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Jacob Levy Moreno’s encounter term: a part of a social drama

Jacob Levy Morenos Begegnungsbegriff – ein Teil eines sozialen Dramas


This article looks closer at the connection between Moreno’s early professional art work and the formation of his encounter term, and how these in turn enter into a social drama that took place in the double monarchy Austria-Hungary before World War I. Of particular importance is the activity in and around the House of Encounter in 1909. The social upheavals in the capital of the double monarchy, Vienna, the formation of the encounter term and sociodrama as expressionist term are linked. The question that accompanies this text is: How can we see, today, the formation of Jacob Levy Moreno’s encounter practice both as a part of expressionist art work and as social reform work?


Dieser Artikel beleuchtet die Verbindung zwischen Morenos früher professioneller Kunst und der Herausbildung seines Begegnungsbegriffs und wie diese in ein soziales Drama münden, das sich in der Doppelmonarchie Österreich-Ungarn vor dem I. Weltkrieg ereignete. Von besonderer Bedeutung ist dabei das Geschehen in und um das Haus der Begegnung in 1909. Die sozialen Unruhen in Wien, der Hauptstadt der Doppelmonarchie, die Herausbildung des Begegnungsbegriffs und der expressionistische Begriff Soziodrama werden miteinander in Beziehung gesetzt. Die Frage, die sich durch den Text zieht, lautet: Wie können wir aus heutiger Sicht die Herausbildung von Jacob Levy Morenos Praxis der Begegnung als Teil eines expressionistischen Kunstschaffens und als sozialreformatorischen Impuls sehen?

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  1. To Dream Again” is the title of Zerka T. Moreno’s autobiography. The title is most likely taken from a conversation Moreno had with Freud around 1912. This conversation indicates the difference between their life projects. “To Dream Again” may in many ways be looked upon as Moreno’s credo.

  2. Waldl, Robert. 2012. On October 12th 2012, Bjørn Rasmussen and the author had the opportunity to interview Waldl at Schottenfeldgasse 41 in Vienna, study various kinds of material concerning the contact between Moreno and Buber, including a copy of a letter from Moreno to Buber dated September 26th 1918. Waldl has Moreno’s influence on Buber’s encounter term as theme for his doctoral thesis: Begegnung- J. L. Morenos Beitrag zu Martin Bubers dialogischer Philosophie. Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophie an der Fakultät für Philosophie und Bildungswissenschaften der Universität Wien eingereicht von Mag. Robert Waldl. Wien, Jänner 2006.

  3. Buber never published this motto. Waldl found it in an unpublished preface to the book.

  4. Moreno, J.L. (1993). Who Shall Survive? The title of the book is a question put to Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest, on the natural selection of the species. In the book, Moreno answers that the survival of the self is dependent on being met. Health in the spiritual sense is also dependent on the encounter.


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Correspondence to Børge Kristoffersen.

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Another version of this article is published in DRAMA. Nordisk dramapedagogisk tidskrift nr. 3/2013 (Nordic Journal for Pedagogy of Drama) as the title: Isolasjon er lidelse (Isolation is suffering). Retrieved from

The article is translated by Albert Collett and Børge Kristoffersen.

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Kristoffersen, B. Jacob Levy Moreno’s encounter term: a part of a social drama. Z Psychodrama Soziom 13 (Suppl 1), 59–71 (2014).

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  • “The art of living”
  • Expressionism
  • Social reform work
  • Vienna before World War 1
  • House of encounter
  • Encounter
  • Moreno’s influence on Martin Buber


  • „Die Kunst zu leben“
  • Expressionismus
  • soziale Reformen
  • Wien vor dem 1. Weltkrieg
  • Haus der Begegnung
  • Begegnung
  • Morenos Einfluss auf Martin Buber