Easy crisp authoritative read, Fromm had the gift to take the most complex of ideas and provide a path of transcendence through making them easily and readable.
He returns back to his familiar themes, taken from Marx's ideas of the alienated man, and asks how does someone become authentic? In this scenario it is a person who feels the vibrancy of being alive, as opposed to being a social actor, someone who impersonates a living person, the body that acts as a machine. Fromm was deeply concerned about the richness of individual living, instead of being immersedn within someone elses dreams. This is another of his great works, that disentangles sociology and psychology to produce social psychology, a discipline currently strangled in syntax of marketing, the anithesis of the Fromm conception.
Trivial Talk and Great Shams are the shallow pools people inhabit to make weak social connections, herd like movements ensnare people, thereby providibng a meaning for their desperate lives as they coalesce to create a purpose.Fromm used psychology to demarcate the incarnate anarchist, not the destroyer with the fizzing bomb, but the man who can know and think for himself, rather than a follower of some bankrupt web spun creed.
This is a book aimed as much at the flag waving red as it is the double plus corpulence of the capitalist truffle muncher. It asks for a social world similar to Stirner's society of egoists, those who know themselves and can connect through another channel to like minded others. "Mindfulness" gets an outing in the book. If you want to know what this concept means in its basic sense, then you can read about it here.
Achievement of authenticity is undertaken through various other forms of analysis, as he details some of the paths people can take in a route to transcendence, the path of Freud rather than an inhabitation. Fromm was not anti religion but against its all encompassing creed, again marked in this book.
The lessons and ideas he formulated have been lost in the midst of a muddle of times, as people burrow into the substratum and cloak themselves in mirror images of consumerism, pretending their consumption patterns determine their individualism. There is minimal cultivation of the person inside, as everything is paraded for outward show.
Fromm throws literate acid on this pretense to show what happens when worlds dissolve, the caricature of the showpiece finally reveals the fakir. Meanwhile he provides the stepping stones of an escape from the various "roles" people are forced to play to exist.