Adam Blatner, M.D.

This is a supplement to a Workshop given for students of the Drama Therapy Program at Antioch University California Institute for Integral Studies, Seattle, Washington, October 29, 2012;
  (It expands on comments for another workshop given at California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS) and co-sponsored by the Living Arts Center in Oakland) at the CIIS in San Francisco, on Sept. 24, 2012


(1) become more explicitly aware of how rapport influences interpersonal and group interactions

(2) notice personal and cultural tendencies to avoid being aware of these dynamics
    a. fears of of embarrassment, vulnerability, or potential feelings of rejection
    b. concern for evoking the above feelings in others

(3) develop insight into some of the underlying reasons for the various reactions to becoming sensitive to this level of social-depth psychology

(4) consider how to help clients and colleagues apply awareness of these dynamics in therapy groups and other contexts

* For a more thorough treatment of this subject, please read my writings on sociometry on my website:


Sociometry is a method for assessing the nature of interpersonal and inter-group relationships, based on asking about and plotting on a chart the invisible patterns of preferences in a group. This method was developed in the mid-1930s by Jacob L. Moreno, M.D., who also who also invented psychodrama, was a pioneer in writing about role theory, group psychotherapy, and the theory of creativity and spontaneity. Sociometry became a recognized method in sociology through the mid-1960s although its use has become relatively obscure since that time.
   (More papers on sociometry may be found elsewhere on this website.)

Sociometry is less-well-known because it refers to phenomena that are between what is addressed by most types of psychology of the individual person and the field addressed by sociology. Second, sociometry refers to two levels of meaning: It is a method for assessing the nature and relative strengths of attractions and repulsions in relationships and groups (i.e., Moreno called these “tele” and I use the term “rapport”). In a broader sense, though, the word refers to the vast field of psycho-social dynamics that partake of the underlying theme of preference.

To illustrate the nature of the two meanings of sociometry, I draw your attention to an analogy. In the mid-19th century the microscope as a technology was improved so that bacteria could be seen—and this was a revelation. It opened our eyes to what had been previously invisible. But as folks learned about germs, they found that there was much about the field of microbiology that could not be illuminated by even the most powerful microscopes. Viruses, for example, were part of this field, and the chemistry and ecology and other aspects again involved qualities that were not observable to any type of microscope. So, too, there are many aspects of social-depth psychology—my term for the far broader field—that cannot be illuminated by sociometric methods as Moreno developed them.

Nevertheless, Moreno is credited for addressing this fairly obvious phenomenon: When you go into a large group, you “click” with some people, feel repelled by others, and most are somewhere in-between. What’s all that about? Rapport, of course, but what is really going on here? That’s what we’re beginning to explore.

The first point to emphasize, then, is simply that mainstream psychology has hardly addressed this realm of interpersonal dynamics. Eric Berne’s semi-social “Transactional Analysis” only touched on this realm, but mainly in terms of the interface of individual needs and an unfortunate application of the idea of “games people play” to these dynamics. It’s good, but it’s only one small aspect of this vast field. From mid-20th century psychoanalysis, Harry Stack Sullivan emphasized the “inter-personal” nature of much psychology, but again it tended to overly focus on how an individual may distort what’s going on. These approaches lacked the capacity to notice more elusive and often realistic currents of interpersonal dynamics. Of course, in another sense, there’s nothing subtle about them—they have to do with first impressions, love at first sight, taking an immediate dislike to someone, and so forth. It’s just that we don’t know how to talk about such interactions.

Overlaps With Other Fields

Fields of study overlap, so that, say, chemistry, overlaps with hundreds of other fields. Social- depth psychology also overlaps with many other related fields, such as:
 - developmental psychology, especially in the social arena, the arena of play, of how kids choose playmates, friends, and the impact of being chosen or rejected has on the personality
 - anthropology, the development of criteria for status, rank, power, oppression, in various institutions in various cultures
 - communications, language shifts for speaking to those with more or less status or rank
 - gender studies, women’s studies, and studies of other oppressed groups
 - studies of temperament and its impact socially, introversion, extroversion, different cognitive or personality styles
 - management theory and ways to promote creativity and group morale based on actual psychology rather than mechanistic yet obsolete views of “efficiency”
 - educational theory, like management theory
 - psychotherapy (a very broad field of people-helping), and coaching
 - various schools of psychology and psychotherapy, sub-schools of psychoanalysis, especially “object relations” theory and “self psychology.”
 - sociology and social psychology   (Many factors)
 - cultural history, how many of what has been related to the phenomena on this list is changing as roles shift, status shifts, generations evolve, technology adds new gimmicks and has increasing impact especially with younger people

Problems With Social-Depth Psychology

These interactions are emotionally very sensitive! Consider how, a century ago as Freud was introducing the idea that sexual impulses, there was a lot of resistance; the topic was somewhat taboo. Nevertheless, Freudians correctly (on this) noted that it was no good pretending that sexuality didn’t exist. Denial of this dynamic could and did lead to neurosis. People needed to know that children did have sexual feelings, and also that people often entertained sexual feelings that needed to be kept secret for fear of general disapproval. While this cultural avoidance has weakened a bit, it’s still there; and some might say that attention given to sexuality has even gone to the other extreme. Apart from sex, or other tender questions—politics and religion, most famously, we should note the phenomenon of avoidance, of taboo.

Who prefers whom for what reasons is similarly avoided lest people get their feelings hurt. Yet pretending that these dynamics don’t exist is as pervasive and unrealistic and productive of various forms of social and individual disturbance as the repression of sexuality. Consider the degrees of emotional tenderness associated with some of the questions noted at the end in Appendix B.

