Just learned a bit about Erich Fromm… never had philosophy or psych in school. Better late than never…

Don’t know if you’ve heard of Erich Fromm, but his ideas give some insight into why personal freedoms we enjoy in this country may lead to many of the issues we see in our society today (eg TEA party, fundamentalism, etc). Fromm grew up in Germany between the first and second world wars…

He said that freedom can create anxiety from aloneness and our inability to exert individual power. He said we use different unhealthy ways to deal with our perception of freedom: automaton conformity, authoritarianism and destructiveness.

Automaton conformity is when we mimic a larger society (or religion). By acting like everyone else we think we have control thereby making us not feel alone and helpless.

Authoritarianism is when people gain strength from the belief that there is a greater power, leader or belief. By giving up power to the powerful, we become the powerful and no longer feel alone.

Destructiveness, is an attempt to destroy those we perceive as having the power. Actions (often hurtful, socially unacceptable, sexist, racist,etc) are rationalized through a sense of duty to god or country or leader.

Fromm believed that real power came from individuality and freedom and we should embrace our selves and we should do what we want to do… But that’s not the society we live in…

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