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This is the first full-scale intellectual biography in English of Erich Fromm, perhaps the most widely read psychoanalyst after Freud, whose contributions to clinical and social psychology and the history of the psychoanalytic movement have long been underrated. Though considered a pedant, a popularizer--Escape from Freedom, The Sane Society, and The Art of Loving, among others, were best-sellers -and an "outsider" in many psychoanalytic circles, Fromm played a historic role in the development of the discipline. As a member of Freud's "loyal opposition" with strong leanings toward the "dissident fringe;' he helped effect the transfer of productive ideas from the periphery to the mainstream of the psychoanalytic movement. Daniel Burston's meticulous elucidation of these ideas unravels the numerous strands--philosophical, literary, and social--that formed a part of Freud's own work and of Fromm's sympathetic, but not uncritical, reaction to Freudian orthodoxy. Despite his grounding in the tradition of Freud, contemporaries and former associates persistently misunderstood Fromm's work.
Insofar as he attempted to decipher the ideological subtexts to Freudian theory, analytically oriented theorists doing clinical or social research avoided his ideas. His Marxist leanings and his radically historical approach to human behavior made it all but impossible for mainstream academic psychologists to grasp his meaning, much less to grant it any validity. At the same time, his humanistic and ethical concerns struck many psychologists as grossly unscientific.
Practical and intellectual constraints have conspired to ensure that Fromm's impact has been peripheral at best. Burston's eloquent, evenhanded reassessment of Fromm's life and work cuts through the ideological and political underbrush to reveal his pivotal role as a theorist and a critic of modern psychoanalysis. It leads readers back to Freud, whose theoretical and clinical contributions Fromm refracted and extended, and on to controversies that remain a vital part of contemporary intellectual life.
Burston Daniel :
Daniel Burston is Associate Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University.
This first full-scale intellectual biography of Fromm is respectful but objective, and is particularly valuable for its presentation of the political, economic, social, and intellectual contexts out of which and into which Fromm wrote. This is a book about a legacy received as well as contributed...A timely historical resource and a stimulus for reflecting on the close ties among humanism, existentialism, Buber, Marx, Weber, the recent resurgence of object-relations and self-psychology, and our contemporary choices as citizens.
Psychoanalysis, when it is not hidden away as dogma, is genuinely pluralistic and democratic, in a way that Fromm appreciated, because it encourages us to take seriously those things we are inclined to dismiss. For that reason, The Legacy of Erich Fromm is a timely book, since Fromm's work has virtually disappeared from intelligent consideration...The man who emerges from between the pages of this book is a vividly complicated man, indeed an extraordinary man.
Best-selling author, sociologist, and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm deserves to be better known by psychoanalysts in the United States...Like many others of his generation, this transplanted German-Jewish thinker has been often misunderstood and is now threatened with oblivion. Burston has set himself a task to rescue Fromm from such a fate, to clear up the misunderstandings, and to locate him in relation to the diverse intellectual sources on which he drew. Burston leads the reader on a detailed journey through 19th- and 20th-century intellectual history, a discussion that includes the ideas of such thinkers as J. J. Bachofen, the sociologists Marx and Weber, the early Freudian dissidents Reich, Horney, and Thompson, and existentialists like Buber and Scheler. His book is an intelligent, lucid, and highly readable intellectual biography of Erich Fromm, a highly commendable work of humanistic scholarship.
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