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Cortina, M. (1992). The Legacy of Erich Fromm. by Daniel Burston. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991, xi + 260 pp., $29.95.. Psychoanal. Dial., 2(4):571-580.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 2(4):571-580

The Legacy of Erich Fromm. by Daniel Burston. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991, xi + 260 pp., $29.95.

Review by:
Mauricio Cortina, M.D.

Of the many creative and controversial figures in the history of the psychoanalytic movement, Fromm is one of the most intriguing and least understood. His legacy is strewn with ironies. Consider the following.

1.   In the 1940s and 1950s Fromm was one of the most popular psychoanalytic writers. Escape from Freedom, The Forgotten Language, The Sane Society, and The Art of Loving were all best-sellers. Escape from Freedom, a landmark book, helped raise the consciousness of many readers about the nature and origin of authoritarianism and submissiveness. Yet today Fromm's work is almost completely ignored.

2.   Fromm was one of the first analysts to expose the weakness of libido theory. As an alternative to Freud's instinctivist and physicalistic metapsychology, Fromm developed a view of human beings as primarily driven by their need to be related to the world and to others. He critiqued Freud's structural theory—id, ego, and superego—and moved toward a self psychology deeply rooted in the humanistic tradition. He went beyond Freud's dualistic drive theory and postulated an elegant theory of existential needs that recognized the multimotivational nature of human experience.


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