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Escape From Freedom
By: Erich Fromm
Major Topic: Philosophy
Minor Topic: Psychology

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         Our character structure and the interplay between psychology and sociology as we came to our day and age is the topic of this book. The thesis is as humans have moved from the security of the feudal community to the freedom of the modern society we have only achieved a partial negative freedom; that if we do not achieve a full positive freedom we will always be seeking to escape from the load of freedom.


         Forward II

         This book analysis our anxiety that has come from the undoing of the medieval world where we had relatively more psychological security. As a result of this anxiety we are prone to want to give ourselves over to dictators or to lose ourselves as a tooth in the wheel of a metaphorical machine so long as we are provide with sufficient food and clothing. It seems that as time progresses there are more and more sources of anxiety in the modern world – these sources appear larger than life, menacing and un-understandable. Why have we developed more sources of anxiety? Because our intellect has grown far more powerful than our emotions can valuate. Most people still need myths to cope with the world because they have not accepted the fact that only we are alone and only each of us as individuals can give meaning to our lives.

         The solution lies in the creation of a scientific and dynamic social psychology – in this way we can protect ourselves from the bad side effects of increased developments in the hard and/or medical sciences. To this end this book is a first step. Other steps include the authors other books especially: “The Sane Society,” “Man for Himself,” “The Art of Loving,” “The Heart of Man,” and “Beyond the Chains of Illusion.”


         Chapter 1: Freedom – A Psychological Problem?

         It is commonly believed that the freedom of the individuals is sufficiently obtained when external domination is eliminated. Yet, after many victories for freedom it was only a short time before the next generation gave up their freedom. This book examines the character structure of modern humanity that makes us willing and even desirous to give up our freedom and submit to an authority.

         In the process of this investigation the author will explain, as he sees it, the relationship between psychology, sociology, economics and ideology in the social process.

         The socially most important problem in psychology is the precise kinds of “relatedness” of a person to his external world. These related relationships are not static but ever changing in an individual and between individuals. Society is not only a suppressor of drives; it also sublimates drives and therefore has a creative function. The author believes that society is the primary molder of our fears, anxieties, passions, desires, history etc. It is the role of social psychology to explain why and how these new characteristics of a human society came to be.

         For example social society must explain how and why it was that: “...from the renaissance up until our day men have been filled with a burning ambition for fame, while this striving which today seems so natural was little present in man of the medieval society. In the same period men developed a sense for the beauty of nature which they did not possess before. Again, in the Northern European countries, from the sixteenth century on, man developed an obsessional craving to work which had been lacking in a free man before that period.” (page 11) And then how these changes feed back and influence the social process. Therefore it is the basic drives and the psychological forces of the social process itself that influence the social process. The author disagrees with all theories that assume human nature to be static without any dynamism. He claims that any part of human nature can and does change (although human nature does have limits to its adaptability) under the sway of the social process. Psychology by comparison is only concerned with ascertaining the limits of human nature malleability and its laws and mechanisms.

         The concept of “Adaptation.” there are two kinds of adaptation: static and dynamic. By static adaptation the author means the forming of new habits that do not involve any psychological changes. A dynamic adaptation does involve psychological changes: new drives and/or anxieties. They are often similar to neurosis and not beneficial to the healthy development of the individual.

         Life's endeavors that are not biological are reactions to life conditions they are dynamic adaptations and once they appear they are very hard to change. But all people need to do some work and all the different kinds of work each require certain personality traits; these personality traits necessitate different strategies and techniques of relatedness to others.

         In addition to the need for food, clothing, shelter and security people absolutely need to avoid aloneness. In particular a lack of relatedness to values, symbols, patterns of life is called moral aloneness. We will go to great lengths to avoid aloneness. It seems to be one of our greatest fears.

         Why do we have this great fear of being alone; of aloneness? 1) We all need at least a small amount of cooperation and when we were young we really needed it a lot – it was the greatest threat to a child's survival. 2) We all experience our existence as separate from other individuals but by not having others to distinguish us it becomes harder to find meaning – meaning is a social quality that requires affirmation.


Added on: 2010-05-29 07:06:06
Text Crawl by: James Jeff McLaren
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