J. L. Moreno

While acting portrays another person as they are, role-playing reveals your desires and dissatisfactions, i.e., your "feelings" toward others in the light of whether you get pleasure from them, thus exalting them, or they are a pain, thus mocking them. Jane Howard in her book Please Touch: A Guided Tour of the Human Potential Movement wrote: Moreno stated "I told Freud he put people on a couch and isolated them, which was entirely wrong.  We don't live on a couch; we live in groups from birth to death.  Freud took people into the past, I take them into the present and the future.  Psychodrama deals with the Here-and Now."  As Howard put it "the groups proved the right gemeinschaft for the angst of our zeitgeist."  Moreno commented "Right now [in America (1970)] we're going through a transitional period of anarchy and chaos.  The giants are dead and 200 million midgets are in charge.  We have to wait for what we need: a psychiatry and sociatry for all mankind."

Edited by Kenneth Benne

The editors make special acknowledgment to Dr. J. L. Moreno, who has pioneered in the areas currently referred to as psychodrama, sociodrama, role-playing, action dynamics, warming-up technique, group psychotherapy and sociometry, and who first introduced these terms into the literature, with some of the meanings emphasized in the present volume. To a great extent, the basic impetus for certain new trends in group and action research can be traced to the work of Moreno and his numerous associates, to such books as The Theatre of Spontaneity (German edition, 1923), Who Shall Survive? (1934), Sociodrama (1943), and Psychodrama (1945), and to the journal Sociometry (1936-1951).

J. L. Moreno  Who Shall Survive?
The Father of Role Playing

"A meeting of two: eye to eye, face to face.  And when you are near I will tear your eyes out and place them inside of mine, and you will tear my eyes out and will place them inside of yours, then I will look at you with your eyes and you will look at me with mine."

"Religion and science can be kept apart, indeed, one is able to do conscientious screening and not let one activity impede the other―in short, it is an exercise in 'role playing.'"

"As I tried the sociometric system first on the universe and on the concept of God, its first manifesto was a revolutionary religion, a change of the idea of the universe and the idea of God.  The god of Jesus was further extended, the son 'withered away' until nothing was left except the universal creativity of the Godhead and only one commandment: To each according to what he is (an all-inclusive acceptance of the individual 'as he is).'"

"Our epoch will reach a climax with a scientific Christ ending the chain."

"... the origins of my work go back to a primitive religion and my objectives were the setting up and promoting of a new cultural order."

"Christianity can be looked at as the greatest and most ingenious psycho-therapeutic procedure man has ever invented compared with which medical psycho-therapy has been of practically negligible effect."

"My God idea, out of which the idea of the sociometric system grew, was therefore ultimately the greatest barrier to my going to Russia, accepting the Soviet doctrine .... I preferred to be the midwife to an incoherent, confused, democratic way of life, than the commissar of a highly organized world.  It is my God book which turned me to the United States."

Actually, I have written two bibles, an old testament and a new testament, The Words of the Father and Who shall Survive?."

"My first scientific dream was that if I were God I would be able to start an adequate science of the universe.... all measure and tests of humanity should be constructed after the model of God involved in the creation of the universe.... a science of the Godhead also a science of culture cannot be produced at a distance and post mortem by philosophers and historians; it must be initiated and inspired by the creators of the cultures themselves."

"The born child is regarded as a possession, as a property, perhaps as a reward for the suffering and sacrifice entailed in giving it birth.  This feeling as a counterpart in the relation of the creator to his work.  He, too, is inclined to regard his work, his child, as his property.  But both the parents and the creators are most humanly the victims of the same lust which can be called the parental illusion or syndrome.  It is an emotional illusion in the first case, predominantly and intellectually, in the second."

"A creator, as soon as his work has emanated from him, has no right to it any longer except a psychological right.  He had all rights upon it as long as it was growing in him but he has forfeited these as soon as it is gone out of him and becomes a part of the world.  It belongs to universality."

