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Escape from Freedom

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  12,697 ratings  ·  797 reviews
If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape mod ...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published September 15th 1994 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1941)
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Shawn Fromm's answer is by spontaneous action. Perhaps that means skipping work today and heading to the beach with your boyfriend? Alternatively, it may me…moreFromm's answer is by spontaneous action. Perhaps that means skipping work today and heading to the beach with your boyfriend? Alternatively, it may mean getting off your duff and getting to work helping others with an important project. Whatever constitutes spontaneity for you can only be answered by yourself but it is certainly the result of your own choice and likely different from your routine. Or better, perhaps, it is arresting routine in a state of awareness, which awareness invokes your sense of choice. Spontaneity does not require isolation. (less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
‭Die Furcht vor der Freiheit = The Fear of Freedom, Erich Fromm

First published in the United States in 1941.

In the book, Fromm explores humanity's shifting relationship with freedom, with particular regard to the personal consequences of its absence. His special emphasis is the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه می سال 1972میلادی

عنوان: گریز از آزادی؛ نویسنده: اریش فروم؛ مترجم: عزت الله فولادوند؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، فرانکلین، 1348، در294ص؛ چاپ دوم 13
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Existentialism has always fascinated me as the condemnation to freedom of mankind is such hard felt in society I'm living in.

This book is quite an easy read when compared to Sartre's, Beauvoir's or Nietszche's.

The willingness of choice, human act, and thinking has been deem sinful since the dawn of civilisation- Adam and Eva being ousted from Eden in the name of infringement of Gods will - to make the choice of having knowledge and ability to think.

The powerlessness and insecurity of our generat
Jun 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Freedom is Dread. So says Kierkegaard, for the day Adam and Eve ate the Apple their predictable world collapsed. For Freedom, too, in the Nietzschean sense, quickly becomes the Transvaluation of Values.

Suddenly the mold of our individuality breaks open. We are no longer the safe selves we knew.

The great mystics tell us this new brokenness is the road to peace, and I believe it. Suddenly awakening, if we simply face our dread courageously we’ll find serenity. Fortitude is key. And Bill W. agreed.
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Certainly of all the nonfiction I've read this year, I would recommend Escape From Freedom above all others. This is my first time reading Fromm and I'm thoroughly impressed.

This work addresses topics which are very important to me: individuality, authoritarianism, freedom and how it all relates to our modern, democratic society. Fromm draws a causal link between the freedom gained for the individual in the transition to modernity, and the reactionary rise of the authoritarian personality. Fromm
Fromm approached the theme of freedom on a multi-perspective basis, drawing insights from historical events, religious dogmas, economic movements, socio-biological and anthropological relationships, and psychological phenomena in understanding how in humanity's quest for freedom and individuality, the price paid is the burden of isolation and alienation - if he has no genuine end on what to do with his new-found 'freedom'. Which then results in a back-and-forth process of seeking back the lost s ...more
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
My rating of this book varies from one chapter to another. The first chapters explaining the attempts of Lutherism and Calvinism to fill the void freedom created during the early era of capitalism were good. Basically, when the feudal system was being replaced by capitalism, man was more free, but also more isolated and insecure. The solution offered by Protestanism was total submission to God and work as a means of searching for a sign of salvation. That laid the groundwork for the unhealthy me ...more
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom, published in 1941, has a good deal in common with Eric Hoffer's postwar The True Believer.  Like Hoffer, Fromm was trying to understand the power and appeal of fascism. The main point of agreement between the two authors, I think, is that what appears to be unshakeable conviction is often an act of desperation, or what Fromm calls a "mechanism of escape."  To paraphrase David Foster Wallace, who knew something about compulsivity and whom I can't help thinking m
Morgan Blackledge
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Brilliant start to finish.

Fromm was a genius.

Sadly though...

If you swap concerns regarding the cold war for catastrophic global climate change, then.....

This book could have been written yesterday.

