About

Columbia University Press Pinterest

Twitter

Facebook

CUP Web site

RSS Feed

New Books

Author Interviews

Author Events

Keep track of new CUP book releases:
e-newsletters

For media inquiries, please contact our
publicity department

CUP Authors Blogs and Sites

American Society of Magazine Editors

Leonard Cassuto

Mike Chasar / Poetry and Popular Culture

Erica Chenoweth / "Rational Insurgent"

Juan Cole

Jenny Davidson / "Light Reading"

Faisal Devji

William Duggan

James Fleming / Atmosphere: Air, Weather, and Climate History Blog

David Harvey

Paul Harvey / "Religion in American History"

Bruce Hoffman

Alexander Huang

David K. Hurst / The New Ecology of Leadership

Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh

Geoffrey Kabat / "Hyping Health Risks"

Grzegorz W. Kolodko / "Truth, Errors, and Lies"

Jerelle Kraus

Julia Kristeva

Michael LaSala / Gay and Lesbian Well-Being (Psychology Today)

David Leibow / The College Shrink

Marc Lynch / "Abu Aardvark"

S. J. Marshall

Michael Mauboussin

Noelle McAfee

The Measure of America

Philip Napoli / Audience Evolution

Paul Offit

Frederick Douglass Opie / Food as a Lens

Jeffrey Perry

Mari Ruti / The Juicy Bits

Marian Ronan

Michael Sledge

Jacqueline Stevens / States without Nations

Ted Striphas / The Late Age of Print

Charles Strozier / 9/11 after Ten Years

Hervé This

Alan Wallace

James Igoe Walsh / Back Channels

Xiaoming Wang

Santiago Zabala

Press Blogs

AAUP

University of Akron

University of Alberta

American Management Association

Baylor University

Beacon Broadside

University of California

Cambridge University Press

University of Chicago

Cork University

Duke University

University of Florida

Fordham University Press

Georgetown University

University of Georgia

Harvard University

Harvard Educational Publishing Group

University of Hawaii

Hyperbole Books

University of Illinois

Island Press

Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Kentucky

Louisiana State University

McGill-Queens University Press

Mercer University

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

University of Mississippi

University of Missouri

MIT

University of Nebraska

University Press of New England

University of North Carolina

University Press of North Georgia

NYU / From the Square

University of Oklahoma

Oregon State University

University of Ottawa

Oxford University

Penn State University

University of Pennsylvania

Princeton University

Stanford University

University of Sydney

University of Syracuse

Temple University

University of Texas

Texas A&M University

University of Toronto

University of Virginia

Wilfrid Laurier University

Yale University

Archive for the 'Psychology' Category

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

A Conversation With Leslie Pratch, Author of LOOKS GOOD ON PAPER?

Leslie Pratch

“Effective leaders are likely to act with consistently high integrity and to demonstrate sound, timely judgement when they occupy positions of power…. But every executive is unique … the most striking differences … are in their underlying motivations and their coping tendencies.”–Leslie Pratch

The following is an interview with Leslie Pratch, author of Looks Good on Paper: Using In-Depth Personality Assessment to Predict Leadership Performance

Q: How did you first become involved in the role you play for companies now—evaluating candidates for leadership positions?

A: I have been evaluating candidates for leadership positions for more than 15 years. But I didn’t get to this spot by accident; creating the tools and building the capability to do this was something I pursued for many years across multiple universities and graduate degrees.

First, I was a graduate student in psychology. As a graduate student, I had the chance to help set up a talent program for high potential professionals at Arthur Andersen. For my Ph.D. dissertation, I researched if it were possible to predict the emergence of leaders in a high performing group, using a psychological approach I was developing. It turned out that it was possible. After graduate school, I worked with State Farm on the development of a competency framework for their whole organization. That led me to the development of my own competency framework, which I use in my work today with my clients. I also got an MBA, after I had begun evaluating executives, to give me better tools to understand the issues my clients and their candidates face.

