Erich Fromm

About the Person

Born on 23 March 1900 into an Orthodox Jewish family living in Frankfurt, at the beginning of the 1930s Erich Fromm developed his own independent scientific approach, in which the human is understood in their determinacy through unconscious endeavours, as well as in their social character.

With his psychoanalytical-sociopsychological theories and methods, he initially recognised and explored the authoritarian character and worked until 1939 at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt and New York. Later on, taking the same approach, he investigated marketing orientation, collective narcissism and necrophilia (being attracted to lifelessness).

Forced by the Nazi regime to emigrate in 1934, Fromm lived until 1950 in New York and then until 1973 in Mexico, before spending the remaining years of his life in Locarno in Switzerland until his death on 18 March 1980.

After completing his training to become a psychoanalyst in 1930, Erich Fromm worked especially as a psychotherapist, teaching and controlling analyst and university lecturer. His interests however lay in the psychoanalysis of social and political developments, in revealing the alienation of humans from their humane strengths, and in designs for a more democratic and socially fairer society.

Fromm gained worldwide recognition in 1941 with his book "Escape from Freedom", in which he describes the authoritarian orientation especially and submission to a leader as a means of fleeing, so as to escape the fear of social isolation that accompanies individualisation. In the mid-1970s, Fromm recognised in being attracted especially to the lifeless, the predictable and the dead certain – in "necrophilia" – a new escape mechanism that threatens the freedom of humans and which manifests itself today in the omnipresent striving for security.

Of the 20 further books that Fromm wrote, the following deserve mention: "Man for himself, an inquiry into the psychology of ethics" (1947), "The Sane Society" (1955), "The Art of Loving" (1956), "The Heart of Man, its genius for good and evil" (1964), "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness " (1973) and "To Have or to Be" (1976). It is estimated that 60 million copies of his book have been sold worldwide.

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