Biography Erik Fromm

Erich Fromm – Introduction

Erich Fromm is one of the most intriguing figures in psychology and also one of the most influential psychoanalysts besides Sigmund Freud. His work on this subject “Escape from Freedom” explains his thoughts on the matter with great insight. He shows us there how man is confronted with the problem of his own alienation from nature, and thus making him alone and naked. He claims that man, with his superior intelligence, acknowledges his own existence as well as his separation and he searches for ways in order to reunite with nature again. He also wants to know what to do with his newly discovered knowledge of himself.

Erich From was born in Frankfurt am Mein, Germany on March 23, 1900. He was of Jewish descent and his parents were also Orthodox Jews which may explain his profound interest in the Talmud. His childhood was not an ideal one because his mother suffered from depression and his father was very cold to him.

An incident that may have compelled him to study human nature took place when he was only 12. At this age he saw a painter committing suicide whom he described as “beautiful, attractive and in addition a painter”. Fromm was even more astonished when he had found out that she demanded in her will to be buried with her father.

He began studying law at the Frankfurt am Mein University in 1918. He also started to study sociology that summer but at the University of Heidelberg with Alfred Weber who was, by the way, Max Weber’s brother. He got his postgraduate degree in 1922 and studied Psychoanalysis at the Psychoanalytical Institute in Berlin until 1930. Meanwhile, he officially got away from his Jewish religion in 1926. However, the Old Testament and the Talmud would be constant themes of his works and studies.

He started his own practice in 1930. Four years later, as the threat of Nazis had become more imminent, he decided to flee to New York. He resided there for 20 years and wrote “Escape from Freedom” and “Man For Himself”. In 1950 he moved to Mexico City and became a professor at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. At the university’s medical school, he formed the psychoanalytic department. He also gave lectures at the Michigan State University and New York University until 1965 when he retired. He moved to Switzerland and went on with his medical practice until his death which was 5 days shy of his 80th birthday – on March 18, 1980.

Erich Fromm described 6 major types of personality: receptive, exploitative, hoarding, marketing, productive and necrophilous. The first four – receptive, exploitative, hoarding marketing – are self-destructive and pathological. The productive feature represents an open and positive personality. The last feature loves death and opposes the rest. While all others try to define and understand life, necrophilia attempts to destroy life.

As we have mentioned before that he was influenced by Sigmund Freud, there were also some other scholars that he found interesting. They were Karl Marx who was his primary influence on his social and psychological theory. His appeal for Marx’s theory of being a socialist humanist compelled him to join many peace movements like The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy (SANE). He also co-founded it. Fromm often pointed out the danger of nuclear arms race and its consequences on the society.

Erich Fromm is particularly famous for his widely accepted work “The Art of Loving” where he tried to explain the true essence of love and why men like to be loved. The book is really magnificently written and gives you answers regarding love and all the things about it. Whenever you want to find an explanation of love and how to achieve it, it would be of great help to dwell into it because it is full of insight and wisdom. A pure gem on thinking and evaluating love as a concept.