the sane society

sane society

(1955) by Erich Fromm

from amazon – linked to book image above:

The Sane Society is a continuation and extension of the brilliant psychiatric concepts Erich Fromm first formulated in Escape from Freedom; it is also, in many ways, an answer to Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents. Fromm examines man’s escape into overconformity and the danger of robotism in contemporary industrial society: modern humanity has, he maintains, been alienated from the world of their own creation. Here Fromm offers a complete and systematic exploration of his “humanistic psychoanalysis.” In so doing, he counters the profound pessimism for our future that Freud expressed and sets forth the goals of a society in which the emphasis is on each person and on the social measures designed to further function as a responsible individual.

wikipedia small

The Sane Society (1955) by Erich Fromm is a summation of his social and political philosophy wherein he critiques and psychoanalyzes the modern industrial capitalist society and its necessarily alienated, commercialized and conformed citizenry. Rather than explaining pathologies of individuals, he analyzes the pathologies of society contributing to the sickness of individuals..t

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman

He counters many of Freud’s conclusions and argues from a perspective of Marxist humanism.





this book is a continuation of escape from freedom, written over 15 yrs ago. in escape from freedom i tried to show that the totalitarian movements appealed to a deep seated craving to escape from the freedom man had achieved in the modern world; that modern man, free from medieval ties, was not free to build a meaningful life based on reason and love, hence sought new security in submission to a leader, race or state.

in the sane society i try to show that life in 20th cent democracy constitutes in many ways another escape from freedom, and the analysis of this particular escape, centered around the concept of alienation, constitutes a good part of this book..

in another way too, is the sane society a continuation of escape from freedom, and to some extent, of man for himself.. in both books i have treated specific psychological mechanism, as far as it seemed pertinent to the main topic.. in escape, i deal mainly w the problem of the authoritarian character.. in man i developed the idea of various character orientations, substituting for the freudian scheme of libido development one of the evolution of character in interpersonal terms.. in sane i have tried to develop more systematically the basic concepts of what i have called here ‘humanist psychoanalysis’..


i hope the reader of my previous books will have no difficulty in seeing the continuity of thought, and well as some changes.. leading to the main thesis of humanistic psychoanalysis: that the basic passions of man are not rooted in his instinctive needs, but in the specific conditions of human existence, in the need to find a new relatedness to man and nature after having lost the primary relatedness of the prehuman stage

maté basic needs

there is danger that psychoanalysis loses anther fundamental trait of freudian thinking, the courage to defy common sense and public opinion.

the main point in this last part of the book is not so much the belief that each one of the recommended measures is necessarily ‘right’ but that progress can only occur when changes are made simultaneously in the econ, social politica, and cultural spheres.. that any progress restricted to one sphere is destructive to progress in all spheres..

even deeper.. not about progress..

and yes to the sync.. we need everyone in sync.. to get back/to an undisturbed ecosystem..‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

1 – are we sane?


nothing is more common than the idea that we, the people living in the western world of the 20th cent, are eminently sane..t..  even the fact that a great number of individuals in our midst suffer from more or less severe forms of mental illness produces little doubt w respect to the general standard of our mental health. we are sure that by introducing better methods of mental hygiene we shall improve still further the state of our mental health, and as far as individual mental disturbances are concerned we look at them as strictly individual incidents, perhaps w some amazement that so may of these incidents should occur in a culture which is supposedly so sane

crazywise.. krishnamurti measure law..  et al

let’s look at the facts.. in the last 100 yrs we in the western world have created a greater material wealth than any other society in the history of the human race. yet we have managed to kill off millions of our population in an arrangement which we call ‘war’..

war et al


we live in an econ system in which a particularly good crop is often an econ disaster, and we restrict some of our agri productivity in order to ‘stabilize the market’ although there are millions of people who do not have the very things we restrict, and who need them badly.. right now our econ system is functioning very well, because, among other reasons, we spend billions of dollars per year to produce armaments.. economists look w some apprehension to the time when we stop producing armaments and the idea that the state should produce houses and other useful and needed things instead of weapons, easily provokes accusations of endangering freedom and individual initiative..

we have to let go of money (any form of measuring/accounting)

we have reduced avg working hrs to about half what they were 100 yrs ago.. more free time than our forefather dared to dream of .. but .. we do not know how to use the newly gained free time.. we try to kill the time we have saved, and are glad when another day is over

because the time/space.. isn’t/wasn’t ever truly free.. we’d know if we were all truly free..has to be all of us.. all the time

supposed to’s.. of school/work killing us


certainly if an individual aced in this fashion, serous doubts would be raised as to his sanity; should he, however, claim that there is nothing wrong, and that he is acting perfectly reasonably, then the diagnosis would not even be doubtful any more..

yet many psychiatrists and psychologists refuse to entertain the idea that society as a whole may be lacking in sanity.. they hold that the problem of mental health in a society is only that of the number of ‘unadjusted’ individuals and not that of possible unadjustment of the culture itself..

grammatis broken law..

this book deals w the latter problem; not w individual pathology, but w the pathology of normalcy, particularly w the pathology of contemporary wester society..  first.. lets look at some data, revealing and suggestive in themselves,..


the fact that more than half of all hospital beds in the us are used for mental patients on whom we spend an annual sum of over a billion dollars may not be an indication of any increase in mental illness, but only of an increasing care..  some figures.. more indicative of occurrence of more seer mental disturbances.. 17.7% of all rejection of draftees in the last war were for reasons of mental illness..