 We should not underestimate the depth, the unconscious activity, and the emotional tenderness of social-depth psychological phenomena. First, the mind is an exquisitely sensitive receptor of micro-non-verbal communications—and maybe even pheromones. The mind is a social organ. I suspect that nearly everyone has unresolved residues of not being chosen, not “clicking” with relatives or others that one expected to be able to feel more positive rapport, of feeling more isolated at times than could be explained, and the great vulnerability associated with these kinds of experiences.

Freud made enemies by calling attention to what everyone knew and it just wasn’t nice to talk about. We don’t go there; we don’t even think about such things. Of course, people did “go there” in their minds and there was little opportunity to think about them without feeling guilty. Some managed to keep it under wraps but didn’t let it get to them—they were just up-tight, and like some hypocrites today, outwardly extra fussy about any breaking of the rules. Others couldn’t handle it and were consumed with guilt or shame, and this came out in all manner of neuroses.

Freud was a bit right, but he was wrong in coming to a premature conclusion that sex or aggression were the only issues. Adler tried to point out the desire for being one-up, power politics. (His psychology is almost relevant to what we’re talking about.) Jung noted that spiritual experiences and temperament were also important. Freud and his colleagues interpreted these rather valid additions as mere rebellions against the father. Later, many revolutions within the psychoanalytic movements also broadened the issues being addressed: There was a recognition of the need to have a close relations (i.e., “object relations theory,” which is close in another way to what we’ll be talking about); a recognition that people need to feel themselves as valued and coherent (i.e., “self psychology”), and so forth. More recently people are recognizing that they’re all correct—there are many “basic” instincts. My point is that there are also basic psycho-dynamics that operate in the interpersonal and group field, dynamics that have to do with interpersonal preferences.

But, like sex, or vulnerability, or an allergy to shame, people are reluctant to think or talk about such matters. The idea that we are not preferred by others is an affront to our pride, even though it’s clear in another part of our mind that we in turn do not prefer most people very much, and we distinctly do not like some. But if anyone feels that way to us, we are hurt, and this hurt can be deep and repressed.

I think Moreno over-rode this whole dimension and failed to appreciate how very tender these issues are for most people. He was pathologically both narcissistic and a bit dense interpersonally, so he was not deeply hurt by the many people who found his over-enthusiasm and inclination to over-value his own gifts to be somewhat obnoxious. On the good side, these qualities gave him the resilience that most people lack, so he kept going—to our lasting benefit. Thus sometimes people’s weaknesses end up serving them as strengths. Life’s funny that way.

But the point to be made is that Moreno sort of acted as if all we had to do was to be open about our preferences and we can all work this out. He didn’t really see the pervasive emotional sensitivity and many layers of avoidance that were built into social depth-psychology. All I’m doing is acknowledging that (1) he was right: there’s a lot there and if we could be open about it, a lot would change; and (2) he greatly overestimated the depth, pervasiveness, and sensitivity of the dynamics involved. So what I’m doing in this talk is to give more attention to the great complexity of the field and the extent of the problems involved.

Trying to explain these in terms of psychoanalytic theory is in my mind quite inadequate, because that theory doesn’t sufficiently deal with the reality that most people don’t particularly enjoy most other people! Some people do enjoy some people, and sorting out who goes most comfortably with whom is a challenge that has never been addressed systematically.

Again, there’s the analogy to microbiology: When folks didn’t know about germs, they just suffered through all types of infections. Systems of sewage management and cleanliness emerged based on germ theory. So, too, our present culture doesn’t yet appreciate any systematic way to address ways of fostering rapport and allowing people who feel more congenial with each other to find each other. Now there are some “speed dating” services and other articles and approaches that touch on the problem, but for the most part schools and businesses don’t much deal with the individual needs of their students or workers, but rather serve the convenience of the faculty or managers.

As creativity becomes more prized, though, several things become clear—things pointed out by Moreno in the 1930s through the 1950s: People work better together when they have good “tele” (Moreno’s term for positive rapport); and conversely, when there is a mismatch, friction, the work is far less creative or even stymied. Group morale increases when people can find more commonalities, ways of connecting. Teamwork also improves when folks can choose more freely those with whom they will affiliate.

Still, there is little consensus about the dynamics involved—few know about “sociometry” or recognize Moreno’s name. There is no general vocabulary for the field. And this field is situated too much in the realm of individual depth psychology for most social psychologists, and too social for most individual-psychology oriented researchers. The truth is that these dynamics do involve both fields.

Role Theory

Moreno also was a pioneer of role theory, which offers a relatively user-friendly language for addressing the problems of understanding social-depth psychology. Role theory also suffers from the problem of being somewhat elusive because it addresses phenomena at and between and among many different levels of body-mind-family-subculture-organization-culture-species organization. We do play roles that partake of many levels—human mental and social behavior is not compartmentalized. For example, whereas loyalties and issues relating to smaller relevant groups tend to dominate, under major stress, whole demographic categories, women, the nation, a religion, whatever, will claim not only the loyalty, but major acts in the service of that loyalty, sometimes to the detriment of one’s local social network. Families in the U.S. Civil War in the mid-19th century sometimes were split regarding who fought for or supported the North or the South.

