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75 phrases of Erich Fromm to understand his thought

75 phrases of Erich Fromm to understand his thought

May 6, 2021

Erich Fromm is, without a doubt, one of the most notable figures of Psychology, and was a psychoanalyst and social psychologist. His thought is far from the conception of classical psychoanalysis, whose maximum exponent was Sigmund Freud.

The latter had a pessimistic view of the human being, in which behavior and thoughts are governed by unconscious forces that we can not control and that make us slaves of our past.

  • Related text: "Sigmund Freud: life and work of the famous psychoanalyst"

The best quotes from Erich Fromm

Fromm, therefore, fits within the humanist psychoanalysis , in which the human being has the capacity to become free and decide his own life trajectory. In addition, Fromm was influenced by Karl Marx, and studied especially the influence of society and culture on the individual. In today's article, we review the best sentences of this important psychologist.


  • Related text: "Erich Fromm: biography of the father of humanistic psychoanalysis"

1, Greed is a bottomless pit that exhausts the person in an eternal effort to satisfy the need without even reaching satisfaction

Greed is one of the evils of the human being . It is a vicious circle in which you always want more and more.

2. Just means not to resort to fraud and deception in exchange for comforts and services or in exchange for feelings

Justice is closely related to honesty , integrity and non-selfishness.

3. It is not rich who has much, but who gives much

Giving can make you happier than receiving, because when you feel good about yourself, there is no money that can pay for that.


4. The human being always dies before being born completely

A quote from Erich Fromm that will make you think and think.

5. The meaning of life consists only in the very act of living

Living the moment and being in the present is what makes us live.

6. Dying is tinged with a touching bitterness, but the idea of ​​having to die without having lived is unbearable

If you do not take advantage of your life and do what you really want, in the long run it will be your death.

7. In the same way that mass production requires the standardization of goods, the social process requires the standardization of the human being, and this standardization is called equality

A thought of Erich Fromm about society and the concept of equality.

8. Selfish people are incapable of loving others, nor are they capable of loving themselves

Selfishness is another of the sins of the human being and brings negative consequences for the person. To know how selfish individuals are, click here.


9. Love is not natural, but requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith and the defeat of narcissism. It's not a feeling, it's a practice

A reflection of Erich Fromm on love, and expresses what are the requirements to achieve it.

10. Nationalism is our form of incest, it is our idolatry, it is our madness. Patriotism is his sect

Fromm expressing his idea of ​​nationalism , and how it is related to madness. It does not stop being a prejudice.

11. Paradoxically, being able to be alone is the condition to be able to love

Love is one of the most beautiful feelings that human beings can feel.

  • If you want to know more phrases about love, you can read our post: "100 phrases about love and romance (unforgettable)"

12. It is paradoxical in love that two beings become one and at the same time remain two

When two people decide to be together, their world becomes one world: that of love.

13. Only the person who has faith in himself is able to have faith in others

Self-confidence is the key to being able to relate positively with others.

14. Both dreams and myths represent important communications from ourselves to ourselves

A quote from Erich Fromm about dreams and how they affect us.

15. One can not be completely sensitive to the world without being saddened often

You can be sensitive and reflect on what surrounds us without the need to be always sad.

16. Perhaps there is no phenomenon that contains a destructive feeling greater than moral indignation, which leads to envy or hate act disguised as virtue

Moral outrage can bring envy and apparently justified hatred.

17. If I perceive the surface in another person mainly, I perceive mainly the differences, that which separates us. If I introduce myself inside, I perceive his identity, our relationship of brotherhood

This thought of Erich Fromm speaks of superficiality and how we can connect with someone if we connect with their interior.

18. There is almost no activity or project that starts with such high hopes and expectations, and at the same time fails as often as love

Love can go well or badly, but when we fall in love, we see everything in pink. Sometimes, unrealistically.

19. In romantic love, two people who were separated become one. In maternal love, two people who were one separate

Erich Fromm, with this phrase, compares romantic love with maternal love.

20. To long for means to be prepared at all times for what has not yet been born and at the same time not to despair if there is no birth in our life

A deep reflection of the father of humanistic psychoanalysis about longing.

21. The search for a narcissistic satisfaction derives from the need to compensate for material and cultural poverty

Narcissism is the result of the interaction between genetic and cultural variables. If you want to know how to detect narcissistic individuals, click here.

