Last updated:
April 13, 2004

Narrative Psychology Search

[Narrative Psychology]

  Theorists and Key Figures


This subpage provides very brief biographical notes regarding individuals who are important theorists, researchers, or contibutors to narrative psychology, the interpretive turn in psychology and the social sciences, and the diverse influences upon narrative which this resource guide details.

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Theorists/key figures whose names begin with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Theorists & Key Figures
found on this page
MacIntyre, Alasdair
Macmurray, John
McAdams, Dan P. (1954- )
McCabe, Alyssia
Mead, George Herbert (1863-1931)
Miller, George
Mink, Louis O.
Mishler, Elliot G. (1924- )
Moreno, Jacob L. (1892-1974)
Murray, Henry A. (1893-1988)
Murray, Michael
Navone, John
Neimeyer, Robert A.
Neisser, Ulric
Nietzsche, Friedrich
Ong, Walter (1912-2003)
Online Resource Sites:   PP Philosophy Pages (Garth Kemerling) SEP Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy  IEP Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
[Homepage Icon] = Homepage of Figure        [Tinysubhead Icon] links to a page within this site MIA Internet Archive 

  MacIntyre Alasdair
  Macmurray, John
 [Dan P. McAdams]

McAdams, Dan P. (1954- ) [homepage]

Dan P. McAdams was born February 7, 1954 in Lynwood, CA and completed his bachelor's degree at Valparaiso University in 1976. He received his doctorate in developmental psychology from Harvard University in 1979 completing a dissertation entitled Validation Of A Thematic Coding System For The Intimacy Motive. He worked briefly as a supervisor of clinical testing at Cambridge City Hospital (MA) and as a visiting instructor at the University of Minnesota (Twin City)'s Institure of Child Development before assuming a fulltime faculty appointment at Loyola University of Chicago in 1980. He moved to to Northwestern University in 1989 where he holds a joint appointment as Professor of Psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences and of Human Development and Social Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy. He is the director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives. With the shift of publication of the series, The Narrative Study of Lives, from Sage Publications to the American Psychological Association in 2000, McAdams has joined Ruthellen Josselson and Amia Lieblich as an overall editor for the series. He has also shown a strong interest in teaching and pedagogy (he is the author of an important classroom text in personality) and also is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern.

McAdams' work over the last two decades has focused upon a set of interrelated themes and approaches. These have included the question of the life story and the development of the self and personal identity, generativity in adult life and its origins and course over the span of development, and the notion of the redemptive (vs. contaminated) self. He advocates a nuanced structural theory of the personality in which the self displays three increasing levels of integration: (1) dispositional traits, (2) characteristic adaptations which relate to an individual's motives and beliefs, and (3) integrative life stories. McAdams and his colleagues regularly use both qualitative and quantitative measures in their personality and developmental research programs. He has authored or developed the Life Story Interview method, the Guided Autobiography, the Loyola Generativity Scale, and a set of coding manuals by which to analyze the stories of research participants.

[Tinysubhead Icon]  Personality, Psychobiography, and Psychology of the Life Story: Bibliography: Dan P. McAdams

Sources: Olendorf, D. (Ed.). (1994). Contemporary authors. A bio-bibliographical guide to current writers in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, motion pictures, television, and other fields. Vol. 141 (p. 302). Detroit: Gale Research; Foley Center for the Study of Lives online site.