the only comparative data which can give us a rough indication of mental health, are those of suicide, homicide and alcoholism.. t

suicide et al

mental health





no doubt the problem of suicide is a most complex one, and no single factor can be assumed to be the cause. but even w/o entering at this point into a discussion of suicide, i consider it a safe assumption that a high suicide rate in a give population is expressive of a lack of mental stability and mental health.. that it is not a consequence of material poverty is clearly evidenced by all figures.. the poorest countries have the lowest incidence of suicide,..t and the increasing material prosperity in europe was accompanied by an increasing number of suicides.. as to alcoholism, the reis not doubt that it, too, si a symptom of mental and emotional instability..

the motive for homicide are probably less indicative of pathology than those for suicide. however, though countries with a high homicide rate who a low suicide rate, their combined rates bring us to an interesting conclusion.. if we classify both homicide and suicide as ‘destructive acts’ our tables demo that their combined rate is not constant, but fluctuating between the extremes of 35.76 (suicide) and 4.24 (homicide)


a quick glance at these tables shows a remarkable phenom: denmark, switzer, fin, sweden and the us are the counties w the highest suicide rate, and the highest combined suicide and homicide rate, while spain, italy, n ireland and the republic of ireland are those w the lowest.. the figures for alcoholism show that the same counties  w highest suicide rater have also highest alcoholism rate..

the fact that suicide and alcoholism figures largely coincide, seems to make it plain that we deal here w symptoms of mental unbalance..

maté addiction law et al

we find then that the countries in europe which are among the most democratic, peaceful and prosperous ones, and the us, the most prosperous country in the world, show the most severe symptoms of mental disturbance..t

the aim of the whole socio econ development of the western world is that of the materially comfortable life, relatively equal distribution of wealth, stable democracy and peace, and the very counties which have come closest to this aim show the most severe signs of mental unbalance..

it is true that these figures in themselves do no prove anything.. but at least they are startling.. even before we enter into a more thorough discussion of the whole problem, these data raise a question as to whether there is not something fundamentally wrong with our way of life and with the aims toward which we are striving.. t

also true that no where has peace.. equity.. et al


could it be that middle class life of prosperity.. while satisfying our material needs leaves us w a feeling of intense boredom and that suicide and alcoholism are pathological ways of escape from this boredom

boredom.. ? rather empty from the almaas holes law

our most basic needs (maté basic needs) have nothing to do with material prosperity et al

could it be that these figures are a drastic illustration of the truth of the statement that *’man lives not by bread alone’ and that they show that **modern civilization fails to satisfy profound needs in man? if so .. ***what are these needs..t

*indeed.. **civilization as not only failing to satisfy.. but as killer.. of these profoundly deep ***basic needs

before we enter the specific discussion of these questions.. it seems we should take up the general problem of the pathology of normalcy, which is the premise underlying the whole trend of thought expressed in this book

2 – can a society be sick – the pathology of normalcy..t


what is so deceptive about the state of mind of the members of a society is the ‘consensual validation’ of their concepts. it is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings.. nothing is further from the truth.. the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane..t

public consensus always oppresses someone(s).. and validation ness.. is 1\ inhumane and very likely 2\ impossible


there is an important difference between individual and social mental illness, which suggests a differentiation between two concepts: that of defect and that of neurosis.. if a person fails to attain *freedom, **spontaneity, a ***genuine expression of self, ..t.. he may be considered to have a severe defect.. provided we assume that freedom and spontaneity are the objective goals to be attained by every human being..

*krishnamurti free will law.. **fromm spontaneous law.. ***fittingness

if such a goal is not attained by the majority of members of any give society, we deal w the phenom of socially patterned defect.. the individual shares it w many others; he is not aware of it as a defect, and his security is not threatened by the experience of being different, of being an outcast, as it were..

pluralistic ignorance et al

what he may have lost in richness and in a genuine feeling of happiness, is made up by the security of fitting in with the rest of mankind – as he knows them..t

brown belonging law.. maté trump law.. et al

as a matter of fact, his very defect may have been raised to a virtue by his culture, and thus may give him an enhanced feeling of achievement.. ie: powerlessness seen as a defect looked upon as valuable..t

whales with a’s.. still trapped in sea world


spinoza: ‘.. factually, greediness, ambition, and so forth are forms of insanity, although usually one does not think of them as ‘illness”’

ie: today we come across a person who *acts/feels like an automation; who never experiences anything which is really his; who experiences himself entirely as the person he thinks he is **supposed to be; whose ***artificial smile has replaced genuine laughter; whose meaningless ****chatter has replaced communicative speech; whose *****dulled despair has taken the place of genuine pain..