22. There is no word in the language that has prostituted more than the word love

Love is a word that poets or authors of great novels have used, because it is a subject that interests us all.

23. That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not imply that these people are cords

Fromm gives us a fine irony about collective schizophrenia.

24. Society should be organized in such a way that the social and loving nature of the human being is not separated from its social existence, but that they join together

Love is a characteristic of the human being and has a great cultural and social component.

25. There can be no freedom without the freedom to fail

Perfection does not exist, nor does it exist in freedom.

24. Life has no meaning, except the very meaning that each one gives to his own life by revealing all his powers

We perceive reality based on our mental maps and our learning from the past. Reality is our reality.

25. The human being has two basic orientations: having and being. Having involves buying and owning things, including people. Being focuses on experience: exchange, engage, share with other people

For Fromm, people have two basic characteristics: having and being

26. The history of humanity began with an act of disobedience and is very likely to end with an act of obedience

A reflection of Fromm on the beginnings of humanity.

  • Related article: "The Milgram Experiment: the danger of obedience to authority"

27. The fundamental alternative for the human being is the choice between life and death, between creativity and destructive violence, between reality and illusions, between objectivity and intolerance, between brotherhood and independence and domination and submission

One of the great reflections on the human being and his choices.

28. Immature love says: "I love you because I need you." Mature love says: "I need you because I love you"

Mature love is the one that lasts, because even though the flame of irrational love can be very intense, it dissolves in its own fire.

29 The mature answer to the problem of existence is love

Mature love is a love that feeds on understanding, respect on the part of both members of the couple

30. If I am what I have and if I lose what I have, then who am I?

The problem of being valued or valued by the material is that, when one ceases to be a subject, it becomes an object.

31. The main task of the human being in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he really is. The most important product of your effort is your own personality

A typical humanist reflection on personal development.

32. In the 19th century the problem was that God had died. In the twentieth century the problem is that the human being has died

A phrase that refers to the modern human being, the one who lives immersed in the capitalist world.

33. We are a society of deeply unhappy people: lonely, worried, depressed

Again Fromm making reference to the capitalist society that promotes selfish values ​​and lack of solidarity.

34. We live in a world of things and our only relationship with them is that we know how to manipulate or consume them

Again, Fromm makes reference to capitalist and materialist society.

35. Love is normally a favorable exchange between two people who get the most out of what they can expect, taking into account their value in the market of personalities

Fromm was always a philosopher of love, as demonstrated in this sentence.

36. The revolutionary and critical thinker is always somehow outside society and, at the same time, part of it

When someone is not comfortable with society, he is a revolutionary. Your mind is outside of society, but your body inside.

37. Who could say if a happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking during a sunny morning and smelling the fresh air do not deserve all the effort and suffering intrinsic to life

At the end of the day, for many, happiness is a great motivation.

38. Accepting the difficulties, setbacks and tragedies of life as a challenge that, by overcoming it, makes us stronger

Overcoming the adversities that life presents to you makes you a more prepared person for tomorrow.

39Why does society feel responsible only for the education of children and not for the education of adults of any age?

A reflective phrase about the education of children and adults.

40. The human being is the product of natural evolution born of the conflict of being a prisoner and separating from nature and the need to find unity and harmony in it.

The human being is constantly looking for balance.

41. The conditions to be creative are to be confused, to concentrate, to accept conflict and tension, to be born every day, to feel the reason of oneself.

Fromm expresses what are the conditions to be creative.

42. Creativity means being born before you have died

Another reflection on creativity. Do you know the keys to creativity? If you are interested in this topic, click here.

43. Sanity is simply what is found in the framework of conventional thinking

Thinking like the rest of society is synonymous with being sane.

45. If one is not productive in other aspects, one is not productive in love either

Being well with oneself has a positive effect when it comes to loving.

46. ​​If a person wants only one person and is indifferent to all others, then his love is not love, but symbolic attachment or expanded self-love.

Love can be a very selfish experience.

47. Not enough attention is paid to the word boredom. We talk about many horrible things that happen to people, but we do not usually talk about one of the worst: feeling bored, either in solitude or, worse, in company.

Boredom is considered one of the worst things, according to Fromm

48. The biological weakness of being is the condition of human culture.

Fromm, making clear his perspective on human culture.

