For Moreno spontaneity was “a new response to an old situation or an adequate response to a new situation” (1953, p. 336), with creativity adding the element of inventiveness.


Moreno, Zerka T. (1987) “Psychodrama, Role Theory, and
the Concept of the Social Atom.” in Zeig, Jeffrey K., Evolution Of Psychotherapy, first Conference. Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Zerka is quoting from the definition that is on the same page in the 1978 edition, 366.

Here is another quote from “Who Shall Survive?” 1978 edition, Page 42:

Spontaneity operates in the present, now and here; it propels the individual towards an adequate response to a new situation or a new response to an old situation. It is… the least developed among the factors operating in our world; it is most frequently discouraged and restrained by cultural devices.

So is spontaneity the response, or that which propels the response?

A response is a complex concept, tending towards behaviour in a context. Being adequate or new it is evaluated in some way, by self or others.

I think Moreno had more in mind than response.  He places spontaneity and creativity as ontological entities in the cosmos.

John Nolte looks at these entities and validates them as being parallel to quantum physics notions of Bohm. There may be something in it, but no-one really understands quantum physics, and it is all too easy to have quantum physics validate anything at all.

Understanding Moreno is to take him at his word:

My contention was that religion should be tried again, a religion of a new sort, its inspirations modified and its techniques improved by the insights which science has given us-and by no means excluding some of the insights which Marxism and psychoanalysis have brought forth. My position was threefold: first, the hypothesis of spontaneity-creativity as a propelling force in human progress, beyond and independent from libido and socio-economic motives which does not deny the fact that they are frequently interwoven, but which does deny the contention that they are merely a function and a derivative; second, the hypothesis of having faith in our fellowmen’s intentions-outside of obedience resulting from physical and legalistic coercion-the hypothesis of love and mutual sharing as a powerful, indispensable working principle in group life; and third, the hypothesis of a superdynamic community based upon these principles which can be brought to realization through newer techniques. It may be said that I tried to do through sociometry what “religion without science” has failed to accomplish in the past and what “science without religion” has failed to accomplish in Soviet Russia .

“Who Shall Survive?” xv 1978

His contention that spontaneity-creativity is not “merely a function and a derivative” is probably aimed at both Freud and Marx. I guess for  Freud everything is derived from sex. In the case of Marx, Moreno is in a camp that thinks of Marx as an economic determinist. (I don’t think Marx is that but it is easy to see why one might think that.). Moreno is the true “idealist” however.  There is something out there from which economics is “derived”!  See the next quote:

“Who Shall Survive?” page 58 in a section called the Sociometry and Economics page 58

But no one [i.e. Marxists] stops and thinks and asks the more fundamental question: “What are the forces underlying a universal system of creative economics?” In order to answer this question we have to analyze the situation before production begins, and define the locus and status nascendi preceding all production. What is it that is necessary to have on hand before production of goods is possible? First, there must be in existence the natural resources (n) of the planet, the mountains and the rivers, the mines in the depth of the earth and the unleashed elements of the atmosphere . They are there before they are touched by any labor, before they are discovered by any man and they would be there even if mankind would not exist . Next to the natural resources are the generators of production, the creative ideas (c) . They are the fountainhead of all technical and social inventions, of the instruments and the blueprints ; without them the processes of production could not be contemplated . Without creative ideas the most abundant natural resources of all the universe could go on for eternities unharnessed.  Then there is another factor in the genesis which must exist before any production can start. It is spontaneity, that all-pervasive plastic element which begins to warm up out imagination as soon as the natural resources and the creative idea meet. These three phenomena, natural resources, creativity and spontaneity pre-exist and condition the labor process. They belong to the universe . They do not belong to the capitalist class, they do not belong to the labor class, they do not belong to any particular individual or any particular group. They are universalia.

So now we see how Moreno is not only anti Marx’s revolutionary process, but a philosophical idealist.  He says spontaneity-creativity is “a propelling force in human progress” which makes it sound like there is some guiding force for good.  He says these forces C and S exist before humans.  He does not quite get the religion out of his science.

Yet the physics or behavioural psychology explanations do not suffice.  Nor does the orthodox, dogmatic marxism.



The cornerstones of sociometric conceptualization are the universal concepts of spontaneity and creativity. Sociometry has taken these concepts from the metaphysical and philosophical level and brought them to empirical test by means of sociometric method . A presentation of these concepts is the first step within the sociometric system .

“Who Shall Survive?” p39

So idealist on the one hand and empiricist on the other…

Yet, I think he is grappling to say something more subtle.

It is thus the sociometric action experiment which links sociometry with scientific socialism and separates them both from sociology.

“Who Shall Survive?” 20

This is what I think unites them — praxis.  One at the micro level of the social atom — the other at the level of class.  While he might go on abt universals…


Let us start with time, one of the great universals. What has happened with the function of time in the course of psychotherapy in our century? I do not speak of time as a philosophical, mystical, or phenomenological concept, but as a therapeutic concept.

Fox Chapter 1