  McCabe, Alyssia
 [G. H. Mead]

Mead, George Herbert (1863-1931)  PP  IEP  

Born in Massachusetts, he moved to Oberlin, OH as a boy. There his father, a clergyman & preacher, taught at Oberlin College where Mead was to complete his own undergraduate education (1879-1983). Prior to master's study at Harvard in philosophy, Mead worked in the Pacific Northwest as a surveyor. He completed an MA in Philosophy at Harvard in 1888 where he worked with Josiah Royce and served as a tutor to the children of William James. Mead traveled to Europe to study for a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Leipzig under Wundt. Though studying with both Wundt and G. S. Hall, he soon transfered from Leipzig to the University of Berlin before returning to the United States in 1891 without his doctoral degree. He taught at the University of Michigan until he joined the faculty of the new University of Chicago in 1892 at the invitation of John Dewey to teach philosophy. A major theorist of American pragmatism, Mead cooperated extensively in the educational reform movement initiated by Dewey and remained at Chicago when Dewey left for Columbia University. He worked also with social reformer, Jane Addams ,while also editing the journal, The Elementary School Teacher. He came into conflict with Robert Maynard Hutchins, the new President of the University of Chicago, and accepted an offer to move to Columbia University to teach in the Fall of 1931. However, Mead died in the spring of 1931 before he could take up that post. It is notable that Mead never published any books during his lifetime. Those volumes appearing with his name as author were posthumously assembled from either his papers or transcripts (from various sources) of his class lectures and edited by his students and colleagues.

The IEP article provides a comprehensive review of G. H. Mead's theory of the self and society.

[Tinysubhead Icon]  Emergence of the Social Sciences: Bibliography: George Herbert Mead

George's Page at The Mead Project maintains the most extensive collection of Mead's writing online.

Joas, H. (1997). G. H. Mead: A contemporary re-examination of his thought (Raymond Meyer, Transl.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Originally published in 1980 in Frankfurt (Suhrkamp) in German under the title Praktische Intersubjektivität. Die Entwicklung des Werks von George Herbert Mead.

Sources: Dematteis, P. B. & McHenry, L. B. (Eds.) (2002). George Herbert Mead 1962-1931. Dictionary of literary biography. Vol. 270. American philosophers before 1950 (pp. 223-237). Detroit: Gale Group.

  Miller, George


Mink, Louis O.


Mink. L. O. (1987). Modes of comprehension and the unity of knowledge. Historical understanding (pp. 35-41; B. Fay, E. O. Golob, & R.T. Vann, Eds.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. This paper originally appeared in Proceedings of the Xllth International Congress of Philosophy (Firenze: Sansoni Editore, 1960) V, 41 1-17

 [E. Mishler]

Elliot G. Mishler (1924- )

Professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School

Mishler completed his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan in 1951 (Dissertation: Personality Characteristics And The Resolution Of Role Conflicts). As a social psychologist and medical anthropologist, Mishler has championed nuanced, but innovative approaches to research interviewing within the medical context. He has been a teacher of qualitative approaches to research for many years and revered by several generation of students in the Boston area who have studied with him.

[Tinysubhead Icon]  Selected Bibliography

Harvey, M. R., Mishler, E. G., Koenen, K., & Harney, P. A. (2000). In the aftermath of sexual abuse: Making and remaking meaning in narratives of trauma and recovery. Narrative Inquiry, 10(2), 291-311.

Mishler, E. G. (1979). Meaning in context: Is there any other kind? Harvard Educational Review, 49(1), 1-19.

Mishler, E. G. (1984). The discourse of medicine: Dialectics of medical interviews. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corp.

Mishler, Elliot G. (1986). Research interviewing: Context and narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mishler, E. G. (1986). The analysis of interview-narratives. In T. R. Sarbin (Ed.), Narrative psychology (pp. 233-255). NY: Praeger

Mishler, E. G. (1990). Validation in inquiry-guided research: The role of exemplars in narrative studies. Harvard Educational Review. 60(4) November: 415-442.

Mishler, E. G. (1995). Models of narrative analysis: A typology. Journal of Narrative & Life History, 5(2), 87-123.

Mischer, E. G., Clark, J. A., Ingelfinger, J., & Simon, M. P. (1989). The language of attentive patient care: A comparison of two medical interviews. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 4, 325-335.

