I.††††† Overview of Frommís Humanistic Psychoanalysis

†††††† Erich Frommís humanistic psychoanalysis looks at people from many perspectives, including psychology, history, and anthropology. Although Fromm was influenced by both Freud and Horney, his theory is much broader than Horneyís and much more socially oriented than Freudís.


II.†††† Biography of Erich Fromm

†††††† Erich Fromm was born in Germany, in 1900, the only child of orthodox Jewish parents. His humanistic philosophy grew out of an early reading of the biblical prophets and an association with several Talmudic scholars. A thoughtful young man, Fromm was also influenced by the writings of Freud and Marx, as well as by socialist ideology. After receiving his Ph.D., Fromm studied psychoanalysis and was analyzed by Hanns Sachs, a student of Freud. Frommís first wife was Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, but the marriage eventually ended in divorce. In 1934, Fromm moved to the United States and began a psychoanalytic practice in New York, where he also resumed his friendship with Karen Horney, whom he had known in Germany. Much of his later years were spent in Mexico and Switzerland, where he continued to write books that gained him a worldwide reputation beyond psychology and psychoanalysis. He died in Switzerland in 1980.


III.††† Frommís Basic Assumptions

†††††† Fromm assumed that human personality can only be understood in the light of history. He believed that humans have been torn away from their prehistoric union with nature and left with no powerful instincts to adapt to a changing world. On the other hand, they have acquired the ability to reason, which means they can think about their isolated condition. Fromm called this situation the human dilemma.


IV.††† Human Needs

†††††† According to Fromm, our human dilemma cannot be solved by satisfying our animal needs. It can only be addressed by fulfilling our uniquely human needs, which would move us toward a reunification with the natural world. Fromm also referred to these distinctively human needs as existential needs.

†††††† A. †††† Relatedness

†††††† Fromm called our desire for union with another person relatedness. We can relate to others through (1) submission, (2) power, and (3) love. However, love, or the ability to unite with another while retaining oneís own individuality and integrity, is the only relatedness need that can solve our basic human dilemma.

†††††† B.††††† Transcendence

†††††† Being thrown into the world without their consent, humans have the urge to rise above their passive and accidental existenceóto transcend their natureóby destroying or creating people or things. Humans can destroy through malignant aggression, or killing for reasons other than survival, but they can also create and care about their creations.

†††††† C.†††† Rootedness

†††††† By rootedness, Fromm meant the need to establish roots and to feel at home again in the world. Like the other existential needs, rootedness can take either a productive or a nonproductive mode. With the productive strategy, we grow beyond the security of our mother and establish ties with the outside world. With the nonproductive strategy, we become fixated and afraid to move beyond the security and safety of our mother or a mother substitute.

†††††† D.†††† Sense of Identity

†††††† The fourth human need is for a sense of identity, or our awareness of ourselves as a separate person. The drive for a sense of identity is expressed nonproductively as conformity to a group and productively as individuality.

†††††† E.††††† Frame of Orientation

†††††† By frame of orientation, Fromm meant a road map or consistent philosophy by which we find our way through the world. This need is expressed nonproductively as a striving for irrational goals and productively as movement toward rational goals.


V.†††† The Burden of Freedom

†††††† As the only animal possessing self-awareness, humans are the freaks of the universe. Historically, as people gained more political freedom, they began to experience more isolation from others and from the world and to feel free from the security of a permanent place in the world. As a result, freedom becomes a burden, and people experience basic anxiety, or a feeling of being alone in the world.

†††††† A. †††† Mechanisms of Escape

†††††† To reduce the frightening sense of isolation and aloneness, people may adopt one of three mechanisms of escape.

††††† 1. †††† Authoritarianism

†††††† The tendency to give up oneís independence and to unite with a powerful partneróauthoritarianismócan take the form of either masochism or sadism. Masochism stems from feelings of powerlessness and can be disguised as love or loyalty. Sadism involves attempts to achieve unity by exploiting or hurting others.

†††††† 2.††††† Destructiveness

†††††† Feelings of isolation can also produce destructiveness, an escape mechanism that is aimed at doing away with other people or things.

†††††† 3.††††† Conformity

†††††† A third mechanism of escape is conformity, or surrendering of oneís individuality in order to meet the wishes of others.

†††††† B. †††† Positive Freedom

†††††† Positive freedom is the spontaneous activity of the whole, integrated personality, which is achieved when a person becomes reunified with others and with the world. It is the successful solution to the human dilemma of being part of the natural world and yet separate from it.


VI. †† Character Orientations

†††††† People relate to the world by acquiring and using things (assimilation) and by relating to self and others (socialization), and they can do so either nonproductively or productively.

