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Escape from Freedom
Stock image - cover art may vary
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0805031499
ISBN-13: 9780805031492
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Release Date: September, 1994
Length: 320 Pages
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Dimensions: 8.2 X 5.5 X 0.9 inches
Language: English

Escape from Freedom

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In his beautiful and profound book Escape from Freedom (1941) Erich Fromm gives us an accurate analysis of the concept of freedom in its psychological meaning. Human beings on the one hand have a deep longing for freedom, but on the other hand fear nothing as much as that very freedom. Historically our culture and our consciousne...
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Customer Reviews

  Post WW II philosophy still has something to say

I believe the essence of "Escape from Freedom" can be found first in the chapter, "Mechanisms of Escape":

"The person who gives up his individual self and becomes an automaton, identical with millions of other automatons around him, need not feel alone and anxious any more. But the price he pays, however, is high; it is the loss of his self."

And second, under the chapter, "Freedom and Democracy":

"This loss of identity then makes it still more imperative to conform, it means that one can be sure of oneself only if one lives up to the expectations of others. If we do not live up to this picture, we not only risk disapproval and increased isolation, but we risk losing the identity of our personality, which means jeopardizing sanity."

"... We must replace manipulation of men by active and intelligent co-operation, and expand the principle of government of the people, by the people, for the people, from the formal political to the economic sphere."

  May change the way you look at the world!

This book offers insight into many everyday issues: thinking, feeling, wanting, character, individualism, politics, most of all freedom - the list goes on. You will learn what it means to have a false self including: pseudo-thinking, pseudo-feeling, pseudo-willing, etc. For example, when you have a "thought" how do you know it is yours? When you want something, how do you know it is you who "wants" it?

This book also explains the rise of Nazism from a psychological and historical perspective, making it actually seem understandable.

Fromm starts the book by talking about our experience as children from the womb to breaking away and moving into the world. The problem he describes is that people on the whole do not want to be free and want to cling to ideas that make them feel as if they were back in the womb.

This book talks much about socialization and in my opinion parallels "The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge" by Peter L. Berger, Thomas Luckmann, which I believe to be one the best books ever written.

  Escape from Freedom

Fromm's book gives a great insight into the 'authoritarian personality,' first developed by Fromm's 'Fascist-scale' or as it is better known the 'F-scale.' This scale later became the center piece for Adorno's book 'The Authoritarian Personality'. Fromm's "main thesis concerns the twofold aspect of freedom: on the one hand freedom means the liberation from those 'primary bonds' which tied man to nature or which, in the clan or in the feudal society, tied him to the authorities of society and to his fellow men from whom he is not yet set apart as an 'individual.' Such 'freedom from' is not as yet a positive freedom ('freedom to'). Positive freedom, according to Fromm, 'is identical with the full realization of the individual's potentialities, together with his ability to live actively and spontaneously'" - Ernest G. Schachtel, Studies in Philosophy and Social Science (vol. 9 - 1941). According to Schachtel, Fromm's 'Escape from Freedom' is perhaps the most important contribution to the description and analysis of automaton conformity. It is a well written book, accessible to all.
  In responsibility is freedom

The escape from freedom is as Dostoevsky wrote in in 'The Grand Inquisitor' section of 'Brothers Karamazov' is made out of a desire to escape the burden of responsibility and decision. The preference for ' bread and circuses' over a life of hard decisions is one way of succumbing to totalitarianism.
Fromm sees then the possibility of escaping from freedom even when one lives in a democratic society. And he strongly argues for a different path, one in which individual human beings take responsibility for their own lives and dare to live in freedom.
  We are not free by choice, not by force.

There is a lack of freedom in our world, even in the best of democracy.
Unfortunately, the only reason we are not free is because we choose not to be. In fact we are trying very hard to escape from freedom just like the title says and that is a very pessimistic thought. If there was a plot to keep us from reaching our individual freedom like some people think, that would be optimistic - In that case we could have a revolution. But the way things are we need billions of inner revolutions, and that's an implausible scenario.
All essential problems of human situation are thoroughly and clearly described in one place. If you are unhappy with your life, your surroundings, or feel weltschmerz of some kind, you'll find all the answers right here. It is incredible that book which is read so lightly almost like some novel, is so filled with wisdom and deepest understanding of human mind and it's problems.
In my opinion Erich Fromm and his entire opus are by far the most important event in Psychology and Sociology in this century.