Sources: American Men & Women of Science. A biographical directory of today's leaders in physical, biological, and related sciences. 13th edition, Social & Behavioral Sciences. One volume. New York: R.R. Bowker Co., 1978
 [Jacob Moreno]

Moreno, Jacob Levy (1892-1974)

The founder of psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy.

Jacob L. Moreno (originally Moreno Nisslam Levy) was born on May 20, 1892 (alternately, in some sources, May 18, 1889) in Bucharest, Rumania to sephardic Jewish parents. In 1894 at age two (alternately, four), his family moved to Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He early decided upon a career in medicine and, after studying mathematics and philosophy at the University of Vienna, he began his training as a doctor there in 1912. During his years as a medical student, Moreno became involved in various projects involving storytelling to children and group work with prostitutes of the Am Spittelberg District in the capital city. In this period, Moreno settled upon a number of crucial insights including a rejection of Freudian theory and its negative views toward "acting out" as well as reflecting on the potential for personal change which could be effected within group social settings. He claimed in later life to have coined the term "group psychotherapy" during this time.

Moreno received his M.D. degree in 1917 and was soon appointed as superintendent of a children's hospital in Mittendorf. The patients there were refugees from the Tyrol and the advance of Italian troops. In his role, Moreno closely observed the social organization of the children, their parents and families as well as the shifting alliances and groupings of the wider community. These observations led to further reflection on the ways in which social systems functioned. He practiced psychotherapy in Vienna and the nearby Volsau from 1919 until he left for America in 1925. He also founded a monthly literary and philosophical publication, Daimon, the first of a range of subsequent publications he began throughout his life. One of Daimon's contributing editors was the Jewish existential philosopher, Martin Buber.

Beginning in 1921, Moreno began experimenting with the use of dramatic or theatrical methods as a means of treating groups of individuals. His "Komendian Haus" experiment that year was followed soon thereafter with the founding of Das Stegreiftheater or The Sponteneity Theater. This facility used improvisational drama and served as a kind of testing ground for his emerging ideas about psychiatric treatment means of theatrical practices. In the early 1920s, Moreno also developed a complementary set of ideas which he termed sociometry, a research method which detailed the social structure of entire groups.

This development of psychodrama and sociometry continued after Moreno's arrival in the United States in 1925. He established a psychiatric office in New York City and, at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, briefly worked with children through psychodramatic techniques. In 1929, Moreno organized an Impromptu Theater at Carnegie Hall which met three times weekly and employed psychodrama and group psychotherapy. In 1931, he carried out a series of studies at Sing Sing prison in New York on sociometry and used the term "group psychotherapy" for the first time publicly at the 1932 American Psychiatric Association meeting in Philadelphia. The following year, he began a long-term sociometric study (1933-1938) at the New York State Training School for Girls at Hudson, NY with Helen H. Jennings as his co-investigator. Results of this work -- about 100 "sociograms" illustrating the social structure of the School's population -- were displayed at the NY State Medical Society meeting that year. In 1934 he published his fundamental analysis of community and social groups in Who Shall Survive? and introduced psychodrama to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC, one of the most innovative psychiatric facilities in the country. In 1936, Moreno opened his own sanatarium at Beacon, NY, a small city along the Hudson River about 60 miles north of New York City. This facility included a theater built to permit psychodrama sessions. In 1937, he began publication of Sociometry: A Journal of Inter-Personal Relations. This scientific journal was initially edited by the eminent social psychologist Gardner Murphy and served as an influential outlet for his work as well as other social scientists interested in role theory and the behavior of groups.

Moreno never held a long-term academic appointment, but did teach for short periods at the New School for Social Research (1937-38), Columbia University (1939-40), and other institutions in the United States and elsewhere. The late 1940s saw the introduction of psychodrama at various psychiatric institutions, for example, the Boston Psycopathic Hospital and Veterans Hospitals in Los Angeles, Kanasa, Arkansas, and other venues. Following the Second World War, Moreno also began to foster psychodrama in Europe (including France in 1947 and Czechoslovakia in 1959 and 1963). The first International Congress of Psychodrama took place in 1964 in Paris.

