Ep20 – Anath Garber (Part 2)

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Welcome back. I'm Tonya Pinkins and you're listening to my podcast; you can't say that. Welcome back for part two of my conversation with psychodrama therapist Anath Garber.

Anath Garber: Yeah, probably if he would just, if anybody ever acknowledged what they borrowed, or shall I say if they stole, it would be nice. But he was really such a generative person that people have one idea in your lifetime make a fortune out of it, but you have 10,000 then you...

Tonya Pinkins: Give them away.

Anath Garber: Give them away and people take it. And everybody knows what gestalt is, right?

Tonya Pinkins: What is gestalt?

Anath Garber: Oh, it's Fritz Perls develop a method of therapy that he called Gestalt. It's hope in German, but basically took one technique from psychodrama, the “empty chair. “The “empty chair” is a huge technique because you can project anything on the “Empty Chair” and face it. He decided to be on this side, protagonists and here is antagonists and they fight it. And that's it. That's it. It's easy to teach, it's, you cannot do much damage, even if you're not too good. And that was the whole thing. It's where more amount of work in psychodrama, because it requires incredible skill, tons of study. You have to have certain; you have to be a director; you have to be a psychologist. You have to be in tune with a lot of stuff. And like anything, a knife can do surgery and can-do butchery. And the more sharp it is, the more dangerous it is. But at the same time, it's the more healing. I think this is a potent metal, but one of the things that always terrified me in open session, people would come to see, I would run it out of very good psychodrama. This is very simple. We put people on the stage to tell them what to do. And then people, they would go back to college, direct something and turn off to students forever, just because they forgot to warm them up. In the beginning of my career, I was working inNew Jersey with a psychiatrist who I was very honored that I was running the group with him. I was like 20 something. And he could understand why when I run, everybody does what I ask them. When he runs people don't do it. He just didn't notice the warmup I was doing. So you be a mother, well, she doesn't want to be a mother. If she says this, she says, but why? When I say, because by the time she gets up, she was already warmed up to be a mother.He couldn't see it.

Tonya Pinkins: And you couldn't tell him.

Anath Garber: It took a lot of explaining. Like, it wouldn't take much explaining to you, but warmup, why warm up? He's a psychiatrist. He says ,you do. That's how it goes. Especially if he a male, why do you want it? You do it. And if you don't do it, it's called resistance.

Tonya Pinkins: So you have a problem if you're not doing what he says, not he didn't do what was required to get you to do.

Anath Garber: And then you call it to name, it's resistance. Now we'll work with your resistance. And there is a whole new development. Well, if there is a resistance, you have to ask yourself what's happening that the person it's not right for them to do it. There must be another way. And here comes the spontaneity, right. Or you can go over it’s like, this is the most ridiculous direction he gave me. Yeah. And then they will tell you what's right direction. People usually, if you warm them to that stage, healing center, there's like a healing center in us opens up and leads.

Tonya Pinkins: It sounds like this kind of warming up that you talk about could be useful for some directors who don't have a sort of natural facility for that. Though I will say sometimes I’ve been directed by directors who are fresh out of grad school and they want to come in and do all these exercises. And I’m like, you know what, I’m a professional. I could do this job in my sleep. Why are you like treating me like a child? So I’m on two sides of it. On the one hand I can see, okay, this warmup can help some people. And then for me, it was like, come on, this is not hard for me. I can drop into this. I can do it. I live, I can turn it on and off. I've been doing it for so long. And that structure for me to step out of myself has been built over 50 years of doing this.

Anath Garber: Yeah. So if he was more tuned in, he would say, okay, you and you, you probably don't need it, but I think maybe other people, or if you feel that you need to join us, that would totally resolve your resistance. Maybe you want to do this exercise, but don't treat me like I really need it. And it's mana from god. [05:37 inaudible]. It will be tuning into you and you feel much more inclined to take then direction from him. But to be like that, it takes maturity or, just some people are natural. But, maybe not. I'm not so sure I agree with that.

Tonya Pinkins: Well, one of the things that one of my guests I had yesterday [06:08 inaudible] who's a psychonaut, he explores entheogens and goes into other realms and he was talking about how fear is the thing that gets in our way all the time. And I think a lot with directors, if they don't feel like they know what they're doing, rather than just being able to admit, I don't know what I’m doing. They try to take command when they don't have it. And don't recognize that we can see that you don't know what you're doing when you're pretending, we see that. I think the way in which people are disrespectful of anybody, but particularly actors is treating us like we're blind, that we aren't intuitive, that we can't read you no matter what your words are that you are saying. We can read what's going on, no matter what the words are that are coming out of your mouth. That's what our gift is. That's what we're trained to do.

