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Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) was a German psychologist who became an early critic of Freud and the founder of the Frankfurt school of critical theory. Fromm later escaped from Nazi Germany and spent much of career in the United States and Mexico. Fromm also heavily critiqued modern capitalism.

Fromm, the child of Orthodox Jews, received a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1922 and trained as a psychoanalyst under Frieda Reichmann. In 1934, Fromm fled Germany first for Geneva, and then the United States, teaching at Columbia University and then forming the New York branch of the Washington School of Psychiatry. In 1949 he moved to Mexico City, where he taught at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, dividing his time with teaching at Michigan State, and later New York University. In 1974, he retired to Switzerland.

Fromm's first major work was Escape from Freedom (1941), exploring the relationship with freedom and the consequences of its absence. In the book, Fromm emphasized the psychosocial conditions in Germany that led to the rise of Nazism. Fromm also distinguished between "freedom from" and "freedom to."

An important part of Fromm's worldview came from his study of the Talmud, despite drifting from Orthodox Judaism. He frequently used the story of Adam and Eve in his philosophy, extolling the knowledge of good versus evil, as opposed to seeing it as sin.

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