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Bacciagaluppi_M_2007

Erich Fromm’s Views on Psychoanalytic „Technique”

Marco Bacciagaluppi

Paper presented at the Symposium „Erich Fromm: Vita e Opera“, that took place on May, 12.-15,
1988 in Locarno. An English translation was published under the title „Erich Fromm’s Views on
Psychoanalytic ‘Technique’“ in Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 25, No. 2 (April 1989). A Ger-
man translation was published under the title „Erich Fromms Ansichten zur psychoanalytischen
'Technik',“ in: Wissenschaft vom Menschen - Science of Man. Jahrbuch der Internationalen Erich-
Fromm-Gesellschaft, Münster (LIT Verlag), Vol. 1 (1990), pp. 85-107. A modiefied italian version
was published unter the title „Le idee di Erich Fromm sulla ‘tecnica’ psicoanalitica“ in Psicoterapia
e scienza umane, Volume 23, No. 3 (1989). Publication of the original paper in: Fromm Forum
(English edition), Tübingen (Selbstverlag), No. 11 (2007), pp. 5-13.

Copyright © 1988, 2007 and 2012 by Dr. Marco Bacciagaluppi, Via Pellini 4, I-20125 Milano / Ita-
lien - E-Mail: m.bacciagaluppi[at-symbol]marcobacciagaluppi.com.

Introduction later in the form of a book (which was not ap-


proved by Fromm).
The first point to be discussed is the title of this 2. Unpublished work by Fromm on tech-
lecture, and more precisely, the quotation nique. Those I have consulted include the short
marks around the word „technique”. Fromm ob- note on technique already referred to and the
jected to the application of this term to psycho- transscript of ten seminars held in Locarno in
analysis. In some unpublished notes titled 1974.
„Psychoanalytic ‘technique’ - or the art of listen- 3. Technical remarks in Fromm’s work of
ing”, Fromm says that the word „technical” re- more general interest. Some of the most impor-
fers „to the mechanical, to that which is not tant ones can be found in his book on Zen Bud-
alive, while the proper word for dealing with that dhism (1960a; GA VI).
which is alive is ‘art’“. 4. Reports by Fromm’s students in (a) in
The second point is the fact that Fromm’s USA, (b) Mexico and (c) Europa. Among the
writings on this subject are so few. He meant to reports of American students of Fromm, two are
remedy this omission towards the end of his life particularly useful as far as technique is con-
by publishing his views on psychoanalytic the- cerned: a paper by David Schecter, published
ory and technique, but only succeeded in com- in 1981 but actually written in 1958, reporting
pleting the first part of this project, the result of on a seminar held in Mexico in 1957, and a pa-
which was his last book, Greatnesss and Limi- per of 1981 by Bernard Landis. In this lecture I
tations of Freud’s Thought (1979a; GA VIII). shall limit myself to sources (1), (2), (3) and
Lacking a systematic work by Fromm him- (4a).
self, the available sources for reconstructing his For data on Fromm’s activity in Mexico I
technique can be grouped into several catego- refer to Dr. Silva Garcia. One of his most rele-
ries: vant contributions is a paper of 1983 on trans-
1. Fromm’s published work on technique. ference in Freud, Ferenczi and Fromm.
These include a prewar paper (1935a; GA I), As to Fromm’s last years in Europe, in a
the four chapters on dreams in The Forgotten recent paper titled Erich Fromms thera-
Language (1951a, GA IX), a short paper on free peutische Annäherung oder die Kunst der Psy-
association (1955d), and the Evans interview of chotherapie, Luban Plozza and Biancoli (1987)
December 1963, which appeared as a film and report on technical recommendations and re-

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marks on groups, psychosomatic symptoms characterized by thruthfulness, he by and large