Q: How does holding an MBA help you in your work?

A: Having a strong understanding of business allows me to understand at a sophisticated level what my clients are trying to do with their companies and investments. I can understand and think critically about the investment thesis, understand the strategy of the firm, and see the implications of all of that for the job that will be ahead for the candidates I’m evaluating. Having a strong understanding of business lets me be a business discussion partner as well as a skilled psychologist.

Q: Why do you continue to track candidates for months and years after they have secured the position they were being considered for?

A: These are long-term jobs. The usual investment horizon for my clients is three-to-five years, and most public company boards give top managers some time before deciding whether a new CEO is a success (with rare, glaring exceptions when someone is clearly failing). Since I am not predicting how a candidate will perform on a specific task, but rather how the candidate will handle the complex job of leading an organization over time, we have to let time pass to see what happens. (more…)

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Happiness and Its Discontents, Part III

The Call of Character

This week our featured book is The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have the third part of an excerpt from Mari Ruti’s recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Happiness and Its Discontents.”

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of The Call of Character!

Happiness and Its Discontents
Mari Ruti

I recently attended a presentation given by the daughter of a prominent man who, during his life, wrote several books that have had a tremendous impact on how we understand human psychology. During her talk, the daughter faulted her father for not having been a stable “family man,” for having let his passion for his work overshadow the rest of his life, and for having never been completely at ease with everyday social interactions. She made it sound as if her father had been a failure as a person because he had not been able to appreciate the rewards of a well-adjusted life.

As I listened to her, I kept thinking that she was judging her father by a very conventional standard. As far as I’m concerned, there are situations in which the ability to show up at the dinner table is less important than the capacity to produce works of great genius that enrich the rest of society.
(more…)

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Happiness and Its Discontents, Part II

The Call of Character

This week our featured book is The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have the second part of an excerpt from Mari Ruti’s recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Happiness and Its Discontents.”

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of The Call of Character!

Happiness and Its Discontents
Mari Ruti

Needless to say, our fixation on the ideal of happiness diverts our attention from collective social ills, such as socioeconomic disparities. As Barbara Ehrenreich has shown, when we believe that our happiness is a matter of thinking the right kinds of (positive) thoughts, we become blind to the ways in which some of our unhappiness might be generated by collective forces, such as racism or sexism. Worst of all, we become callous to the lot of others, assuming that if they aren’t doing well, if they aren’t perfectly happy, it’s not because they’re poor, oppressed, or unemployed but because they’re not trying hard enough.

If all of that isn’t enough to make you suspicious of the cultural injunction to be happy, consider this basic psychoanalytic insight: Human beings may not be designed for happy, balanced lives. The irony of happiness is that it’s precisely when we manage to feel happy that we are also most keenly aware that the feeling might not last. Insofar as each passing moment of happiness brings us closer to its imminent collapse, happiness is merely a way of anticipating unhappiness; it’s a deviously roundabout means of producing anxiety.

Take the notion that happiness entails a healthy lifestyle. Our society is hugely enthusiastic about the idea that we can keep illness at bay through a meticulous management of our bodies. The avoidance of risk factors such as smoking, drinking, and sexual promiscuity, along with a balanced diet and regular exercise, is supposed to guarantee our longevity. To a degree, that is obviously true. But the insistence on healthy habits is also a way to moralize illness, to cast judgment on those who fail to adhere to the right regimen. Ultimately, as the queer theorist Tim Dean has illustrated, we are dealing with a regulation of pleasure—a process of medicalization that tells us which kinds of pleasures are acceptable and which are not.
(more…)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Happiness and Its Discontents, Part I

The Call of Character

This week our featured book is The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have the first part of an excerpt from Mari Ruti’s recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Happiness and Its Discontents.”

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of The Call of Character!

