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Erich Fromm and Existential theory were developed by a German psychologist associated with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory (Carveth, 2017). The argument is based on the notion that freedom was a vital part of humans from nature, and it challenges the philosophies of Sigmund Freud. Erich Fromm, the theorist, was significantly impacted by World War I and began paying strong attention to group actions (Smith, 2020). Fromm believed society and culture an essential influencers in individual human development. Stated, that the main reason for humans to be alive is to reproduce to themselves and become what they possibly are (Cortina, 2017). Personality is the most significant product of man's efforts. The theory is also informed by the perception that life is an illogicality as humans are equally part of nature and also distinct from it.
In the development of the theory, Fromm sought to recognize the laws that rule a person's life and the rules of humankind in their communal existence (society). Fromm evaluated the teaching of Freud concepts and found it against the assumptions and saw a need for revision of the ideas (Kapustin, 2020). The same was done to Marx's theory, which also contradicted the assumptions; hence the theory Erich Fromm and Existence came to exist from criticism of the two thinkers.
Freud spoke the concept of man in two channels, first is a social-cultural man while the second is unconscious in the making of man. Fromm found the psychoanalysis of Fraud on real man to be bio-psychological existence and was against the feature of Fraud taking psychic experience and the unconscious as substitutable (Smith, 2020). Fromm saw the science of man as irrational to be a narrow view of man since there are rational and social elements in making man which more critical for human existence than the biological and natural factors (Carveth, 2017). The humanistic approach of the theory has a foundation on reasoning, sociology, and ethics.
The basis of Fromm's philosophy on humanity is on the interpretation of biblical narration about Adam and Eve walking out of the Garden of Eden (Smith, 2020). It is therefore pointed out in the theory that distinguishing between evil and good is a virtue. The theorist departed from traditional religious orthodoxy about the biblical story and inscribed the human attributes of being independent in taking actions and reasoning to establish moral values instead of following authorities' moral values. The narrative of Adam and Eve is used as a symbolic demonstration of human biological development and existential torment (Cortina, 2017). Because of eating the Tree of Knowledge, they realized themselves to be detached from nature while being a portion of life. It informs the reason why they felt ashamed and naked.
The consciousness of human reality as disunited is from guiltiness and shame; thus, a possible resolution to the existential dichotomy is the creation of unique human supremacies of loving and reasoning individually (Smith, 2020). The concept of love is perceived to be interpersonal creativity capacity but not from emotions. The practice of sinking in love is considered an individual who fails to understand love nature, which should contain the elements of respect, knowledge, care, and responsibility. It points out the story of Torah saying Jonah lacked the qualities of respect and responsivity as did not want to save people of Nineveh from penalties of sinning (Vail III et al. 2020). In modern society, only a few people respect fellow human beings' independence and lack of knowledge of the needs and wants of others.
The theory mention freedom as a part of human nature that can be embraced or escaped. Embracing the freedom of will is healthy while avoiding freedom using the escape mechanism results in psychological conflicts (Carveth, 2017). The stipulated three common escape mechanisms, as per the theory, are automaton conformity, destructiveness, and authoritarianism. Automation conformity involves changing personal ideals to aside from society's perceptions on preferred personality. There is a dilemma of choosing oneself or society's wishes. The mechanism of authoritarianism involves removing freedom choice as submitting to someone else for freedom control (Kapustin, 2020). Destructiveness tries to eliminate others to accept freedom.
The theory characterizes the world to be sick of the basic human needs that are not satisfied. The requirements are transcendence, identity, rootedness, unity, orientation frame, effectiveness, and excitations (Kapustin, 2020). There exists only one fruitful resolution for the world and individualized association. It is solidarity with others and the activities, work, and love that can unite a single o the world but as an independent individual free to exercise freedom (Carveth, 2017). If the social, economic, and radical conditions do not support individualism and people lost ties, it makes freedom to be an unbearable burden.
Erich Froom and Existential theory are currently used in encouraging freedom of humans as it is perceived to be human nature. Psychologists use the approach in understanding individual personalities and strategies developed by people to deal with isolation anxiousness (Vail III et al. 2020). Each person needs freedom and a need for identity (belongs). Therefore, humans need to access freedom to avoid conflicts among individuals and society. Humans are viewed to have a dual relationship with nature where they belong and also surpass.
Further, the five human needs raised in the theory help satisfy the unique nature of persons by the development of products. Also, the theory is applicable in workplaces for employees' motivation in handling the workforce and counseling (Kapustin, 2020). The aspect of orientation, which can be achieved by either assimilation or socialization, is used to understand the different characters of people. People are handled depending on their unique characteristics, such as receptive character, exploitative character, hoarding character, and productive character (Vail III et al. 2020).
Carveth, D. L. (2017). Beyond nature and culture: Fromm's existentialism. The Psychoanalytic Review, 104(4), 485-501. https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/prev.2017.104.4.485
Cortina, M. (2017). Is Fromm Relevant for Relational Approaches in Psychoanalysis? The Psychoanalytic Review, 104(4), 437-450. https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/prev.2017.104.4.437
Kapustin, S. A. (2020). An Existential Criterion for the Normal and Abnormal Personality in the Works of Viktor Frankl. Summary. Psychology in Russia. State of the Art, 13(2). https://web.b.ebscohost.com/134
Smith, K. (2020). Erich Fromm's' The Art of Loving': An existential, psychodynamic, and theological critique (Doctoral dissertation, University of Glasgow). http://theses.gla.ac.uk/80302/
Vail III, K. E., Sullivan, D., Landau, M. J., & Greenberg, J. (2020). Applying Existential Social Psychology to Mental Health. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 39(4), 229-237. https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.2020.39.4.229
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