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The Heart of Man [Paperback]

Erich Fromm
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; Reissue edition (Jun 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060907959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060907952
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,344,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This deserves the widest possible readership 23 Nov 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wish this book had been republished as part of the routledge classics series like The Fear of Freedom, The Sane Society or The Dogma of Christ.

Unlike those books in which Fromm is presenting existing theories with his own unique perspective in this book there's a real sense in which he has become an innovator, developing an original perspective. Here in abbreviated form appear theories which he expands upon in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

The book's full title is The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil, the chapter breakdown is into 1. Man - Wolf or Sheep?, 2. Different Forms of Violence, 3. Love of Death and Love of Live, 4. Individual and Social Narcissism, 5. Incestuous Ties, 6. Freedom, Determinism, Alternativism. This copy which I have a Harper Colophon Books edition also has a comprehensive index which makes the book even more accessible to general reader, academic or student alike.

The essential premise of the book is that all human beings have an innate and developing capacity/potential for love and relating, should this be frustrated then a disturbed development occurs, the focus of which is death and dead things and destructiveness.

Fromm describes the one character orientation/personality as biophilious and the other contrasting character orientation/personality as necrophilious, although Fromm is careful to make distinctions between his use of the word necrophile and the original psycho-analytic description of one who eroticises dead bodies.

This is a perspective which got largely eclipsed by Fromm's other writing. This central premise and theory of frustrated psycho-social drives resulting in disturbance doesnt appear to have become that popular either.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear of life = love of death 9 Mar 2009
By William Timothy Lukeman - Published on Amazon.com
More than 40 years later, this short but insightful volume remains one of the best in-depth discussions of the human psyche at its darkest. Erich Fromm brings all his decades of knowledge & experience to this descent into the roots of what he aptly calls "necrophilia," a literal love of death born from an overwhelming fear of life.

What's especially fascinating is that as he analyzes the psychology of the necrophiliac, we can immediately recognize so many of the people who run & ruin our world today, from the most personal level to the global. We've all met them, and all too often suffered because of them. Their obsessive fear & compulsive need to control that fear invariably affects the rest of us, precisely because we refuse to meekly submit to their murderous control.

But what exactly does Fromm mean by "necrophiliac," anyway?

To condense his rich book into a few lines is an impossible task, but here's the gist of it: the necrophiliac personality fears life because of its messiness, its randomness, its uncontrollability. And so he (it's so often "he," by the way) does his best to control it through brute force, fear, torture, and ultimately death.

And how do we recognize these necrophiliacs?

No matter what their political, religious, or ideological affiliations, they share the same basic traits & worldview. They worship strength, toughness, a lack of tender emotions; they glorify the mechanical & do their best to become machines themselves: they loathe yet are fascinated by decay, disease, filth. Hence they often have rigid ideas about sexuality (one of the most uncontrollable aspects of living things), and espouse strict, letter-of-the-law moral codes concerning it ... although their private lives are frequently an immersion in what they publically denounce as disgusting.

A familiar picture begins to take shape: the stern, self-righteous, excessively judgmental, often uniformed strong man, one who prides himself on being able to make "the tough decisions," untroubled by reflection or regret. The uniform can be military, or a business suit, or a minister's collar, or any clothing that embodies status -- because it's status, rank, and power that matters most to them. And they have no problem killing others in the name of some greater good, if anything seeing it as an outward emblem of their unyielding virtue.

The poet Lew Welch wrote about this sort of mentality in "The Basic Con" - "Those who can't find anything to live for, / always invent something to die for. / Then they want the rest of us to / die for it too." Whether it's for their god, their politics, their bank accounts, or their own desperate need to believe in their own superiority, they project their inner loathing & emptiness onto the rest of us, making us scapegoats for their own inability to face the uncertainty & wonder of life. They must have answers for everything, and can't tolerate questions, or doubts, or ambiguity.

This is a book that, all too sadly, will never be outdated. Each new generation faces the same necrophiliac mindset, dressed up in the latest fashions of the day, as recent history has taught us. All the more reason to keep this book in print -- most urgently recommended!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars should be mandatory 25 Jan 2013
By Laika Lou - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Arrived in original vintage paperback, with yellowed pages, some coming loose (added charm)...it was shipped securely...inside: a very well constructed dissection of behavior, one which timelessly continues to remain relevant today...feel free to take notes like a freshman being lectured by a visiting sage. Enjoy.
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