Erich Seligmann Fromm (1900-1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist; in Europe, he was associated with the Frankfurt School. He wrote many other books such as Escape from Freedom, Psychoanalysis and Religion, The Art of Loving, Dogma of Christ & Other Essays on Religi, The Revolution of Hope | Toward a Humanized Technology, You Shall Be as Gods, Greatness and Limitations of Freud's Thought, etc.
He wrote in the first chapter of this 1962 book, "Since the purpose of this book is by no means that of a historical, but rather that of an intellectual autobiography, I shall try to pick out a few experiences during my adolescence which led to my later interest in the theories of Freud and of Marx, and the relation between the two." (Pg. 3) [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 182-page 1962 Simon & Schuster paperback edition.]
He suggests that Freud "saw how unreal most of what we think about ourselves is, how we deceive ourselves continuously about ourselves and about others... Freud recognized that most of what is real within ourselves is not conscious, and most of what is conscious is not real. This devotion to the search for inner reality opened up a new dimension of truth." (Pg. 89) He observes, "If an essential part of intelligence consists in the ability to make connections between factors which so far have not been seen as being related, the person who sticks to the cliche and to convention will not dare to recognize such connections; the person who is afraid of being different will not dare to recognize fictions for what they are, and hence will be greatly impeded from uncovering reality." (Pg. 154)
He argues, "If there is anything to be taken seriously in our profession of God, it is to recognize the fact that God has become an idol. Not an idol of wood or stone... but an idol of words, phrases, doctrines. We violate at every moment the command not to use God's name in vain, which means using his name emptily... Is there any reality in it, except that words are uttered? Obviously I am speaking here about an experience which should constitute the reality behind the words. What is this experience? It is recognizing oneself as part of humanity, of living according to a set of values in which the full experience of love, justice, truth, is the dominent goal of life... to see one's identity with all beings, and to give up the illusion fo a separate, indestructible ego." (Pg. 155-156) He concludes, "I believe in the perfectibility of man, but I doubt whether he will achieve this goal, unless he awakens soon." (Pg. 182)
Fans of Fromm's other books will enjoy his "personal" glimpses, as well as the development of his ideas.