Erich Fromm was born in Frankfurt am Main, in 1900. He studied law at the University of Frankfurt am Main, but eventually changed his field of study to sociology and enrolled in the University of Heidelberg. He graduated in 1922 with his Ph.D. in sociology and worked as a psychoanalyst in Heidelberg before opening his own practice. He later joined the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, later known as the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, and eventually fled the Nazi’s in Europe and began working at Columbia University in New York. He was romantically involved with Karen Horney for many years, and their influence on each other is evident in her book Self Analysis. When their relationship ended, Fromm involved himself in establishing several institutions, including the Washington School of Psychiatry and the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology. During the 1940’s, Fromm was a faculty member at Bennington College.
Fromm relocated to Mexico City in the late 1940’s and was a professor at the national Autonomous University of Mexico. He remained there for more than 15 years, and founded a psychoanalytical medical department at the University. During that time, he held a position at Michigan State University as well, and eventually taught at New York University in the graduate division of Arts and Sciences. He later taught at the Mexican Society of Psychoanalysis, before he moved to Switzerland, where he remained until his death in 1980.
Contribution to Psychology
Fromm was a humanistic philosopher and social psychologist. He influenced the field of psychology through his many books, theories, and institutions. Fromm published his first book, Escape from Freedom, in 1941, which had a significant psychological, political, and social tone. His theories on human character were embodied in this and his second book, Man for Himself, and were expounded upon in his most popular publication, The Art of Loving.
Fromm had a rich Jewish background and integrated his religious beliefs into his psychological theories. Using the teachings of the Talmud, Fromm explored the story of Adam and Eve and how it related to humanistic philosophy. He believed that humans employ independent reason to form their moral values and Adam and Eve evolved into human beings by choosing to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, resulting in their feelings of shame. This act separated them from their environment, making them different than the animals they were before they engaged free will. Fromm believed that love was an internal capacity, not an emotion, and that love was the solution to the disconnect that people often felt as a result of independent reason.
Fromm’s theories of humanistic philosphy were based on eight basic human needs. These eight needs were:
Books by Erich Fromm