49. Only prosperous people who do not want more than they have

The key to happiness is to settle for what you want.

50. The task that we must impose is not to feel safe, but to be able to tolerate insecurity

People have a huge fear of insecurity and uncertainty.

51. There is nothing inhuman, evil or irrational that does not produce some kind of consolation if done in a group

Group pressure and intergroup relations often determine our behavior within the group.

52. Is love an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort

"The art of loving" to love is one of Fromm's great works of art and a book that is totally recommended.

53. Love is the only sane and satisfying answer to the problem of human existence.

Without a doubt, love makes us experience extraordinary sensations.

54. Authority is not a quality that a person has, in the sense of having physical properties or qualities. Authority refers to an interpersonal relationship in which one person looks at another with superiority

Authority and obedience go hand in hand, and they are a relationship of power.

55. Love is an energy that produces love

There is nothing that awakens emotions as strong as those of love.

56. The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a certain sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the part of the mother, but precisely this love must help the child to distance himself from the mother and reach total independence

The mother-child relationship is a unique relationship , in which the child needs the mother to develop but, at the same time, the child needs to explore on his own.

57. The danger of the past was for humans to become slaves. The danger of the future is that these humans could become robots

The modern human being lives on automatic pilot.

58. Freedom does not mean a license

A phrase about freedom in the tone of a humanist philosopher.59. Love is the union with someone or something outside of oneself, under the condition of preserving one's own individualism and integrity

Even though in love we give ourselves to others, we can never lose our own identity.

60. We are what we do

Our behavior is a reflection of our mind.

62. We all dream; We do not understand our dreams, and yet we act as if nothing strange happened in our sleeping minds, weird at least regarding what our minds do logically and decidedly when we are awake.

The relationship between reason and dreams is reflected in this phrase.

63. Mother's love is peace. It does not need to be acquired, it does not need to be deserved.

Mother's love is undoubtedly the purest love that exists.

64. The human being is the only animal whose existence is a problem that has to be solved

The human being is continuously looking for answers to his own existence.

65. The search for certitude blocks the meaning. Uncertainty is the only condition that encourages human beings to reveal their powers

The truths are relative, and the search for the truth makes us move.

66. What most people understand in our culture to be loved is basically a mixture of popularity and sexual attractiveness

A reality of our culture is that sexual attractiveness and popularity are two features highly valued by our society.

67. Child love follows the principle: I love because they love me. Mature love obeys at the beginning: They love me because I love.Immature love says: I love you because I need you. Mature love says: I need you because I love you.

There are different types of love, as can be seen in this reflection.

68. What does one person give to another? She gives of herself the most precious thing that she has, of her own life. This does not necessarily mean that he sacrifices his life for the other, but gives what is alive in him, gives his joy, his interest, his understanding, his knowledge, his humor, his sadness, all the expressions and manifestations of what is alive in him.

Love, without a doubt, makes us feel alive and motivates us to move forward.

69. You are born alone and you die alone, and in the parenthesis the loneliness is so great that you need to share your life to forget it

While we live, love is one of our primary goals.

70. In a culture in which commercial orientation prevails and where material success is the predominant value, there is really no reason to be surprised that human relationships follow the same pattern that governs the goods and labor market. .

Capitalist society has influenced all spheres of our lives, especially love. Interpersonal relationships have been commodified.

71. Hope is paradoxical. Having hope means being ready at all times for what is not yet born, but without getting desperate if the birth does not happen in the span of our lives.

A phrase of Erich Fromm to reflect.

72. Human nature, although it is the product of historical evolution, has certain inherent mechanisms and laws, whose discovery is the task of psychology.

A reflection on the psychological mechanisms that underlie human behavior.

73. Closely related to the development of the capacity to love is the evolution of the love object. In the first months and years of life, the child's closest relationship is with the mother.

This thought of Fromm refers directly to the Oedipus complex, a concept developed by Sigmund Freud.

74. Sex without love only alleviates the abyss that exists between two human beings momentarily.

According to Fromm, having intimate relationships without more pretension than enjoyment can be a double-edged sword.

75. Chess: An activity where problems must be solved: with reason, with imagination and with conscience. A need to realize, that what is done has an impact, awakens interest and is the object of a response from others. The principle of effectiveness is present through love and productive work.

An allegory between chess, consciousness and productivity.


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