I've systematically developed as “role dynamics,” and though I mainly draw from Moreno’s ideas, I also take into consideration the work of others, such as Theodore Sarbin and many others. I think role theory stopped being used in sociology because it was too elusive, it addressed phenomena at too many other levels. This fault in academia is a virtue in a practical sense because role theory addresses phenomena operating at and between and among all levels of human psycho-socio-cultural organization. There are roles in the body-mind, roles within the person, roles between persons, in small groups, larger groups, etc. Each has its own properties but also overlaps with other roles. In fact, no clear distinctions exist between most categories that have to do with mind, which makes psycho-social research difficult. Still, that’s just the nature of the subject. Mind does interpenetrate much more actively on multiple levels. (One might discern all other things interpenetrating also, but it’s not so flagrant.) .

Other “Resistances” to Social-Depth Psychology

First is the general discomfort with any new idea or field. People don’t like thinking about that which they are not prepared to think about, and there are a number of component concepts here that one needs to learn to get used to.

There’s also the tendency to slip into stupidity, which is the illusion that what one knows is sufficient. Many academics have failed to balance their erudition with humility and lapse into thinking that the body of knowledge accumulated in their field and others they know about constitutes pretty much all that needs to be known. The gut feeling is “what do I need to know about that nonsense for?” Lots of otherwise quite intelligent people in the mid-19th century resisted the theory of germs. They were invisible, for goodness sakes! It took decades of patient and persistent work to get professionals—alas, many the ancestors of my profession of medicine!—to get on board. The same will have to happen to social-depth psychology. Add to this the deep discomfort at having to recognized the gut-level operation of non-rational feelings, attractions that one shouldn’t have, repulsions that one often doesn’t want to admit even to oneself!

An equally problematic issue is the residual and still-common belief that we are primarily conscious and are and should be able to control our preferences as well as our overt behavior. There is a hubris about the mind, a product of the ideals of modernity and a residue of the ethos of self-control that emerged in the late 19th century. The idea that we are in great part unable to choose how to feel is still confused with the vague sense of not being held responsible. (We may ask ourselves to be civil and courteous regardless of feelings—a skill cultivated by mature adults that is ever-more needed as our world becomes multi-cultural. But that doesn’t mean we can make ourselves prefer or like those with whom we feel little or even negative rapport.) Keeping these problems in mind, we can then proceed to wondering about what goes on with people.

Preferences Beyond the Interpersonal Field

First, we need to know that it isn’t just people who have preferences. Even one-celled animals exhibit preference in what they eat and whom they mate with. Also, humans have preferences for all sorts of things besides people—colors, foods, hair styles, etc. Some of these are cultural fashions, but even within cultures there are variations in preference. Temperament also may be viewed in part as a variable in preference for noise, other people, excitements, etc.The whole thing about preferences is that they exist with other people, but in a much broader way preferences operate for thousands of other categories—foods, music, decor, hair style, etc. Impersonal types aren’t reciprocated. They exist also for groups, but here it gets complex. Rarely does a person agree with all the things that the group wants to do or support. So there’s a complexity in that there are selected elements that have positive preference and often some in which there is repulsion. It’s all on a continuum, also. Many things are supported that are not really cared about one way or the other.

Even in relationships, there are numerous preferences that are enhanced because they are shared, and some that operate independently—one person cares but not the other, but it is of no matter; and sometimes different or opposing preferences generate conflict. So it’s important to broaden Moreno’s concept of “tele” a bit.

Becoming Aware of Your Own Preferences

We should not assume that people are clear about their preferences. Most people change preferences about some things over time, and sometimes it takes months or years for them to become aware of this shift. Sometimes it’s just that what was preferred isn’t so valued now that one has “had enough.” There is the “been there, done that” shift. The point here is that the activity of helping people to connect with what they actually prefer now is an interesting challenge. It can be a vocational challenge, or a matter for spiritual guidance.

Part of the problem for many people is that what they actually do prefer is sometimes at variance with what they think they should prefer, or what others prefer. Individuation has a price: Sometimes valued people will disapprove or be uncomfortable with your changes in preferences.

The problem of preference expands and becomes more complex when we join two or more preference-exercising minds together. Then we get occasional flashes of “Oh, you like this too?” and often non-rational flashes of “I find you attractive”—and these attractions often are not sexual or romantic—they can be—but based on other qualities. When two people reciprocate in the attraction, that increases the dynamic lure of the invisible connection.

We all sense this at a big get-together. Some folks we find we have more natural rapport with, and others who have done nothing consciously off-putting nevertheless put us off—we have a mild to severe repugnance or negative rapport. Most fall into the category of indifferent—they’re okay I guess but I’m inclined to do little to try to get to know them.

These generalities, though, are riddled with all sorts of counter patterns:
  - those who try to play hostess and include those who seem lost or unconnected
  - those who try to make friends with those with whom they feel frightened or put off, a kind of “reaction formation” through which they try to cope with their fear
  - those who play up to those who seem most popular, even if they don’t feel any actual attraction or sense of reciprocated interest—Moreno called this “aristo-tele.”   

Other Dynamics Relating to Social-Depth Psychology

The key themes are obvious: We want to be liked. When we are not liked in the way we want to be liked, we are hurt. On the other hand, there are many people whom we don’t particularly like—and most of them we don’t dislike, either. But some we do dislike. Nor can we adequately explain why we dislike someone.

This overlaps with another bunch of dynamics. People bother us in a wide variety of ways, and it may seem that they know it, or they’re doing it on purpose. But really, most of the time they don’t know it, they don’t mean to bother us, and often we cannot even say what they’re doing that bothers us. These issues run very deep.

This overlaps with another bunch of dynamics: We rationalize, we come up with reasons. It happens so fast we don’t even know we’re doing it. We come up with reasons that bolster our attractions. We write love poetry or make up political speeches for our favorite candidates. And we come up with all sorts of reasons that justify why we don’t like someone. More primitive people come up with rather crude ideas, stereotypes, obvious prejudices, the almost evolutionary-based instincts of xenophobia, disliking those who are not like whoever we think of as “us.”