Happiness and Its Discontents
Mari Ruti

As a critical theorist working at the intersection of Continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, and feminist and queer theory, I make observations about human life that are speculative rather than empirical. That may explain why my definition of character pertains to what is least tangible, least intelligible about our being, including the inchoate frequencies of desire that sometimes cause us to behave in ways that work against our rational understanding of how our lives are supposed to turn out.

If identity captures something about the relatively polished social persona we present to the world, then character—in my view—captures something about the wholly idiosyncratic and potentially rebellious energies that, every so often, break the facade of that persona. From this perspective, our character leaps forth whenever we do something “crazy,” such as suddenly dissolving a committed relationship or leaving a promising career path. At such moments, what is fierce and unapologetic about us undermines our attempts to lead a “reasonable” life, causing us to follow an inner directive that may be as enigmatic as it is compelling. We may not know why we feel called to a new destiny, but we sense that not heeding that call will stifle what is most alive within us.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that finds such insurrections threatening, not least because they make us less predictable and therefore harder to control. This is one reason we’re constantly reminded of the importance of leading a happy, balanced life—the kind of life that “makes sense” from the viewpoint of the dominant social order. Many of us have, in fact, internalized the ideal of a happy, balanced life to such an extent that we find it hard to imagine alternatives. As Freud has already claimed, there is little doubt about what most people want out of life: “They want to become happy and to remain so.”

A quick survey of our culture—particularly our self-help culture—confirms Freud’s observation. One could even say that, in our era, the idea that we should lead happy, balanced lives carries the force of an obligation: We are supposed to push aside our anxieties in order to enjoy our lives, attain peace of mind, and maximize our productivity. The cult of “positive thinking” even assures us that we can bring good things into our lives just by thinking about them.
(more…)

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Read the first chapter of The Call of Character, by Mari Ruti!

The Call of Character

This week our featured book is The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of The Call of Character!

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Book Giveaway! The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living, by Mari Ruti

The Call of Character

This week our featured book is The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Call of Character. To enter our Book Giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on Friday, January 31th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Rossano: Fear of Death, Joy of Life and the Origins of God

Mortal Rituals

This week our featured book is Mortal Rituals: What the Story of the Andes Survivors Tells Us About Human Evolution, by Matt J. Rossano. (And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)

In a November 2010 Huffington Post blog, Rossano writes on the interesting themes of death, life and God with the ideas of fear and happiness intersecting into those themes.

He begins by describing two images. “Two juxtaposed images of religion: A priest in ancient Egypt moaning out an elaborately ritualized incantation over the mummified body of a dead pharaoh, and Tevye and his friends from Fiddler on the Roof drunkenly dancing and shouting l’chaim(“to life”).” Rossano states that these images demonstrate that human mortality and the fear of death serve as sound origins for religious figures and holy texts to appease our expectation of life after death.

Rossano then proceeds to discuss the paradox that while religion may appease the fear of death, it also heightens it. “For example, Ah Puch, the Mayan god of the dead, was a gruesome character whose putrid, decomposing, skeletal form offered little in the way consolation to new arrivals. The ancient Greeks had a similarly disheartening view of the afterlife. In book XI of The Odyssey, the dead Achilles laments to Odysseus: Say not a word in death’s favor; I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man’s house … than king of kings among the dead.”

(more…)

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Matt J. Rossano: The Ritual Species

Mortal Rituals

This week our featured book is Mortal Rituals: What the Story of the Andes Survivors Tells Us About Human Evolution, by Matt J. Rossano. (And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)

In an August article in Psychology Today, Matt J. Rossano wrote about how rituals enhance the bond between participants of a community.

In the article, Rossano highlights that “archaeologists have recently found evidence that Neanderthals may have taught Homo sapiens some complex tool-making skills (Soressi, et al. 2013). What appears to make Homo sapiens unique is our ability to construct complex, well-coordinated, and highly cooperative social groups.” This difference, he states, allowed Homo sapiens to effectively competitively evolve vis-à-vis the Neanderthals during the Ice-Age.

