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The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness Paperback – February 15, 1992
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“If any single work could bring mankind to its senses, this book might qualify for that miracle. . . . This book is the product of one of the most penetrating, most mature minds of our time.” ―Lewis Mumford
“In this perhaps most important of his pioneering theoretical works, the distinguished author writes with brilliant insight in attempting to break the deadlock in the struggle between the instinctivism of Konrad Lorenz . . . and behaviorist B.F. Skinner. He moves toward a provocative conclusion which involves a critical revision of Freud's theory of a "death instinct" in man. . . . Fromm's studies of Stalin and Himmler, and especially his penetrating psychobiography of Hitler, fascinatingy support his thesis.” ―Publisher's Weekly
“Rich and provocative . . . a major book from the pen of a major writer.” ―The Washington Post Book World
“Fromm is an original thinker. . . . His analysis of the causes of destructiveness is unique, and he has an enviable skill in the lucid presentation of intricate material.” ―Atlantic Monthly
“By far the best book I have ever read on the subject and by far the most absorbing.” ―Ashley Montagu
About the Author
Erich Fromm was a German-born U.S. psychoanalyst and social philosopher who explored the interaction between psychology and society. His other major works include The Art of Loving, Escape from Freedom, and Man for Himself. He died in 1980.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is centered around the question, obviously, of why humans commit atrocities. Fromm begins this book by exploring many of the theories, such as the notion that we are biologically overdetermined to be so violent. But he conclusively shows that cannot be the case. He then gives examples of nonviolent cultures, and explores why these cultures are the way they are. He then concludes with a powerful and detailed exploration of Hitler, showing how Hitler manifests the essence of this awful civilization that is killing the planet. A powerful book that helped form the foundations of my thinking.
For those interested in human nature, which should be all people, it is a must read. As a side note, those interested in human nature might want to read the negative comments and low rating for this book, then read those contributors other reviews. Fascinating that there were two reviewers that gave this one star, and also gave many one star/negative reviews for other products (movies, games, books etc) but gave high marks for violent video games. Hmmmmmmm.
This work has amazing composition that allows you to read it in different ways. You can skip the whole Part I, if you don't have time and you know that Fromm knows what is he attacking and why, and you can skip big case studies, if you don't have time and don't particularly care for the brains of Stalin and Hitler :-). And still you will get the whole and earth-shattering definition of the human nature and how and why a human can get hurt so easily and can hurt others so easily.
Or, you can start with big case studies, if that is what motivates you to read, and in order to read through them you will have to read the rest, probably with your own pattern of chapters.
Or, you can start from the page one, to see how deeply wrong currently popular behavioral theory is and take it from there in a linear fashion.
In my mind this book has put to rest the myth that the destruction and violence done by civilized man is instinctual. It takes a culture like ours to condition us into hating ourselves and the rest of life around us.
Fromm explores non-violent cultures to show us that humans havn't always been so hell bent on destruction and death. That there actually was life affirmative cultures. Fromm's final final chapter has really stuck with me. One of his suggestions for our survival is that the biophiliacs(life loving)people have to have their voices heard and object to the sadistic tendancies of this culture. A must read for anybody who is trying to imagine a better way.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The anthropological descriptions of some of the obscure cultures was completely fascinating to me! I had no idea such peaceful culture existed, nor culture that can be defined by... Read morePublished 22 days ago by matt sinclair
This book proves without a doubt that the answer is no. With all the violence going around the world, it is easy to believe otherwise, but Fromm makes a very convincing argument.Published 10 months ago by Sinan Topuz
Best read for an in-depth understanding of modern war and violence.Published 12 months ago by Layla Fawn
Erich Fromm is a wonderful contribution to anyone who is curious and wants to be so. He was a brilliant psychoanalyst. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Carol E. Smaldino
Its a tough read but in it he diagnosed Hitler as a narcissist.Published 17 months ago by Jim Gough
This is a great attempt to de-instinctivise human destrctiveness. While critics ma be able to poke holes into the theory, I liked that fact that the author has gone to great... Read morePublished 22 months ago by vishdes
The hierarchy of power is endlessly more destructive than protective. What do we call this---sadism, aloofness, superiority over the inferiors who do not deserve to live, profit... Read morePublished on June 14, 2014 by James G. Donat
Made think a lot about human behaviour... My behaviour, to be precise. Could have an impact eventually on my thought processes..Published on May 16, 2014 by pam rajan