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The Fear of Freedom

ISBN: 0805031499

Language: English

Publisher: Holt Paperbacks

Lowest Price: $8.42

The Fear of 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 consciousness have developed in such a way that we became free and autonomous individuals, able to make our own choices andthe art of Being decisions. We are proud of being independent. Nobody can tell us what to do. We have shaken off all feudal dominance. We no longer tolerate someone else having power over us. Ever since the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, aided by economic developments such as the upcoming capitalism, a change in consciousness has taken place. Man has become psychologically more himself. Fromm has called this cultural development, following Jung, individuation. In developmental psychology we can also see this individuation taking place, when the child in the course of its physical and psychological growth strips off its primary bonds with its parents and grows out into an adult, full-fledged and independent human being.

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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.

A Definite Piece of the Puzzle - A Book To Be Read

. An amazing book that pieces modern society starting from the medieval to the renaissance and reformation, that is, from a well defined structured and fixed group identity, fixed meaning to life, determined purpose to life and the here after, to that of the existential, capitalistic and monopolist society that has produced radical individualism with the type of freedom producing severe loneliness, separation and the need to alleviate such emptiness, which has been fulfilled by illusionary means. Fromm relates a major piece of Western civilization's struggle in the ability to see the correlation between the medieval, secure, self-employed society to that of the Renaissance, an elite aristocracy employing the masses as dependent employees, commodities under a new capitalistic society. It was here only the limited rich could prosper in creativity, while the masses existed in a new existential despair. And so Luther, and later Calvin, devised new forms of Christianity, existential types, to aid these new psychological needs of the masses in accepting this change from security to exploitation. Fromm goes both into the psyche of man, the nature of societal structure, the development of western civilization and need for security and certainty to that of either authoritarian rule, internal conscious rule or the invisible rule of democratic conformity to public opinion, or automation. Basic Masochistic/Sadistic desires of man from the extreme, to what is considered "normal" has been seen in the forfeit of the individual self into totalitarian control, capitalistic profit and religious and social concepts that attempt to fill the void of separateness without keeping the self. Fromm ends his book in what the positive traits of what Faust would be: that of spontaneous living, not compulsive living, but in positive affirmation and movement, in the process of life, not the results, the experience of the activity of the present moment. I couldn't agree more.

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.

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.
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