†††††† A. †††† Nonproductive Orientations

†††††† Strategies that fail to move people closer to positive freedom and self-realization are nonproductive.

†††††† 1.††††† Receptive

†††††† People who rely on the receptive orientation believe that the source of all good lies outside themselves and that the only way they can relate to the world is to receive things, including love, knowledge, and material objects. Positive qualities include loyalty and trust; negative ones are passivity and submissiveness.

†††††† 2.††††† Exploitative

†††††† People with an exploitative orientation also believe that the source of good lies outside themselves, but they aggressively take what they want rather than passively receiving it. Positive qualities of exploitative people include pride and self-confidence; negative ones are arrogance and conceit.

†††††† 3.††††† Hoarding

†††††† Hoarding characters try to save what they have already obtained, including their opinions, feelings, and material possessions. Positive qualities include loyalty, negative ones are obsessiveness and possessiveness.

†††††† 4.††††† Marketing

†††††† People with a marketing orientation see themselves as commodities and value themselves against the criteria of their ability to sell themselves. They have fewer positive qualities than other orientations because they are essentially empty. However, they can be open-minded and adaptable.

†††††† B. †††† The Productive Orientation

†††††† Psychologically healthy people work toward positive freedom through productive work, love, and reasoning. Productive love necessitates a passionate love of all life and is called biophilia.


VII.†† Personality Disorders

†††††† Unhealthy people are characterized by their inability to work, think, and, especially, to love productively. Fromm recognized three major personality disorders: necrophilia, malignant narcissism, and incestuous symbiosis.

††††† A.††††† Necrophilia

†††††† In Frommís framework, necrophilia is the love of death and the hatred of all humanity. Necrophilious people do not simply behave in a destructive manner; their destructiveness is a reflection of a basic character.

†††††† B. †††† Malignant Narcissism

†††††† Malignant narcissism is so powerful that it convinces people that everything belonging to them is of great value and anything belonging to others is worthless. Narcissistic people often suffer from moral hypochondrias, or preoccupation with excessive guilt.

†††††† C. †††† Incestuous Symbiosis

†††††† Incestuous symbiosis is an extreme dependence on oneís mother or mother surrogate to the extent that oneís personality is blended with that of the host person. Fromm believed that a few people, such as Hitler, possessed all three of these disorders, a condition called the syndrome of decay.


VIII. Psychotherapy

†††††† The goal of Frommís psychotherapy was the satisfaction of the basic human needs of relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, a sense of identity, and a frame of orientation. The therapist accomplishes this through shared communication in which the therapist is simply a human being rather than a scientist.


IX.††† Frommís Methods of Investigation

†††††† Frommís personality theory rests on data he gathered from a variety of sources, including psychotherapy, cultural anthropology, and psychohistory.

†††††† A. †††† Social Character in a Mexican Village

†††††† Fromm and his associates spent several years investigating social character in a isolated farming village in Mexico and found evidence of all the character orientations except the marketing one. In general, this anthropological studyís findings were consistent with Frommís theoretical views on social character.

†††††† B. †††† A Psychohistorical Study of Hitler

†††††† Fromm applied psychohistorical techniques to the study of several historical people, including Adolf Hitler, whom Fromm regarded as the most conspicuous example of someone with the syndrome of decay. In his account, Fromm describes Hitlerís necrophilia, malignant narcissism, and incestuous symbiosis.


X.†††† Related Research

†††††† Fromm did not express his ideas for the purpose of generating research, and his theory is among the least productive in terms of empirical study. However, there has been research interest in the marketing character. Saunders and Munro (2000) have developed the Saunders Consumer Orientation Index (SCOI) to assess the marketing character and have found that college students and other adults who score high on the SCOIóthat is, people with a marketing orientationótend to be more angry, depressed, and anxious than people low on the marketing orientation.


XI.††† Critique of Fromm

†††††† Fromm evolved a theory that provide insightful ways of looking at humanity, and the strength of that theory is Frommís lucid writing on a broad range of human issues. As a scientific theory, however, the theory receives low ratings. It rates very low on its ability to generate research and to open itself to falsification; it rates low on usefulness to the practitioner, internal consistency, and parsimony. Because it is quite broad in scope, Frommís theory rates high on organizing existing knowledge.


XII.†† Concept of Humanity

†††††† Frommís concept of humanity came from a rich variety of sources, including history, anthropology, economics, and clinical work. Because humans have the ability to reason but have few strong instincts, they are ďfreaks of nature.Ē To achieve self-actualization, they must satisfy their human, or existential, needs through productive love and work. In summary, we rated Frommís theory as average on free choice, optimism, unconscious influences, and uniqueness; low on causality; and very high on social influences.