Fromm, Erich


Fromm, Erich
(1900–1980)
   An important contributor to modern psychoanalytical thought, Fromm combined psychoanalysis and Marxism. He espoused a humanist Marxism placing particular emphasis on Karl Marx’s early writings.
   Born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, Fromm studied psychology, sociology and philosophy at the universities of Frankfurt (where he also studied law) and Heidelberg, receiving his PhD from the former in 1922. He trained in psychoanalysis at the Berlin Institute and became associated with the Institute of Social Research (see FRANKFURT SCHOOL) during the 1920s. In 1933 he fled Nazi Germany and settled in the United States where he became a citizen in 1934. Here he lectured at the New School for Social Research, Yale University, Columbia University and Bennington College, spent time as chairman of the faculty of the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology, and in 1951 became a professor at the National University of Mexico where he founded the Mexican Institute of Psychoanalysis. Fromm’s political activities included writing the manifesto for the Socialist Party of the United States in 1959 and being a leading activist in protests against the Vietnam War and in favor of nuclear arms control.
   Among Fromm’s many publications were his essay on Marxism and psychoanalysis, The Method and Function of an Analytical Social Psychology: Notes On Psychoanalysis and Historical Materialism (1932), Escape From Freedom (1941) in which he described the social and cultural influences on human personality, The Fear of Freedom (1942) in which he theorized the underlying psychology of fascist supporters linking it to capitalism, and The Sane Society (1956) in which he analyzed the dehumanizing effects of both capitalist and socialist modern industrial societies and their bureaucratic institutions. He also wrote specifically on Marxism in Marx’s Concept of Man (1961) and Socialist Humanism: An International Symposium (1965). Fromm interpreted Marx as a humanist and argued that capitalism alienates and debilitates human beings, preventing the development of their authentic, creative and loving selves, of their potentialities. Instead, capitalism fosters the development of personality types that prevent human realization. He believed that the contradictions of capitalism, psychological as well as economic, would lead to the workers overthrowing the system and creating a humanist socialist society in its stead. He criticized the dehumanizing institutions and structures of Soviet-style socialism along with its emphasis on the attainment of material affluence.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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