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Marlin, O. (1994). Ideology as a False Answer to Man's Existential and Historical Dichotomies. Contemp. Psychoanal., 30:445-452.

(1994). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 30:445-452

Ideology as a False Answer to Man's Existential and Historical Dichotomies

Olga Marlin, Ph.D.

IN MAN FOR HIMSELF, FROMM SPEAKS of man's profound and eternal need to find meaning in existence, and a new harmony in a world in which he feels otherwise alone and overwhelmed. He says,

There is no innate "drive for progress" in man; it is the contradiction in his existence that makes him proceed on the way he set out. Having lost paradise, the unity with nature, he has become the eternal wanderer (Odysseus, Oedipus, Abraham, Faust); he is impelled to go forward and with everlasting effect to make the unknown known by filling in with answers the blank spaces of his knowledge. He must give account to himself of himself, and of the meaning of his existence. He is driven to overcome this inner split, tormented by a craving for "absoluteness, " for another kind of harmony which can lift the curse by which he was separated from nature, from his fellow men, and from himself (p. 50).

Fromm points out that our existence is rooted in contradictions, the awareness of which is so painful and difficult to sustain, that we are driven to create various illusions to shore up our anxieties and hold our hopes. We suffer from contradictions between life and death and our limited life is usually too short to realize our potential.

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