Life Itself Is an Art: The Life and Work of Erich Fromm

Life Itself Is an Art: The Life and Work of Erich Fromm


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Erich Fromm (1900-1980) is known to most readers as the author of the international bestseller The Art of Loving (1956). What may be less widely known is that Fromm was a social psychoanalyst whose psychoanalytic theories, developed around a humanistic concept of man and society, have had a profound impact on many fields and disciplines: on social life and societal organization, on politics, on religion, on psychotherapy and, last but not least, on the practice of mindfulness.

Rainer Funk was Erich Fromm's last assistant. He wrote his dissertation about Fromm, was designated by Fromm's last will to be his sole literary executor, and is the editor of Fromm's writings. From his very intimate knowledge of Fromm's life and ideas, and his access to an archive that includes 6,000 letters, Funk introduces Fromm's central concepts and examines them in relation to Fromm's lived experiences and to his idea that life itself is an art.

The question of "the art of living" runs through all of the chapters, from the Introduction, in which Funk describes meeting Fromm for the first time in 1972, to the last chapter, in which Funk reflects on the impact of Fromm's social-psychoanalytic writings and his efforts to live well.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501351440
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 06/13/2019
Series: Psychoanalytic Horizons
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 906,644
Product dimensions: 5.41(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

Rainer Funk is Director of the Erich Fromm Institute Tuebingen, Co-Director of the Erich Fromm Study Center at the International Psychoanalytic University (IPU) in Berlin, and a practicing psychoanalyst based in Tuebingen, Germany. He is Erich Fromm's sole Literary Executor and among his publications are the 10-volume German edition of Erich Fromm Collected Works (1980 and 1981; expanded to 12-volumes in 1999).

Table of Contents

List of Figures vii

Preface viii

Introduction: Direct Encounter 1

Face to face 2

Letting someone sense: "This is you" 5

An exhilarating experience 7

Encountering the stranger 11

The art of living as direct encounter 15

1 Roads to the Unconscious 19

Fromm's road to psychoanalysis 19

The unconscious as repressed 23

The power of rationalization 25

Indicators of the unconscious 27

Defensive strategies against becoming conscious of the unconscious 30

Understanding the unconscious 32

The dream as a road to the unconscious 33

Free association as a road to the unconscious 35

Parapraxis as a road to the unconscious 38

Transference as a road to the unconscious 40

2 The Individual as a Social Being 45

Erich Fromm-an only child becomes a psychoanalyst of society 45

What makes a father beat his children? 54

The individual as socialized being 56

The meaning of character formations 58

Society within the individual-the social character 61

3 How Man Succeeds 67

Love in the life of Erich Fromm 67

What is good for man 72

The primary tendency to grow 74

The growth orientation of one's own powers 76

Conceptual approaches 78

The productive orientation 80

The capacity for growth at the crossroads 84

4 How Society Succeeds at the Expense of Man 89

Erich Fromm's suffering in society 89

The authoritarian character-at the expense of autonomy 95

The marketing orientation-at the expense of a sense of identity 101

The narcissistic character-at the expense of interest in the other 110

The ego orientation-at the expense of ego strength 129

5 Ways toward Direct Encounter 145

Erich Fromm's guides on the way toward direct encounter 145

Preconditions for an encounter with one's own self 151

Capacity for critique and readiness for dis-illusionment 153

Preparatory exercises 157

Self-analysis as a way of encounter 160

Encounters and their effects 165

References 169

Index 177

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