Anath Garber: Yeah. Well, you just really brought this incredible point in such a beautiful way, because really theater should be the theater of truth. And if that person would come from a point of truth and say, you know guys, you know, a lot, I’m a novice and I’m really scared, so I need your help.

Tonya Pinkins: And then we want to help.

Anath Garber: Yeah. And so the same thing with a therapist, of course it's easier when you... In the beginning I used to smoke. So if I didn't know what to say, I took a break and God was gracious and gave me, the next thing. But when I stopped smoking, it meant I had to take a breath, take time, feel okay of not knowing until I knew. And I could actually say, hold on, I really need to think this. Oh, wait a second. No, I think that will be better. Let's scratch this. It’s actually, truth is always the best.

Tonya Pinkins: We just aren't raised to that, especially culturally, today, this is the moment of deny, deny, deny. Call things, something different. I mean I say, they call people of color minority people when we are the majority people on the planet. Even in the sort of BDSM context that the dominatrix isn't understood to be the servant. There's so many words that we use in our vocabulary that mean the exact opposite of what we're referring to.

Anath Garber: Well, part of it. And then I want to say something because today it's the Martin Luther King but part of it is, I don't know about anybody else, but I’m afraid to expose my vulnerability unless I’m in a safe environment. And I don't always feel everywhere, safe, and I’m not even the most discriminated against person.

Tonya Pinkins: Then that's true. I think we all are afraid to be risk being vulnerable.

Anath Garber: Yeah. So I could discourse it and I don't enjoy my life as much as I can. So it was time I prefer to do psychodrama than live my life, this is really bad.

Tonya Pinkins: I find for me that when I value a relationship with someone, I’m willing to risk being radically honest with them. And most of the time when I’m radically honest with people, I find out that they're not interested in that kind of relationship. So I know that these people are going to, I’m going to have a very sort of artificial relationship with them because that radical honesty, it shuts them down. It scares them, it offends them. And so, okay, we're not going to have that kind of relationship. And then I know that when they ask me a question, I just give them a superficial answer of what I think they want to hear, because that's as deep as they're willing to go with me.

Anath Garber: I actually don't know what exactly you mean by radical honesty. So I don't want to...

Tonya Pinkins: Let me tell you what I mean, let's say for instance you Anath asked me to do something and I like you and you're my friend. And I would like to do it for you for that, but it just doesn't feel right for me. And I would just go, it doesn't feel right for me. I can't do this. I don't know how to do this. I can't do it. I can do this for you, but I can't do this thing. You're asking for me. I can't do it.

Anath Garber: That sounds like truth.

Tonya Pinkins: Well, but the other thing I could say is, oh gosh, thank you so much for asking me. I am so busy that day but thank you for asking of me. Think of me again. Okay.

Anath Garber: Oh yeah. That's the polished answer. A white lie that gives me the creeps. And it's really because there is dissonance between the verbal and the undertone, and it really is.

Tonya Pinkins: I can read that on and anybody.

Anath Garber: That was almost formulaic, but there are better versions of it. The only thing is, why do I, when I get up, why do I feel like...

Tonya Pinkins: Do you feel slime.

Anath Garber: That’s how I know something is like that, which is really like, when you want to understand the difference between spontaneity and impulsiveness, because how do you know whether it was a spontaneous act? No, the way you said it was spontaneous, it came from within. You really, I could see you are sensing this I’m ready to do this just does not feel right. I could sense it. authentically came from and I almost want to say it, it's okay. There's no problem. I wanted. Okay so, and
My spontaneity was there, and impulsive thing is unfortunately, after the fact, because after the fact you don't feel good. Because you did it only with part of yourself. So the other part comes to attack. Look at you, sounded like white slimy little thing or something like that. So that is the difference.

Anath Garber: And I think that's a big, a big thing for actors. One of the things that I try to do when I’m teaching my students, I feel like my teaching is on a lot of psychodrama and a lot of parenting is. Until you get to college and if you get the privilege of going to college, like a lot of people don't get that privilege. Like you are somebody's property and you have to do what they want you to do. And your tastes are their tastes because you don't have a choice. If you get the bridge of college, college is this time where you get these training wheels or you got to go, oh, I don't have to do it the way my parents did it. I can see how this works, ooh, no, don't like, and you get this training wheel period of trying to figure it out for yourself, because then you got to go out into the world, and you got to define your day. And how do you define a day when there's no rules, no structure. And you could do whatever you want to do. I think most people just follow the rules that they learned all along, rather than being brave enough, or even having the consciousness enough to know, I can do it anyway. I can do it ways I don't know how; most people don't even take that stretch in their consciousness to think I can do something that I don't even know how to do, or that's never been done before in my family or that I’ve never seen. I wish that for people that they could have that kind of thinking.