He also mentions a variety of studies on rituals to supplement his article. The first study discussed the links between ritual intensity and commitment to a particular community: “This has long been an assumption of many groups such as fraternities and the military where hazing or stressful initiations were (and maybe still are) common. Additionally, painful and traumatic rites of passage have long histories in many traditional societies.” Rossano suggests that successfully experiencing such traumatic rituals serve as an important indicator to determine whether the individual will remain committed to a group and greater the intensity of the rituals, better the chances of ascertaining bonding to the community. To exemplify his point, he states that “researchers studied the Hindu festival of Thaipusam on the small Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius (Xygalatas et al, 2013). The festival involves both low intensity ritual activity, such as praying and dancing, and high intensity ritual activity such as body piercing with needles, hooks, and skewers. Both high and low ritual intensity participants were allowed to make charitable donations to a public fund and they were queried about the strength of their emotional connection to their social groups. High intensity ritual participants made significantly greater charitable donations and identified more strongly with their Mauritanian nationality.”

(more…)

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Excerpt: Matt J. Rossano’s Preface and Introduction to Mortal Rituals

Mortal Rituals

This week our featured book is Mortal Rituals: What the Story of the Andes Survivors Tells Us About Human Evolution, by Matt J. Rossano. In the Preface to Mortal Rituals, Rossano explains the general premise of his work on the Andes Survivors, and in the Introduction, he begins by telling the story of the plane crash that marooned the passengers of Flight UAF 571 high in the Andes Mountains. Read both the Preface and Introduction below!

And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Book Giveaway! Mortal Rituals: What the Story of the Andes Survivors Tells Us About Human Evolution, by Matt J. Rossano

Mortal Rituals

This week our featured book is Mortal Rituals: What the Story of the Andes Survivors Tells Us About Human Evolution, by Matt J. Rossano. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author here on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Mortal Rituals. To enter our Book Giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on September 20th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Kerry Malawista — Tales from Both Sides of the Couch

Kerry Malawista, Wearing my Tutu to AnalysisA conventional view of psychoanalysis features the therapist listening intently to the patient. But what if the therapist suddenly dominates the conversation? This is what happened to Kerry Malawista, coauthor of Wearing My Tutu to Analysis and Other Stories: Learning Psychodynamic Concepts from Life and coeditor of The Therapist in Mourning: From the Faraway Nearby.

In a recent essay for The Huffington Post, Malawista explains how her first experience with a psychotherapist went wrong due to a failure to listen. Malawista, now a practicing psychotherapist but then a graduate student, went to visit “Dr. K” as a patient as part of her graduate training. Unfortunately, Dr. K never seemed to understand how to help Malawista and their first sessions meandered to an unsatisfying close.

Right before her fourth visit, Malawista, much to her surprise, she saw Dr. K drive up to the office in a shiny corvette. Out of curiosity, she asked Dr. K about this, leading to an awkward interaction:

After some small talk, I hesitantly told Dr. K how surprised I was to see him behind the wheel of a red Corvette. He dove right in, quickly explaining how he was a serious car aficionado and how the Corvette was an extraordinary car. Even though I did not yet understand the idea of transference, I was waiting for him to be curious about my thoughts. Instead, he rambled on in car speak, describing the engine horsepower, the fiberglass body and all of the mechanical specifications. He seemed to be trying to convince me — and maybe himself — that his reasons for owning this car had nothing to do with its hot color and styling. I sensed that I had made Dr. K defensive. I felt uncomfortable having that power over him. It occurred to me that Dr. K cared more about his car than for getting to know me as his patient. That thought make me even feel alone and deflated.

Soon thereafter I quit therapy with Dr. K.

