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The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness Paperback – Feb 15 1992

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (Feb. 15 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080501604X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805016048
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.6 x 20.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 821 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #66,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“If any single work could bring mankind to its senses, this book might qualify for that miracle. . . . This book is the product of one of the most penetrating, most mature minds of our time.” ―Lewis Mumford

“In this perhaps most important of his pioneering theoretical works, the distinguished author writes with brilliant insight in attempting to break the deadlock in the struggle between the instinctivism of Konrad Lorenz . . . and behaviorist B.F. Skinner. He moves toward a provocative conclusion which involves a critical revision of Freud's theory of a "death instinct" in man. . . . Fromm's studies of Stalin and Himmler, and especially his penetrating psychobiography of Hitler, fascinatingy support his thesis.” ―Publisher's Weekly

“Rich and provocative . . . a major book from the pen of a major writer.” ―The Washington Post Book World

“Fromm is an original thinker. . . . His analysis of the causes of destructiveness is unique, and he has an enviable skill in the lucid presentation of intricate material.” ―Atlantic Monthly

“By far the best book I have ever read on the subject and by far the most absorbing.” ―Ashley Montagu

About the Author

Erich Fromm was a German-born U.S. psychoanalyst and social philosopher who explored the interaction between psychology and society. His other major works include The Art of Loving, Escape from Freedom, and Man for Himself. He died in 1980.

Inside This Book

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I will forgo presenting here a history of instinct theory as the reader can find it in many textbooks. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 3 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating book. This book and THE TIPPING POINT seem to present firm evidence that humans have become "civilized" away from the environment we are emotionally wired for. We are emotionally wired to deal with small groups (THE TIPPING POINT stresses 150 as the maximum number a group should be), and to have no one have a lot more materially than the rest of us. Envy, violence, etc., did not/do not exist in small hunter/gatherer groups. We are economically and population-wise at the point of no return. It's a shame. But there was a time when humans were not violent, etc., in human history. Before "civilization." Machiavelli in THE PRINCE says that, "War is the normal state, peace the abnormal state." It's the normal state in an abnormal world. It's a shame we can't return to the world we were wired for. The only thing I'm truely grateful for in modern-society is anesthesia. I'd hate to live without that. But every thing else I could do without, if it also meant doing without genocide and murder and rape etc. A brilliant--I would say necessary--book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By on Jan. 30 1998
Format: Paperback
Fromm's text discussing and analyizing human destructiveness through comparisson and psycholanalysis. From Konrad Lorenz to B.F. Skinner to Stanley Milgram. Covering agression theories; behaviorism; narcissism; and necrophilia. Giving fairly objective views of all and conluding with a wonderful psychoanalysis of Adolf Hitler defining his as a malignant necrophiliac. (Need to be read to fully understand those implications; can be misleading). The book was written well enough for just about anyone to read without it ever becoming dry. Invaluble reference as well! A very thorough read without being overwhelmed, Fromm has definately understood, probably better than most, human nature and human destructiveness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23 1999
Format: Paperback
The photo of Hitler unable to pull his eyes away from adecaying corpse is alone worth the price of admission. As this was aBook of the Month Club "featured selection" about 25 years ago, Pr. Fromm explores the dark side of humanity, from ego-centrism, to our twisted love of death. Hurtful at times, addressing basal issues most of us would rather deny, this is a truly life-changing volume. Fromm discusses our vanity and obsessions so objectively, we can actually wade through it without getting mad. A Freudian Delight!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow, what a book. Fromm just has so much to say on these subjects of human nature that touch into all aspects of culture, society and human life. The book certainly isn't as disjointed as this sounds, I think it's his subject matter that is so far-reaching that people form all walks of life can find worth in the things that Fromm discusses.

For Fromm, I think it's apparent that he's trying to make sense of WWII and how a man like Hitler could have done what he wanted to do. Not only is Fromm a brilliant man, but he has obviously gained from his experiences in the war, and is admirable trying to make sense of it all for the benefit of humankind. It's difficult to know about what to comment on in this book. It's deep, very long and sometimes difficult to get through, but it's so much worth it. His perspectives on human situation show how psychology can describe life in practical ways. It can help us make sense of an often nonsensical world. And, even in doing so, he often describes everyday concepts (for example, Freedom) in ways that fit what happens in our world.

This is a book I come back to often for inspiration and understanding. It's a book that can reach into anyone concerned with any type of human endeavor. It's a wonderful collection of thoughts and explanation.
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