Anath Garber: I think that most people don't even have the freedom to be themselves. They just actually don't know what it is to be themselves. Actually, it takes a lifetime to figure out who you are. So this is like, baby step, you are freeze. But some people are lucky to come from a family that encourages it. Not too many.

Tonya Pinkins: I have to say, I encouraged my children to be themselves. I didn't ask them to be anything. I didn't give them a religion. And when I tell my son things like you're a genius, he gets mad. He gets mad. I said, why are you getting mad? Why does it make you so upset for me to say, ‘because I like reality? ‘And I’m like, well, why is your reality more real than my reality? In my reality, you're a genius. So why do you want your reality where you're not.

Anath Garber: But is it a question or an accusation?

Tonya Pinkins: He takes it as; I mean like me calling him a genius is an insult. It's an attack. It's like, I’m trying to gaslight him or pull the wool over his eyes.

Anath Garber: I am kind of wondering why would it upset him? Is it that then you have such expectations and you are such an accomplished person that, oh, by calling genius, now I have to live up to that? God, give me a break. I want to be normal.

Tonya Pinkins: Maybe, maybe.

Anath Garber: But that would be a nice psychodrama. What do you mean when you say a genius? Is there an agenda there? And does he have sensed some agenda that you don't even know that you have the agenda. Now it is, at the end, you'll think, oh my god, I didn't know all that about my son. And he didn't know all that about me. I really always found that actually psychodrama is the mostly needed for actors because they have this part use for this, the part use for that, but who they are outside, it's usually.

Tonya Pinkins: They don't know who they are. For me, I used to always, I couldn't sing unless I was in a character. For me, singing was the most naked and vulnerable thing that I did. And so I needed to have a character or role to hide behind to do it. And if someone just wanted me to get up and just sing as Tonya, I would try to get out of that in any way I could, because that was just too naked and vulnerable. I mean, over time, I’ve gotten to the point where I can do it sometimes, but it's still a very naked thing for me. And I don't like to do it very often. Like it is an effort for me to come and sing as Tonya.

Anath Garber: Yeah. It's funny I was thinking years ago I used to get all these cases. Nobody wanted to treat. And I was very excited because it was like breaking my head. And it was the guy who stuttered. I wrote a paper about it. It's still, it's 30 years later people still use it. Cause people don't stutter when they sing. They never stutter when they sing. But in the course of the, he stopped stuttering. But the pivotal session was when he discovered what was, what stuttering, what functioned stuttering was for him. He was hiding himself behind his stuttering. So instead of speech being a communicative thing, all the way he was frustrated, he kind of ingeniously put it on you by. You know how frustrating it is. So once he discovered that from then on, he could recover. So I’m thinking, okay, there is some drama about that your own voice cannot, your beautiful singing voice can come from a role, but from you not through something behind it, there is a trauma behind it.

Tonya Pinkins: Yeah. There is definitely something behind it. I probably will not find it out in this life. I mean like, someone taught me this Spanish song llorona and I love to sing it, but I’m singing in Spanish. Yeah. I love to sing the song. I'll sing the song anywhere for anyone. I love it. It feels like it's me. But of course it's a character. I'm not in my language, in my native language.

Anath Garber: Yeah. It's really so interesting because I speak several languages and I’m a different person in each language and people are different, different parts of you get stirred up by the language. I love English because I can curse in English. Otherwise I have this inhibition against cursing since I was a kid.

Tonya Pinkins: So you can't curse in Hebrew?

Anath Garber: Very, very, Hebrew is a little bit better. Polish, it's totally not.

Tonya Pinkins: You can't curse in polish. I would bet the poles would have some good swear words.

Anath Garber: God, they do like incredible.

Tonya Pinkins: Give me some swear words in polish.

Anath Garber: Kurwa

Tonya Pinkins: Kurwa what is that?

Anath Garber: A slut.

Tonya Pinkins: A slut.

Anath Garber: That's about how much... Oh, no, I know another, Cholera Jasna. But it could be white also a black Cholera Jasna

Tonya Pinkins: Cholera what is that?

Anath Garber Cholera You know the sickness cholera?

