Thursday, July 11, 2013

Escape from Freedom -- Erich Fromm

"Most psychiatrists take the structure of their own society so much for granted that to them the person who is not well adapted assumes the stigma of being less valuable. On the other hand, the well-adapted person is supposed to be the more valuable person in terms of a scale of human values. If we differentiate the two concepts of normal and neurotic, we come to the following conclusion: the person who is normal in terms of being well adapted is often less healthy than the neurotic person in terms of human values. Often he is well adapted only at the expense of having given up his self in order to become more or less the person he believes he is expected to be. All genuine individuality and spontaneity may have been lost. On the other hand, the neurotic person can be characterized as somebody who was not ready to surrender completely in the battle for his self. To be sure, his attempt to save his individual self was not successful, and instead of expressing his self productively he sought salvation through neurotic symptoms and by withdrawing into a phantasy life. Nevertheless, from the standpoint of human values, he is less crippled than the kind of normal person who has lost his individuality altogether."
A lot of people use Orwell's 1984 in order to try and explain the modern age. In my opinion, Fromm's Escape from Freedom would be a far more appropriate book to turn to. And if you are like me and have never admired Martin Luther or John Calvin, you are in for a treat.
That's quite a blurb from the Washington Post on the front cover: "Fromm's thought merits the critical attention of all concerned with the human condition and its future."

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