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Fromm, E. (2000). Autobiographical Sidelights by Erich Fromm. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 9(3-4):251-253.

(2000). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 9(3-4):251-253

Autobiographical Sidelights by Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm

The Family Background

Being the only child of two overly anxious parents did not, of course, have an altogether positive effect on my development, but over the years I've done what I could to repair that damage (1). … Superficially seen, I can say, my parents were German middle-class Jews. I was an only child; my father was a practising orthodox Jew quite erudite in all matters pertaining to Jewish matters. But that is really on the surface. I actually would say I grew up in the middle ages, by which I don't mean something negative but rather something very positive (2).

The Background of Tradition

The whole family story, so to speak, was that of rabbinical ancestors, who sat the whole day and studied the Talmud and were not the slightest bit interested in making money or in trade, or in anything of that kind. My great grandfather, for instance, happened to be one of the famous Jewish rabbis of his time; he lived in a small town of Bavaria and made his living by owning a small store and sometimes by travelling a little bit and selling his goods. As the story goes, when a customer came in, interrupting him from the study of the Talmud, he showed some annoyance and asked: Is there any other store here? Why do you have to come to interrupt me? (2).

The Sense of the World

I was exposed to the same influences as every other young German during this time. But I had to deal with them in my own way. Not only because one always had an exceptional—not necessarily unpleasant—position as a Jew in Germany but also because I felt quite at home neither in the world I lived in, nor in the old world of traditions (3).

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