Boys age six may go through a phase where they dislike girls, who are stinky. This is not a matter of smell, this is an unconscious need to identify us and how we are better than them. It’s built in.

Let’s just say right now that a great deal of what holds up civilization also unconsciously functions to temper these childish and primitive tendencies. We develop ethics and beyond that, elaborate systems of courtesy. We don’t want to be hurt, so we generate elaborate practices to avoid hurting or humiliating others. In some more status-stratified cultures, the more worthy treat the less-worth with meticulous care, and in return, the less-worthy show ritualized forms of honor. But there are scores of currents for dealing with strangers, language, hospitality, indirectness of language, and so forth. Courtesy has probably saved far more lives than all the armies ever marshaled against enemies.

Considering Social-Depth Psychology

First, now that I make it explicit, it’s clear to everyone immediately that who likes whom and why involves very tender issues. Connect this with another obvious point: Awareness related to these dynamics are both individually and collectively repressed. We wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, now, would we?

In spite of that tendency to avoid conflict, we need to directly challenge that complex, because if it’s not brought into explicit consciousness, talked about, considered and re-considered, all sorts of collective sociopathology happens. Reactions to mistaken interpretations of behaviors associated with interpersonal preference become poisonous and come out in weird and wacky ways. Also, I want to submit that dynamics having to do with social-depth psychology get displaced into a significant percentage of what is recognized as social or individual psychopathology, and which is not explained adequately by other theories.

People want to be esteemed, respected, liked, preferred, and if this does not happen, they tend to feel hurt, diminished, resentful, confused, lonely, and so forth. Let’s note from the get-go that most people by age 5 do not in turn like everyone else in their social network in a strongly positive, unqualified, loving manner. Even little babies have preferences as to who they feel safe with, who they like to handle them—and who makes them feel creepy and want to cry. We all have preferences.

Developmental Dynamics

The second point is that we have a funny double standard. It’s okay for us to have preferences, but if others prefer others over us—especially how we were when we were little—we feel hurt, jealous, outraged, diminished—it’s a narcissistic wound. Two points here. One, this is normal, okay, part of a necessary step in development—at some point we’re egocentric. We may also be well socially integrated, but that doesn’t counter the immaturity of our interpretation. We can’t help it, we were little. The second point: Lots of people never get fully over this, in part because it’s rarely talked about. It’s a bit like sexuality in this way. Most people sort of get past being dominated by childish reaction patterns, at least outwardly, but do they understand deeply that Johnny might prefer to play with Sally instead of me for certain things? No! I’m hurt! Crushed! Humiliated! Jealous! And I can’t admit any of this to myself much less anyone else.

In some people this whole dynamic is much stronger than in others, and it depends on temperament and compensatory roles and many other circumstances. Some contain these feelings, some become pretty neurotic or express it through a personality disorder that makes others suffer. But everyone has at least a trace of this dynamic—it’s a stage we all have gone through. The main point is that it’s good to know about it so that we can navigate this transition with a bit more maturity. Like grief work, it cannot be done purely rationally. It needs to be lived through. What is involved is a shift from early childhood egocentricity to more mature role differentiation: We like some people more than others for certain things, and others feel the same way towards us.
The "Oedipal Complex"
Freud noted that kids around age 5 tend to want to have sex with their mothers and are afraid of their fathers cutting their penises off and that this was universal with boys. With girls, they have an Electra complex and want to have sex with their fathers and fear their mothers already cut off their penis. Later psychoanalysts like Karen Horney rejected this. But Freud was right about something---though his interpretation was wrong. Around that age kids move from parallel play with playmates to playing with small groups and jealousy rears its head again if it didn't too much with the birth of siblings. The aforementioned disconnect applies. We want all our friends to prefer us but in fact we prefer our friends differently, A prefers B to play this way, but C to play that way; and occasionally, as will happen, he notices that B prefers C in ways that make him feel left out! This kind of triangulation is inevitable and for a time generates confusion and hurt. Freud was right about this happening pretty universally, but it wasn't about the parents, it was about peers. And the genitals are not particularly important.

Later on boys and girls do get into gender differentiation, so that to boys girls are icky, and vice versa, but this generalization really is only slightly true. Many non-homosexual boys like some girls for some kinds of non-sexual non-romantic play and vice versa, and this cross-gender equality or preference is not complete---but it may be common. There are some guys who like women as pals, and some women who prefer to be with guys rather than other women. It's not usually pronounced, but it's discernable. Then there are guys who like to pal with guys and gals with gals except for romance or sex. So generalizations are best not made other than to note that these variations and others are common.

Now that’s the general situation. It has innumerable permutations and expressions. The appendix has a questionnaire that might warm us all up to the problem.

This is surprisingly heavy material. The attachments, losses, breakups—either those we initiated (along with degrees of anger or guilt) and those that were initiated by the other against our will— all leave significant residues in our minds and hearts, sometimes more vividly than relationships with parents!