"Parents have no right upon their offspring except a psychological right. Literally the children belong to universality."

"We propose, therefore, the specialization of the notion of parenthood into two distinct and different functions-the biological parent and the social parent.  They may come together in one individual or they may not.  But the problem is how to produce a procedure which is able to substitute and improve this ancient order."

"...we have described roleplaying as diagnostic method but it can also  be used as 'role therapy' to improve the relations between the members of a group."

"The spontaneity of mankind in such a future world order will multiply in direct proportion to the number of its groups and the numbers of interactions between them.  It will be so enormous that  the power of man, the exercise of his collective energy will surpass everything we have ever dreamed."

"It may be that what can survive is not worthy of survival and that what is worthy of survival cannot survive.  If the future of mankind can be 'planned', then conscious evolution through training of spontaneity-creativity opens a new vista for the development of the human race."

"If we could understand what we mean by God, we could understand what robots mean to us. A robot results from the conjugation of man with nature itself."

"I could well imagine a world of a reversed order, opposite to ours, in which ethical suicide of people after 30 or 35 as a religious technique or countering overpopulation is just as natural as birth control has become in our culture.  In that society the love of life would be carried to its extreme. 'Make space for the unborn, make space for the newborn, for everyone born, Every time a new baby is born make space for  him by taking the life of an old man or an old woman."

"... sociometric democracy in which the unborn, the living, and the dead are partners-instead of keeping the unborn and the dead our of partnership."

An Interview with Ralph Tyler Conducted by: Jeri Ridings Nowakowski, Ed.D. November 1981 

RIDINGS: Do you think the Standards, or a profession searching for standards, will bring up some issues that will have to be resolved?

TYLER: Oh, I think that anything that causes you to look critically at what's going on will help you to identify places that have to be examined very carefully. Put another way, a professional occupation is one where there is continuous effort in the research of the profession to identify both the proper ends and the effective means of that profession. Research on the proper ends is concerned with the ethics of the profession relating the professional's work to the common good rather than the notion that what's good for General Motors is good for the country.

For example, there needs to be a continuing study of the nature of medical ethics as new ways are developed for keeping people alive a long time at a great cost. The ethical issue is: How much can society spend, if it has is limited resources, on keeping some person of age 65 alive for ten years at a cost that would cover the health services to children for perhaps 20 or 30 times that many children? This is an ethical question not easily answered, and should be a matter of continuing study. Correspondingly, for the profession of evaluation, the questions of who are the clients and what proper service can be given clients are raised. Is it proper for some people to get information that might be wrongly used? These are kinds of questions in evaluation that are continually going to come up, and they change with time."


"If one would like to play with Hegelian formula of dialectic development one could say that sociology presented the thesis, socialist doctrine the antithesis and Sociometry the synthesis; every step, however, being somewhat more than the previous step."

"The dialectic attitude of the sociometric investigator is brought about on one hand by the natural resistance of the community to a scheme which carries the social process to a maximum degree of realization (for which it is as yet unprepared and uneducated) and, on the other hand, by the resistance of people who favor the other earlier methods and ideologies in the manipulation of population problems."

"Because of the dialectic character of human relations all sociometric terms and instruments have a dialectic character; dialectic means here that in the course of advancing the cause of sociometric consciousness a reconciliation of opposites and of numerous social dimensions, a flexibility of position and definition, may be required. As long as a population has a low sociometric consciousness distinctions between psychological and social properties of populations have no value.  Indeed, from the point of view of action models over-emphasis upon logical purity of definitions may be outright harmful and over developed logical systems may produce a false sense of security and of scientific well-being which discourage and delays action practice."

Revolutionary socialism

"Revolutionary socialism gave to Sociometry the idea of planned social action."

"Sociometry is recognized by what it does, stirring to action and keeping action open but using scientific precision and experimental methods to keep action in bounds."

