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Bacciagaluppi, M. (1994). Daniel Burston, The Legacy of Erich Fromm Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1991, xi+260 pages, hb £23.95. Free Associations, 4(4):618-625.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(4):618-625

Daniel Burston, The Legacy of Erich Fromm Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 1991, xi+260 pages, hb £23.95

Review by:
Marco Bacciagaluppi

The authoritarian structure of orthodox psychoanalysis has led to the explicit or implicit ostracism of many of its practitioners. Fromm shared this fate with Ferenczi and many others. I mention Ferenczi in particular because of the close links between these two authors. They shared several character traits, such as independence of mind and a loving approach, and these were the very traits which led to their banishment. This ostracism was effective in both cases, as regards professional circles. As Heynal and Falzeder (1991) remark, for several years after Ferenczi's death his work ‘fell into oblivion’ in orthodox circles (p. 17). As for Fromm, Roazen (1989) speaks of his ‘de facto excommunication’ on the part of the psychoanalytic community. Fromm, however, also differed from Ferenczi in important respects: he was very pugnacious and outspoken in his critique of authority, and he had a much wider cultural background. These factors allowed him to circumvent the excommunication and reach out to the general reading public, and in so doing also to take up Ferenczi's defence on many occasions. Burston's book is an opportunity for the psychoanalytic community to reassess an author who could greatly contribute to a revitalization of psychoanalysis, but has hitherto been prevented from doing so.

Fromm's Work

Fromm is generally labelled a ‘neo-Freudian’, together with Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan and Clara Thompson. As Burston states at the very beginning of his book, this definition is restrictive, despite Fromm's close personal ties to the other neo-Freudians, and his involvement, together with Sullivan and Thompson, in the founding of the William Alanson White Institute in New York.

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