and relaxation techniques. This paper is also an considered it as „a medical-therapeutic proce-
overview of Fromm’s technical contributions, dure, as it had actually developed out of hypno-
drawing on published and unpublished material, sis” (op. cit., p. 119). Through detailed refer-
so there will be some overlap between this pa- ences to Freud’s papers on technique, Fromm
per and my lecture. Finally, the paper by Luban- stresses that Freud recommended that the ana-
Plozza and Biancoli draws technical conse- lyst should have an attitude of „coldness” and
quences from some of Fromm’s writings not „indifference”, on the model of the surgeon.
dealing specifically with technique, especially Tolerance is „actually the only positive recom-
his later ones. For example, on the basis of The mendation Freud gives for the analyst’s atti-
Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, the impor- tude” (op. cit., p. 120).
tance of expressing defensive aggressiveness Later in the paper, Fromm criticizes the
in therapy is stressed (op. cit., p.122), and the aim of analysis, as defined by Freud, of winning
analysis of the experience of time in To Have back a part of the patient’s capacity for work
Or to Be? is applied to the therapeutic situation and enjoyment. Fromm points out that, whereas
(op. cit., p. 127). Freud presents this capacitiy as a biological
This is a valuable work of interpretation. category, it is actually a social requirement.
However,following Wolstein (1981), who rec- „The analyst himself represents in this sense a
ommends to distinguish between interpretations model” (op. cit., p. 127). What Freud is really
of Fromm and his own statement of his clinical doing is to present the capitalistic character as
procedure, in this lecture I shall limit myself to a model and to define as neurotic anything
Fromm’s own statements, whether directly ex- which deviates from this norm (op. cit., p. 128).
pressed or reported by others. Towards the end of the paper, Fromm
I shall also try to compare Fromm’s posi- views Freud’s disapproval of deviant followers
tion with that of Freud, on the one hand, and as indirect evidence of his basic identification
with more recent psychoanalytic developments, with social norms. Here Fromm discusses at
on the other. length Ferenczi’s half-hearted opposition to
Freud. His extensive quotations from Ferenczi’s
last papers show that Fromm had read them
Early Work closely and sympathetically. He quotes approv-
ingly Ferenczi’s recommendations to show the
An early account of Fromm’s ideas on theory patient „unshakable goodwill”, to acknowledge
and technique, in which at the same time he the analyst’s mistakes, to avoid replacing one
himself compares his position to Freud’s is con- super-ego-with another. He points out that Fer-
tained in a prewar paper of his, Die gesell- enczi put the „principle of indulgence” in the
schaftliche Bedingtheit der psychoanalytischen place of the „principle of frustration”.
Therapie (1935a; GA I, p. 115). This paper ap- Then, Fromm criticizes the concept of tol-
peared in German in the „Zeitschrift für Sozial- erance itself, on account of the relativism it im-
forschung”, which at that time was being pub- plies towards conscious evaluations. He ad-
lished in Paris. It is not often quoted, possibly vises the analyst to openly take sides and to
because it has never been translated into Eng- say, for example: „Ich meine auch, Sie haben
lish, but I believe it deserves to be morely damit recht” („also I think you are right there”)
widely known. (op. cit. p. 135). He points out that the patient is
In this paper, Fromm discusses the attitude not so much afraid of the analyst’s judgement
of tolerance recommended by Freud towards as of the fact of being judged unconsciously
the patient. Fromm maintains that, in contrast to and in the sense of conventional taboos. Fur-
this conscious attitude, Freud and his followers ther, the patient is not so much afraid of his be-
have at an unconscious level a judgmental atti- haviour being judged as of being judged as a
tude which confirms the social taboos of bour- person.
geois society. Finally, Fromm asks which are the condi-
Fromm points out that, although in one tions for an optimal effectiveness of psychoana-
passage Freud did see the analytic situation as lytic technique. Ferenczi recommends that the

