INTRODUCTION/OVERVIEW: Erich Fromm’s basic thesis is that modern-day people have been torn away from their prehistoric union with nature and also with one another, yet they have the power of reasoning, foresight, and imagination. Trained in Freudian psychoanalysis and influenced by Karl Marx, Karen Horney, and other socially oriented theorists, Fromm developed a theory of personality that emphasizes the influence of socio- biological factors, history, economics, and class structure. His humanistic psychoanalysis assumes that humanity’s separation from the natural world has produced feelings of loneliness and isolation, a condition called basic anxiety.
His humanistic psychoanalysis looks at people from a historical and cultural perspective rather than a strictly psychological one. It is more concerned with those characteristics common to a culture. Fromm’s theory is a rather unique blend of Freud and Marx. Freud emphasized the unconscious, biological drives, repression, and so on. Marx, on the other hand, saw people as determined by their society, and most especially by their economic systems.
Fromm’s Basic Assumptions Fromm believed that humans have been torn away from their prehistoric union with nature and left with no powerful instincts to adapt to a changing world. But because humans have acquired the ability to reason, they can think about their isolated condition – a situation Fromm called the human dilemma. People experience this basic dilemma because they have become separate form nature and yet have the capacity to be aware of themselves as isolated beings.
HUMAN NEEDS These existential needs have emerged during the evolution of human culture, growing out of their attempts to find answer to their existence. It can only be addressed by fulfilling our uniquely human needs. Fromm identified five of these distinctively human or existential needs.
I. RELATEDNESS Drives people to unite with another person through submission, power and love. SUBMISSION A person can submit to another, to a group, or to an institution in order to become one with the world POWER A person seeks additional power, and as a result, they become more and more dependent on their partners and less of an individual. LOVE Fromm defined love as a “union with somebody, or something outside oneself under the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one’s own self.”
II. TRANSCENDENCE Is the need for people to rise above their passive existence and create or destroy life. Humans can be creative in other ways. They can create art, religion, ideas, laws, material production and love. But we can also transcend life by destroying it and thus rising above our slain victims. Malignant Aggression (to kill for reasons)
III. ROOTEDNESS Is the need for a consistent structure in people’s lives. To feel at home again in the world. Fromm was influenced by Johann Jakob Bachofen’s ideas on early matriarchal societies. Bachofen held that the mother was the central figure in these ancient social groups.
IV. SENSE OF IDENTITY Capacity to be aware of ourselves as a separate entity. People were identified by their social roles. The identity of most people still resides in their attachment to others or to institutions such as the nations, religion, occupation, or social group.
V. FRAME OF ORIENTATION Consistent way of looking at the world.
SUMMARY OF FROMM’S HUMAN NEEDS NEGATIVE POSITIVE COMPONENTS COMPONENTS Submission/ Relatedness Love dominationTranscendence Destructiveness Creativeness Rootedness Fixation Wholeness Sense of Adjustment to a Individuality identity group Frame of Irrational goals Rational goals Orientation
I. AUTHORITARIANISM Tendency to give up the independence of one’s own individual self and to fuse one’s self with somebody or something outside oneself. Masochism • Results from basic feelings of powerlessness, weakness, and inferiority, and is aimed at joining the self to a more powerful person or institution. Sadism • more neurotic and more socially harmful.
II. DESTRUCTIVENESS is rooted in the feelings of aloneness, isolation and powerlessness.III. CONFORMITY people who conform try to escape from a sense of aloneness and isolation by giving up their individuality and becoming whatever other people desire them to be.
1. RECEPTIVE ORIENTATIONS feel that the source of all good lies outside themselves and that the only way they can relate to the world is to receive things. Negative qualities: Passitivity Submissiveness lack of self-confidence Positive traits: Loyalty Acceptance trust
2. EXPLOITATIVE ORIENTATIONS They aggressively take what they desire rather than passively receive it. Negative side: Egocentric Conceited Arrogant Seducing Positive side: Impulsive Proud Charming Self-confident
3. HOARDING ORIENTATIONS Seek to save that which they have already obtained. Negative traits: Rigidity Obstinacy Lack of creativity Positive characteristics: Orderliness Cleanliness Punctuality
4. MARKETING ORIENTATIONS Marketing characters see themselves as commodities, with their personal value dependent on their exchange value, that is, their ability to sell themselves. Negative traits: Aimless Opportunistic Inconsistent Wasteful Positive Qualities: Open-mindedness generosity
5. PRODUCTIVE ORIENTATIONS Three Dimensions:a. Working -as a means of creative self-expressionb. Loving -concerned with the growth and development of themselves as well as others.c. Reasoning / thinking -which cannot be separated from productive work and love.
PERSONALITY DISORDERS NECROPHILIA ◦ Means love of death and usually refers to a sexual perversion in which a person desire sexual contact with a corpse. MALIGNANT NARCISSISM ◦ Infatuation with self INCESTUOUS SYMBIOSIS ◦ Extreme dependence on the mother or mother surrogate.