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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post WW II philosophy still has something to say
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...
Published on September 10, 2001 by Nancy Moran

versus
48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frightening
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...
Published on November 15, 2001 by Boll Spiedoff


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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post WW II philosophy still has something to say, September 10, 2001
By 
Nancy Moran (Baltimore, Maryland USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (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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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May change the way you look at the world!, August 2, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (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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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Definite Piece of the Puzzle - A Book To Be Read, October 6, 2003
By 
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (Paperback)
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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.

Fromm ends his book in what the positive traits of what Faust would be: that of spontaneous living, not compulsive living, but in positive affirmation and movement, in the process of life, not the results, the experience of the activity of the present moment. I couldn't agree more.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frightening, November 15, 2001
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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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape from Freedom, June 9, 2000
By 
Walter Jensen (Western Michigan University) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are not free by choice, not by force., January 21, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (Paperback)
There is a lack of freedom in our world, even in the best of democracy.

Unfortunately, the only reason we are not free is because we choose not to be. In fact we are trying very hard to escape from freedom just like the title says and that is a very pessimistic thought. If there was a plot to keep us from reaching our individual freedom like some people think, that would be optimistic - In that case we could have a revolution. But the way things are we need billions of inner revolutions, and that's an implausible scenario.

All essential problems of human situation are thoroughly and clearly described in one place. If you are unhappy with your life, your surroundings, or feel weltschmerz of some kind, you'll find all the answers right here. It is incredible that book which is read so lightly almost like some novel, is so filled with wisdom and deepest understanding of human mind and it's problems.

In my opinion Erich Fromm and his entire opus are by far the most important event in Psychology and Sociology in this century.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT ANALYSIS OF MODERN INHUMANITY AND ITS ROUTES, January 19, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (Paperback)
This book analyzes the origins of controlling and submissive personalities, in their being by-products of an alienated existence, and meant to overcome the uncertainty and loneliness that results, through the means of symbiosis with another human being. He shows that people are confronted with the contsant no-win situation of choosing between submission and submersion or aloneness and insecurity. Of course, he DOES pose a SOLUTION to this problem, that of a productive, creative, spontaneous, social personality. Needless to say this personality is incompatible with modern day capitalistic society, despite a possible extreme minority. If we want to be free and secure, the only solution is interconnectedness, and to live in a HUMAN society. THIS is what Fromm teaches us.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In responsibility is freedom, June 7, 2005
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (Paperback)
The escape from freedom is as Dostoevsky wrote in in 'The Grand Inquisitor' section of 'Brothers Karamazov' is made out of a desire to escape the burden of responsibility and decision. The preference for ' bread and circuses' over a life of hard decisions is one way of succumbing to totalitarianism.

Fromm sees then the possibility of escaping from freedom even when one lives in a democratic society. And he strongly argues for a different path, one in which individual human beings take responsibility for their own lives and dare to live in freedom.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more relevant than ever, unfortunately, February 15, 2006
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (Paperback)
I started reading Fromm after the terrible election of 2004 for two reasons: 1)I needed a diagnosis of political authoritarianism, particularly its psychological aspects; and 2) I wanted to hear something from someone who still had some hope for humanity and the essential goodness of people, at least in potential. Fromm usually isn't included in the syllabi of trendy crit theory/Frankfurt School grad seminars, and it's a shame. For Fromm, modern society is not individualistic so much as it is individualized--like it or not, the modern individual is stranded alone in the world without the anchors of tradition, security, community, etc. Laissez-faire economics and neo-liberal ideologies celebrate this condition, but the fact is that humans are social beings and this type of "freedom" is just as terrifying as it is liberating. Powerless and alone, the individual too often tries to escape from freedom by masochistically submerging his/her self to some greater authority and/or sadistically taking power over others (which of course is also a form of subservience, because the master needs his slave). If this sounds all too familiar in America in 2006 then pick Escape From Freedom along with Wilhelm Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism and Theodor Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality. But despite being surrounded by Nazism in Germany and then Cold War conformity in the US, Fromm remained optimistic that individuals could discover true freedom by realizing their interdependence with others and nature in a way that perserved rather than annihilated their personal dignity. He discovered Zen in his later years and attempted to synthesize it with his Freudian-Marxism. If you need a dose of that kind of optimism, see Fromm's books Man For Himself, Marx's Conception of Man, To Have or To Be?, and The Art of Being.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Honest and Sincere Analysis, June 22, 2008
This review is from: Escape from Freedom (Paperback)
Following in the footsteps of Sigmund Freud, Erich Fromm was trained in psychoanalysis and became a consulting psychologist. Writing this book in 1941, Fromm was intrigued by how dictators like Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin were able to gain the support of their mass populations and, in effect, lure them away from freedom (insofar as they had any to begin with). His study is partly driven by his assetion that this luring force toward fascism widely prevails "in millions of our own people", referring to Americans, and is the reason I read this book.

His thesis then becomes that in a state of freedom (independent, rational, objective), individuals are alone and alienated and have doubt. Man longs for security and a sense to belong.

In support of his thesis, Fromm begins with lessons drawn from the middle ages and the Renaissance, a time when "The masses who did not share the wealth and power of the ruling group had lost the security of their former status and had become a shapeless mass, to be flattered or to be threatened-but always to be manipulated and exploited by those in power. A new despotism arose side by side with the new individualism. Freedom and tyranny, individuality and disorder, were inextricably interwonen".

He, furthermore, uses examples of "masochistic perversion because it proves beyond doubt that suffering can be something sought for".

The book becomes more relevant when Fromm finally gets to 20th century America and writes, "The principal social avenues of escape in our time are the submission to a leader, as has happened in Fascist countries, and the compulsive conforming as is prevalent in our own democracy".

And then Fromm gets to the mechanisms of escape. The one I find particularly intersting is "automaton conformity". In his words, "...the individual ceases to be himself; he adopts entirely the kind of personality offerred to him by cultural patterns; and he therefore becomes exactly as all others are and as they expect him to be. The discrepancy between "I" and the world disappears and with it the conscious fear of aloneness and powerlessness...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 this, patient reader, is the relevance of Erich Fromm's "Escape From Freedom" to the American Republic. If 300 million individuals lose their "self" to their "leader" (because they want to conform) then what we have is a totalitarian dictatorship exactly like Hitler's, Stalin's, and Mussolini's. And, as I went to great detail to show in my review of the book, Propaganda, the invisible government of the USA has been conditioning our minds and snatching our thought without us even being aware of it. This conditioning is, for all intensive purposes, complete. Expect the other shoe to drop within the next twelve months.

Fromm writes, "...if we do not see the unconscious suffering of the average automatized person, then we fail to see the danger that threatens our culture from its human basis; the readiness to accept any ideology and any leader, if only he promises excitement and offers a political structure and symbols which allegedly give meaning and order to an individual's life. The despair of the human automaton is fertile soil for the political purposes of Fascism".
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Escape from Freedom
Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm (Paperback - September 15, 1994)
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