Fromm accepted the importance of unconscious, biological drives, repression and defense mechanisms, but rejected Freud’s theory of id, ego and superego. Fromm did not believe in specific developmental stages. ?He believed that the growing child slowly learns to distinguish between ?I and not I?, through contact with the environment, notably those involving the parents.?(Ewen 194) Fromm contends that personality development continues into adulthood. He believes that if a child keeps up with the increasing feelings of isolation, that anxiety can be kept to a minimal and personality development proceeds normally. Freud’s well-known theory is that the personality is determined during the first five years of life. He believes we proceed through a series of psychosexual stages: oral, anal, urethral, phallic, a latency period and genital. Freud contends that the genital stage is the goal of normal development and that it represents true maturity. ( Hansen 25-26)Fromm warns against pathogenic behavior because it can damage the child’s sense of reliance. He believed healthy personality is illustrated by biophilia, love, creativity and reason. ( Ewen 195-196) These characteristics compromise the productive frame of orientation. The nonproductive frames include narcissism, necrophilia, dependence, compulsive strivings for power or wealth and the mechanisms of escape. Fromm had four other nonproductive orientations that he devoted a great deal of attention to. These were receptive, exploitative, hoarding and marketing. Three of these orientations can be loosely compared to Freud’s oral-dependent, oral-sadistic and anal character without the sexual implications.
Freud and Fromm both believed that dreams are the ?royal road? to the unconscious. ( Ewen 198) Fromm agreed with Freud that dreams could serve the purpose of wish fulfillment, that the day’s events set them off, and that a person may conceal truths in different ways. While both men believed in dream symbols, Freud believed most dreams involved childhood sexual impulses and Fromm regarded many symbols as asexual. Fromm believed that dreams could have obvious and undisguised meanings that did not have to involve childhood conflicts.
To understand Fromm’s approach to clinical diagnosis, his theory of character must first be understood. His theory of character development was that humans are distinguished from other animals by a larger neocortex with fewer instincts. Character shapes human instinct. Human survival is not merely a matter of physical survival, humans are social animals who must relate to others, and they are spiritual animals who must infuse their lives with meaning in order to function. Humans require a sense of hope to keep from turning off. They also require caring adults in the early years to be teachers that teach them to control their fears and passions and live in harmony with others. Religion both sacred and secular can give meaning to life and give a sense of identity and rootness.
Fromm accepted Freud’s definition of mental health saying that it is the capacity for love and productive work. Fromm also agreed with Freud in saying that psychopathology represents a difference in degree, rather than in kind. Fromm states that besides pathogenic behaviors that neurosis is often caused by the culture in which one lives. He says that neurosis consists of a conflict between two opposing forces. Which is when our healthy innate drives toward self-realization and independence are blocked by parental or societal influences. Freud states that neurosis invariably begins in infancy and childhood, however it may not become evident until much later in life. Some cause’s of neurosis is a lack of physical affection, overindulgence or