Quiz 7: Erikson: Post-Freudian Theory


Fromm's most fundamental assumption is that individual personality can be understood only in the light of human history. Humans, unlike other animals, have been torn away from their prehistoric union with nature. Having no powerful instincts to adapt to the world, humans have had to acquire the ability to reason.Fromm called this condition the human dilemma. Humans' ability to reason sets up three existential dichotomies to which people must react according to their individual personalities. The first existential dichotomy is that between life and death.Although we desire life, our ability to reason tells us that we will die. Second, we are capable of setting goals for individual growth that we know we can never reach. Third, we recognize that we are ultimately alone, yet we cannot tolerate isolation.

Our human dilemma cannot be satisfied by needs we have in common with other animals.Only our human, or existential, needs can move us toward a reunification with the natural world. Relatedness is the human need of uniting with another person or persons.We can do this by (1) submission, (2) power, and (3) love. Another existential need is transcendence, or the urge to rise above our passive and accidental existence.We can transcend our passive nature either by creating life or by destroying it. A third human need is for rootedness, or the need to establish roots and to feel at home again in the world.We can either relate to the world creatively or become fixated and fail to move beyond our mother's care. A fourth human need is for a sense of identity, or the capacity to be aware of ourselves as a separate entity.The productive component of this need is individuality; the nonproductive component is adjustment to the group. The final existential need is a frame of orientation, or a road map to make our way through the world.The productive component of this need is rational goals; the nonproductive component is irrational goals.

By character orientation, Fromm meant a person's relatively permanent way of relating to people and things. People relate to the world by acquiring and using things (assimilation) and by relating to self and others (socialization). The four nonproductive orientations are: (1) receptive, (2) exploitative, (3) hoarding, and (4) marketing. Receptive characters believe that all good lies outside themselves, so they relate to the world by receiving things, including love and material possessions. Exploitative characters also feel that all good is outside themselves, but they act aggressively to take what they want. Hoarding characters value things or people they have already obtained, so they hold on and do not let go of things and people. Marketing characters are a relatively new orientation, having developed as an outgrowth of modern commerce.These personalities see themselves as being in constant demand and change their values to match whatever they think others want them to be. The two productive orientations are love (socialization) and work (assimilation).Productive personalities possess biophilia, or a passionate love of life.Their work is directed toward attaining positive freedom.