Some Other Themes

Social-depth psychology touches on very significant problems in social psychology, such as the following:
  - respect,   what we do to get it, how much of what kind do we want
  - liking, including the feelings associated with being liked or desired for things that you don’t want to be noticed or made a fuss about!
  - status, and what you feel that brings you or entitles you to
  - privilege, and what comes easy to you, or which privileges are not easily gained or granted by society regarding age, race, gender, sexual orientation, profession, class, parts of the country you come from, etc.
  - rank in an organization, what ranks you have attained in your life, ranks you failed to attain, including offices in an organization, roles, winning of contests, diplomas, certificates, awards
  - other forms of public recognition, or feelings relating to not having been adequately recognized
  - counter-roles, anti-authoritarian, rebels, the dropouts who smoked cigarettes behind the cafeteria      (Did you have peers who echoed your sentiments?)
  - fame, to local or national degree, or beyond
  - size of your social media, acquaintance volume, how many people know you by name, by face
 - anything that you are envied for, height, figure, sports prowess, wealth, savoir-faire, dancing, etc.  Anything that you are pitied for. What you think is so, versus what anyone else might have said.
Some of these may seem irrelevant to you, trivial even. Some may hit a nerve.

Further Comments---"Take Away Principles"

A Deep Disconnect

1. Many people have a disconnect between childhood attitudes about being liked and the growing vague awareness that one prefers only some people and doesn’t prefer many others, not because of any distinct fault in the others but simply because one’s own interests involve a smaller fraction of the general populace. This ratio of how many people seem relevant out of the number of people one is aware of becomes rapidly smaller; that is, as mid-childhood proceeds, the acquaintance volume increases rapidly and those who seem relevant makes up an ever-smaller fraction.

But the early pattern of mild egocentricity and narcissistic sensitivity continues unless it’s noticed. It’s stronger in intensity for people whose childhoods are afflicted with parents who are themselves narcissistic, or for those who have experienced a lot of shame, or for other reasons. (These stronger propensities are addressed by the literature of psychoanalysis, especially associated with the Kohutian “self-psychology” school of thought.) My point is that it’s not particularly pathological in most people, but its retention does generate a degree of unrealistic social self-consciousness and sensitivity. Not only is a degree of pride, self-esteem, and status factors to be noted more consciously, but young people need to get past this egocentric stage of hypersensitivity to what is perceived to be less delight from everyone.

The disconnect, to say again, is that while we all want unqualified preference, enjoyment, or liking from everyone, at around the same time we ourselves find that we prefer only certain people and not others. The connection involves more deeply recognizing that others do this too. So, there’s no shame or implied blame of any type involved with not being the high preference of others. The retention of egocentricity and narcissistic tendencies makes human relations a bit prickly.

We should recognize that people’s subconscious awareness of how poignant and consequential hurting someone else’s pride, making them “lose face,” or in other ways communicating disrespect or a lack of what is expected in the way of expressions of respect accounts for a considerable fraction of what is known as tact, courtesy, etiquette, good manners, political savvy, and so forth. Becoming more explicitly conscious rather than dimly conscious allows us to achieve several things:
  - We may become less sensitive to slights to our own pride system. This is important for our own mental health, and also more relevant in a more multi-cultural society where signs of respect in one culture may not be known to those in another culture.
  - It becomes useful from a psychology perspective to appreciate how the mind is an exquisitely sensitive social organ. Mental-emotional processes can be better managed in proportion to people knowing the realities of mind and social relationships.
  - To say again more explicitly: We prefer those who share values and interests and for a few other reasons, such as kinship. We don’t condemn, but neither do we prefer most other people— they simply are not “our kind.” It is a phony expectation (born of pseudo-egalitarianism?) to want to be liked by everyone. We only like a few, even though we may be generally well-disposed to most, and wanting some expression of kindness or civil courtesy is okay; wanting to be liked or preferred by most is unrealistic. (This may be distorted by the emergence of mass media and along with it, the prevalence of celebrities and the illusion that one can be liked by nearly everyone.)

The main value of social-depth psychology and the field exposed by sociometry is that people can be helped to repair the disconnect and modulate easier those childish desires to be preferred and admired by everyone. From this one can begin to notice one’s own social sensitivity and to consciously modify the residual emotion.
    These points are not all tightly connected, please note.

The Value of Appreciating Social-Depth Psychology

The more I think about this field, the more I realize that the society remains in a high degree of a mixture of ignorance, repression and denial about fairly common realities. I noted that feelings of being not valued, liked, liked enough, delighted in, respected, admired, are ubiquitious. They hurt enough so as to be repressed and denied. Most of these are sensed subconsciously and remain over-generalized. Only through conscious review can we demote what was intuitively taken as a slap in the face to the status of simply not being noticed or flattered sufficiently. People do take things personally and they don’t even know it; nor can they avoid feeling hurt and closing down or experiencing resentment simply by being admonished, “Don’t take it personally,” or “Don’t be so sensitive.” These reactions are often unconscious and so the conscious reaction is just to get tight, un-feeling, armored, and to not let others know that it bothers you. Indeed, you tend not to even know consciously that it does bother you. It’s okay. The problem is that what you do consciously is feeble when it comes to this deep sensitivity.

So the challenge begins by bringing the whole problem into the common sphere of discourse. This took fifty or more years regarding sexuality. At least it is getting talked about. Yes, at times it seems to be a matter of going overboard, of almost over-emphasizing sexuality, of recognizing sex “addiction,” etc. But it happened way back then, too, it just wasn’t so obvious. Freud helped us liberate the theme of sexuality, but he didn’t touch on the theme of pride. Adler got closer to this theme, but it deserves far more elaboration in terms of wide understanding. It’s not just a reaction to feelings of inferiority; sensitivity to status and being liked and admired is build into the mind of the higher animals as well as humans! (E.g., pecking order, systems of dominance and submission, etc.) So let’s begin by admitting it and addressing it more consciously.

