In which Fromm lays into the central myth, that to be non labelled is a form of normalcy instead of Nietzschean "herd" madness. He also links Marx's concept of "alienation" to the modern marketing personality to reflect on how being "normal" varies over epochs and when viewed in retrospect is anything but "normal." Fromm looks at how to create an authentic self whilst being bombarded with a series of commands and instructions from birth on how to fit in.
Whilst he is critical of modernity, he does it with a flourish and compassion that is also difficult to replicate within words, although he details how people are thwarted from establishing their own desires and are instead bombarded with a series of edicts which they consume. In return they become consumers instead of producers. Reflecting back onto the medieval craftsmen he sees someone who could truly create without being alienated. Modernity however reflects everything back to time and motion studies as each moment is measured in terms of "productivity" but little of note is produced.
The artist within the modern era is the nearest to a creative being but there again each has to market themselves leading to a saccharine bland ersatz product which is lauded by PR systems rather than having any inherent depth to speak to the soul. As most people learn to become disassociated these totems represent the modern psyche as religion did in previous epochs following Feurbach's critique of religion as a projection of the believer rather than having anything with apparent depth. Fromm is far kinder to religion than he is to modern culture viewing it as essentially shallow thereby following the critique which Nietzsche made of "modern" Germany back in the 19th Century.
Fromm sees the antidote in finding the "authentic" self underneath the layers of dross which have been imposed to reflect on what actually makes people happy. Within this book which is composed of a series of lectures he touches on many of the themes he explored in "The Sane Society" and "Art of Loving" to attempt to retrieve the individual from the complete mechanisation of cognitive and behavioural psychologies along with the pseudo science of evolutionary psychology. It is a refreshing antidote which should be read continuously to keep the forces of ennui at bay.