*wilde not us law

**supposed to’s.. of school/work

***smiles ness

****small talk ness

*****drunken whales in sea world

two statements can be made about this person. one is that he suffers from a defect of spontaneity and individuality which may seem incurable. at the same time, it may be said that he does not differ essentially from millions of others who are in the same positions.. for most of them, the culture provides *patterns which enable them to live w a defect w/o becoming ill..  it is as if each culture provided the *remedy against the outbreak of manifest neurotic symptoms which would result from the defect produced by it

*patterns/remedy: supposed to’s.. of school/work/prison/alcoholism/war/debt/et-al


suppose that in our western culture movies, radios, tv, sports events and newspapers ceased to function for only 4 weeks.. w these main avenues of escape closed, what would be the consequences of people thrown back upon their own resources? i have no doubt that even in this short time thousands of nervous breakdowns would occur, and many more thousands of people would be thrown into a state of acute anxiety, not different from the picture which is diagnosed clinically as ‘neurosis’..  if the opiate against the socially patterned defect were withdrawn, the manifest illness would make its appearance..t

dang.. spot on..


let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake

a nother way

for a minority, the pattern provided by the culture does not work

i’d say for all.. none of us if one of us..

among this group.. we sometimes find people of greater integrity and sensitivity than the majority, who for this every reason are incapable of accepting the cultural opiate.. while at the same time they are *not strong and healthy enough to live soundly ‘against the stream’

crazywise.. krishnamurti measure law..  higashida autism law..  et al

but again.. i think it’s all of us.. i don’t think there’s a maj/min.. we just made all that up.. part of the cultural opiate

*who is?


we have omitted one fact. despots and ruling cliques can succeed in dominating and exploiting their fellow man, but they cannot prevent reactions to this inhuman treatment.. their subjects become frightened, suspicious, lonely and, if not due to external reasons, their systems collapse at some point because fears, suspicion and loneliness eventually incapacitate the majority to function effectively and intelligently..

almaas holes law et al


whole nations or social groups w/in them, can be subjugated/exploited for a long time, but they react. they react w apathy or such impairment of intelligence, initiative and skills that hey gradually fail to perform the function s which should serve their rulers.. or they react by the accumulation of such hated and destructiveness as to bring about an end to themselves, their rulers, and their system. again  their reaction may create such independence and longing for freedom that a better society si built upon their creative impulses.. which reaction occurs, depends on many factors: econ/political/spiritual climate;.. but whatever the reactions.. the statement that man can live under almost any condition is only half true; it must be supplemented by the other statement, that if he lives under conditions which are contrary to his nature and to the basic requirements for human growth and sanity, he cannot help reacting; he must either deteriorate and perish or bring about conditions which are more in accordance w his needs

ie: maté basic needs

that human nature and society can have conflicting demands, and hence that a whole society can be sick, is an assumption which was made very explicitly by freud, most extensively in his civilization and its discontent.. he believes that culture and civilization develop in an ever increasing contrast to the needs of man, and thus he arrives at the concept of the ‘social neurosis’.. ‘if the evolution of civilization’ .. he writes.. ‘has such a far reaching similarity w the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization – or epochs of it – possibly even the whole of humanity – have become ‘neurotic’ under the pressure of the civilizing trends?’

jensen civilization law et al.. making us all.. whales in sea world


‘in the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environ which we assume to be ‘normal’.. no such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way’ (freud)

we are already there.. have been for some time.. there is no ‘normal‘ – assuming that to mean.. most in line with authentic ‘human nature‘.. et al

‘and with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since *no one possesses the power to compel the community to adopt the therapy.. in spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities’ (freud)

*costello screen/service law.. and how the cure begs to be something 8b people already crave.. let’s try that.. ie: 2 convers as infra

on freud []:

Fromm had argued that several aspects of psychoanalytic theory served the interests of political reaction in his The Fear of Freedom (1942), an assessment confirmed by sympathetic writers on the right.

Freud has been compared to Marx by Reich, who saw Freud’s importance for psychiatry as parallel to that of Marx for economics, and by Paul Robinson, who sees Freud as a revolutionary whose contributions to twentieth century thought are comparable in importance to Marx’s contributions to nineteenth century thought. Fromm calls Freud, Marx, and Einstein the “architects of the modern age”, but rejects the idea that Marx and Freud were equally significant, arguing that Marx was both far more historically important and a finer thinker. Fromm nevertheless credits Freud with permanently changing the way human nature is understood. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari write in Anti-Oedipus (1972) that psychoanalysis resembles the Russian Revolution in that it became corrupted almost from the beginning. They believe this began with Freud’s development of the theory of the Oedipus complex, which they see as idealist.

this book does venture upon this research. it is based on the idea that a sane society is that which corresponds to the *needs of man – not necessarily to what he feels to be his needs, because even the most pathological aims can be felt subjectively as that which the person wants most; but to what his needs are objectively, as they **can be ascertained by the study of man


**i don’t think we can study them out .. ie: we keep collecting data on whales in sea world.. which just perpetuates our broken feedback loop

it is our first task then, to ascertain what is the *nature of man, and what are the **needs which stem from this nature..

*human nature.. **basic needs.. let’s go

3 – the human situation – the key to humanistic psychoanalysis


(with man) life became aware of itself.. self awareness, reason and imagination disrupt the ‘harmony’ which characterizes animal existence..


man’s life cannot ‘be lived’ by repeating the pattern of his species; he must live..t

man is the only animal that can be bored, that can feel evicted from paradise..  man is the only animal that finds his own existence a problem which he has to solve and from which he cannot escape. he cannot go back to the prehuman state of harmony w nature; he must proceed to develop his reason until he becomes the master of nature, and of himself

yeah.. i don’t think so

(man) is the most helpless of all animals at birth, and in need of protection fro a much longer period of time than any of them..  while he has lost the unity with nature, he has not been given the means to lead a new existence outside of nature.. he lives divided into small groups, w no knowledge of himself or of others..

biblical paradise myth explains the situation with perfect clairty.. man who lives in the garden of eden in complete harmony w nature but w/o awareness of himself, begins his history by the first act of freedom, disobedience to a command.. concomitantly, he becomes aware of himself, of his separateness, of his helplessness; he is expelled from paradise


man’s evolution is based on the fact that he has lost his original home.. nature.. and that he can never return to it, can never become an animal again..