Moreno married three times, the last wedding took place in 1949 when he married Zerka Toeman. She became a psychodramatist and worked closely with him for the final quarter-century of his life. Moreno died in Beacon, NY on May 14, 1974.

Theory and Practice

It would be nearly impossible to provide a comprehensive summary of Moreno's thoughts here. Readers are advised to consult the online references below in Blatner (2002 a, b). A brief summary of Moreno's importance to narrative should begin with acknowledgment of the centrality Moreno ascribes to creativity in human life. He felt that, unfortunately, many individuals were stuck; they had become mired in ways of responding which reflected a profound lack [Sociometric Structure of the Person]of creativity. Moreno termed the ability to deal flexibly and creatively with new situations as spontaneity. This term refers to a kind of freedom individuals have in their encounters with new situations to employ novel or adaptive actions fitting with the specifics of the situation. Therapeutic intervention, then, should increase the spontaneity of individuals in the ways in which they lead their daily lives.

For Moreno, human beings should not be understood primarily as biological organisms which, as a by-product of functioning, display a circumscribed mind or psyche. Rather, the body forms an inner biological core which is surrounded by the psyche and that psyche, in turn, is surrounded by the social world (Moreno, 1943). Moreno employs two helpful concepts to define the relationship of the individual with society. The first is the "social atom" which represents "the smallest social unit within the social group. Every person is postively or negatively related to an indefinite number of socii who in turn may be related to him positively or negatively" (Moreno, 1943, p. 324). Moreno pictures each of us as related reciprocally or simply by a one-way interest to a world of other persons. This matrix of persons serves as our social atom. This matrix itself is embedded within a broader notion of the "cultural atom." By this Moreno means the multiple roles and counterroles which an individual must play toward the members of his or her social atom. Since we may often play more than one role in our relationship to another person, our cultural atom is, of necessity, larger than our social atom.

Psychodrama is the overall technique which Moreno advocated to address the psychological and social needs of individuals. A psychodrama session takes place on the stage. There the individual protagonist can explore imaginatively the many roles he or she plays with others. A director of the psychodrama (the "therapist" in conventional language) suggests actions or scenes for the protagonist to act out. Assisting the protagonist are a set of "alternative egos" -- individuals on the stage who can serve as foils or stand-ins for others in the protagonist's social atom. The audience, Moreno believes, becomes a "silent partner" in the action on the stage as they witness the protagonists working through the conflicts, role disequalibria, and dead ends of their lives. Within psychodrama, Moreno developed a set of "deep actions" or dramatic techniques to foster the therapeutic goals of the psychodramatic stage. These include role reversal, the empty chair (before Fritz Perls did), the magic shop, the double, the mirror, and other means (Greenberg, 1974). Moreno also extended the notion of psychodrama to what he termed sociodrama -- the stage-based involvement of multiple individuals who address issues of interpersonal relations or collective ideology.

For narrativists, Moreno's influence has been important and seminal. The use of drama fostered an awareness of how patients could build stories -- creating meaningful connections between events in life which otherwise may have seemed disparate or isolated. Moreno himself was convinced that a crucial advantage of psychodrama lay in its ability to mold or play with time: protagonists could go back to long-forgotten scenes in their lives or advance many years into hoped-for futures. Secondly, Moreno's therapeutic work rejected the autonomy and insularity of the psychodynamic patient: all individuals are profoundly related at every moment to the social and cultural world in which they have developed and now live. Thus, any treatment modality must deal with that social reality. Further, Moreno's emphasis upon the multiplicity of roles in the daily lives of his patients advanced the importance of role theory and its potential to explain more fully the actual situation of the self. Finally, Moreno spurred others to advance his ideas, e.g., Ted Sarbin encountered Moreno early in his career and found Moreno's emphasis upon role helpful in advancing his own thinking.