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analyst’s personal analysis should reach the agrees with Freud that the aim of psychoanaly-
deepest levels. Fromm believes that this is not sis is that of making the unconscious con-
sufficient. It is necessary to see the social char- scious.
acter of taboos, and not to view them as bio- Freud’s concept, however, had two limita-
logical or natural (op. cit., p. 136). tiones: (1) the content of the unconscious to be
I think this paper contains implicitly most of discovered was limited to infantile instinctual
Fromm’s principles of technique, either in the drives, and (2) the sector to be uncovered was
negative form of a critique of Freud, or in the determined by the therapeutic need to cure a
indirect form of an approval of Ferenczi. particular symptom. Fromm extends this aim to
the full recovery of the unsconscious. As he
says in one of the unpublished seminars (2, p,
Later Work 55), this involves viewing psychoanalysis „not
as a therapy but as an instrument for self-
These principles are stated more explicitly in understanding. That is to say an instrument for
later work. Before we examine these later work, self-liberation, an instrument in the art of liv-
a preliminary consideration is necessary. In ing.”More succintly, in a later seminar (8, p.
1959, Edward Tauber wrote: „Fromm has ex- 265) he says that the aim of psychoanalysis is
perienced a change in himself since approxi- „to know oneself”.
mately 1954, and this change has affected his In accordance with widening of the aim of
conception of psychoanalysis and his way of psychoanalysis, Fromm differentiated between
doing therapy. He sees the change in himself the medical or therapeutic goal of psychoanaly-
as qualitative, whereas I see as quantitative” sis and the goal of „well-being”. This may corre-
(Tauber, 1959). spond to two categories of patients (Tauber,
Fromm’s later view, according to Tauber, is 1959), or to two phases in the analysis of a sin-
that psychoanalysis should penetrate as deeply gle patient (Schecter, 1981).
as possible to the very core of the patient’s life As regards the methods for the observa-
and force him to face his resistances. In this tion of the unconscious, Fromm (1955d, p. 2)
endeavor, the analyst should be his full self with follows Freud and lists the interpretation of
the patient. dreams, the analysis of transference, and the
The change in Fromm is also mentioned use of free association (he omits to mention
by Wolstein, in a note written in 1981, after fantasies).
Fromm’s death, and already quoted earlier. In We shall talk about transference later.
this paper, Wolstein reports on a case which he Fromm discusses dreams in chapters 3 to 6 of
presented to Fromm in 1955. To his surprise, The Forgotten Language and in the Evans in-
Fromm, in contrast to his theoretical views, terview. This is by far the longest contribution
seemed to be still following at the time the clas- by Fromm on a topic of psychoanalytic tech-
sical procedure outlined by Freud in 1915-17 in nique. This probably reflects his predilection of
the First Introductory Lectures. dream interpretation. In the Evans interview he
With the exception of the prewar paper, says: „I believe that dream interpretation is
The Forgotten Language, of 1951, and the about the most important instrument we have in
short paper on free association, of 1955, all the psychoanalytic therapy.” In one of the unpub-
published and unpublished material which will lished seminars (9, p. 318) he adds: „Besides
be mentioned in this lecture belongs to the later that, it’s really great fun. I have been interpret-
period of Fromm’s development. ing dreams for so many years now and I must
Fromm always applied the three essential say I enjoy each new dream.”
discoveries of Freud: the existance of (1) un- In The Forgotten Language there is at first
conscious processes, (2) resistance and (3) a theoretical statement of Fromm’s position in
transference (unpublished seminars, 9, p. 316). comparison to Freud’s. According to Freud,
The first of these topics leads us to a discussion dreams are the hallucinatory fulfillment of irra-
of the aim of psychoanalysis. tional wishes. According to Fromm, dreams are
In his book on Zen (1960a; GA VI, p. 351; the expression of any kind of mental activity
p. 135 of the English paperback edition) Fromm which occurs during sleep - not only of irrational

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impulses but also of the best part of ourselves. ject at some length, because Fromm’s concept
Instead, Fromm is in agreement with Freud’s of the analyst’s role influences his view of the
description of the formal mechanisms at work in transference and the way he handles resis-
dreams. tances.
At a practical level, there is some case ma- In his first paper published in English
terial in chapter 3 of The Forgotten Language (1939a), Fromm writes that the detached atti-
and especially in chapter 6. Here, in three tude is in his opinion the most serious defect in
cases, verbatim interchanges between analyst Freud’s technique. Freud’s most quoted model
and patient are reported. From a technical point in this connection is that of the mirror, which he
of view, these reports show that Fromm always mentions in his third technical paper (C.P. II, p.
asked for associations, that he actively stimu- 331). Actually, Freud mentions the mirror only
lated them, and that he had a special concern to guard against self-disclosure on the part of
for the events of the day preceding the dream. the analyst. But in the same paper, Freud also
From the point of view of content, in addtion to mentions the model of the surgeon and his
the fulfillment of irrational wishes, Fromm em- coldness in feeling (op. cit., p. 327). This con-
phasizes the presence in dreams of strivings firms that he not only recommended not to ex-
towards growth and of insight into the patient’s press emotions, but also not to feel them.
situation. Instead, in his unpublished notes on tech-
In a report of a case seminar with Fromm nique Fromm says: „The basic rule for practis-
held in New York in 1973, Kwawer (1975) con- ing this art is the complete concentration of the
firms that Fromm saw dreams as repressed in- listener.” „He must be endowed with a capacity
sights, and comments that this notion draws for empathy.” „The condition for such empathy
more on the cognitive-perceptual functions than is the capacity for love.” „Understanding and
does the classical view. loving are inseparable.” In the unpublished
One comment by Fromm in the Evans in- seminars (9, p. 322) he also describes this atti-
terview implies a further comparison with Freud tude as one of „real concern”. Fromm also dis-
on the subject of dreams. Fromm says that, in cusses the role of the analyst in his book on
Freud’s book on dreams, interpretation is „a Zen (1960a; GA VI, pp. 332-333; pp. 11-112 of
tremendous intellectual exercise” but does not the English paperback edition), where he states
lead to a better understanding of the dreamer. It the same principle in similar terms. Here he
must be said, in all fairness, that also Freud, in says: „The analyst understands the patient only
his first paper on technique, draws a distinction inasmuch as he experiences in himself all that
between dream research and the use of the patient experiences.”
dreams in therapy, and at the end of his third Here he speaks of „productive relatedness
technical paper warns against the danger of in- between analyst and patient”, of „being fully en-
tellectualization. gaged with the patient, fully open and respon-
Fromm discusses free association in a sive to him”, of „center-to-center relatedness”.
short paper, Remarks on the Problem of Free „The analyst must become the patient, yet he
Association (1955d). He points out that in or- must be himself.” In the Evans interview,
thodox Freudian analysis free association has Fromm bases this capacity for empathy on a
often become an empty ritual, and makes sug- humanistic premise:” There is nothing human
gestions to revitalize this procedure by various which is alien to me.” This is the classical ver-
kinds of stimulation. He also says that the ana- sion of the one-genus statement, taken from
lyst must react with his own imagination and Terence: „Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum
free associations (op. cit., p. 6). This point is in puto.” Sullivan expressed the same concept
keeping with Freud’s recommendations in his when he said: „We are all much more simply
third technical paper on the analyst’s attitude of human than otherwise.”
„evenly-hovering attention” (Collected Papers, Let us compare in more detail this view of
II, pp. 324 and 328). This paper by Fromm is the analyst’s role with Freud’s view. In the Ev-
summarized by Schecter (1981). ans interview, Fromm says: „While I am listen-
Fromm differs most sharply from Freud on ing, I have responses, which are the responses
the role of the analyst. I shall deal with this sub- of a trained instrument. What you tell me makes

