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(1975). Erich Fromm: Some Biographical Notes. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:390-395.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:390-395

Erich Fromm: Some Biographical Notes

ERICH FROMM COMES FROM AN orthodox German Jewish middle-class family with a long rabbinical background on his father's side. An only child, he was born on March 23, 1900, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where he received his education through high school. As he describes in a short autobiographical sketch in Beyond the Chains of Illusion, a decisive, early influence on his life were the writings of the Old Testament which, he states, "touched me and exhilarated me more than anything else, " particularly the prophetic writing of Isiah, Amos, and Hosea with their vision of universal peace and harmony, and their teachings that there are ethical aspects to history—that nations can do right and wrong, and that history has its moral laws.

But equally important was the spirit of traditional Judaism in which he was brought up. As he has mentioned occasionally in conversation, this mode of life made him somewhat of a stranger in the modern world. The point of view and the principles of the rabbinical world were in sharp contrast to those of contemporary capitalism. Learning and the application of the principles of love and justice in all one's relations, not wealth or power, were the guiding values of this traditional life. That was the way his rabbinical ancestors had lived and that was the style of life which deeply impressed him. To be sure there were men driven by the desire for wealth and luxury; but they were to be pitied for having missed the right way of living.

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