we just need to find a way back home.. no need to become an animal..

there is only one way he can take: to emerge fully from his natural home, to find a new home – one which he creates, by making the world a human one and by becoming truly human himself

yeah.. i don’t see that.. i think there’s much more interconnectedness at play .. with self/others/nature.. i think we just need to re tap into that.. ie: augment our interconnectedness

the animal is content if its physiological needs – hunger, thirst sexual.. are satisfied.. for man these needs are likewise imperative and must be satisfied.. but inasmuch as man is human, the satisfaction of these instinctual needs is not sufficient to make him happy.. they are not even sufficient to make him sane..

of shoot.. i thought earlier when he wrote of instinctual needs.. he meant maté basic needs

the archimedic point of the specifically human dynamism lies in this uniqueness of the human situation; the understanding of man’s psyche must be based on the analysis of man’s needs stemming from the conditions of his existence..

the problem, then, which the human race as well as each individual has to solve is that of being born.. the whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born, when we die – although it is the tragic fate of most individuals to die before they are born


we are never free from two conflicting tendencies: one to emerge from the womb, from the animal form of existence into a more human existence, from bondage to freedom; another, to return to the womb, to nature, to certainty and security

i don’t know..? how is a child being born making them more human?.. how is nature certainty?..


aside form the physiologically nourished cravings (hunger, thirst, sex) all essential human cravings are determined by this polarity

yeah.. i don’t see that


all passions and strivings of man are attempts to find an answer to his existence or as we may also say, they are an attempt to avoid insanity. (it may be said in passing that the real problem of mental life is not why some people become insane, but rather why most avoid insanity.)

all mean are idealists and cannot help being idealists, provided we mean by idealism the striving for the satisfaction of needs which are specifically human and transcend the physiological needs of the organism..


what are these needs/passions stemming from the existence of man?

a\ relatedness vs narcissism

the necessity to unite w other living beings, to be related to them, is an imperative need on the fulfillment of which man’s sanity depends.. this need is behind all phenomena which constitute the whole gamut of intimate human relations, or all passions which are called love in the broadest sense of the world..

missing piece #2


the common element in both submission and domination is the symbiotic nature of relatedness.. both persons involved have lost their integrity and freedom; they live on each other and from each other.. satisfying their craving for closeness, et suffering from lack of inner strength and self reliance which would require freedom and independence.. .. because no amount of submission or domination is enough to give a sense of id and union, more an more of it is sought..

there is only one passion which satisfies man’s need to unite himself w the world, and to acquire at the same time a sense of integrity and individuality, and this is love.. love is union w somebody or something out side oneself..  under the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one’s own self. . the experience of love does away with the necessity of illusions.. there is no need to inflate the image of the other person or of myself, since the reality of active sharing and living permits me to transcend my individualized w existence, and at the same time to experience myself as the bearer of the active powers which constitute the act of loving.. in the act of loving i am one w all.. and yet i am myself, a unique, separate, limited, mortal human being..


among the various forms of relatedness, only the productive one, love, fulfills the condition of allowing one to retain one’s freedom and integrity while being, at the same time, united w one’s fellow man

b\ transcendence – creativeness vs destructiveness


how then does man solve the problem of transcending himself, if he is not capable of creating, if he cannot love.. the ultimate choice for man, inasmuch as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or to destroy, to love or to hate..


c\ rootedness – brotherliness vs incest


considering the increased perplexities of life.. the situation of the adult is by no means as different form that of the child (leaving womb them leaving mother) as it is generally assumed.. every adult is in need of help, of warmth, of protection.. is it surprising to find in the average adult a deep longing for the security and rootedness which the relationship to his mother once gave him? is it not to be expected that he cannot give up this intense longing unless he finds other ways of being rooted..

roots of healing et al


the submission of the father is diff from the fixation to the mother.. the latter is a continuation of the natural tie, of the fixation to nature. the former is man made, artificial, based on power and law, and therefore less compelling and forceful than the tie to the mother.. while the mother reps nature and unconditional love, the father reps abstraction conscience, duty, law and hierarchy.. motherly love is like an act of grace.. if it is there it is a blessing .. if it is not there it cannot be created.. here lies the reason why individuals who have not overcome the fixation to mother often try to procure motherly love in a neurotic, magical way by making themselves helpless, sock or by regressing emotionally to the sage of an infant..  the relationship to father, on the other hand, can be controlled.. ..whether father’s expectations are more on development or on obedience, the son has a chance to acquire father’s love.. to produce father’s affection by doing the desire things…


but there is not only a fatherly but also a motherly conscience; there is a voice which tells us to do our duty, and a voice which tells us to love and to forgive.. others as well as ourselves..

the father tells us ‘ought to’s’ if we do wrong thing he scolds us.. if right thing he praises us.. while father in us speaks in this manner, the mother in us speaks in aver y diff language. it is as if she were saying ‘your father is quite right in scolding you, but do not take him too seriously; whatever you have done, you are my child, i love you, and i forgive you; nothing you have done can interfere w you claim to life and happiness’..

yeah.. i don’t know about the scolding..

maté parenting law .. supposed to ness.. et al

yet the contradiction between the principle of duty and the principle of love, of fatherly and motherly conscience is a contradiction inherent in human existence, and both sides of the contradiction must be accepted.. he may judge his fellow man w his fatherly conscience, but he must at the same time hear in himself the voice of the mother, who feels love for all fellow creatures.. and forgives all transgressions

yeah.. not seeing that.. don’t think we weren’t meant for duty.. don’t think we were meant to judge..

