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Fenichel, O. (1944). Psychoanalytic Remarks on Fromm's Book “Escape from Freedom”. Psychoanal. Rev., 31(2):133-152.

(1944). Psychoanalytic Review, 31(2):133-152

Psychoanalytic Remarks on Fromm's Book “Escape from Freedom”

Otto Fenichel


Freud's “Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego” is the starting point for all investigations concerning the psychology of leadership. The phenomenon of hypnosis is the model of all “authority,” and hypnosis is a regressive phenomenon; an old pattern is remobilized: the relationship of the child to his parents whom he believes to be omnipotent (after having lost the belief in his own omnipotence). Through the feeling of being loved and protected by the parents, the child enjoys sexual and narcissistic (security) satisfaction simultaneously. The deep memory traces of this experience form in later situations of danger, anxiety, insecurity or frustration, a temptation to long for a “hypnotist” who magically brings all that is missing, in the same unconditioned and oral way as the mother once brought the food. This longing can be misused by different “hypnotists,” under different conditions in very different ways. The hypnotist offers magical reparticipation in the lost and projected omnipotence. This narcissistic satisfaction once had been identical with an (archaic) sexual satisfaction; nor should it be forgotten that also mature sexual satisfaction brings an experience of undoing of individualization, of “flowing together,” of “oceanic feelings.” Hunger and satiety govern the rhythm of the infant's life; “sexual longing” and “sexual satisfaction” as well as “narcissistic need” and “narcissistic satisfaction” are two different derivatives of this very same root. Normally those two types of derivatives have a different development. To get sexual satisfaction, an object is needed; contentedness with oneself can be achieved without any object by the feeling of having done the right thing.

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