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The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,759 ratings  ·  96 reviews
In this provocative book, the distinguished author writes to break the deadlock in the struggle between the instinctivism of Konrad Lorenz and behavior psychologist B.F. Skinner.
Kindle Edition, 527 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Open Road Media (first published 1973)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  2,759 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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John G.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend anyone to read any of Fromm's work. This man to me, his contributions to psychology and to the understanding of the world and the human condition eclipse those of Freud and Jung. Just saying. This book gets to the questions of why things are so screwed up, why are people so violent and aggressive? I like his answers, it's a maladjusted attempt to deal with life, one way is the nihilistic (destroy that which I don't understand) or the sadistic (control that which I don't underst ...more
Hoda Marmar
I got this book for 3.5 $ one day as I was walking on the street, and a guy was selling those on the sidewalk. The book called out after me, the title was very attractive, but I never thought it would be such an amazing read! That was back in 2010, I believe. I used this book as a reference for many papers that I wrote, it made me love psychology even more. I shall reread it again this year.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My FIRST reading of this book was when it was first published in 1973. And now I read it again. I had read other books by Erich Fromm and was reading different approaches to Psychology. It is said that Fromm was a pioneer in theoretical works with "deep insight" into the the human psyche. As you can see by the title, he explores the dark side of the huiman psyche with quotes, references, comparisons, and rebuttals of the works of others. In the last part of this text, he discusses, "Malignant Ag ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, more relevant today than when I first read (early seventies). It seems everything is going a bit backwards.
Erik Graff
Apr 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: WFMT
Shelves: psychology
During the summer between college and my first graduate school I worked as a security guard for Chicago's Womens' Athletic Club on Ontario and Michigan Avenues in the Gold Coast area. The job had been obtained for me, and others of our friends, by Mike and Tom Miley whose mother, Helen, was working as the business manager there. After graduating from seminary she was kind enough to employ me again until I found more regular work.

The position at the club was a peach. My duties consisted of guardi
Maria Donosa
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
« If other people do not understand our behavior—so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being "asocial" or "irrational" in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to "explain," which usually implies that the explanation be "understood," i.e ...more
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a book showing that human is more violent than animal. The more "civilized", the more violent he becomes. When reading this book, I remember a National Geographic episode showing the most dangerous cat variety. Can you imagine that tiger and lion are second to house-cat? House cat kills anything, while tiger and lion merely kill their food. Just like human, don't you think?
Luka Pejić
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Only" 4.5 stars because it includes (I dare say) a hope-based philosophical text everyone should read, yet only those who already know a lot about psychology/psychoanalysis can read the book; 60% percent of the book is theory written for professionals and those who already know the basics of psychology (and, well, a lot of other stuff as well).
Apr 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fromm immediately endeared himself to me with this epigraph: "When I look at history I am a pessimist... but when I look at prehistory I am an optimist." (Incidentally, this was taken out of context. The writer, JC Smuts, actually only likes prehistory because he believes it shows how far we've come. Quite contrary to the point Fromm is making.)

The first and shortest part of the book is dedicated to a discussion of psychological theory (Instinctivism vs. Behaviorism), and, not being a psychologi
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this perhaps most important of his pioneering theoretical works, the distinguished author writes with brilliant insight in attempting to break the deadlock in the struggle between the instinctivism of Lorenz and behaviorist Skinner. Later, he moved towards a provocative conclusion which involves a critical revision of Freud’s theory of death instinct in man. Fromm’s studies of Stalin and Himmler and especially his penetrating psychos of Hittler, fascinatingly support his thesis.

In all, this
Prokop Holy
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We need to create the conditions that would make the growth of man, this unfinished and uncompleted being - unique in nature - the supreme goal of all social arrangements. Genuine freedom and independence and the end of all forms of exploitative control are the conditions for mobilizing the love of life, which is the only force that can defeat the love for the dead.
It is much easier to get excited by anger, rage, cruelty, or the passion to destroy than by love and productive and active interest,
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging read - would expect nothing less from Fromm. Topics dealt with, have not lost relevance and could be regarded as extremely important.

Information on which analysis is based, however - partly outdated (e.g., on chimpanzee behavior). This might lead readers to question other assumptions and claims that are made as well. Some claims seem to be unsubstantiated and not supported by even faulty data.