Tonya Pinkins: Cholera

Anath Garber: Which is the white one and the Czarna is the black one and I don't know what it is.

Tonya Pinkins: And what are you calling somebody when you say that to them?

Anath Garber: When they, because it would be deathly.

Tonya Pinkins: So you're just wishing them death. You're like cursing them.

Anath Garber: Yeah, basically. But that's about as much my vocabulary goes, my cursing vocabulary. It's such a freedom in English to say, fuck you, I don't want to talk to you.

Tonya Pinkins: Is there a fuck you in polish and Hebrew?

Anath Garber: Sure. Of course.

Tonya Pinkins: You know, what's the fuck you in Hebrew? Give me the, fuck you in Hebrew.

Anath Garber: In Hebrew, mah shimha that's the male version and the mah shmeh is the female version because it's in Hebrew you is different for male.

Tonya Pinkins: And what is it in polish? Fuck you in polish. You don't know.

Anath Garber: Can you imagine such an ambition?

Tonya Pinkins: And you think it's inhibition because you were a child and

Anath Garber: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally. Totally.

Tonya Pinkins: But you didn't hear your parents saying these words.

Anath Garber: Actually, my parents were very...

ENGINEER Pierdol się

Anath Garber: Pierdol się. Yeah. I wouldn't know the word. I didn't know what the fuck would you mean. Like whoever fucked I wasn't born like that. Can you imagine how...

Tonya Pinkins: That's a little hard.

Anath Garber: It's a very difficult language to pronounce.

Tonya Pinkins: Now you were in the military. What is the military for a woman in Israel?

Anath Garber: Narrow the question.

Tonya Pinkins: What is, what do you do in the military? Were you fighting?

Anath Garber: Actually I was kind of, a whole story. At the time I was interested in theater and I was chosen to be in the theater in the army, but it was not enough money. So in the meantime, as usual, and then I was suggested, I’ll go to the entertainer troop. The only problem was there that I pass the test. But then they asked me to sing, I cannot sing. Few years ago I started taking singing lessons because I didn't want to die mouthing the enter, but he's just like, dah dah dah dah whatever. No, I’m not afraid. There was no way, I saw the 500 people, there was no way I could open. So the only thing left for me was to take tests. And you could take tests at, say for psychology or medical school or something like that. And if you pass them and pass the officer's course test, then you could go on a special program, which you were in the army in the summer and then could use your profession in the army. So you've got experience. That was me.

Tonya Pinkins: So you became a psychologist because you couldn't sing?

Anath Garber: Basically.

Tonya Pinkins: You were afraid to sing.

Anath Garber: And they didn't have money to open the theater, the regular theater, like Shakespeare, like really good stuff. Yeah. You know, basically you got it right. But right now women are doing just at that time, women were not going to combat unit, but now they do go to combat unit. They really allowed to do, the idea was you couldn't afford for a woman to die because you need one man, you need many women. You've got the idea.

Tonya Pinkins: We only need one guy, but we need a lot of women.

Anath Garber: Many women. So there is still a little bit of that, but there was a whole thing why a woman couldn't do it. So yeah, so you get the training in using rifle and using all this stuff that you need for combat, but rarely in a position to do it.

Tonya Pinkins: Now I have heard, and I don't know this. So I’m about to say something I could be saying something really stupid. I have been told that the Israeli army is the only army in the world that actually has a training program when there are soldiers come out of the military, that trains them to return to civilization so they can be regular human beings again. Since so much of being a soldier involves behaving intuitively the opposite way that you behave as a human being. Like you hear a loud noise and you're a soldier, you run. You got to get ready to get your gun, but at home, you hear a loud noise. It can be your kids playing and you can't jump to that kind of hypervigilance.

Anath Garber: I don't know that. What it sounds to me that there could be good possibility that there is a unit, there is treatment for people with PTSD, because not everybody who leaves the army has difficulty adjusting. There are people who have difficulty adjusting. Actually, when I came here to study psychodrama, that was my idealistic thing. I come and be actually doing, working with all these veterans. I'm still in the meantime here, like many people. So that for sure exists that I know.

Tonya Pinkins: That exists in Israeli army.

Anath Garber: Yeah. But to not for everybody who leaves, not everybody who leaves is affected. Some people are affected.

Tonya Pinkins: Okay. So I got heard the wrong thing, that wasn't true.

Anath Garber: But maybe I’m not updated. But I jumped and it would be just impossible to have that many people to, it just makes sense that there is a unit that deals with that.

