Escape ‘Fromm’ Freedom

Care and responsibility are constituent elements of love, but without respect for and knowledge of the beloved person, love deteriorates into domination and possessiveness”. EF – Man for Himself (1947)

Erich Fromm (23 March 1900 – 18 March 1980) was a German-American psychologist and humanistic philosopher.

“Man is born as a freak of nature, being within nature and yet transcending it. He has to find principles of action and decision-making which replace the principles of instincts. He has to have a frame of orientation which permits him to organize a consistent picture of the world as a condition for consistent actions. He has to fight not only against the dangers of dying, starving, and being hurt, but also against another danger which is specifically human: that of becoming insane. In other words, he has to protect himself not only against the danger of losing his life but also against the danger of losing his mind.” EF –  The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology (1968),

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction”. EF – Escape from Freedom (1941)

“To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.” EF – Man for Himself (1947)

“Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality”.  EF – Man for Himself (1947)

“Selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either”. EF – Man for Himself (1947)

“The narcissistic, the domineering, the possessive woman can succeed in being a “loving” mother as long as the child is small. Only the really loving woman, the woman who is happier in giving than in taking, who is firmly rooted in her own existence, can be a loving mother when the child is in the process of separation” EF – The Art of Loving (1956)


“Our society is run by a managerial bureaucracy, by professional politicians; people are motivated by mass suggestion, their aim is producing more and consuming more, as purposes in themselves. All activities are subordinated to economic goals, means have become ends; man is an automaton — well fed, well clad, but without any ultimate concern for that which is his peculiarly human quality and function. If man is to be able to love, he must be put in his supreme place. The economic machine must serve him, rather than he serve it. He must be enabled to share experience, to share work, rather than, at best, share in profits. Society must be organized in such a way that man’s social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it. If it is true, as I have tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, then any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature”.
EF – The Art of Loving (1956)

“To speak of love is not “preaching,” for the simple reason that it means to speak of the ultimate and real need of every human being. That this need has been obscured does not mean it does not exist. To analyze the nature of love is to discover its general absence today and to criticize the social conditions which are responsible for this absence. To have faith in the possibility of love as a social and not only exceptional-individual phenomenon, is a rational faith based on the insight into the very nature of man.” EF – The Art of Loving (1956)

“The revolutionary and critical thinker is in a certain way always outside of his society while of course he is at the same time also in it. That he is in it is obvious, but why is he outside it? First, because he is not brainwashed by the ruling ideology, that is to say, he has an extraordinary kind of independence of thought and feeling; hence he can have a greater objectivity than the average person has. There are many emotional factors too. And certainly I do not mean to enter here into the complex problem of the revolutionary thinker. But it seems to me essential that in a certain sense he transcends his society. You may say he transcends it because of the new historical developments and possibilities he is aware of, while the majority still think in traditional terms”. EF – Human Nature and Social Theory (1969)

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