Jump to content

Marshall Rosenberg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Marshall B. Rosenberg
Marshall Rosenberg in 2005
Born(1934-10-06)October 6, 1934
DiedFebruary 7, 2015(2015-02-07) (aged 80)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Known forNonviolent communication

Marshall Bertram Rosenberg (October 6, 1934 – February 7, 2015) was an American psychologist, mediator, author and teacher. Starting in the early 1960s, he developed nonviolent communication, a process for supporting partnership and resolving conflict within people, relationships, and society. He worked worldwide as a peacemaker, and in 1984 founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication, an international nonprofit organization for which he served as Director of Educational Services.[1][2]


Rosenberg was born in Canton, Ohio, to Jewish parents.[3] His parents were Jean (née Wiener) Rosenberg and Fred Donald Rosenberg. Rosenberg's maternal grandmother, Anna Satovsky Wiener, had nine children. His grandfather worked at Packard Motor Car Company and his grandmother taught workers' children to dance. Wiener spent her final years living with ALS with the Rosenbergs, and Rosenberg credits his family's compassionate care for Wiener during the period in his later work.

In Steubenville, Ohio, Rosenberg's father loaded trucks with wholesale grocery stock, and Rosenberg himself went to a three-room school. Jean Rosenberg was a professional bowler with tournaments five nights per week. She was also a gambler with high-stakes backers. His parents divorced twice: once when Rosenberg was three and again when he left home.

The family moved to Detroit, Michigan, one week before the Detroit race riot of 1943 in which 34 people were killed and 433 wounded. At an inner-city school, Rosenberg discovered anti-Semitism and internalized it.[2] Rosenberg married his first wife, Vivian, in 1961.[4] They had three children. In 1974, he married his second wife, Gloria, whom he divorced in 1999.[5] He married his third wife, Valentina (a.k.a. Kidini) in 2005, with whom he remained until his death in 2015.


At age 13 Rosenberg began Hebrew school but got expelled. Twice his father beat him, once so badly he missed school the next day. After Rosenberg's father bought a house in a better neighborhood, Rosenberg attended Cooley High School and graduated in 1952 as valedictorian. When considering medicine as a career, Rosenberg worked with an embalmer for a while to measure his interest in the human body.

Rosenberg's first college was Wayne State University. He then entered the University of Michigan, and he worked as a waiter at a sorority and a cook's help at a fraternity. Putting up with anti-Semitism, he graduated in three years. The State of Wisconsin paid for Rosenberg's training as a psychologist.[2]: 752 

Professor Michael Hakeem taught Rosenberg that psychology and psychiatry were dangerous, since scientific and value judgments were mixed in the fields. Hakeem also had Rosenberg read about traditional moral therapy in which clients were seen as down on their luck rather than sick. Rosenberg was influenced by the 1961 books The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz and Asylums by Erving Goffman. He also remembered reading Albert Bandura on "Psychotherapy as a learning process".

Rosenberg's practicum placements were the Wisconsin Diagnostic Center, schools for delinquent girls and boys, and Mendota State Hospital. There, psychiatrist Bernie Banham "would never have it where we would talk about a client in his absence". In Mendota, Rosenberg began to practice family therapy with all parties present, including children. After graduation, Rosenberg worked in Winnebago with Gordon Filmer-Bennett for a year to fulfill his obligation to the state for his graduate training.


Marshall Rosenberg lecturing in a nonviolent communication workshop (1990)

In 1961, Rosenberg received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[6] His dissertation, Situational Structure and Self-evaluation, prefigured certain key aspects of his later work with nonviolent communication by focusing on "the relationship between (the) structure of social situations and two dimensions of self evaluation; positive self evaluation and certainty of self evaluation". In 1966 he was awarded Diplomate status in clinical psychology from the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology.

Rosenberg started out in clinical practice in Saint Louis, Missouri, forming Psychological Associates with partners. In making an analysis of problems of children in school, he found learning disabilities. He wrote his first book, Diagnostic Teaching, in 1968, reporting his findings. He also met Al Chappelle, a leader in the Zulu 1200s, a black liberation group in St. Louis.[7] Rosenberg went to teach his approach to conflict resolution to the group in exchange for Chappelle appearing at desegregation conventions, starting in Washington, D.C. While Chappelle was harnessing communication against racism, Vicki Legion began to collaborate to counter sexism. "I started to give my services, instead of to individual affluent clients, to people on the firing line like Al and Vicki, and others fighting in behalf of human rights of various groups."

The superintendent of schools, Thomas Shaheen, in Rockford, Illinois called upon Rosenberg to deal with conflicts in an alternative school that was established. In 1970 Shaheen became superintendent of schools in San Francisco, California and was charged with racially integrating the city's schools. He called on Rosenberg to help as before and Rosenberg organized a group but Shaheen was dismissed before it could come into action. Rosenberg decided to stay in California and promoted the Community Council for Mutual Education with the help of Vicki Legion.