let go


the person who has not freed himself form the ties to blood and soil is not yet fully born as a human being; his capacity for love and reason are crippled; h e does no t experience himself nor his fellowman in their – and his own – human reality..

nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity.. ‘patriotism’ is its cult… that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice.. love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love of humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship..

nationality: human


only when man succeeds in developing his reason and love further than he has done so far, only when he can build a world based on human solidarity and justice, only when he can feel rooted in the experience of universal brotherliness, will he have found a new, human form of rootedness, will he have transformed his world into a truly human home

hurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman .. et al

d\ sense of id/individuality vs herd conformity


by making the individual free politically/economically, by teaching him to think for himself and freeing him from an authoritarian pressure, one hoped to enable him to feel ‘i’ in the sense that he was the center and active subject of his powers and experienced himself as such. but only a minority achieved the new experience of ‘i’.. for the majority, individualism was not much more than a facade behind which was hidden the failure to acquire an individual sense of id.. many substitutes for a truly individual sense of id were sought for.. and found. nation, religion, class occupation .. serve to furnish a sense i fid.. i am an american/protestant/businessman..

? – sounds like he’s saying identity comes from being part of the herd.. ie: i am american.. ?


behind the intense passion for status and conformity is this very need, and it is sometimes even stronger that the need for physical survival.. what could be more obvious that the fact that people are willing to risk their lives/love/freedom/thoughts.. for sake of being one of the herd, of conforming and thus of acquiring a sense of identity.. even though ti s an illusory one..

e\ the need for a frame of orientation and devotion – reason vs irrationality


reason is man’s instrument for arriving at the truth, intelligence is man’s instrument for manipulating the world more successfully.. the former is essentially human, the latter belongs to the animal part of man..

if one lives in illusions about one sector of life, one’s capacity for reason is restricted or damaged.. and thus the use of reason is inhibited w regard to all other sectors..


the first and more fundamental need to to have some frame of orientation, regardless of whether it is true or false.. unless man has such a subjectively satisfactory frame of orientation, he cannot live sanely..

the necessity to develop his reason si not as immediate as tat to develop some frame of orientation.. since what is at stake for man in the latter case is his happiness and serenity, and not his sanity..

however unreasonable of immoral an action may be, man has an insuperable urge to rationalize it, that is, to prove to himself and to others that his action is determined by reason, commons sense, or at least conventional morality..  he has little difficulty in acting irrationally, but it is almost impossible for him not to give his action the appearance of reasonable motivation..

4 – mental health and society


the concept of mental health depends on our concept of the nature of man..

even their (food and sleep) complete satisfaction is not a sufficient condition for sanity and mental health.. these depend on the satisfaction of those needs and passions which are specifically human, and which stem from the conditions of the human situation.. the need for: relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, sense of id, frame of orientation/devotion

let’s just go with two: maté basic needs


in other words, while the one month old child could never have the spiritual maturity of an adult..

? i don’t see that.. well.. i guess i do.. but in the opposite sense.. seeing child as more in spirit – ie: not yet scrambled et al


the development of culture is a necessary condition for human development

i don’t know.. slippery slope.. and not between mental health and maturity

if the individual has not developed his reason and his capacity for love.. he is incapable of bearing the burden of freedom and individuality, and tries to escape into artificial ties which give him a sense of belonging and rootedness

yeah.. i don’t see that.. i think capacity for love is already and always in each oner of us.. it’s that thinking we have to develop it that keeps killing it

any regression today from freedom into artificial rootedness in state or race is a sign of mental illness,

we have to do/be/develop/reason things.. in order to belong.. askew unconditional law .. brown belonging law.. et al

mental health cannot be defined in terms of the ‘adjustment’ of the individual to his society, but, on the contrary, that it must be defined in terms fo the adjustment of society to the needs of man.. of its role in furthering or hindering the development of mental health..  whether or not the individual is healthy, is primarily not an individual matter, but depends on the structure of his society..


one (view) wants to make us believe that contemporary western society and more esp, the ‘american way of life’ corresponds to the deepest needs of human nature and that adjustment to his way of life means mental health and maturity. social psychology, instead of being a tool for the criticism of society, thus becomes the apologist for the status quo..

the concept of ‘maturity’ and ‘metal health’ in this view, corresponds to the desirable attitude of a worker or employee in industry or business.. dr strecker: ‘i define maturity as the ability to stick to a job, the capacity to give more on any job than is asked for, reliability, persistence to carry out a plan regardless of the difficulties, the ability to work w other people under organization and authority, the ability to make decisions, a will to life, flexibility, independence and tolerance.. ‘ it is quite clear that what strecker here describes as maturity are the virtues of a good worker, employee or soldier in the big social org of our time; they are the qualities which are usually mentioned in ads for a jr exec.. to him and many others who think like him, maturity is the same as adjustment to our society, w/o ever raising the question whether this adjustment is to a healthy or a pathological way of conducting one’s life


freud: ‘civilized man has exchange some part of his chances of happiness for a measure of ‘security”


more from freud on conflict between civilization and mental health and happiness.. primitive man is health and happy because he is not frustrated in his basic (sexual) instincts, but he lacks the blessing of culture. civilized man is more secure, enjoys art and science, but he is bound to be neurotic because of the continued frustration of his instincts,enforced by civilization

civilization, to freud, is the product of instinctual frustration and thus the cause of mental illness

agree.. but for blocking maté basic needs not sex.. jensen civilization law et al


frued’s concept of human nature as being essentially competitive (and asocial) is the same as we find it in most authors who believe that the characteristics of man in modern capitalism are is natural characteristics.. we cannot fail to see that freud’s whole theory of sex is conceived on the anthropological premise that competition and mutual hostility are inherent in human nature

whales in sea world


both the econ man and the sexual man are convenient fabrication whose alleged nature – isolated, asocial, greedy and competitive – makes capitalism appear as the system which corresponds perfectly to human nature, and places it beyond the reach of criticism

capitalism et al

5 – man in capitalistic society

(most of the book – 130 pages)


modern industrial society could not have attained its ends had it not harnessed the energy of free men for work in an unprecedented degree.. man had to be molded into person who was eager to spend most of his energy for the purpose of work, who acquire discipline, particularly orderliness and punctuality, to a degree unknown in most other cultures..

hard won order.. et al


it would not have sufficed if each individual had to make up his mind consciously every day that he wanted to work, to be on time, etc, since any such conscious deliberation would lead to many more exceptions that the smooth functioning of society can afford. nor would threat and force have sufficed as a motive, since the highly differentiated tasks in modern industrial society can in the long run only be the work of free men and not of forced labor.. the necessity for work, for punctuality and orderliness had to be transformed into an inner drive for these aims.. this means that society had to produce a social character in which these strivings were inherent.. t

supposed to’s.. of school/work.. making us like whales in sea world


the family may be considered to be the psychic agency of society.. the institution which has the function of transmitting the requirements of society to the growing child..t

maté parenting law: there’s a confluence with the needs of the econ and the way we parent kids.. the more disconnected kids are .. the more they can fit into the econ  – Gabor Maté


econ system which has become dominant in west since 17-18th centuries is capitalism.. in spite of great changes.. there are certain features which have endured throughout its history.. common features: 1\ existence of politically and legally free men; 2\ fact that free men (workers and employees ) sell their labor to the owner of capital on the labor market, by contract; 3\ existence of the commodity market as a mech by which prices are determined and exchange is regulated; 4\ principle that each individual acts w the aim of seeking a profit for himself..  yet that, by the competitive action of many, the greatest advantage is supped to accrue for all

(on capitalism) biggest unsettling from these words.. 1\ existence of free men

no one’s ever been free.. that makes all data/talk/history.. non legit.. like data from whales in sea world.. ie: we have not idea what free people are like


while everybody believes himself to act according to his own interest, he is actually determined by the anonymous laws of the market and of the econ machine..t

we’re like whales in sea world.. we have no idea what our own interest is.. this is why we have to let go of money (any form of measuring/accounting)

maté parenting law: there’s a confluence with the needs of the econ and the way we parent kids.. the more disconnected kids are .. the more they can fit into the econ  – Gabor Maté

in this function of the econ law which operates behind the back of man and forces him to do things *w/o giving him the freedom to decide, we see the beginning of a constellation which comes to its fruition only in the 20th cent..t

actually deeper than *that.. w/o giving him the freedom to be curious

curiosity over decision making – huge


if the wealth of society corresponded to the actual needs of all its members, there would be no problem of distributing it; each member could take from the social product as much as he likes, or needs, and there would be no need of regulation , except in the purely technical sense of distribution.. but aside from primitive societies, this condition has never existed up to now in human history.. t

common ing via 2 convers as infra

the needs were always greater than the sum total of the social product, and therefore regulation had to be made on how to distribute it..  in most highly developed societies of the past, this decision was made essentially by force.. often implemented by social/religious tradition.. which constituted such a strong psychic force w/in people that it often made the threat of physical force unnecessary..


he is less aware of the laws of the market which operate behind his back, as it were; hence he believes that he is free, when he actually is not..but while this is so, the capitalist method of distribution by the market mech is better than any other method devised to far in a class society..  because it is a basis for the relative political freedom of the individual, which characterizes capitalist democracy

relative freedom is perhaps the deeper poison.. no?

the econ functioning of the market rests upon competition.. the importance of life was in being first in a competitive race..


another factor which constitutes the capitalistic mode of production is that.. the aim .. is profit.. a great deal of calculated and uncalculated confusion ..


on possession and property and hoarding orientation..


obedience, in the 19th cent middle class, was still one of the fundamental virtues and disobedience one of the elementary vices..t

at the same time, however, rational authority had developed sided by side w irrational authority

isn’t all authority irrational..?


summing up then, we may say that the social character of the 19th cent was essentially competitive, hoarding, exploitative, authoritarian, aggressive, individualistic..

in 20th cent capitalism.. instead of exploitative and hoarding orientation we find receptive and marketing orientation.. instead of competitiveness we find an increasing tendency toward ‘teamwork’.. instead of striving for profit.. a wish for a steady and secure income; instead of exploitation, a tendency to share and spread wealth, and to manipulate others – and oneself; instead of rational and irrational but overt authority, we find anonymous authority – the authority of public opinion and the market; instead of the individual conscience, the need to adjust and be approved of; instead of the sense of pride and mastery, an ever increasing though mainly unconscious sense of powerlessness


adlai stevenson: ‘we are not in danger of becoming slaves any more, but of becoming robots’.. there is no overt authority which intimidates us, but we are governed by the fear of the anonymous authority of conformity..t  we do not submit to anyone personally.. but we have no conviction of our own, almost no individuality, almost no sense of self..

wilde not us law.. et al

we have to recognize the specific pathological problems of our time in order to arrive at a vision  necessary to save western work from an increasing insanity.. this diagnosis in the following section:

20th cent society

1\ social and econ changes


what kinds of men, then, does our society need? what is the social character suited to 20th cent capitalism? men who cooperate smoothly in large groups; who want to consume more and more, and whose tastes are standardized and can by easily influenced and anticipated.. men who feel free/independent, not subject to any authority/principle/conscience – yet willing to be commanded, to do wha tis expected, to fit into the social machine w/o friction..  how can man be guided w/o force.. led w/o leaders, prompted w/o aim

? – how is that free?

2\ characterological changes

i have chose concept of alienation as central point to develop analysis of contemp social character.. we must intro discussion of alienation by speaking of one of fundamental econ features of capitalism, the process of quantification and abstractification

any form of measuring/accounting.. killer


all econ occurrences have to be strictly quantifiable.. and only the balance sheets, the exact comparison of econ processes quantified in figures, tell the manage whether and to what degree he is engaged in a profitable/meaningful business activity

this transformation of the concrete into the abstract has developed far beyond the balance sheet and the quantification of econ occurrences in sphere of production.. ie: millions of.. dollars/customers/stockholders/workers.. all these people become so many pieces in a gigantic machine which must be controlled.. , whose effects must be calculated.. each man eventually can be expressed as an abstract entity.. on this basis econ occurrences are calculated, trends are predicted, decisions are made..

whales in sea world.. we have no idea

today (1955) when only about 20% of working pop is self employed, rest work for somebody else, and a man’s life is dependent on someone who pay shim a wage or a salary..

all work – anything involving money/measuring .. is for others (but not even really for them.. just what they think they want)

supposed to’s.. of school/work

earn a living ness

in pre-capitalistic society, exchange was to a large extent one of goods and services; today, all work is rewarded w money

any form of  measuring/accounting/calculated exchange.. is just the same.. ie: messes with us.. making us not us

this is where we’re missing an incredible opp today.. we keep thinking we’re changing things by taking money out.. or turning it into crypto currency et al.. that’s still  measuring/accounting the exchange.. and so poisoning us

practically nobody, w the exception of the farm population, could live for even a few days w/o receiving and spending money.. which stands for the abstract quality of concrete work

well .. so goes the myth

another aspect of capitalist production which results in increasing abstractification is the increasing division of labor.. ie: chair leg makers rather than chair makers


undoubtedly w/o quantification and abstractification modern mass production would be unthinkable.. but in a society in which econ activities have become the main preoccupation of man, this process has transcended the realm of econ production, and spread to the attitude of man to things, to people, and to himself..

that actually happens at the onset.. (changes man) it’s the measuring itself.. it’s the thinking we need ie: mass production.. et al.. that’s killing us


in other words, things are experienced as commodities, as embodiments of exchange value, not only while we are buying or selling, but in our attitude toward them when the econ transaction is finished..

10 day care center ness


the principle of monotheism, in contrast, is that man is infinite, that there is no partial quality in him which can be hypostatized into the world..  god, in the monotheistic concept, is unrecognizable and indefinable; god is not a ‘thing’.. if man is created in the likeness of god, he is created as the bearer of infinite qualities.. in idolatry man bows down and submits to the projection of one partial quality in himself.. he does not experience himself as the center from which living acts of love and reason radiate.. he becomes a thing, his neighbor becomes a thing, just as his gods are things..

mumford non-specialized law


every act of submissive worship is an act of alienation and idolatry in this sense.. what is frequently called love’ is often nothing but this idolatrous phenom of alienation; only that not god or an idol, but another person is worshiped in this way

the ‘loving’ person in this type of submissive relationship, projects all his/her love, strength, thought into the other person and experiences the loved person as a superior being, finding satisfaction in complete submission and worship.. the is does not only mean that he fails to experience the loved person as a human being in his/her reality.. but that he does not experience himself in his full reality, as the bearer or productive human powers..  just as in the case of religious idolatry, he has projected all his richness in to the other person, and experiences this richness not any more as something which is his, but as something alien from himself, deposited in somebody else, with which he can get in touch only by submission to, or submergence in the other person. the same phenom exists in the worshiping submission to a political leander or to the state..  the leader and the state actually are what they are by the consent of the governed.. but they become idols when the individual projects all his powers in to them and worship them, hoping to regain some of his powers by submission and worship..


the manager, like the worker, like everybody, deals with impersonal giants

the problem of the manager opens up one of the most significant phenom in an alienated culture, that of bureaucratization..


what then is the attitude of the owner of the big corp to his property.. it is one of almost complete alienation.. his ownership consists in a piece of paper, representing a certain fluctuating amount of money..


the process of consumption is as alienated as the process of production


the human way of acquiring would be to make an effort qualitatively commensurate w what i acquire

no.. not human way.. that’s still whales way.. quit measuring

the acquisition of bread/clothing would depend on no other premise than that of being alive.. the acquisition of books/paintings, on my effort to understand/use them..

not what you just said..?

but still not effort to whatever.. rather .. depends on need for ie:  daily curiosity

how this principle could be applied practically is not the point to be discussed here..  what matters is that the way we acquire things is separated from the way in which we use them..


on consumption being alienating.. we drink the brand.. ie: coke..


our way of consumption necessarily results in the fact that we are never satisfied.. since it is not our real concrete person which consumes a real and concrete thing..t

whales in sea world


in the middle of the 20th cent the hoarding orientation has given way to the receptive orientation.. .. to have something new all the time.. to live w a continuously open mouth.. as it were.. reception orientation is blended w marketing orientation.. while in 19th cent hoarding was blended w exploitative orientation.. t

alienation also to leisure time.. value of fun determined by its success on market not be anything which could be measured in human terms

free humans don’t measure.. success et al


in productive (?) and spontaneous activity, something happens w/in myself.. i am not same after.. in alienated form of pleasure nothing happens w/in me.. all that is left are memories.. ie: snapshots..  camera sees for him.. and outcome of his ‘pleasure’ trip is a collection of snapshots.. which are sub for experience which he could have had but did not have

our actual helplessness .. appears more drastically in social catastrophes.. econ, war, .. these appear as if natural.. rather than what they really are.. occurrences made by man, but  w/o intention and awareness.. 

cancer.. illness.. et al as well


this anonymity of the social forces is inherent in the structure of the capitalist mode of production

capitalism based on .. if everybody strives for self on market.. common good will come of it, order and not anarchy will be result

but as you said.. no one truly free.. so have no idea what we want


the self.. is nothing but the many roles which have the function of eliciting approval and avoiding the anxiety which is produced by disapproval.. t


one cannot fully appreciate the nature of alienation w/o considering one specific aspect of modern life: its routinization, and the repression of the awareness of the basic problems of human existence..t

taleb center of problem law: the center of the problem is that none of them knew the center of the problem – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

ie: maté basic needs

we touch here upon a universal problem of life, man has to earn his daily bread, and this is always a more or less absorbing task

dang.. that’s not the center of the problem.. it’s man made.. as you just described..

we find in every culture the conflict between routine and the attempt to get back to the fundamental realities of existence. to help in this attempt has been one of the functions of art and of religion.. even though religion itself has eventually become a new form of routine


on art.. as means to get back to essence.. to drama of greeks .. to ritual.. to competitive sports; crime; .. all a deep longing for dramatization


the marketing orientation is closely related to he fact that the need to exchange has become a paramount drive in modern man. it is , of course, true that even in a primitive econ based on rudimentary form of division of labor, mean exchange goods w each other ..

yeah.. not an authentic drive.. rather .. a poisonous one


the love of exchange has replaced the love of possession..

both man-made cancers


life is a unique gift/challenge, not to be measured in terms of anything else, and no sensible answer can be given to the question whether it is ‘worth while’ living, because the question does not make any sense..t

1836 to 1890 suicide increased 140% in prussia, 355% in france.. et al.. ‘life has become a failure’


on non-overt authority of conformity.. this feeling of warmth is more or less the same as the feeling of being accepted..

brown belonging law

askew unconditional law


to love your neighbor to feel one w him, to devote your life to the aim of developing your spiritual powers .. in not part of the fairness ethic.. just as brotherly love has been replaced by impersonal fairness..

yeah.. fairness involves measuring/accounting.. so not natural..


on work and democracy.. right to vote.. e al.. being natural

both forget that diversity of humans and diversity of a human being.. neither are flexible enough to allow for that diversity.. to allow for ie: daily curiosity .. both too embedded with supposed to’s… even if we think.. or are told.. the work and the decisions are ones we chose.. they don’t allow for ie: the bravery change our mind.. every day.. et al.. and this is why we’ve got 8b fragile, robotic, whales.. in seal world..

curiosity over decision making


on mental health.. the psychic task which a person can and must set for himself, is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity, w/o panic and undue fear..t

security.. embracing uncertainty.. et al

free man is by necessity insecure; thinking man by necessity uncertain..t


the alienated person.. feels secure in being as similar as possible to his fellow man.. his paramount aim is to be approved of by others.. his central fear, that he may not be approved of.. to be diff.. threatens his security..t

maté trump law et al


the alienated person cannot be healthy..t

6 – various other diagnoses

7 – various answers

8 – roads to sanity

all embedded in econ.. measuring kind of econ.. no sanity there

9 – summary – conclusion


our dangers are war and robotism. what is the alt? to get out of the rut in which we are moving, and to take the next step in the birth of and self realization of humanity.. the first condition is the abolishment of war.. (co-op ness) .. and for robotism.. humanistic communitarianism.. (income equalized to extent of give everybody material basis for a dignified life.. preventing econ diff/classes.. man’s use by man must end)


instead of the exploitative and hoarding orientation, dominant in the 19th cent, and the receptive and marketing today, the productive orientation must be the end which all social arrangements serve

oy..  norton productivity law.. et al

no change must be brought about by force, it must be a simultaneous one in the econ, political and cultural spheres.. changes restricted to one sphere are destructive of every change..

perhaps let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence ie: ubi as temp placebo..

not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake


just as primitive man was helpless before natural forces, modern man is helpless before the social/econ forces created by  himself.. man can protect himself from the consequences of his own madness only by creating a sane society which conform  w the needs of man.. needs which are rooted in the very conditions of his existence..  where man relates to man lovingly

maté basic needs


man today is confronted w the most fundamental choice; not between capitalism or communism, but between robotism (of both capitalist and communist variety), or humanistic communitarian socialism.. t

mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh

as long as we can think of other alts, we are not lost


from Erich Fromm‘s the sane society:


escape from freedom

fromm destructiveness law

fromm spontaneous law