(more…)

Monday, August 26th, 2013

The Art of Being Erich Fromm – A Review from The New York Review of Books

A review of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, by Lawrence J. Friedman, was published in the Summer Issue of The New York Review of Books. A link to the review is available by clicking here (you need a subscription to NYRoB for full article view). This post contains brief excerpts of the NYRB review by Alan Ryan.

The Art of Being Erich Fromm

Lawrence Friedman’s biography has many virtues; it is meticulous, detailed, friendly to its subject but not uncritical, the result of many years of archival investigation and interviews with people who knew Fromm well. Friedman is a professor of history in the Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative at Harvard, and the author of several books on the history of psychology, including a biography of Karl Menninger. Erich Fromm himself was a far from careful scholar, but The Lives of Erich Fromm is a reassuringly solid piece of work. What makes it a model of intellectual biography, however, is the way it illuminates the Erich Fromm who became famous in America in the 1950s, by seeing him in his many different settings—geographical, social, intellectual, and emotional.

Birth

Erich Fromm was born in Frankfurt in 1900. His father was a wine merchant. More importantly, Naphtali Fromm was an Orthodox Jew who came from a long line of distinguished rabbis, and was more embarrassed than pleased at his own modest economic success, always regretting that he had become an undistinguished wine merchant rather than a more distinguished rabbi.

During the Cold war, Fromm encountered Rabbi Nehemiah Nobel, who had studied at Marburg with Hermann Cohen, a distinguished Kant scholar who welded the universalism of Kant’s moral philosophy onto the Jewish religious tradition to create a form of “religious humanism” very like the humanism of Fromm’s later writings.

(more…)

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Lawrence Friedman discusses The Lives of Erich Fromm on The Leonard Lopate Show

Lawrence Friedman on Erich Fromm

Earlier this week, Lawrence Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, appeared on The Leonard Lopate Show, to discuss the book and the life and legacy of Erich Fromm:

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Part 2 of an Interview with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet

The Lives of Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm was born on March 23, 1900, and died almost eighty years later, on March 18, 1980. In celebration of Fromm’s life, we have a two-part Q&A with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, looking back at Fromm’s many intellectual contributions and accomplishments.

In part two of the interview, Friedman discusses how Fromm’s ideas can be applied to modern political problems.

Question: Fromm led efforts to revitalize American democracy. What did he feel was wrong with our system?

Lawrence Friedman: Fromm was the principal funder and platform architect for Senator Eugene McCarthy’s bid to win the White House in 1968. McCarthy ran as a peace candidate determined to extract America from the Vietnam War. This fit with Fromm’s antimilitarism. On a deeper level, he felt that pointless wars like Vietnam might be avoided if American democracy were restored. Invoking the old New England town meeting as his point of departure, Fromm tried to promote a small, community-based government structure with all officials directly and personally responsible to the local citizenry. Fromm continued to promote this view of democracy throughout his life even as, in his opinion, a Big Brother–like national-security state thrived under less democratic presidencies such as Nixon’s.

Fromm would have seen the possibility of democracy restored in the 2008 Obama campaign, with Obama’s appeal to racial minorities, women, and students and his ability to spark excitement about the political process. But he would have been less enthusiastic for the Obama of 2012 because the president sent additional troops to Afghanistan and essentially ordered the assassination of Bin Laden. But he would have voted for Obama a second time because he was somewhat more democratic and less elitist than Romney. Fromm had strong ideals and democracy was one of them. But he was also a pragmatist, willing to take half a loaf as a first installment on any basic goal. He would have supported Obama with this perspective.

Q: While Fromm was a strong advocate for democracy around the globe, he was also critical of how bureaucratic state socialism (such as obtained in the Soviet Union) and corporate capitalism (such as in the United States) both alienated modern man. He envisioned a “Third Way”: a humanist society that valued the happiness of the individual in a democratic polity. Can this type of government ever truly exist and function?

