By Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP
Adam Blatner, philosopher, bon vivant, cartoonist, singer, dancer, writer, psychiatrist, physician, promoter of playfulness, "Whizzard of Ah's," romantic, character, teacher, grandpopala, metaphysician, imaginologist, elf, psychodramatist, theoretician, etc., died x after a remarkably full, rich, eventful, many-faceted life. He succeeded in promoting a number of causes, developing a variety of ideas, including a fair number of original ones, networking up a storm, mentoring a good many folks, healing many others, and bringing out some extra magic in countless numbers by fostering song fests and other activities that celebrate the "child within."
I didn’t write the paragraph above. Adam Blatner did, leaving the "x" as a placeholder for his actual date of death. Adam, one of the most beloved stars of the psychodrama community, typed those words in February 2005 on his website.
Now Adam has passed on Oct. 1, 2021, at the age of 84. And now our psychodrama community is reading his obituary and busily writing memories of his wife and work, but I can’t condense my memories into a little paragraph.
As you can see from Adam’s writing, he easily and delightfully took many roles. So I want to say:
Dearest Adam, there is so much to say and so much to thank you for. Thank you for your gentle pushes to go beyond my self-imposed boundaries to present at conferences and other events long before I believed that I was ready and to write articles for the journal though I should be as old as you before getting published.
Adam has been one of my most favorite people in the psychodrama world. He has been a constant encourager and mentor of younger trainees and practitioners and has always nudged us (including me!) to write and publish.
Like many others, I first met Adam as a younger psychodrama trainee through his books, “Foundations of Psychodrama and “Acting In,” both of which I found easy reading after struggling through Dr. J.L. Moreno’s original wordy prose about psychodrama and sociometry.
When I attended my first conference of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama in the early 1990s, I was pleasantly surprised when Adam greeted me so warmly and signed his books for me.
A few years later I signed up for the now-legendary Zerka Moreno 80th birthday cruise to Bermuda along with about 100 other psychodramatists, and Adam was sailing along. When he found out that I had brought my Tarot cards with me, we had a great conversation about the Tarot – and he immediately insisted that I must present a Tarot and psychodrama workshop on the cruise boat, saying that people would just love the topic. I reluctantly agreed – I wasn’t even a Certified Practitioner yet! – and on the next day I went to the room that he had reserved for the workshop. To my surprise, the room was crowded – I suspect that Adam had something to do with that too – and there in a front row seat was Adam!
Despite my knee-wobbling stage fright at presenting in front of The Great Adam Blatner, the workshop was warmly received, and I had to admit that Adam was right. I decided to pay more attention to what he was saying.
Next he was urging me to write about what I was doing. We became friends, checking in with each other during the conferences and sent messages in between conferences. Once he offered me a Tarot card reading on the phone as a special present, and another time he asked me to co-present a conference workshop with him. He gladly gave endorsements for two of my books. And at some point every year, right before the awards for the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama were due, he would contact me to ask, “What are you doing that deserves an award?” If I hinted at anything that might be slightly interesting, he wrote up my name on the nomination sheet.
It took me some time to realize that although most of us trainers had institutes and schools and seriously guarded our special inventions, Adam was a free-range trainer. He organized group sing-alongs at our conferences and always spoke of the importance of networking with people in other countries and professionals in other disciplines -- especially drama therapy and the applied arts -- and generously shared his knowledge, perspectives and ideas to anyone practically anywhere: on Grouptalk, the long-running psychodrama discussion list; in emails; at dinner at the conferences; and even in the hallways. But he offered his ideas with a humble note, frequently saying, "I could be wrong."
He authored several books, including the primary modern textbooks for students of psychodrama. At his 82nd birthday, just two years ago, he gave us three beautiful gifts – PDF downloads of three of his earlier books – which are classics in the psychodrama field and not always easy to find – for free.
These books are available for download in PDF format:
Thank you Adam for your generosity of spirit and for all that you have given to our psychodrama community.
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is the founder of the Lancaster School of Psychodrama and Experiential Psychotherapies in Lancaster, Pa., which teaches transformational learning in a variety of experiential methods and practices, including psychodrama, sociometry, Family and Systemic Constellations, sand tray, group skills and more. Subscribe to her e-letter for professionals and get first notice of training events, Early Bird discounts, helpful links and inspiring and supportive info. You may subscribe here.
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is an author, trainer and psychotherapist who promotes, practices and teaches experiential methods including psychodrama, Family and Systemic Constellations, sand tray, mindfulness and Tarot imagery.