Despite flaws could be regarded as a very stimulating work and presents ideas worth discussi
Michael David
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love it whenever a book corrects my perspectives by debunking all my wrong preconceptions regarding things I believed were axiomatic. For example, I believed that humanity was more violent during prehistoric times because individuals had to compete for food and resources. Erich Fromm, in this comprehensive work regarding man's perversions toward destruction, actually cites copious sources from prominent anthropologists that simply disagree with this belief: 'the art of war develops only late i ...more
Hristo Poparov
Aug 21, 2020 added it
Shelves: ип-05
Good read. So long as he doesn't claim the whole truth (and he doesn't) ...more
I skimmed the first eight chapters and then read thoroughly the last five, on aggression.

Fromm's thesis: Contrary to what most people believe, destructiveness isn't innate in humans. The destructive impulse grew, Fromm argues, with the development of agriculture, the formation of states and hierarchies, and has reached a peak in today's industrialized societies. Destructiveness can therefore be reduced by changing man's socioeconomic conditions. He writes, memorably, "Exploitation and manipulat
Adam Crown
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this one several times and often re-read specific parts. His analysis of the human condition is both insightful and inciteful. Nota bene his take on the cybernetic society and the sado-masochistic character. ...more
Vikas Datta
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Needs to be read by anyone who has wryly shook his head at the species' capacity for destructive behaviour... ...more
Flavia Sparacino
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fromm's work is current even today. I keep re-reading his books from time to time. ...more
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Albeit this is the first book that I've read by Fromm, I was so immediately enraptured that I have now officially dubbed him as my favorite psychologist/psychoanalyst. I mean, we all have one, right!?

In this book, Fromm attempts to answer (and answer it, he does!) the age old debate on humanity's propensity for destructiveness: was it nature or was it nurture?

He discusses and dissects earlier psychological theories (behaviorism vs. instinctivism) that attempted to answer the same question, syste
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
It took me an entire March to finish this.
Read it for thick book challenge. It was soooo so dry but I couldn't drop it because I was halfway done with it and mama ain't raise no quitter.

I got this from Odilo@upustaka, anyone from Msia check that app out for free stuff.

I dunno how to summarise this.
It argues nature vs nurture on why humans are terrible. Quotes a lot of psychologists and I think it lost me at the necrophilia chapter. Then I just slogged through. Hitler chapter was a go
Mar 10, 2021 rated it did not like it
"We arrive at this concept by empirical analysis of the anatomical and neuophysiological structure and its psychical correlations which characterize the species homo. We thus shift the principle of explanation of human passions from Freud's physiological to a sociobiological and historical principle. Since the species Homo sapiens can be defined in anatomical, neurological and physiological terms, we should also be able to define him as a species in psychical terms."
This was page 7. If you can
Richard Zaslavsky
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. Written in a simple yet sophisticated language, Fromm covers a variety of areas related to human destructiveness. What is particularly great about this work is that it's full of historical references and interesting analysis of Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and others. It is a very insightful and curious read. Great for those who love both history and psychology. ...more
Extremely relevant text, then as now.
Donovan Boone
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Although it was a bit hard to understand, it has taught me different viewpoints on why humans get angry, why they harm others.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit better than others
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book can be somewhat disturbing. Don't read at night, or at a funeral home. ...more
Alex Frigino
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An lectio magistralis on the biologically adaptive (benign) aggression vs. the malignant form.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Naive leftist propaganda, people will be happy and free only in great communist utopia, and he pretend to be a scientist?
May 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Good as far as it goes!

Would have liked for Fromm to have just stated the obvious, that oppressive capitalism is what causes malignancy at both the top and bottom of society.
Yaël Mizrahi-Arnaud
Creation and destruction, love and hate, these are not merely binary categories,
but instincts that exist co-dependently. They are the same answer to the basic human need
for transcendence; the will to destroy arises when the will to create cannot be satisfied.
The need to create leads to happiness, while destruction leads to suffering. Recasting
Freud’s life and death instincts into biophilia versus necrophilia, we see that our most
evil, or most sublime manifestations of behavior are not due to our
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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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“Critical and radical thought will only bear fruit when it is blended with the most precious quality man is endowed with - the love of life” 47 likes
“The "pathology of normalcy" rarely deteriorates to graver forms of mental illness because society produces the antidote against such deterioration. When pathological processes become socially patterned, they lose their individual character. On the contrary, the sick individual finds himself at home with all other similarly sick individuals. The whole culture is geared to this kind of pathology and arranged the means to give satisfactions which fit the pathology. The result is that the average individual does not experience the separateness and isolation the fully schizophrenic person feels. He feels at ease among those who suffer from the same deformation, in fact, it is the fully sane person who feels isolated in the insane society - and he may suffer so much from the incapacity to communicate that it is he who may become psychotic.” 15 likes
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