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Fromm, E. (1964). Humanism and Psychoanalysis. Contemp. Psychoanal., 1(1):69-79.

(1964). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 1(1):69-79

Humanism and Psychoanalysis

Erich Fromm, Ph.D.

THE TITLE of this essay may sound surprising to some readers. They may ask, "What has a philosophical view, humanism, to do with psychoanalysis, a therapy for mental illness?" It is precisely the purpose of this paper to show the intrinsic connection between humanism and psychoanalysis, by discussing some essential features of both systems.

What is humanism? The conventional definition is that it was a movement in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries which represented a return to the study of classical antiquity, specifically that of Greek and Roman literature and art. While this is true as far as it goes, it is much too narrow and superficial. First of all, because humanism was not restricted to the Renaissance, but was continued in the age of Enlightenment, and has found a new revival in the humanist movement of our day. Secondly, because Renaissance humanism, like its continuation into the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, was the expression of a global philosophy which, in spite of many internal differences, was characterized by fundamental ideas as well as by a certain human attitude common to all humanist thinkers. Humanism, both in its Christian religious and in its secular, nontheistic manifestations, is characterized by faith in man, in his possibility to develop to ever higher stages, in the unity of the human race, in tolerance and peace, and in reason and love as the forces which enable man to realize himself, to become what he can be.

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