co-exist. The work of telling her self-story is a process of getting rid of what Schafer calls the ”exaggerated impression of single and unvarying self-entities.”

Reynolds Preice recovered from a malignant tumor. He described in detail how the paralysis that results from radiation affects his life. His conclusion is that he now inhabits a body that is fundamentally different, and thus he must be a different person. He advises any who suffer similar fates to become someone else, the next viable you – a cripped-down whole and clear-eyed person, realistic as a sawed-off shotgun and thankful for air. A new body calls for a new self, nothing less will do.

I found my plurality after cancer. In my inner theater I celebrated the plurality of self by using ego states as a tool of creative therapeutic writing. When we have difficult times in our lives, we are called for identities it formulates. Physical illnesses are not the only occasions in our lives where many of us can find the plural self useful.

Ego state therapy is actually mind-body therapy, because it is a tradition of hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapist have long known that our deepest emotions talk body language.

You can use in any crisis of life your ego states for enpowering yourself. By them you can find back your ablity to wonder and  be mindful.  Augustine writes: ”Reflection on memory makes the self an object of wonder – an astonishment previosly reserved for the contemplation of the world.” The good story end in wonder, and the capacity for wonder is reclaimed from the bureaucratic rationalizations of institutional medicine. Being available to yourself ultimately means having the ability to wonder at all self can be.

(Italic type of text from Arthur W. Frank´s ”Wounded storyteller – Body, illness and ethics”)

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