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Camba, Veronica T.

CLG201M- Theories of Personality/PROF. YAYETTA DELA PEA

(2.26.16)

Thought Paper: Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom Theory


Erich Fromm's theory was mostly existential in nature. According to him, humans have no
powerful instinct to adapt to the changing world but we have acquired the facility to reason. I think what
he is trying to tell us is that we should make the most of these faculties in order to maximize our chances
of surviving or adapating to the world. Also, self-actualization was a primary goal in his theory however,
emphasized that life is too short to reach that goal. For me this is a double-edged sword: at one end, it
could mean why try at all? But for some it might mean YOLO or an urban expression which means do
whatever makes you happy because you only live once. It is difficult for me to live extremely because I
am quite a somber person honestly if I die now, it doesn't matter; I am quite satisfied with my life at the
moment and I wouldn't experience any regret because... I won't feel it if I'm dead. But of course I, too,
have ambitious hopes and dreams as if I would live forever.
Fromm believes that people are ultimately alone yet we cannot tolerate isolation. This is true,
even for a hermit or a reclusethat's why some of them get mad. In lined with this he enumerated the 5
human needs: the need for relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, the need to have a sense of identity
and a frame of orientation. I especially agree with his concept of love, which is a union with somebody
but maintaining separatedness & integrity of one's own self, and that the art of loving or genuine love
can be experienced through mutual care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge in the relationship. I
firmly believe his idea because for me love is not about obsession or completely letting the other person
own your world or believing that the other person can complete you. I believe that a person is already
complete and the relationship should be nothing but a bonus to make that person live a happier life. If a
person enters a relationship wishing that his partner would complete him, then he might turn out to be a
burden later on. Additionally, separatedness is important because each individual has his/her own
identity. The individual might feel 'suppressed' if he/she cannot anymore do what he/she loves to do
before, like reflection time or other activities done alone.
Transcendence is also a good synonym that I think Fromm used in contrast to self-actualization
because he presented it as the rise above a passive & accidental existence into the realm of
purposefulness & freedom; for me it basically means that you should take an active role for your life and
not just exist. Like what Mitch Albom said in his book, live fully present. Next is rootedness or feeling at
home into the world, which I feel is largely connected with relatedness or belongingness. A sense of
identity is also very important to an existentialist because according to Fromm we are the subject of our

actions, meaning our future is in our own hands and we are responsible for the choices we make in our
lives. Lastly, we have the human need to have a frame of orientation or the need to have a road map to
make our way through the world. Without this map humans would be confused & unable to act
purposefully & consistently. I remember my experience related to this: my previous boss asked me if I
have a 10-year plan, and she showed me that I don't really have a plan on how to go through life. She
even told me that I am too young therefore she cannot distinguish yet if my decisions are smart ones or if
they are brashly madeI was resigning at that time and she was hesitant to let me go. That was a lifechanger for meI started to think that the here and now should really equate to 10 years, not the actual
day or week or month I am in. Now that I have a solid plan, I feel more alive than ever, and more
optimistic for the days to come. I can now move with a great sense of purpose and direction, and am
becoming more consistent with my decisions, like on what opportunities to grab and what opportunities
to let goeverything I do should be parallel with my 10-year plan. Otherwise, it should be ignored or
deemed unimportant.
Moving on, according to Fromm's Burden of Freedom, humans are still part of the world and
we cannot be completely free, but we can try. There is however negative mechanisms of escape and in
contrast, postive freedom which means we are free but not alone, critical but not 'skeptical' or filled with
doubts, independent yet still part of mankind. For me this is a 'happy' sense of freedom, and an
individual who experiences this must be feeling a high sense of self-actualization.
What I can conclude from Erich Fromm's theory is that he has marvelously defined what it means
to live a happy life and what it means to have a dignified existence. Fromm explained that happy people
knows how to receive, take when appropriate, preserve things, exchange things and knows how to work,
love and think productively. This is very true for me, though of course currently, I still need to work on
some aspects and continue to improve the other aspects.
Moreover, as a future competent counselor, I need to upgrade my communication skills, in order
to make sure I have 'utter concentration' and 'utter sincerity' when dealing with my future clients.
Relating with others has always been a natural trait for me, but still, I need to have a larger understanding
of the human's struggles or victories in life. This is one trait I am sure I can give my clients, but of course I
know that I cannot be complacent and always strive to give my very best to them.
Fromm has given quite a comprehensive take on the existentialist human being, though his
theory cannot be empirically validated thus its reliability is still being questioned up to the present. But
overall he has given us a good theory that most probably can be applied in the vocational and higher
educational setting, among others.