He worked for four years in Norfolk, Virginia's school integration.[2]: 813  Rosenberg was called to many states, countries, and conflicts to provide his expertise in nonviolent communication. In 2004 he was visiting about 35 countries per year on his mission as a travelling peacemaker.[8] From his home base at Albuquerque, Rosenberg supported his followers elsewhere with a Center of Nonviolent Communication in New Mexico. He died at home on February 7, 2015.[9]

According to cognitive therapist Albert Ellis, Ted Crawford, who co-authored the book Making Intimate Connections with Ellis, "particularly liked the anger-resisting philosophy of Marshall Rosenberg and made presentations on it".[10]

See also[edit]



  • (2015) Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. (264 pages) Third Edition. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. ISBN 978-1892005281
  • (2012) Living Nonviolent Communication: Practical Tools to Connect and Communicate Skillfully in Every Situation. (288 pages; compilation of prior short works) Sounds True. ISBN 978-1604077872
  • (2005) Being Me, Loving You: A Practical Guide to Extraordinary Relationships. (80 pages) ISBN 978-1892005168
  • (2005) Practical Spirituality: The Spiritual Basis of Nonviolent Communication. (32 pages) ISBN 978-1892005144
  • (2005) Speak Peace in a World of Conflict: What You Say Next Will Change Your World. (240 pages) Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. ISBN 1-892005-17-4
  • (2005) The Surprising Purpose of Anger: Beyond Anger Management: Finding the Gift. (48 pages) ISBN 978-1892005151
  • (2004) Getting Past the Pain Between Us: Healing and Reconciliation Without Compromise. (48 pages) ISBN 978-1892005076
  • (2004) The Heart of Social Change: How to Make a Difference in Your World. (45 pages) ISBN 978-1892005106
  • (2004) Raising Children Compassionately: Parenting the Nonviolent Communication Way. (48 pages) ISBN 978-1892005090
  • (2004) Teaching Children Compassionately: How Students and Teachers Can Succeed with Mutual Understanding (41 pages) ISBN 978-1892005113
  • (2004) We Can Work It Out: Resolving Conflicts Peacefully and Powerfully. (32 pages) ISBN 978-1892005120
  • (2003) Life-Enriching Education: NVC Helps Schools Improve Performance, Reduce Conflict and Enhance Relationships. (192 pages) Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. ISBN 1-892005-05-0
  • (2003) Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. (222 pages) Second Edition. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. ISBN 1-892005-03-4
  • (2003) Speaking Peace: Connecting with Others Through Nonviolent Communication. (audiobook) ISBN 1591790778
  • (1999) Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion. (166 pages) First Edition. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. ISBN 1892005026
  • (1986) Duck Tales and Jackal Taming Hints. Booklet. (Out of Print)
  • (1983) A Model for Nonviolent Communication. (35 pages) Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers. ISBN 0865710295
  • (1976) From Now On. (149 pages) Community Psychological Consultants Inc., St. Louis, MO.
  • (1972) A Manual for "Responsible" Thinking and Communicating. (55 pages) St. Lois, MI: Community Psychological Consultants
  • (1972) Mutual Education: Toward Autonomy and Interdependence. Bernie Straub Publishing Co. (Out of Print) ISBN 0-87562-040-X
  • (1968) Diagnostic Teaching Special Child Publications (Out of Print) ISBN 0-87562-013-2


  1. ^ a b Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2003). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (2nd ed.). Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. pp. 220. ISBN 978-1-892005-03-8.
  2. ^ a b c d Witty, Marjorie Cross (1990). "7. Marshall Rosenberg". Life History Studies of Committed Lives (Thesis). Vol. 3. p. 717.
  3. ^ "Interview with Marshall Rosenberg: The Traveling Peacemaker". Inquiring Mind. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  4. ^ News Network Anthroposophy Limited. "Founder of nonviolent communication dies". Archived from the original on 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  5. ^ "My Heritage".
  6. ^ Rosenberg, Marshall B. (1983). A Model for Nonviolent Communication. Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers. ISBN 0865710295.
  7. ^ Jolly, Kenneth (2013-10-23). Black Liberation in the Midwest: The Struggle in St. Louis, Missouri, 1964-1970. ISBN 9781135526597.
  8. ^ Cullen, Margaret; Kabatznick, Ronna (2004). "The Traveling Peacemaker: A Conversation with Marshall Rosenberg". Inquiring Mind. 21 (1).
  9. ^ "Obituaries: Rosenberg, Marshall B. Dr". Albuquerque Journal. 15 Feb 2015. Retrieved 20 Feb 2015.
  10. ^ Joffe-Ellis, Albert Ellis with Debbie (2010). All out! : an autobiography. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. p. 472. ISBN 9781591024521.

External links[edit]