LF: Fromm saw both the alienating capitalism and consumer culture of the West (especially the United States) and the bureaucratic socialist societies of the Eastern bloc as anathema to the human condition. Western societies for the most part offered only the façade of democracy while covering selfhood in a plethora of estranged consumerism. The Russians were more dictatorial, Fromm argued, and the Russian leadership promoted inhumane and inefficient bureaucracy.

Fromm cooperated with intellectuals and activists in “Third Way” countries like Czechoslovakia and Poland that were trying to break from the Soviet sphere of influence while distancing themselves from Western “democracies.” They were relatively small countries and the citizenry passionately sought small community-based democratic socialism free of both Soviet bureaucracy and Western alienation. In our contemporary world where there is no longer a Soviet Union and the United States can no longer impose its will abroad. Fromm would see continuing potential for a “Third Way,” especially in small countries like Finland, Denmark, and even Tunisia.

Q: Fromm challenged the dominant Freudian model of psychoanalysis and paid a professional price for doing so. His approach encourages “central relatedness,” where confidentiality breaches may sometimes occur and the clinician is personally involved with the patient rather than distanced by therapeutic neutrality. What is his legacy in the psychiatric world and has his approach been embraced or rejected by modern psychoanalysis?

LF: Orthodox Freudian psychoanalysis involved a seemingly neutral and distant analyst. The patient projected his repressed concerns on the analyst so these concerns could be studied. Fromm’s “central relatedness” was markedly different. The analyst was not neutral but opened himself to his deepest personal issues and encouraged the patient to similarly open his “center” to the analyst.

Traditional Freudian analysis is essentially gone. Given Fromm’s and other clinicians’ affairs and other professional breaches with their patients, rooted in the temptations of “central relatedness”, it, too, has a problematic legacy. But Fromm, like his friend Harry Stack Sullivan, emphasized the clinical relationship as an interpersonal one– the connectedness between people as the way to understand what troubled patients. Because the interpersonal is perhaps the dominant clinical approach today within psychoanalytically informed therapy, Fromm and Sullivan have reemerged as significant figures. From a therapeutic perspective, Fromm has finally come of age.

Q: You write that mental health and illness are heavily social constructs. If Fromm were living today, current clinicians might have labeled him as bipolar. Yet there were “stabilizers” in his life that pushed away bipolarity and let Fromm be very productive. What can we learn from Fromm’s approach to dealing with the effects of mental illness?

LF: Contemporary psychiatrists and other mental health experts are too quick to label their patients “bipolar” and “schizophrenic.” Both tend to be seen as genetically rooted organic maladies; psychotropic drugs are the remedies or alleviants of choice. Coming from the social misery of a deeply depressed mother and a manic father and trying somehow to keep the family together, Fromm adapted. By his own admission, he would have been called manic depressive or bipolar. However, considering the way he led his life, “manic depressive” is diagnostically far off the mark even if he was genetically or temperamentally disposed.

Fromm developed an array of daily habits that “stabilized“ or fine-tuned his existence. He wrote regularly, meditated, conversed with a small circle of convivial friends, cultivated a love for political activism, and corresponded regularly and caringly with those close to him. Succinctly, Fromm’s life and the social emphasis behind his therapeutic approach suggest that our daily social arrangements may keep us healthy and happy without recourse to drugs. At least these arrangements should precede drug trials that may be unnecessary. Fromm thought so and always emphasized social circumstances in caring for his patients even as he never dismissed the possibility of drugs as periodic supplements down the line.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Part 1 of an Interview with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet

The Lives of Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm was born on March 23, 1900, and died almost eighty years later, on March 18, 1980. In celebration of Fromm’s life, we have a two-part Q&A with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, looking back at Fromm’s many intellectual contributions and accomplishments.

In part one of the interview, Friedman discusses Fromm’s views on love and politics, and how his works still have political impact today.

Question: Fromm was a believer in love or, as you call him, “love’s prophet.” How did his relationships with women influence his philosophy about the role of love in the world?

