The Sane Society
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The Sane Society is a continuation and extension of the brilliant psychiatric concepts Erich Fromm first formulated in Escape from Freedom; it is also, in many ways, an answer to Freud's Civilization and its Discontents. Fromm examines man's escape into overconformity and the danger of robotism in contemporary industrial society: modern humanity has, he maintains, been alienated from the world of their own creation. Here Fromm offers a complete and systematic exploration of his "humanistic psychoanalysis." In so doing, he counters the profound pessimism for our future that Freud expressed and sets forth the goals of a society in which the emphasis is on each person and on the social measures designed to further function as a responsible individual.
were to stay for three days alone in their rooms, without a radio, or escapist literature, although provided with “good” literature, normal food and all other physical comforts. They were asked to imagine what their reaction to this experience would be. The response of about 90 per cent in each group ranged from a feeling of acute panic, to that of an exceedingly trying experience, which they might overcome by sleeping long, doing all kinds of little chores, awaiting the end of this period. Only
restrictions on his instincts. . . . Civilized man has exchanged some part of his chances of happiness for a measure of ‘security.”’4 While Freud follows Rousseau in the idea of the “happy savage,” he follows Hobbes in his assumption of the basic hostility between men. “Homo homini lupus; who has the courage to dispute it in the face of all the evidence in his own life and in history?”5 Freud asks. Man’s aggressiveness, Freud thinks, has two sources: 2 Civilization and Its Discontent, loc. cit.,
formation of a culture lies the weakness of the approach by Kardiner, Gorer and others, whose work is based in this respect on the orthodox Freudian premises. man in capitalistic society modern industrial society which create the personality of modern Western man and are responsible for the disturbances in his mental health require an understanding of those elements speciﬁc to the capitalistic mode of production, of an “acquisitive society” in an industrial age. Sketchy and elementary as such
“alienation” if we begin by considering the meaning of “idolatry.” The prophets of monotheism did not denounce heathen religions as idolatrous primarily because they worshiped several gods instead of one. The essential diﬀerence between monotheism and polytheism is not one of the number of gods, but lies in the fact of self-alienation. Man spends his energy, his artistic capacities on building an idol, and then he worships this idol, which is nothing but the result of his own human eﬀort. His
“Summing up, then, we may say that the social character of the nineteenth century was essentially competitive, hoarding, exploitative, authoritarian, aggressive, individualistic” (p. 96). In the twentieth century, however, the emphasis shifts to consumption instead of production, and to teamwork, distribution of wealth, anonymous authority, adjustment, and a feeling of powerlessness. This raises a paradox. To a large extent, the introduction to the second edition dreams of the