Winston Churchill famously said “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

I would add (if I may) “and sometimes, so are those who do”.

My point being:

Just because you know history and have learned from it, doesn’t mean your neighbor has.

Just because you know history an
E. G.

--The Fear of Freedom

Appendix: Character and the Social Process
Mikael Lind
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology, psychology
Yes, this is still a very important book even though it was written in 1942. It is mainly focused on the concept of freedom from the medieval times to the period before WWII. He points to weaknesses both in the (at the time) communist East and capitalist West, but (not surprisingly) his fiercest critique is that of the nazi ideology and the kind of man that Goebbels and Hitler wanted to create (a subordinated, disciplined creature, with a lack of critical thinking, etc.).
One thing in particular
عماد العتيلي

“The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self.”.

Fromm is not an ordinary thinker, and his not an average writer. He is one of the best sociologists and literary critics I’ve ever known.


In this book, he masterly discussed the problem of freedom – a problem I tried to understand and fatho
Erik Graff
Although I'd read quite a bit of Fromm already and had heard some of his radio lectures, I hadn't yet read his early Escape from Freedom (aka Fear of Freedom). Since it was one of the books on the core list of the "great books" college my youngest stepbrother was attending in Waukegan, Illinois and since I was hoping for a job there, I picked out the old copy on the bookshelf and read it quickly one afternoon at Panini Panini, a cafe on North Sheridan Road here in East Rogers Park, Chicago.

I was
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book written decades ago but still relevant. What do we do with the freedom we have? If we look back a few centuries to the medieval era, we see people living in a structured society. There was little possibility for upward mobility and, for the most part, you had to stay in your station in life. Throughout the Reformation and into the modern age, we shook off these hierarchies and, as individuals and societies, became free.

This freedom certainly has benefits. But Fromm argue
Victor Wu
Escape from Freedom is deep exploration of a striking duality between individual freedom and mass authoritarianism in modern society. Fromm seeks to explain the mass appeal of authoritarian movements, most notably Nazism in Germany—at a deep emotional level among the lower middle class, and more opportunistically, among the conservative economic elite—by reference to certain fundamental features and dynamics of modern capitalist society. Of note, Escape from Freedom was published in 1941, when t ...more
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Here is a book that was recommended to me early in my grad school career, and for some reason I have put off reading it until now. (Studying for comps has pushed me to "get my reading on"...) I read this book in hopes of just reviewing some theory and getting Fromm's perspective. I did not expect to read it and be so engrossed (definitely didn't expect to read it in 2.5 days...).

Fromm puts it out there that as humans, our desire for individual freedom is one that at the same time makes us free,
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
A great look at both the economic, political, and social conditions under which freedom flourishes as well as the psychological mechanisms that impede or encourage individuals to either gain and use or to abandon their own autonomy. While he doesn't use this language, I think that he describes well what others refer to as "colonization of the mind."

The solutions offered at the very end of the book for what a society would look like that fully embraced freedom (Fromm suggests a state-based planne
Sep 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
We have a quarter left in the year, but I think I can safely say that this will most likely be my favourite read in 2022. Towards the last part of the book, Fromm writes, "The cultural and political crisis of our day is not due to the fact that there is too much individualism but that what we believe to be individualism has become an empty shell". An insightful remark for today, but here's the kicker - this book was published in 1941! And though the book seeks an explanation of the psychological ...more
Brecht Casper
May 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
At once a criticism of capitalist society, an exploration of the human psyche, a historical analysis, and a philosophical exploration, this book proved a fascinating and thought-provoking read. Deeply rooted in psychoanalysis, there are of course the general issues concerning falsifiability but regardless, in 'Escape from Freedom' Fromm defends his main thesis by well-researched arguments and cites a multitude of (by now dated) academic literature in support.

Stimulating and intriguing, but simu
Ева Нешкоска
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
"The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self."