Lawrence Friedman: The Art of Loving (1956) sold over 25,000,000 copies and still sells well globally. The theme is easy to fathom. At a very deep level, one must simultaneously love oneself, the cherished other, and all of humankind. Love starts as a specific relationship and then becomes a global transformation of humankind into a peaceful and caring society.

Succinctly, a self in love with another is transformative. This was a perspective on love that connected to Fromm’s view of humanism and spirituality. The theme of love had an overwhelming dose of authenticity. It was rooted in Fromm’s own life. Fromm’s unhappy first marriage led to a divorce; in the second, his wife committed suicide; the third, with Annis Freeman, was love from the start. Sometimes Fromm would write six or seven love letters to Freeman every day, and she would reciprocate. The expressions of love through letters bound their lives together and energized Fromm’s spiritual crusade to humanize the world.

Q: Fromm was a founder and major funder of Amnesty International. How has Amnesty transformed our understanding of social justice and human rights?

LF: Fromm was a founder of Amnesty International in the early 1960s and was its principal funder for the next twenty years. He did much to make Amnesty perhaps the most vibrant and effective global agency for human rights and against government brutalities. To free incarcerated victims of harsh regimes, Fromm could play the part of global diplomat, shuttling among Washington, New York, London, and Moscow with remarkable skill and effectiveness. His money and his strategies to free people from governmental barbarities did much to make Amnesty International the most important human rights organization in the world today.

(more…)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Lawrence J. Friedman – Valentine’s Day, Erich Fromm, and The Art of Loving

The Lives of Erich Fromm

Today is Valentine’s Day! In honor of the occasion, we have a post from Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, in which Friedman discusses Erich Fromm’s views on love, as articulated in his book The Art of Loving.

Erich Fromm had many “lives”. He was a political activist, a psychoanalyst, a theologian, a personality theorist, a social psychologist, a philosopher, and a clinician. Fromm wrote a great many books. Only one sold less than 1,000,000 copies. Through these volumes, Fromm conveyed the most complex thoughts of Einstein, Goethe, Darwin, Freud, Marx, and other intellectual giants in a way that readers everywhere could understand. In a very real sense, he was an “educator to the world.”

Fromm is primarily known for two of his books. Escape from Freedom (1941) addressed murderous dictators like Hitler who were running rampant over Europe and threatening to extinguish millions. For Fromm, hatred and sado-masochism were basic to their mass appeal. The Art of Loving (1956), on the other hand, was very different. It concerned hope and joyfulness – the upside of human experience. Whereas Escape from Freedom sold roughly 5,000,000 copies, The Art of Loving marketed 25,000,000 copies globally and continues to sell well.

Why has The Art of Loving had such an enormous attraction? Why has it competed with flowers and candy as a Valentine’s Day gift? Why does it appeal to my current Harvard undergraduates just as it appealed, half a century ago, to the undergraduates I studied with at the University of California?

We all seem to be animated by love and downcast by its absence. It is perhaps the most upbeat emotion of human existence. Fromm’s delineation of love is clear. Love requires a good deal of effort on many fronts and for the duration of one’s life. One has to love oneself, other(s), and all of humankind. For Fromm, love is Biblical command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” and then some. Love requires “central relatedness” – allowing the deepest region or essence of one’s spiritual self to enter another self and to extend that entrance into all of humankind. There is a reciprocity of feeling and commitment that begins with self understanding, extends to parental understanding, takes the form of erotic mutuality with a partner, and extends into all of humankind. Fromm’s view of love resembles the Quaker concept of the “inner light of God” that connects (on the deepest possible level) the self, the other, and all of humankind.

If Fromm’s explication of the meaning of “love” was not unprecedented, he advanced it with such animation and freshness of vision that it has appealed to millions. He offered up an inspiring sense of hopefulness in a world that he found blighted for most of his life by war, terrorism, bigotry, famine, and other dispiriting ills. But there was another quality that added a zest and conveyed a credibility to Fromm’s discussion of love. He was in love at a very deep level as he wrote his book about love.

