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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Signpost to inner realms
Stimulating, creating debate and primarily thought provoking. Hits hard when discussing and evaluating behaviourism and instinctivists ie geneticists. It loses focus when evaluating the life of Hitler although it brings new insights. Alice Miller's "For your own good" and Klaus Theweleit's "Male Fantasies, Vol 1 and 2" are far more incisive.

This is a big book...
Published on 24 Nov 2010 by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but Heavy reading
Great if you are interested in the human mind and psychology as it gives great insights into these areas but its quite heavy reading.
Published 13 months ago by William Logue


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Signpost to inner realms, 24 Nov 2010
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Anatomy Of Human Destructiveness (Paperback)
Stimulating, creating debate and primarily thought provoking. Hits hard when discussing and evaluating behaviourism and instinctivists ie geneticists. It loses focus when evaluating the life of Hitler although it brings new insights. Alice Miller's "For your own good" and Klaus Theweleit's "Male Fantasies, Vol 1 and 2" are far more incisive.

This is a big book brimming and frothing with ideas. Modern insights have been built on this work, so it remains glued to its time. It is a signpost rather than a final statement. It still is relevant. It's just too reliant on Freud's drive theory, the reversion back to instinct and genes to be wholly relevant. The drive theory is eaily conjured where a psychological impasse arises and explanations falter. It requires no further effort and we call all retreat mumbling the two words between our lips. It is an over arching assumption rather than just an exploration with the person of how they have constructed their worlds. This was the great patronising gift of Freud to the world "I know better than you."

In discussing Hitler he seems unware of his sustained hatred of his family. This was so intense he sent the German tanks to practice on the site of his former village, Dollersheim wiping it from the records. Not the acts of a man who wishes to sanctify his childhood foundations and create a shrine from his personality cult. More like an act of revenge on a family that offered little in support.

Fromm portrays him as feckless, narcisistic and arrogant. So 'arrogant' he spent 1909-1914 in various flop houses, homeless hostels in the modern world, selling picture postcards of his views of Vienna and eventually Munich To sustain his view Fromm details him as a man wanting to be an artist, but eschewing hard work. The evidence he delivers shows the opposite, a man who was on the breadline who worked exceedingly hard. Anyone who drifts into the homeless world does it through some forms of afflcition, primarily psychological which in the early part of the century given the child rearing practices of the industrial age was endemic. Fromm ignores the family dynamics veering towards the "Bad Seed" explanation. Caring parents with ungrateful son; "where did we go wrong?"

The key to the book is Fromm's meticulousness, the problem lies with his analysis.