Overlapping Fields

Sociology, Social Psychology, Depth Psychology—one thing Moreno may be give credit for is that he helped break down the artificial barriers among these fields. Sociometry bridges these and other activities and phenomena. What it doesn’t directly address, it then leaves open as questions: What are the phenomena associated with fashionability, status, prejudice, familiarity, the power of propinquity (proximity in space)? Now that the internet has made relationships across the miles possible, what are the equivalents of propinquity today?

The culture of celebrity has heightened the phenomena associated with what Moreno called “aristo-tele,” wanting to be associated with someone who is more popular or has higher status. If one cannot boast of “knowing first-hand” some popular person, one can still pick up depth-psychology “points” just by being a “fan.” We should not underestimate the power of this second- and third-hand illusion of affiliation. People’s pride at “their” sports team—not as owners, but simply as fans—constitute a great deal of the psychic energy of humanity.

At this point, I am inclined to remain quite open to discoveries about status, being liked, liking, interpersonal preferences—the elements that make up social depth psychology or sociometry—as affected by many fields:
   - anthropology
   - in a culture characterized by inter-cultural mobility, inter-class, inter-sub-culture mobility, and the fashionability of certain perceived marginalized sub-cultures (“goth,” “druggie” “hoodie” etc.), many people adopt values antithetical to their parents or their parents’ friends.
   - urban, suburban, rural, sophisticated, provincial, etc.
   - degrees of education, erudition, and types of contempt for degrees, professions, education, etc.
   - relationship to psychology and social “with-it-ness,” or a contempt for such values
   - relationship to religion, other religions, spirituality apart from organized religion, mysticism, and supernatural “illusions,” etc.
   - semantics, the meanings of words as used by different sub-cultures, etc. (For example, mysticism is taken as pejorative by many, and associated to different meanings, as complimentary by some.)
   - what counts as status consciously and unconsciously even in subcultures that seem to have moved beyond obvious status markers
  - shifts in fashions in clothes, jewelry, body-piercings, tattoos, hair styles, etc.
  - the changing status in various subcultures of smoking, drinking, being drunk, etc.
 . . . etc.

These are indeed related to sociometry insofar as we have strong conscious and often unconscious preferences for people aside from common interests. I will confess that given a good lead with common interests, I have a desire not to be in personal contact with someone who smokes, or who reeks of smoke. I can respect that person in some ways, but would prefer not to be in contexts that require direct contact. A committee mainly mediated by electronic technology? Okay. That sort of thing, with many variations, goes on all the time in our changing culture.

I Enjoy You Like That

It is so special to find another person who can say that. Some folks have not had this pleasure, alas. And it can be so very different for different folks. Do others enjoy you for what you’d like to be enjoyed for?
  - your preferences and style of travel    - going fishing and being together quietly
  - going to movies, the same kind        - preparing food together, or eating
  - getting drunk together            - your way of enjoying sexuality
  - your style of being affectionate or not    - your choice in reading materials, books
  - your degree of adventure or lack thereof    - your type of physical challenges or thrills
  - your choice of television shows        - your choice of magazines
  - enjoying family together            - enjoying extended family visits
  - avoiding the same things            - exchanging and giving presents
... etc.
    Probably I missed several categories. The aforementioned list is meant to have been suggestive rather than definitive, to encourage you to come up with items that fit your situation.

This varies greatly, and is a clue to “compatibility,” which involves the presence of more than a  significant percentage of pleasantly symmetrical (we like doing together) or complementary (he does this while I do that and together we’re a team) role connections. There is always some non-symmetry and non-complementarity, and the question is whether the number and significance of the roles where there isn’t compatibility is that important. There is no external judge of what counts and how much—each couple works it out for themselves. This applies to friendships, siblings, not just marriages.

Another point here is to confront our tendency to assume that others do or at least should like what we value and dislike what we disdain; but they don’t. And being curious and open to the deeper and more mind-stretching meaning of different strokes for different folks is broadening. You mean there are people who actually like that?  And others who don’t like this? Wow!

There is a potential and experience that most psychologists don’t recognize—the experience of spontaneity. Mihaly Csikszentmihaly calls a certain sector of this spectrum “flow,” but I would add that the full field of spontaneity involves many other elements:
   - making a spontaneous joke and finding that others find it funny
   - making a funny face or humming a song and finding you have delighted your friend or your beloved—and you weren’t even trying
   - coming up with something to say or do and it was the very right response, and you consciously didn’t know what to say
   - getting into the groove and dancing better than you consciously knew how, or singing along with more vigor or flavor than you knew you could, or doodling something that came out better than you thought you could, and so forth.
   - and so forth.

These are important experiences and they can be explained, but we need to stretch beyond our generally recognized limits of knowledge. There are potentials in the mind that may have to do with the astrocyte glial cells of the brain, or the fifth chakra of the subtle energy system, or the extra-corporeal inspirations of the muses, or partial possession by ancestral spirits—so much has to do with the belief systems of your culture. (I don’t suppose the more physicalistic Western scientific culture to be necessarily more “right” on this point.) The point is that spontaneity, inspiration, and creativity happens, and much in the modern realms of business and industry are actively seeking ways to support the emergence of more of it.

Moreno in a way foresaw this, or at least noted its possibility, and also the modern industrial and politico-religious culture that suppresses spontaneity and creativity. You can’t open to these inflows of inspiration if you’re at all scared or defensive. The mid-modern culture still used fear—the fear of losing, of missing out, of being punished ,or excluded from advancement, etc., as well as the fear of being teased, humiliated, exposed, etc.—as a major motivation for effort in the world. Future generations will undoubtedly will view getting beyond fear-based motivation as the next step of individual and collective liberation, following the liberation from slavery of any kind, discrimination, prejudice, etc. Dare we anticipate this? One way to help humanity toward that goal is to name it: Let’s get beyond fear-based motivation!

