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ROBIN WILLIAMS ...a wake-up call for mental illness

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Quote Originally Posted by Ron Price View Post
Thanks, folks, for your responses. Before leaving I'll post some general thoughts from one of my favorite psychoanalysts.-Ron

Part 1:

Erich Fromm(1900-1980) was a theorist who brought other theories together. He also emphasized how one's personality is embedded in class, status, education, vocation, and religious and philosophical background, among other social determinants. Fromm held the view that humans need to live and feel part of a genuine community. Fromm was a medical doctor and practising psychiatrist; he explained people's drives in terms of social interaction, and mental illness in terms of the failure of the individual to relate properly with other individuals. The role of biological and genetic determinants in mental health problems and individual behaviour was not part of his focus.

Since my autobiography and my personality is embedded to a great extent in the same factors that Fromm describes and, since I have come to the view that this same autobiography and personality is also a result of biological and genetic factors, it is timely to say a few words about Erich Fromm's ideas in my prose-poetic.

Part 1.1:

Erich Fromm is known not only as an author and significant humanist of the 20th century, but also as a psychoanalyst and social psychologist. Erich Fromm affected the world like almost no other German-born social scientist. His writings and realizations are read and recognized worldwide. The International Erich Fromm Society works to maintain, to research, to develop further and to pass on Erich Frommís scholarly findings and ideas as the fitting continuation of his international work and in recognition of his worldwide significance.

The year I began my pioneering experience, 1962 at the age of 18, Erich Fromm, American psychoanalyst and prolific writer in the field of existential psychology, stated his 'credo' in his book Beyond the Chains of Illusions. I have written some of his Credo below since it was consistent with my views back in 1962 and it still is. I have commented on some of his Credo expressing views that have remained part of my beliefs during this lifelong pioneering venture spanning, as it does now, more than fifty years. I read Fromm's books for thirty years, from the 1960s through the 1990s.-Ron Price with thanks to Michael Maccoby, "The Two Voices of Erich Fromm: The Prophetic and the Analytic," Society, July/August 1994.

Part 2:

"The most important factor for the development of the individual is the structure and the values of the society into which he has been born." Given this fact, my role as a Baha'i has been to spend my life trying to build the kind of society fit for human beings to be born into. For, as Fromm says in his Credo, "society has both a furthering and an inhibiting function. Only in cooperation with others, and in the process of work, does man develop his powers, only in the historical process do humans create themselves.

Only when society's aim will have become identical with the aims of humanity will society cease to cripple man and to further evil." In attempting to transform society, Fromm underestimated the need for individuals to adapt to their society. For the Baha'i to be an effective teacher, propagator, of the New Society he has become associated with, he needs to adapt to the larger society in which he has been born and in which he lives his life. The difficulties I had in the first decade of my pioneering experience came, it seems to me in retrospect, from a slow adapting to my society. Later, in the following decades, my effectiveness was due significantly to my more effective adapting to my society.

Part 3:

This adaptive process is slow and arduous work and, for Baha'is, it takes place in the context of action toward goals using a map provided by the Founders of their religion and the legitimate Successors. "I believe that every man represents humanity. We are different as to intelligence, health and talents. Yet we are all one. We are all saints and sinners, adults and children, and no one is anybody's superior or judge. We have all been awakened with the Buddha, we have all been crucified with Christ, and we have all killed and robbed with Genghis Khan, Stalin, and Hitler.

Man's task in life is precisely the paradoxical one of realizing his individuality and at the same time transcending it and arriving at the experience of universality. Only the fully developed individual self can drop the ego." Perhaps this is one way of defining the nature of 'Abdu'l-Baha and the reason for his effectiveness and efficiency. -Ron Price, Pioneeering Over Four Epochs, 9 October 2002.

Part 4:

There is much truth here, Erich, and
I must thank you for your wonderful
and illuminating books,1 enriching as
they did my life, & approximating the
jewelled wisdom of this lucid Faith, a
Faith that I set out with in '62 when I
moved to Dundas and began to pray
in those back streets on afternoons in
the small town to which I had moved,
to read from sweet-scented streams, &
taste of the fruits of His tree in years
when my father's white hair blew in the
wind for the last time, my mother was
driven to the end of her tether, and that
charisma became institutionalized at the
apex of this wondrous, and new Order.

1 Erich Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusions, Simon and Schuster, NY, 1962, pp.174-182, and many other books to 1994.

Ron Price
9 October 2002
Part 4.1:

Freudís lifeís work had been devoted to understanding as fully as possible the world of manís soul. To Freud psyche and soul were the same, conscious and unconscious mental life, although this subject is complex and highly nuanced. Psychoanalysis is the science of the soul. -Erich Fromm, The Art of Listening, Constable, London, 1994, p.75.
Part 5:

In the 15 August 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books Alan Ryan, in his "The Art of Being Erich Fromm", reviews The Lives of Erich Fromm: Loveís Prophet by Lawrence J. Friedman, with assistance from Anke M. Schreiber, Columbia University Press, 410 pages. Friedman begins his review as follows:

"Some readers will recall being given a copy of Erich Frommís popular The Art of Loving in high school or college, usually remembering it with gratitude, but sometimes with a sense that its reliance on the ideas of Freud and Marx now makes it not only unfashionable, but old-fashioned." I was not given this book but I read it while at university in the years 1963 to 1967.

"Still others may recall their first reading of Escape from Freedom," continues Friedman, "one of the earlier attempts to explain what became known as the authoritarian personality: it was provoked by astonishment that so many otherwise rational people followed leaders such as Hitler, but it was much more wide-ranging in its exploration of the fear of freedom and the longing to be dependent." I had also read that book in those 4 years at two universities in Ontario.

"Still others may remember Fromm as a political activist, prominent in the antiwar movement from the early 1950s, and visible for the last time on the public stage as an adviser to Eugene McCarthy during his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1967Ė1968." I was getting ready to teach Inuit kids at the time, and then recovering from teaching them back in those years. Erich Fromm was not on my horizons.