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Landis, B. (1975). Fromm's Theory of Biophilia-Necrophilia. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:418-434.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:418-434

Fromm's Theory of Biophilia-Necrophilia

Bernard Landis, Ph.D.

ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR PSYCHOANALYTIC PRACTICE

"I FELT SO GOOD THE FIRST time I stabbed her, and when she screamed at me it did something to me, sent a rush through me, and I stabbed her again" (Bugliosi, 1974). How is the psychoanalyst to apprehend this malevolent destructiveness of Susan Atkin, one of the so-called Charles Manson "family, " who knifed pregnant actress Sharon Tate in the belly. How are we also to understand the murderousness of men such as Francisco Franco, as described by Arrabal?

Your favorite sport is slaughtering rabbits, doves, fish. Your biography is full of corpses … in Africa, in Asturias, during the Civil War and after … an entire life covered with the decay of death. …

In my immediate family, you are responsible for the death of my father and the execution of his brother. …

For your part, you declared: "If necessary, we shall kill half the country." (Arrabal, 1974)

Examples of this nature of people's behavior, in and out of clinical practice, challenge traditional explanations as we try to fathom the paradox of the individual who expresses his life through violence and death. Such formulations as those of the anal expulsive character, the impulse-ridden personality, the sociopath, or the paranoid psychotic are of limited use in our grasping the extremes of passionate destruction.

In his latest work, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness(1973), Erich Fromm gives us a further understanding of persons who are impelled to render what is alive into lifelessness, by organizing into sterility or by torturing to death.

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