But what else is there? How about the fun of creativity? How about a safer culture free of coercion? Is this close to John Lennon’s song, Imagine? The concept of spontaneity is subversive of fear-based systems in general, because it can’t flower within contexts that don’t feel safe. In turn, in a culture that values and needs innovation, the foundation again involves not talking up how great creativity is, but rather working to create the circumstances that will support people’s natural inclination to play, to explore, to invent, to make up stuff—this is the natural heritage. It cannot be forced!

Social Preference

Another factor that may be understood in this light is the way folks sort themselves out according to preferences if given half the chance. This was the point of Moreno’s sociometry! Many social institutions interfered with this natural process, using the rationalization of fairness to impose what in reality were rules that served the convenience of the administrators. Still today teachers, managers, and group leaders assign teams rather than let them pick each other intuitively.

This is more complex, of course, because some people remain under-chosen and what, then, to do with them? Interestingly, often given a chance to sort themselves out according to modes of play, they will often choose each other. Some will need to come to terms with whether they actually fit in with certain groups, and perhaps the option of finding groups outside the main group need to be developed. Another option is to open the criteria and do a bit of exploration: Some of the under-chosen or even rejected turn out to have useful skills that they haven’t yet learned to manifest or disclose.

Dr. Shelly Korshack and Marianne Shapiro recently wrote about the under-chosen and how else that might be managed. It started me thinking about this problem. Their point is good: It's worthwhile exploring the possibility that some who are under-chosen might well have something interesting and positive to offer. However, since this problem happens, here are some thoughts:
    The under-chosen involve many sub-groups, and what they are doing is good—allowing a group to consider the criteria and elements of preference. But let’s just be deeply provocative.
    Person A has real odor issues due to great neglect of personal mouth or body hygiene. How does this get dealt with?
    Person B has developed intimidating nonverbal habits, a screeching voice, glowering look, a sneer.
    Person C has a mixture of elements, plus not wanting much to socialize—finding fault with just about all of “them.” Mutually rejecting, isolate.
    Person D is well liked in another circle, but feels no need to hide that s/he has deeply anomalous political or religious or other deep value views from the main group.

Further Horizons

After pondering Moreno’s ideas for several decades, I think he’s opened some doors but yet has not fully treated all that operates in these fields—nor should he be expected to. It might have been better if he had directly and repeatedly admitted that what he’s done is a beginning, not a final cap on this analysis. Sociometry has two meanings: In the narrower sense, it refers to the method, and more particularly, a method that assesses interpersonal preferences based on a given criterion within a group. In the larger sense, sociometry refers to the larger field of social psychology, especially that arena characterized by preferences.

I think it would be better to recognize, though, that the larger field involves many phenomena that are in no way elucidated by any sociometric methods developed either by Moreno or many of his followers. This is okay: It doesn’t really diminish the contributions so far, but rather opens the door to considering all sorts of phenomena beyond the narrower scope of Moreno’s sociometry.

It is sort of social psychology, but it also bridges into the realm of depth psychology. Perhaps this is one reason why theories of individual psychology and theories of social psychology have missed this—the phenomena is truly bridging between both fields: How do you feel about not being chosen by those you wish would choose you? How do you feel about not really preferring those whom you sense would like you to prefer them? These are important dynamics that have to  do with hurt feelings, resentment, courtesy (so that others won’t be hurt or dis-respected), often unconscious sadism,  jealousy, envy, and all sorts of combinations of these and other feelings.

Action explorations on the surface seems to involve techniques for problem-solving, but deeper dynamics involve processes that involve developing group cohesion, a sense of safety, support, and being liked and enjoyed. Positive social feelings support the emergence of creativity. Applause and rooting sections do evoke more courage, spontaneity and showmanship! So in this sense, the creative energy in action explorations depends upon the cultivation of a foundation of social integration—which brings us back to social depth-psychology.

Adam Smith noted that in the mainstream, ordinary bargaining was a pro-social force, the give and take of mainstream civilized society. No competition, but non-sentimental collaboration. Add to this the force of empathy, sentimental collaboration. I enjoy your happiness. We feel this more with those we care about, but there is a generous and kindly spirit in many communities where the population is not overly worried or insecure. So take this two steps further into the positive: (1) the act of collaborating in the pursuit of a common goal, and (2) adding more or less improvisation and creative problem-solving toward that goal.

So this chapter focuses on the foundation, the social-depth psychology that supports the method. A single technique does not operate in a vacuum. One needs a number of component elements to be in place and maintained, and a true artist integrates. The less mature hope for and at times are led to expect short-cuts, a single technique that fits all condition. In medicine that’s called a panacea, and it doesn’t exist. So this is one way sociometry  relates to action explorations.

Historically, Moreno’s vision was less rationally connected and more intuitively woven: He started with a deep sense of the positive potential of creativity, applying it to his immediate relationships: Can we connect to the benefit and spiritual uplift of all of us? He sensed further that spontaneous play related to all this. And self-help, as he encountered the prostitutes and other under-class people in Vienna. All this merged with something about the deeply-felt power of theatre—another of his interests—but for Moreno, of course, all this would need to be re-done. So he developed improvisational theatre a few years later. Along the way, he intuited something about people being free to choose those with whom they associate—i.e., the roots of sociometry.