Thought provoking and excellent for bringing out the arguments, even if I disagree with the findings. Fromm has been superseded due to greater awareness and understanding he helped to conjure. This book was a marker pointing the direction, the way forward, but it never was more than a resting point along the way. It is far from the eventual destination but without it the journey could never be undertaken let alone completed.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life changing book, 7 Sep 2001
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This review is from: The Anatomy Of Human Destructiveness (Paperback)
This book will alter the way you see yourself and the way you understand other people. It challanges both the idea that behaviour is simply either nature or nurture, and makes the coherent case that behaviour is an amalgam of these two currents. It draws upon various strands such as ; Anthopology, Neurology; Psychology, Psychiatry and uses research in Social Studies to provide an overview of where and how human destructiveness may come about. There is also a clear distinction drawn between the defensive agression displayed in other areas of the animal kingdom with the purely destructive agression that is exclusive to humans. All in all a very enlightening book.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The only mass murderer., 20 Aug 2003
This review is from: The Anatomy Of Human Destructiveness (Paperback)
We all know of the destruction mankind is capable of, from the concentration camps at Belson to the bloody street fight, we humans often present ourselves as destructive and nihilistic. Looking back through history, war appears at first not as the exception but as the rule of our species - any sober, extraterrestrial being would probably conclude that we humans are pre-programmed by genetic logic to annihilate ourselves and everybody else. But is this violence we exhibit innate, or is the adverse effects of civilisation, of the march of never-ending progress? This is the question Fromm attempts to answer.
And he begins by rejecting, or more accurately speaking: fusing, both the polar extremes. Both the instinctivist view - which says that man is innately violent and seeks out ways to channel his anger - and the behaviourist explanation - which says that it is situations created by the overarching social conditions which give rise to mans anger - are rejected as counterintuitive and unnecessary limited.
The neurology of our minds show that like all other animals we are designed by biology to fight or flee when our vital interests are threatened - and in most cases we flee. This is defensive aggression, which serves a obvious part in our survival. But, not only does imagination and human intelligence make our vital interests more expansive than the mechanistic needs of a rabbit (for example) but we are also the only animal that engages in violence and torture when there is no threat. We are the only species that willingly inflicts pain and suffering intra-specifically (and inter-specifically) when there is no clear incitation to do so. This is what Fromm calls malignant aggression.
The general view presented by Fromm is that malignant aggression is the consequence of existential needs interacting with the modern, industrial age. As human beings, we are apart from nature by virtue of being conscious of it - the non-conscious being has no such problem. We are adrift, severed from the umbilical cord and left alone in this world, being burdened with our own mortality and impending shift into non-existence, we are the only species who require a solution to this peculiar dilemma of being alive. What needs do we have? The need to e-ffect others. The need to feel mentally stimulated. The need to feel unity within and rootedness without - i.e. to belong somewhere and to something, to have a frame of orientation that grounds us and provides us with goals and aims. In our anomic, one-dimensional civilisation the possibilities of these needs finding expression in benign ways have been curtailed - although they certainly have not been eliminated. And, these existential needs, if they cannot be satiated with love, will be so with hate. If we cannot e-ffect others by loving them, then we will have to do so by controlling or destroying them. If we are not mentally stimulated by our wonderful jobs and ever-shrinking mobile phones then we will have to destroy something to rise free from this deadening boredom – to save us from destroying ourselves. Our cybernetic age produces the schizoid man – engaged with his thoughts but distant with his emotions: and any society that puts coins and notes on a pedestal and its people into the gutter, is not only insane, but borders on the necrophillious itself (which means, broadly speaking, love of the non-living). Aggression is the inevitable outcome of a social-system that not only fails to recognise the existential needs of man, but seems actively designed to suppressed their positive manifestation: love, compassion and a role in the world other than that as a cog. Please forgive the crudity of this summary.
Is Fromm saying that gratuitous violence is the rotten fruit of industrialisation? Indeed, to some extent, he is. Drawing evidence from anthropology, neuro-physiology and animal behaviour, he shows how violence above and beyond defensive aggression is a not only unique to our species but unique to our age too. It may seem a tad romantic to talk of a pre-industrial age, where, as a consequence of there being an anarchy rather than a hierarchy, there was no violence or coercion: but the facts (at least those used) support this assertion.
This is a shining example of what the Frankfurt school was about. Here neo-psychoanalysis fuses with understated anarchic politics in an attempt to explain the apparent propensity towards destruction humankind has. Through the goggles of the radical left, a well-argued case that the violence we see in man is brought out by nurture acting on nature, emerges. The jury has not been sent packing though. This in one side of the debate but it is far from being the definitive one: I feel that there is a very wide gulf between what Fromm writes of and what motivated Hitler or Suharto (add choice murderous dictator here) or even what motivates the former wife-beater, to do what they did. An equally strong case could be argued for the opposite conclusion: that we humans are just vile, craven beasts, and genetically predisposed towards aggression – this book does not remove that interpretation, despite trying to. All social systems are built upon a view of human nature: the left say that humans, being compassionate and gregarious, need no government, the right say something approaching the opposite. The political importance (and consequence) of the question “is man born violent or created violent?” cannot be ignored, and respect goes to Fromm for addressing the question in a way that has left the silence of the counter somewhat telling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant for Everyone, 6 Mar 2014
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Fromm's study on destructiveness gives insight into every person's character, whether they're aware of the destructive instincts within themselves or not.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but Heavy reading, 5 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Anatomy Of Human Destructiveness (Paperback)
Great if you are interested in the human mind and psychology as it gives great insights into these areas but its quite heavy reading.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Replacement, 18 July 2009
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D. Stevenson (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Anatomy Of Human Destructiveness (Paperback)
The book was purchased for a friend who had lost his copy. He was very pleased with replacement and at a reasonable price
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The Anatomy Of Human Destructiveness
The Anatomy Of Human Destructiveness by Erich Fromm (Paperback - 4 Sep 1997)
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