Dr. Jacob Levy Moreno

Dr. J.L. MorenoDr. Jacob (Jakob) Levy Moreno (18 May 1889 - 14 May 1974) was a leading psychiatrist, theorist and educator. During his lifetime Dr. Moreno was recognized at Harvard University as one of the greatest social scientists in the world. Dr. Moreno grew up in Vienna at time of great intellectual creativity and political turmoil. The founder of Psychodrama, Sociometry and the foremost pioneer of Group Psychotherapy, Moreno studied medicine, mathematics, and philosophy at the University of Vienna, becoming an M.D. in 1917. He had rejected Freudian theory while still a medical student, and became interested in the potential of group settings for therapeutic practice.






In his autobiography, Dr. Moreno recalls this (now classic) encounter with Freud in 1912. “I attended one of Freud’s lectures. He had just finished an analysis of a telepathic dream. As the students filed out, he singled me out from the crowd and asked me what I was doing.

I responded, “Well, Dr. Freud, I start where you leave off. You meet people in the artificial setting of your office.  I meet them on the street and in their homes, in their natural surroundings.


You analyze their dreams. I give them the courage to dream again. You analyze and tear them apart. I let them act out their conflicting roles and help them to put the parts back together again.”





Indeed, Dr. Moreno picked up where Freud left off, with his theory of interpersonal relations, and the development of his work in psychodrama, sociometry, group psychotherapy, sociodrama, and sociatry.




Moving to the U.S. in 1925, Dr. Moreno began working in New York City. In his autobiography he states that of all the places in the world, that "Only in New York, the melting pot of the nations, the vast metropolis, with all its freedom from all preconceived notions, could I be free to pursue sociometric group research in the grand style I had envisioned"(Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry. Vol. 42, No. 1, spring 1989).





He held positions at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research.





In 1932 Dr. Moreno first introduced group psychotherapy to the American Psychiatric Association. For the next 40 years Dr. Moreno developed and introduced his Theory of Interpersonal Relations and tools for social sciences he called sociodrama, psychodrama, sociometry, and sociatry. In his monograph tilted, “The Future of Man’s world,” Dr. Moreno describes how he developed these sciences to counteract “the economic materialism of Marx, the psychological materialism of Freud, and the technological materialism” of our modern industrial age.





His autobiography describes his position as “threefold: 1. Spontaneity and creativity are the propelling forces in human progress, beyond and independent of libido and socioeconomic motives [that] are frequently interwoven with spontaneity-creativity, but [this proposition] does deny that spontaneity and creativity are merely a function and derivative of libido or socioeconomic motives. 2. Love and mutual sharing are powerful, indispensable working principles in group life. Therefore, it is imperative that we have faith in our fellow man’s intentions, a faith which transcends mere obedience arising from physical or legalistic coercion. 3. That a superdynamic community based on these principles can be brought to realization through new techniques…"





The Psychotherapy Networkwer identifies the methods of J.L. Moreno to have held up respectably over the last 100 years (Psychotherapy Networker, Clinician's Digest, Jan/Feb 2007).





New research out of the University of Vienna by Dr. Robert Waldl shows the enormous influence that Dr. Moreno’s theory of the Encounter (Invitations to an Encounter, 1914) had on the development of Martin Buber’s I-Thou philosophy, and Buber’s influence on philosophy, theology, and psychology. Dr. Moreno's wife Zerka Moreno writes, “While it is true that Buber broadened the idea of the Encounter, he did not create the instruments for it to occur.” Moreno…produced the various instruments we now use for facilitating the human encounter, sociometry, group psychotherapy, psychodrama, and sociodrama” (Zerka Moreno, Psychodrama Network News, Winter 2007).





His wife Zerka Moreno continues his work today.





His students include the Swede Leif-Dag Blomkvist (Psychodrama, Surplus Reality and the art of Healing. Zerka Moreno, Blomkvist, & Rützel, 2000) and with training centers and institutes on nearly every continent, there are many thousands of others who are expanding and developing training and teaching the Morenean Arts & Sciences across the disciplines, to more fully realize Dr. Moreno’s vision to make these social sciences available for "the whole of [hu]mankind."





The Association of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP) has held an annual conference for more than 60 years, and is an excellent starting point for further investigation of Dr. or Zerka Moreno, with many resources and links.





In 2006 a book of Zerka T. Moreno's pioneering efforts were published to illlustrate Zerka's (and of course to underline Dr. Moreno's) extraordinary lifetime of dedication to the development of group psychotherapy, psychodrama, sociodrama and sociometry. The book is titled "The Quintessential Zerka: Writings by Zerka Toeman Moreno on Psychodrama, Sociometry and group Psychotherapy." Edited by Toni Horvatin and Edward Schreiber.

Zerka Toeman Moreno

Zerka Toeman MorenoZerka T. Moreno’s contribution to the field of group psychotherapy and psychodrama began immediately upon meeting Dr. Moreno. Within a year of their meeting J.L. and Zerka founded the Sociometric Institute on Park Avenue, New York City. They established the Psychodramatic Institute in New York in 1942. They began producing the journal Group Psychotherapy (originally called Sociatry) in 1947, publishing a volume of research documenting their application and refinement to the social sciences of sociatry, psychodrama, and sociometry. Zerka Moreno was J. L. Moreno’s partner and co-creator for over thirty years until his death in 1974. Zerka has continued training and teaching the psychodramatic theory and method for more than 30 years since Dr. Moreno’s death, training psychodramatists worldwide. Zerka Moreno is recognized as a leader in further realizing Dr. Moreno’s vision in bringing this method to the lives of communities worldwide. A collection of her many years of research and writing is now available in The Quintessential Zerka: Writings by Zerka T. Moreno on Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy (Routledge), co-edited by The Moreno Institute East Director Edward J. Schreiber, T.E.P and colleague Toni Horvatin, M.S.W.. This new book is the first book of its kind; a textbook and a rare reference to the written history and development of group psychotherapy and psychodrama. Zerka now lives and teaches in Charlottesville, VA.

The Zerka T. Moreno Foundation for Education and Training
This foundation, now in the first phase of its development, is dedicated to the teachings of Zerka T. Moreno, co-founder of psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. The foundation's work is dedicated to making these instruments available in collaboration with other psychodramatists, other practitioners of other disciplines, and those interested in benefiting the human condition.

Edward J. Schreiber, EdM, MSM, MAC, LADC, TEP


Ed has been the recipient of the Neil Passariello Memorial Award, Zerka T. Moreno Award, Collaborator's Award as well as a Fellow of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. Ed is an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University Graduate School of Expressive Therapies, and is the co-editor of The Quintessential Zerka: Writings by Zerka T. Moreno on Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy. Ed is a Certified Director by Zerka T. Moreno and Certified as T.E.P. (Trainer, Educator, Practitioner) by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy. In 2007 Ed and Adam co-presented "Moreno's Vision for Healing Society" in Romania and at the 65th Conference of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. In 2007 they presented a training workshop at Rowe Conference Center titled "Facing Ourselves, the World & Each Other: Psychodrama, Spontaneity and Creativity." Ed is presently working with Zerka T. Moreno as an editor of her "Memoirs" to be published in 2009 and is the Director of the Zerka T. Moreno Foundation for Training, Reasearch and Education in the Morenian Arts and Sciences.