[Tinysubhead Icon] Selected Bibliography: Jacob L. Moreno

Blatner, A. (2002). Psychodrama theory--Further issues. [Online] (a)

Blatner, A. (2002). Theoretical foundations of psychodrama. [Online] (b)

Greenberg, I. A. (1974). Moreno: Psychodrama and the group process. In I. A. Greenberg (Ed.), Psychodrama: Theory and therapy (pp. 11-28). New York: Behavioral Publications.

Moreno, J. L. (1934). Who shall survive? A new approach to the problems of human interrelations. Washington, DC: Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company.

Moreno, J. L. (1943). Sociometry and the cultural order. Sociometry, 6(3), 299-344.

Moreno, J. L. (1987). The essential Moreno: Writings on psychodrama, group method, and spontaneity (J. Fox, Ed.). New York: Springer Publishing.

Moreno, Z. T. (1949). History of the sociometric movement in headlines. Sociometry, 12, 255-259.

Sources: Obituary, New York Times, May 16, 1974, p. 44; Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001; Moreno, Z. (1949); Blatner (2002 a,b).


Murray, Henry Alexander (1893-1988)

Papers of Henry A. Murray: An Inventory (Harvard University Archives) -- contains a short biographical sketch of Murray.


Murray, Michael

Michael Murray "is Professor of Psychology in the Division of Community Health, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Prior to that he held positions in St. Thomas's Hospital Medical, London, UK and in the University of Ulster, Ireland. He was Chair of the Health Psychology Section of the Canadian Psychological Association and founding Editor of the Canadian Health Psychologist. He has published widely in the field of health psychology." Quoted from <>

  Navone, John

Neimeyer, Robert A. [Homepage Icon]

Robert Neimeyer "is Professor of Psychology at the University of Memphis, Tennessee and a clinical psychologist in private practice. " Since completing his doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has written extensively on constructivist approaches to psychotherapy, with a special emphasis on the experience of death and loss...He is currently working to extend an understanding of grieving as a meaning making process, and to advance a constructivist approach to psychotherapy process and outcome. Neimeyer is Editor of both the Journal of Constructivist Psychology and Death Studies." Quoted from <>

  Neisser, Ulric

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844-1900) SEP   PP

German philosopher.
 [Walter Ong]

 Ong, Walter J. (1912-2003)

Walter Jackson Ong, Jesuit priest and humanist scholar, was born in Kansas City, MO on November 20, 1912. He attended the Jesuit-run Rockhurst College in his hometown from which he was graduated in 1933. Two years later (after a brief career in the publishing and printing business) he entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and attended Saint Louis University (SLU) from which he received a licentiate in philosophy in 1940, an M.A. in English literature in 1941, and a licentiate in sacred theology in 1948. His doctoral studies in English were completed at Harvard University from which he received a Ph.D. in 1955. In 1953 he joined the faculty of SLU, his principal academic home, an an instructor in English and was subsequently promoted to assistant professor (1954), associate professor (1957), and professor in 1959. In 1970 he was appointed a professor of humanities in psychiatry by the SLU School of Medicine and, in 1981, was named University Professor of Humanities. He reached emeritus status at SLU in 1984. Throughout his career, Ong held many visiting professorships and lectureships in the US, Canada, the UK, and elsewhere. He died at age 90 on August 12, 2003 in St. Louis, MO.
Ong's scholarly interests have been vast and reflect his role as a kind of modern Renaissance figure. He was an early student of the literary scholar and communications theorist, Marshall McLuhan, at SLU in the 1940s though the later McLuhan probably learned as much from Ong as Ong did from him. At Harvard, his doctoral work on Peter Ramus (1515-1572), the early modern rhetorician and educational innovator, alerted Ong to the crucial distinction between knowledge experienced via hearing vs. seeing (Farrell, 2000, p. 27). "I came across the difference between the Hebrew idea of knowing and the Greek idea of knowing...I realized that though intellectual knowledge has likenesses to all the senses, the Greeks were thinking of it more by analogy with seeing, whereas the Hebrews thought of knowledge more as if it were hearing" (Ong, 2002, p. 80). Influenced by Milman Parry, Eric Havelock, Jack Goody, and other theorists and anthropologists of classical oral culture, Ong charted the historical development of written ("chirographic") language as a technological innovation with profound cultural effects.

