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Escape from Freedom Paperback – September 15, 1994

88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An analysis par excellence of our cultural neurosis. -The Nation” ―The Nation

“An important and challenging work.” ―The New York Herald Tribune

“Fromm's thought merits the critical attention of all concerned with the human condition and its future.” ―The Washington Post

About the Author

Erich Fromm was a German-born U.S. psychoanalyst and social philosopher who explored the interaction between psychology and society. His works include The Art of Loving, Psychoanalysis and Religion, and Man for Himself. He died in 1980.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Owl Book ed edition (September 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805031499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805031492
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Moran on September 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I believe the essence of "Escape from Freedom" can be found first in the chapter, "Mechanisms of Escape":
"The person who gives up his individual self and becomes an automaton, identical with millions of other automatons around him, need not feel alone and anxious any more. But the price he pays, however, is high; it is the loss of his self."
And second, under the chapter, "Freedom and Democracy":
"This loss of identity then makes it still more imperative to conform, it means that one can be sure of oneself only if one lives up to the expectations of others. If we do not live up to this picture, we not only risk disapproval and increased isolation, but we risk losing the identity of our personality, which means jeopardizing sanity."
"... We must replace manipulation of men by active and intelligent co-operation, and expand the principle of government of the people, by the people, for the people, from the formal political to the economic sphere."
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book offers insight into many everyday issues: thinking, feeling, wanting, character, individualism, politics, most of all freedom - the list goes on. You will learn what it means to have a false self including: pseudo-thinking, pseudo-feeling, pseudo-willing, etc. For example, when you have a "thought" how do you know it is yours? When you want something, how do you know it is you who "wants" it?
This book also explains the rise of Nazism from a psychological and historical perspective, making it actually seem understandable.
Fromm starts the book by talking about our experience as children from the womb to breaking away and moving into the world. The problem he describes is that people on the whole do not want to be free and want to cling to ideas that make them feel as if they were back in the womb.
This book talks much about socialization and in my opinion parallels "The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge" by Peter L. Berger, Thomas Luckmann, which I believe to be one the best books ever written.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By R. Schwartz on October 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
An amazing book that pieces modern society starting from the medieval to the renaissance and reformation, that is, from a well defined structured and fixed group identity, fixed meaning to life, determined purpose to life and the here after, to that of the existential, capitalistic and monopolist society that has produced radical individualism with the type of freedom producing severe loneliness, separation and the need to alleviate such emptiness, which has been fulfilled by illusionary means.

Fromm relates a major piece of Western civilization's struggle in the ability to see the correlation between the medieval, secure, self-employed society to that of the Renaissance, an elite aristocracy employing the masses as dependent employees, commodities under a new capitalistic society. It was here only the limited rich could prosper in creativity, while the masses existed in a new existential despair. And so Luther, and later Calvin, devised new forms of Christianity, existential types, to aid these new psychological needs of the masses in accepting this change from security to exploitation.

Fromm goes both into the psyche of man, the nature of societal structure, the development of western civilization and need for security and certainty to that of either authoritarian rule, internal conscious rule or the invisible rule of democratic conformity to public opinion, or automation.

Basic Masochistic/Sadistic desires of man from the extreme, to what is considered "normal" has been seen in the forfeit of the individual self into totalitarian control, capitalistic profit and religious and social concepts that attempt to fill the void of separateness without keeping the self.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Walter Jensen on June 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Fromm's book gives a great insight into the 'authoritarian personality,' first developed by Fromm's 'Fascist-scale' or as it is better known the 'F-scale.' This scale later became the center piece for Adorno's book 'The Authoritarian Personality'. Fromm's "main thesis concerns the twofold aspect of freedom: on the one hand freedom means the liberation from those 'primary bonds' which tied man to nature or which, in the clan or in the feudal society, tied him to the authorities of society and to his fellow men from whom he is not yet set apart as an 'individual.' Such 'freedom from' is not as yet a positive freedom ('freedom to'). Positive freedom, according to Fromm, 'is identical with the full realization of the individual's potentialities, together with his ability to live actively and spontaneously'" - Ernest G. Schachtel, Studies in Philosophy and Social Science (vol. 9 - 1941). According to Schachtel, Fromm's 'Escape from Freedom' is perhaps the most important contribution to the description and analysis of automaton conformity. It is a well written book, accessible to all.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Boll Spiedoff on November 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Erich Fromm was not the World's Greatest Writer, nor was he the World's Greatest Historian. However, he did manage to write some pretty interesting books, one of which is "Escape from Freedom," perhaps his most famous. The idea behind the work; that man will seek comfort from the burdens from responsibility, even if it takes the form of a dictator, is an extremely intriguing one, and one which becomes ever more appalling with each successive dictator that crops up somewhere in the world. There are some factual mistakes in this book (Fromm tries to attribute the roots of this phenomenon to specific time periods, when such thoughts were present in far earlier literary works), and it can be somewhat repetitive at times. However, "Escape From Freedom" is nontheless an extremely intriguing read that I would recommend to anyone unafraid to consider some pretty frightening ideas.
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