A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet „for sale“, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society.
He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity.
He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his „normal“ contemporaries.
Not rarely will he suffer from neurosis that results from the situation of a sane man living in an insane society, rather than that of the more conventional neurosis of a sick man trying to adapt himself to a sick society.
In the process of going further in his analysis, i.e. of growing to greater independence and productivity, his neurotic symptoms will cure themselves.
Faith in life, in oneself, in others must be built on the hard rock of realism; that is to say, on the capacity to see evil where it is, to see swindle, destructiveness, and selfishness not only when they are obvious but in their many disguises and rationalizations.
Indeed, faith, love, and hope must go together with such a passion for seeing reality in all its nakedness that the outsider would be prone to call the attitude ‘cynicism.’
And cynical it is, when we mean by it the refusal to be taken in by the sweet and plausible lies that cover almost everything that is said and believed.
But this kind of cynicism is not cynicism; it is uncompromisingly critical, a refusal to play the game in a system of deception.
The Art of Being
Erich Fromm (March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980) was a German Jew who fled the Nazi regime and settled in the US.
He was a social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist.
He was one of the Founders of The William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology in New York City and was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory.