Ninth Edition CoverGraziano & Raulin
Research Methods (9th edition)

Eric Fromm (1900-1980) was a psychoanalyst, who was influenced, not only by Freud, but also by Karl Marx. As Hall and Lindzey (1978) noted, Fromm believed that Marx was a more important figure than Freud. Fromm used Freudian theory to fill in details in Marx’s theory, which Fromm believed had greater scope than psychodynamic theory. 

As a social psychological analyst,  Fromm viewed neuroses and other human psychological problems as arising from the inherent contradiction contained in being human. The contradiction is that, because humans are animals, they share with other animals the natural biological needs for survival, health, and for the propagation of the species. At the same time, humans are beyond nature, because we can comprehend it and even change it. 

Thus, humans are both part of nature and separated from nature. Such separation from nature causes great anxiety in the forms of loneliness and isolation. As a result, humans are driven to reduce that anxiety and find satisfying relationships. For Fromm, there are two major ways in which this can be achieved: humans can unite with other people, work in cooperation toward shared goals, and thus recover their human relationships in a natural world, or humans can have security by submitting to authority and living in a conformist society. 

Totalitarian states, with powerful autocratic rulers, as well as religions, appeal to many people, because they offer the security of submitting to authority. According to Fromm, whenever humans have moved from relative oppression to relative freedom, such as in the move from mercantilism to capitalism and from serfdom to democracy, the new freedom generated anxiety, because the old securities were disrupted. People then are driven to escape from the anxiety of freedom, and it is then that they are most vulnerable to oppression. This is the main thesis of one of Fromm’s most important books, Escape from Freedom (1941).

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