chapter  12
15 Pages

Appraising J. L. Moreno

At age 14, during an event that he labeled a mystical experience, J. L. Moreno identifi ed himself with the universe (Marineau, 1989). That meant to him relating himself to all beings in the world, not just his family, accepting responsibility for the welfare of society. As a young man in Vienna in the aftermath of World War I, he found himself in a world of turbulence and chaos, and he sought a way to improve matters. He came to the conclusion that the fundamental source of Western society’s problems was materialism. A materialistic science and technology had produced many products that were a boon to humankind-but had created others that could destroy all life. The materialistic psychologies-Freud’s psychoanalysis and (much later) Skinner’s behaviorism-promised to understand human behavior but reduced humanness to mechanical principles. The materialistic Communism of Marx made the position of the individual a pawn in the economic struggles of society. Religion, once a bulwark to materialism, was losing its dominance as a source of understanding. From the perspective of science, religion was an obstacle to a rational exploration of nature. Freud and Marx were both atheistic and rejected religion as superstition and the “opiate of the masses,” meanwhile seeking to reduce the human being to the lowest possible denominator.