Unexpectedly, fascinating book. Even though it was little bit out of my comfort zone. It made me wonder a lot about us humans. Are we really that superior or as Dostoevsky said "Man is stupid, you know, phenomenally stupid."
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This may be the most important book about humanity I've read. It's overwhelmingly insightful and I am awed by Fromm's ability to put into words what I've only felt around the edges in my life. Yes, it's repetitive at times, but that only serves to hammer home the philosophies and ideas that other authors make opaque. A must read. ...more
A general note: as was typical at the time of writing, Fromm uses “man” as a generic term for humans and “he” as the generic pronoun for any human being. Some will find this offensive or unappealing today, but it would have been standard in 1941. In general this review has attempted to avoid such usages.

Erich Fromm wrote this book as an attempt to answer the question of why, when Western Civilization had apparently advanced to the point where democracy was finally possible for all people of Eur
Feb 23, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness. It is the expression of the inability of the individual self to stand alone and live. It is the desperate attempt to gain secondary strength where genuine strength is lacking. The word power has a twofold meaning. One is the possession of power over somebody, the ability to dominate him; the other meaning is the possession of power to do something, to be able, to be potent. The latter meaning has nothing to do with domination; it ...more
John David
When Camus asked one of the more famous questions in twentieth-century existentialism – “Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” – he was attempting to struggle with maybe one of the most powerful accoutrements of modern society: both our struggle to possess freedom, and then how to handle it once we think we have “achieved” it. But while freedom causes its own peculiar troubles at the level of the individual, whole new dynamics arise at the level of culture and society.

The main thrust
Juan Tomás
My advice: Take Weber's Protestant Ethic, Manrique's Coplas and Goethe's Faust and skip this one. ...more
Jan 14, 2011 rated it liked it
The fear of freedom

- Man was dominated by the rules of nature. Then man ruled it.. as a society.. and with societies rising.. the individual was oppressed. Under the unjust.. He as an individual empowered the group.. after the religion ruled.. it was perished. And man as a unit.. ruled over all..

So the man as a person.. Foolishly gave in for the society.. because he needed the society. For food, for protection and a lot of things he alone cannot master or fathom all at once.. for the fear that i
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a single book Fromm manages to:
-identify why people need to be part of something larger than themselves
-identify the social changes that contributed to the rise of liberal capitalism from Medieval times to the Reformation
-identified the character traits that give rise to totalitarianism, Fascism and Nazism
-argues that liberal democracies under capitalism are lacking as much freedom as totalitarian states
-identifies both the socio-economic conditions and personal conditions one needs to flouri
Jul 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Definitely one of my favorite books; 5/5 without a second thought.

The Fear of Freedom is a deeply political book without talking about politics at all. It constitutes a sensational analysis of the psychological reasons which lead to the rise of authoritarian governments and fascistic formations.

Erich Fromm starts his analysis by firstly examining the psychological reasons which lead an individual to voluntarily accord a portion or the complete amount of his/her freedom to someone else, and then
Npc Convergence
May 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
As with other attempts to fuse psychoanalysis with Marxism, this celebrated work is a less than convincing series of speculations. Aside from that, I find it boring and utterly useless.
David Rush
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How could millions of people in a modern country fall in love with an autocratic leader who cared little for political consistency and pleased his adoring fans with blatant lies and hate filled accusations and where cruelty to others seems to be the whole point? Erich Fromm has the why it happened in his day by showing how the Protestant reformation psychologically primed society to be susceptible to the inflammatory rhetoric of Adolf Hitler.

Fromm lays it out in a structured manner that is thoro
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Erich Fromm, Ph.D. (Sociology, University of Heidelberg, 1922), was a psychoanalyst and social philosopher who explored the interaction between psychology and society, and held various professorships in psychology in the U.S. and Mexico in the mid-20th century.

Fromm's theory is a rather unique blend of Freud and Marx. Freud, of course, emphasized the unconscious, biological drives, repression, and

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