Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm (March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist.

“I believe that the man choosing progress can find a new unity through the development of all his human forces, which are produced in three orientations. These can be presented separately or together: biophilia, love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom.” (c. 1965)

Erich Fromm postulated EIGHT basic needs:

1. Relatedness – Relationships with others, care, respect, knowledge.
2. Transcendence – Creativity, develop a loving and interesting life.
3. Rootedness – Feeling of belonging.
4. Sense of Identity – See ourselves as a unique person and part of a social group.
5. Frame of orientation – Understand the world and our place in it.
6. Excitation and Stimulation – Actively strive for a goal rather than simply respond.
7. Unity – A sense of oneness between one person and the “natural and human world outside.”
8. Effectiveness – The need to feel accomplished.

Fromm’s thesis of the “escape from freedom” is epitomized in the following passage. The “individualized man” referenced by Fromm is man bereft of “primary ties” of belonging (nature, family, etc.), also expressed as “freedom from”:

“There is only one possible, productive solution for the relationship of individualized man with the world: his active solidarity with all men and his spontaneous activity, love and work, which unite him again with the world, not by primary ties but as a free and independent individual…. However, if the economic, social and political conditions… do not offer a basis for the realization of individuality in the sense just mentioned, while at the same time people have lost those ties which gave them security, this lag makes freedom an unbearable burden. It then becomes identical with doubt, with a kind of life which lacks meaning and direction. Powerful tendencies arise to escape from this kind of freedom into submission or some kind of relationship to man and the world which promises relief from uncertainty, even if it deprives the individual of his freedom.” (Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom [N.Y.: Rinehart, 1941], pp. 36-7. The point is repeated on pp. 31, 256-7.)

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