Fromm had three wives and several affairs. The first marriage, to Frieda Fromm Reichmann, ended in divorce. Henny Gurland, his second wife, committed suicide. He started dating Annis Freeman shortly after Gurland’s suicide. Raised in Alabama, Freeman was tall, sensuous, and beautiful. Whereas Fromm Reichmann and Gurland had been Jewish, intellectual, and professional, Freeman was a Gentile and had no vocation. She practiced astrology, meditated, enjoyed tai chi, and took some interest in Eastern spiritual traditions. Despite their differences, Freeman fell quickly and deeply in love with Fromm. She considered all of his thoughts to be brilliant and was thrilled by his every mannerism. From the start, Fromm professed a lifelong commitment to Freeman. He enthusiastically indulged her with tea, pastries, flowers, and all else she might desire. When Fromm was with Freeman, there was not much else that he could desire – not even an affair a film celebrity or dancer.

(more…)

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Mike Wallace interviews Erich Fromm

The Lives of Erich Fromm

This week our featured book is The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet by Lawrence J. Friedman. Today, we have an interview from 1958, in which Fromm talks to Mike Wallace about his views on materialism and society. We hope you’ve enjoyed our Erich Fromm-themed content this week, and we hope you remember to enter our Book Giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of The Lives of Erich Fromm.

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Lawrence J. Friedman on Erich Fromm, D. T. Suzuki, and Zen Buddhism

The Lives of Erich Fromm

This week our featured book is The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet by Lawrence J. Friedman. Today, we have an excerpt from The Lives of Erich Fromm in which Friedman discusses Fromm’s encounter with D. T. Suzuki, and the influence of Suzuki’s Zen Buddhism on Fromm’s ideas. Stay tuned for more great content on Erich Fromm coming up this week, and remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win a FREE copy of The Lives of Erich Fromm.

Erich Fromm, DT Suzuki, and Zen Buddhism by Columbia University Press

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Lawrence J. Friedman on Erich Fromm at the Frankfurt Institute

The Lives of Erich Fromm

This week our featured book is The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet by Lawrence J. Friedman. Today, we have an excerpt from The Lives of Erich Fromm in which Friedman discusses Fromm’s early years at the Frankfurt Institute and, in particular, his interest in combining the ideas of Marx and Freud. Stay tuned for more great content on Erich Fromm coming up this week, and remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win a FREE copy of The Lives of Erich Fromm.

The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love's Prophet — Lawrence J. Friedman by Columbia University Press

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Avidan Milevsky on the Harbaugh Sibling Rivalry

Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh

For those of you suffering from the prospect of six months without football, we give you one last look at the Super Bowl via Avidan Milevsky, Baltimore Raven fan and author of Sibling Relationships in Childhood and Adolescence: Predictors and Outcomes.

As you might have guessed from the title of his book, Milevsky was not commenting on the Ravens’ punter taking a safety but rather what the game said about the relationship between Jim and John Harbaugh the coaches of the 49ers and Ravens respectively. In a blog post The Super Bowl of Sibling Rivalry, Milevsky wrote about how the pressure would be on John, the older brother, to beat his brother Jim, who enjoyed far more success as a football player. Further complicating the rivalry is the fact that the Harbaughs’ father is also a football coach.

After the game, Milevsky wrote a post entitled The Super Bowl Lesson to Parents of Siblings in which he discussed the much-anticipated post-game handshake between the two brothers:

Based on everything that is known about the dynamics of sibling rivalry you would have expected Jim to reach his brother midfield, lunge toward his brother’s neck and try and strangle him. Instead, the Harbaugh brothers taught us all a valuable life lesson. What I saw at that moment was profoundly special. What I saw at that moment was a disappointed Jim genuinely happy for his brother’s victory. What beauty, what maturity, what class. After all the tension and hype it all ended with two brothers embracing.