The mind has a wonderful capacity to weave together and rationalize shifting interests. This happens more floridly in the enthusiasm of a truly manic person—what makes no sense to others makes sense to him in the moment. Lower the intensity and you have enthusiastic and bright people saying, “...and now that I think of it, this connects, too!” It’s not always easy for everyone to follow the thinking, but the intuitive sense of relationship is operating for the creator. Further rationalization lays out the logical connections; Moreno did this a little, but not extensively; I’ve tried to connect the dots more clearly. The point is that this moderate diversity of interests do have an internal logic, as I see it: They are connected by the question, “What can increase the operation of spontaneity and creativity in the world, in systems, among people?”

Appreciating the Non-Rational

Most folks’ behavior is not due to it being noble or even reasonable. Adam Smith made this point in the 18th century and it is true today. We act because it pleases us, and there is a degree of pleasure in the raising of the mood of the group or the pleasure given to one who we care about. This is empathy in action. We may later find reasons to support our attitudes—that’s called rationalization—but we act intuitively, not because it’s calculated to please us. Of course, some behaviors are indeed calculated, willed, planned, but these constitute a small minority of most types of behavior.

Appendix A: Some Common Themes:

1. Favoritism. Of course there is often favoritism felt if not shown. What is that about? How does it feel to believe that mom liked you best?
       Also sibs prefer this one over that often for reasons not so easily explained as family dynamics.

2. And when you go to a conference, you feel good vibes with 10% and weird or creepy or bad vibes with 10% and a bell-shaped curve of preference with the rest---at least that's what most folks say, if asked. What's with that?

3. I'm checking out my hunch that no other psychology or sociology touches this very sensitive topic.

More, I suggest that its sensitivity is a core dynamic that doesn't get asked much about (since it isn't part of a theory), and if you don't ask, clients tend not to bring it up---even less so in superficial problem-solving therapy.

Appendix B: Questionnaire about Social-depth Psychology

Here are some questions that may serve to sensitize you to the kinds of themes involved in social-depth psychology:

In your infancy or childhood, who loved you the most? In what ways were different people loving in your childhood? Did this sense of being loved change?

Why did people like you, do you think? How did they let you know? Some folks know they were loved but didn’t feel particularly liked.

Did you have anyone in your family who resonated well with something you liked to do?
  Who and in which roles?

As you entered school, do you remember whether you felt that you were popular or unpopular?      In what ways?

In later elementary school, in what ways did you feel accepted or rejected. Were there “in” groups and “outsiders” and which were you in what ways?

Did you have a best friend? Do you remember his/her name? What was that like?

Have you had any major griefs regarding friendships? Moving away? Betrayals? Fights? Were you able to make up?

Were you ever bullied? Looking back, did you ever bully, and what happened with that?

Were you chosen first or last for any type of team or club activity? How did you feel about it?

In your early teen years, social-depth psychology begins to include relationships with the opposite sex not as peer-playmates but as objects of romance. What were your crushes or early experiences with romance like? With sexuality?

You may have endured a break-up. How did you react?

You may have broken off with a potential romance, or from a friendship. Why?

In junior high (middle) or high school were you part of a club, did you hang out with some friends? What did it require to get into your circle?

How many groups were you a part of? Joining or dropping out or being excluded—all often have memorable stories—or not. What was involved?

At this point in your life, identify three roles that you share with friends.  Any clubs, organizations?  List them.

What groups would you like to join or become more active in?

Are there some groups that you imagine lessening your involvement with?  Why?

With these questions as warm-ups, draw a social network diagram. Indicate what you imagine they feel towards you as well as your feelings toward the various figures, like, neutral, dislike.
Key questions:

Were you popular or unpopular as a child? What was that like?

How about in Junior High School? High school? Were you part of a club, did you hang out with some friends? What did it require to get into your circle?

Were you ever bullied? Looking back, did you ever bully, and what happened with that?

Were you chosen first or last for any type of team or club activity? How did you feel about it?

Whom did you prefer in your nuclear family of origin? Dad, Mom, which sibling. Whom did you think they preferred?  What about your extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins?

Notice that for some it’s uncomfortable to even address these questions openly.

Appendix C: Some Common Reasons for Preferences:

  * reciprocity is especially significant
  * shared goals, tasks, interests, types of work or recreation
  * attractiveness--physical, social, playful, emotional,
    spiritual, intellectual, artistic
  * role complementarity--leader/follower, active/passive,
  * role symmetry (similar qualities)--temperament, ability,
  * similar background, values, life style, education
  * differences which seem intriguing or refreshing
  * familiarity based on consistency or duration of association
  * nearness in place or time
  * transference--similarities to other people in one's past
  * prejudice--generalizations based on cultural conditioning

Appendix D: Networking Interests:

1.  Professional:                (add other items)
 a: Approaches:
    sociodrama    drama therapy
    role playing    sociometry

 b: Applications:
    hospital        school    
    community        politics
    recreation        business

 c: Aspects:
    spiritual        ethics    
    training         theory
2. Leisure:                     (add other items)
    sightseeing        book stores
    dining out        romance
    singing        shopping
    dancing        conversation

    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -

Appendix F: Workshop Instructions

* During exercises, please stop talking when you hear the bell.

* In a choosing exercise, when you have found your partner(s), move to the side of the room so that others can more easily find each other.


Tele = interpersonal preference + some degree of reciprocity– i.e., “rapport”
  a. may have components which are due to transference
  b. other components are due to reality-based factors
  c. affects and is affected by group cohesion, empathy

Tele is role dependent: You might connect well with a person in one facet of your relationship, but feel indifferent or even somewhat negative in another facet.

Sociotelic  = common interest
Psychetelic = more personal, intuitive

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