Guide To Training: J.L. Moreno, M.D.

Dr. J. L. Moreno (1889-1974) was a truly remarkable individual whose many contributions to the understanding of humankind have largely been overlooked by mainstream social sciences. Convinced that it was possible for human beings to live together in such a way that the benefits which one person enjoyed were not achieved solely at the cost of fellow beings, he believed that it was possible for a society to create a social order in which the value of every individual is recognized and acknowledged, a society in which all individuals can realize their potentials as creative, responsible human beings. The primary goal of his life was to create the methods which would foster the spontaneous-creative social order that he envisioned. A major Morenean thesis was that society was co-created by its members and that by learning how to master our own creativity we can influence the world around us, bringing it to function more like we know it should. His work is currently kept alive by a small number of dedicated practitioners of psychodrama, most of whom belong to one of the mental health or counseling professions.

Psychodrama differs from other methods of achieving personal understanding in that while it is a group method, it treats the individual not only as an individual, capable of creative, self-directed behavior, but simultaneously as a member and co-creator of a social system, influenced by and influencing the other members of a unique social atom. Moreno’s theories hold that we can impact and change our social environment for the better provide we are willing to acknowledge our personal creativity, learn how it use it effectively and take responsibility for our own actions.

Other methods which Dr. Moreno originated include sociometry, sociodrama, spontaneity training and role training. Sociometry provides both a theory of society as well as methods for exploring the structure of groups and reorganizing them. Sociometry supplies the infrastructure for the understanding of group dynamics. Like psychodrama, sociodrama is an action method which is applied to investigation and examining social issues and roles. Spontaneity training and role training are psychodramatic approaches with more circumscribed goals. The first develops skills for meeting unexpected exigencies of life more effectively while the latter prepares us for increased competence in anticipated situations.