Tonya Pinkins: And are you familiar with any of this work that's happening now where they're doing a lot of, I just met a bunch of therapists, maps, I guess. And there's all this Michael Pollen’s book, how to change your mind. There's all this work now with entheogens and I guess psychedelics where they're using Ayahuasca and psilocybin to treat people with PTSD.

Anath Garber: I heard of it; I haven't done it. I know a wife of a patient of mine who was very much into it could swear by it. I don't have the experience. So I cannot talk out of experience. There is any PTSD in any trauma, and we all are traumatized, there is a change in the brain, the way the brain compute stuff. So you really have to undo that. And the model came from psychodrama, but maybe it's not acknowledged because you have to be immersed in the situation, therapeutic in the presence of somebody that you feel comfortable with and then get a corrective experience and repeated several times. Of course, if it's a big trauma, maybe you can take a little bit at a time. But again, you have to have somebody who can actually hold you. I'm actually trying to work now on a VR. Tell you about it another time.

Tonya Pinkins: Go ahead and tell us now.

Anath Garber: Well, I hate talking about stuff that's unbecoming. But to deal with post...

Tonya Pinkins: Well, I mean, I had read that the amygdala is where we store emotion and feeling, and that if you want to, actually, if you want to actually change, someone's mind, you can't do it with thoughts. You can't do it with facts. You have to do it experientially. You have to have an amygdala experience. And so that was my idea behind truth and reconciliation of women that people would come and have an emotional experience of these conflicts between women that are historical that are present day and they would experience the conflict and they would experience the resolution. It would do this shift in the amygdala and they would then have a series of files that would allow them to see the possibility that something could be different because it was experiential. And I feel like theater does that because you are live in the room with people in a different way than you are if you're watching it on a screen.

Anath Garber: What you said, Jesus said in one sentence, “As you think is the heart, so it is,” what does it mean to think with your heart? It's the emotional, when you say, when it's emotion, with the thought is the emotionally experienced. Then there is a change. Then the mountain can be moved. Without that connection, nothing can be moved, and you are just seemed like a natural psychodramatist, cause you can sense this. That's why if you [28:09 inaudible] presented experience, but then allowed him a corrective experience. There are connections here are being made.

Tonya Pinkins: Connections in the brain. You're touching your head and you touch connections in the brain, the neural network begins to shift.

Anath Garber: Begins to shift. Now you can discern its past, this is here and slowly, few more immersion, a few more immersion and it shifts. Frankly, we are all walking, traumatized people because it moves from generation to generation. And where does it stop? That's what I would like to address in that VR. Where does it stop? I mean, every Black American carries traumas that are particular to its group, but also their particular family, every Jew, every, and really even the White Protestant who was mean to Indians, what do they carry, there is plenty trauma there too. Like the Goebbels children, the German propaganda. They decided not to have children.

Tonya Pinkins: They didn't want to pass it on.

Anath Garber: Because if such a monster that was created [29:28 inaudible].

Tonya Pinkins: So we're wrapping up now. What else did I not ask you that you want to say about psychodrama?

Anath Garber: Oh my god. Do we have another three hours?

Tonya Pinkins: We don't have another three hours.

Anath Garber: I think it's elixir of youth.

Tonya Pinkins: The elixir of youth.

Anath Garber: You want to...

Tonya Pinkins: Yeah. Tell us what that means. The elixir of youth.

Anath Garber: Oh, what I meant was spontaneity living in this state of spontaneous and mindfulness just keeps you youthful. Because at a state of youthfulness, to be curious, to be present, to be excited, to be interested in the mystery of life, I think that goes with youth. And also when you look at people in the field, it's also true for actors. There is youthfulness in them.

Tonya Pinkins: Thank you Anath Garber for coming.

Anath Garber: Thank you. Anytime. It was lovely. Thank you.

This is Tonya Pinkins and you've been listening to my conversation with Anath Garber's psychodrama therapist, psychologist. And you're listening to you can't say that on Broadway podcasts network.

Thanks for listening to you can’t say that, the show where you can. I am Tonya Pinkins. This is part of the Broadway podcast network produced by Dory Bernstein and Alan Seales, edited by Derek Gunther, music by Anthony Norman available wherever you get your podcast and visit me on twitter and Facebook and Instagram. And let me know what you'd like to hear we talk about. For more information, visit www.bpn.fm/ycst

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Anath Garber is a friend and colleague whose expertise in psychotherapy and particularly the technique of psychodrama is very intriguing to me because I believe live theater can be religion and therapy and therapy as drama and healing may be the best invention since the wheel.

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