"Sociometry differs from revolutionary socialisms in that it must be experimentally devised and controlled, that it must be applied to small groups first and applied to larger groups as the knowledge derived from small systems increased, as found in sociology."

"Sociometry differs from sociology in that it uses action experiment as found in revolutionary socialism."

"The proper placement of every individual and of all interrelations of individuals can be shown on a sociogram, a scheme which makes structural analysis of the community possible."
An example of how a sociogram is used in The Planning of Change by Warren Bennis, Kenneth Benne, etc.

Conceptual Tools for the Change-Agent: The Small Group in Stability and Change

Group members must be able to discriminate between social "felt needs"
dissatisfaction with authority restraining environment non- or anti-social "felt needs" dissatisfaction only with physical environment.

3.      Group members must cultivate leadership skills in developing and sustaining:
Step 1: Permissive Environment
Step 2: Identification of Social & anti-social "felt needs."

4.      Group members must learn how to use conflict as a tool in helping others expose their dissatisfaction with the Traditional way of thinking, and experience and accept "group think" as the only way to overcome individual differences.

5.      Group members must be able to identify and select only "authoritative" information and resource personnel who  sustain group think

6.      Group members must be able to discern and subdue any traditional thinking  (non- or anti-group think) individual.

7.      Group members must be skilled in the use of sociometrics in evaluating their own group development.

8.      Group members must be able to synthesize individual needs with common group needs.

9.      Group members must be able to separate and propagate the group think process in other organizations.

"The pattern of the (invisible) social universe is made visible through charting which realistically portrays the relations discovered."

"... the sociograms are so devised that one can pick from the primary map of a community small parts, redraw them, and study them so to speak under the microscope."

"What gives every sociometrically defined group its momentum is the 'criterion', the common motive which draws individuals together spontaneously, for a certain end."

"... what are the instruments which can be used to bring about a new cultural order?  Some of the instruments are spontaneity and role playing tests, psychodrama, sociodrama and axiodrama ...."

"Who would you like to play with?" "Who would you like to work with?"

Finding the parent within.

"Anxiety is a function of spontaneity.  Spontaneity can be defined as the adequate response to a new situation, or the novel response to an old situation.  With decrease of spontaneity anxiety increases.  With entire lose of spontaneity anxiety reaches its maximum, the point of panic."

"Thinking through the process it is dialectically faulty to start with the negative, with anxiety.  The problem is to name the dynamic factor provoking anxiety to emerge."


"The community needs, therefore, to be explored and, if necessary, purged form undesirable cultural conserves .... The community must be 'deconserved' from the pathological excesses of its own culture, or at least, they must be put under control."

"One can look at this as a new phase in the yet unfinished democratic process slowly encircling the globe.  The people, after taking the government in their own hands, are also taking the social sciences in their own hands; a government of the people, by the people and for the people is logically followed by a science of the people, by the people and for the people."

"Sociometry can assist the United States, with its population consisting of practically all the races on the globe, in becoming an outstanding example of a society which has no need of extraneous ideas or of forces which are not inherent in its own structure."

"Sociomtrists have been particularly interested in groups which are built around strong criteria; formal and institutional groups were the first and most rewarding targets, home groups, work groups, school groups, cultural groups."

"In recent years five centers of research in experimentation design have developed which have given attention to a sociometric orientation.  The first in line was the original Sociometric Institute (Now Moreno Institute), formally established in 1942, which grew out of  small committees since 1934 [Moreno & Associates]; next in line was the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, formally established in 1945 [Kurt Lewin & NTL's]; the third was a group of workers within the newly established Department of Social Relations at Harvard University in 1946 [The same time Hilda Taba was active there]; the fourth was the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in 1947 [Eric Trist & Bion]; the fifth, the recently established Laboratoire d'Experimentation Sociometrique et Pschyo-Sociologique at the Sorbonne.

 © Institution for Authority Research, Dean Gotcher 2015