Ong (1982) constrasts written literacy with the cultural implications of language expressed in its original or primary oral form. For Ong, writing serves to divide or alienate people from their experience of both the external world and themselves. Written language facilitates more abstract and theoretical explorations in thought while objectifying spoken language in a way which robs it of its dynamic function as, primarily, an action or a doing. Ong believes, therefore, that written language actually restructures human consciousness. This noetic change can be seen especially in the way memory functions in an oral-aural world vs. one which is primarily visual. Without the ability to store knowledge by means of writing as a prostethic enhancement to memory, the sum of a culture's heritage must be committed to human memory. Song, spoken myth and story, and other participatory dramatic and spoken productions often carry a community's memory. As a further consequence of the differences between the functions of speech and writing, texts serve in some fashion to fictionalize both the author and the reader of the printed word. Why? They must resort to a medium which cannot capture how people actually talk and interact--those intonations and the broad array of nonverbal gestures which lie at the heart of oral expression as an activity.
Ong's discusses the impact of the oral --> written shift upon narrative particularly in the sixth chapter of his 1982 volume. In oral cultures, narratives tend to be more open-ended and the storyline much less linear. Ong notes that "an oral culture has no experience of a lengthy, epic-size or novel-size climactic linear plot. It cannot organize even shorter narrative in the studious, relentless climactic way that readers of literature for the past 200 years have learned more and more to expect..." (Ong, 1982, p. 143). Further, as noted above, without the technology of writing which can make quasi-permanent the knowledge of a community, "oral cultures...use stories of human action to store, organize, and communicate much of what they know" (Ong, 1982, p. 140). In contrast, characters in the stories crafted in contemporary literary cultures tend to be less "flat" and more "rounded," i.e., drawn with greater complexity of interior structure and motivation.

[Tinysubhead Icon] Selected References & Online Resources: Walter J. Ong

Farrell, T. J. (2000). Walter Ong's contributions to cultural studies: The phenomenology of the word and I-thou communication. Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Ong, W. J. (1958). Ramus, method, and the decay of dialogue. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ong, W. (1967). The presence of the word: Some prolegomena for cultural and religious history. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. (Reprinted 2000: Binghamton, NY: Global Publications, Binghamton University Press). This work collects his 1964 Terry Lectures at Yale University and is considered by many among his very best works.

Ong, W. (1982). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London & New York: Methuen. (2nd ed. published, 2002, London & New York: Routledge).

Ong, W. (2002). An Ong reader: Challenges for further inquiry (T. J. Farrell, & P. A. Soukup, Eds.). Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press. This collection of 28 essays by Ong offers a comprehensive review of his scholarly activities. Farrell's introductory essay, Walter J. Ong's Work and Western Culture (pp. 1-68) offers a detailed overview of Ong's contributions as well as a fine short biographical look of the subject. Both here and in his 2000 volume, Farrell becomes contentious with many of his critics and those of others in the media ecology movement (McLuhan and Ong among them).

The Walter J. Ong Project (Saint Louis University)

Review/Synposis of Orality and Literacy (Art Bingham, Northern Illinois University)

Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. Synposis by David Reinking (U Georgia)

Remembering Walter Ong (Jonathan Druy) provides commentary and rememberances of Ong by a wide range of scholars.

Sources: Contemporary Authors, Gale Group, 2002); Farrell (2000); Ong (1982, 2002).


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Hevern, V. W. (2004, April). Theorists and Key Figures: M-N-O. Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. Retrieved [enter date] from the
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