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Escape from Freedom

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  10,422 ratings  ·  587 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 McDougal (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، در 294ص؛ چاپ دوم 1
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
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
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
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
Mikael Lind
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, sociology
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
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
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
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like to think..
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,
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
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
Erik Graff
Jan 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fromm fans
Recommended to Erik by: Erik Badger
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
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.
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
Greg Kurzawa
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 2017, non-fiction
Once upon a time no one was Free. We had kings and priests and families and guilds and communities to steer our lives and provide us a secure, comfortable place in the world. We were all part of something larger than our own selves. And we were happy! But then we got Freedom and shed all those bonds so that we could start doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted to do it. And that made us really, really sad. Because it turns out that we suck at Freedom. Being Free means having to face the un ...more
Alan Johnson
Erich Fromm (1900-80) was a famous psychoanalyst and social psychologist who wrote several important books on history, psychology, ethics, and political philosophy. Although influenced by Freud, he disagreed with his famous predecessor on several important issues.

Escape from Freedom was first published in 1941. At this time Hitler had taken over much of continental Europe with the further objectives of conquering England and the Soviet Union. World War II was raging, but the United States did no
K.A. Ashcomb
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Erich Fromm is a great thinker and writer. When I read his The Sane Society, my view about human life, the world, and society was transformed. I expected the same from Escape from Freedom, and it didn't disappoint. How could it? The book has been in print and read over and again since 1941 when it first came out. Escape from Freedom is an amazing book meant to make us think over what we consider as freedom and ask if we are as free as we think? And if we are, then why are we so unhappy with our ...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
Fromm's analysis of freedom as experienced by modern man is traced through changes in religious and economic conditions in history. His conclusion that modern man is isolated and alone prone to absorbing autocratic ideas for comfort, or sliding into sado-masochistic relationships is fascinating and appropriate today.

In the course of his exposition Fromm also challenges some of the basic dictates of Freudian theory among which he selects the function of sex as an effect of surfeit as opposed to s
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
An insightful book about the human phycology and it's attitude towards "freedom" and "authority". There were different perspectives and factors explained about this attitude of Western society. Overall a good book, and I definitely should read it again.
Abigail  Muscat
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
Murray Brown
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Erich Fromm offers profound insights into the social character -- a synopsis of the mind of a typical person in society -- and how it has evolved historically, showing that we are a product of the prevailing culture of our times. He places this analysis in the context of the socioeconomic, cultural and spiritual factors influencing society at the time of the Reformation and then contrasts that period with the rise of Fascism in Europe (not long before he wrote the book in 1942). He examines Freu ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Escape From Freedom by Eric Fromm is an oldie but a goodie classic philosophical book about modern man freeing himself from the bonds of society--any society. Man, in breaking away from his social structure, encounters isolation, and he is confronted with a decision to either escape from the burden of his freedom into new dependencies and submission, or to advance to the full realization of positive freedom which is based on the uniqueness and individuality of man.

In Chapter 7, Fromm speaks of
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
E. G.

--The Fear of Freedom

Appendix: Character and the Social Process
Hunter Dickerson
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the more important books I've ever read I think. It's exactly what I was looking for. Utilizing philosophy and psychology to explain the need for economic justice in the pursuit of individual freedom. Fromm does a really beautiful job explaining how capitalistic individualization has helped man transcend nature and be free from overt authoritarianism, but without the means of realizing this new freedom and the threat of monopolistic industrialization, individuals in society feel powerless ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This won’t be a very in-depth or fair review. Being that I actually finished it a month or so ago, and that Im in a rush to get this added and onto the book I have in my lap. ‘Escape From Freedom’ comes down to the idea that once the idea of the individual emerged, individuals no longer had security and purpose that was offered them in pre-capitalistic times, or feudal times. Pre-individualism and capitalism a person had security in their trade (farming, blacksmith, etc.). With the rise of capit ...more
Mack Hayden
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Last month, I read Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer and now, as I've finished this one, it just makes me want to read everything that came out of the Frankfurt School. Like Horkheimer, Fromm is as effective a critic as he is a prophet; he understood his own era so well that it allowed him to make extremely accurate predictions for the future. It's eerie to read this book in the Trump era as the very problems Fromm considers to be innate in liberal capitalist democracy have given way yet again ...more
Ehsan Gazar
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
We shook off these hierarchies and, as individuals and societies, became free.
This freedom certainly has benefits. But Fromm argues that as individuals become disconnected from the structures that once gave identity, this freedom also leads to angst and fear. We find ourselves lost in a world, not sure where there is meaning or what we are to do.
Humanity needs to confront the fact and take the responsibility of oneself.

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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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