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me hear certain things.” Here there is a similar- choanalysis. Ferenczi’s influence was already
ity to what Freud says concerning the analyst’s evident both on the British school and on the
attitude. In his third technical paper he tries to American interpersonal-cultural school through
establish a rule for the analyst which is com- Clara Thompson. It may be that Fromm pro-
plementary to the fundamental rule for the pa- vided a second channel of influence on the in-
tient. (C.P. II, pp. 324 and 328). This is the rule terpersonal-cultural school.
of „evenly-hovering attention”. Freud says that I further suggest that this influence could
the analyst „must bend his own unconsciuos be understood in terms of another concept of
like a receptive organ towards the emerging Fromm, that of social selection. This concept is
unconscious of the patient” and „use his own most clearly spelled out in Fromm’s and Mac-
unconscious in this way as an instrument”. The coby’s Mexican study (1970a; GA III, p. 478; p.
difference lies in the fact that Freud is only re- 232 of the original English edition), but it is al-
ferring to a response in terms of ideas, not in ready present in the prewar paper, applied to
terms of feelings. Fromm, instead, suggests psychoanalysis itself. In that paper (GA I, p.
that the analyst should respond with his whole 137), Fromm points out that Freud’s approach
self. was the dominant one in psychoanalysis be-
On the other hand, in his book on Zen (GA cause it corresponded to the dominant social
VI, p. 344; p. 126 of the English paperback edi- character structure. The social character struc-
tion), Fromm warns that this direct relatedness ture, however, represents an average value.
should be „free from any [...] interference of the There is always a number of individuals who,
analyst in the life of the patient. If the patient for causes lying in „individual destiny”, show a
wants to get well [...] the analyst is willing to gradual divergence from this average value.
help him. If his resistance to change is too Using Fromm’s later terminology, we could say
great, this is not the analyst’s responsibility”. In- that a biophilic character orientation predis-
stead, both in the interview and according to posed Fromm and other analysts to respond to
Landis (1981), Fromm strongly emphasizes the Ferenczi’s loving approach and thus strength-
patient’s responsibility. ened what was then a marginal position, mak-
In his book on Zen (GA VI, pp. 332-33; pp. ing it into an alternative pathway in the devel-
111-12 of the English paperback edition), opment of psychoanalysis. It would be impor-
Fromm outlines a history of the concept of the tant to determine what modifications in the so-
analyst’s role. He says that Freud’s „concept of cial environment allowed this alternative devel-
the detached observer was modified from two opment to emerge.
sides, first by Ferenczi, who in the last years of To go back to the discussion of technique:
his life postulated that it was not enough for the related to the role of the analyst is the subject of
analyst to observe and to interpret; that he had the communication of the analyst. In the inter-
to be able to love the patient with the very love view, Fromm says that he is very active in his
which the patient had needed as a child.” Then interventions, and does not want to wait a long
by Sullivan, with his concept of the participant time until the resistances are broken through.
observer. But Fromm is dissatisfied with this, He thus explicitly differs from Freud’s caution.
and suggests the term „observant participant”. Fromm’s active approach would probably have
Still dissatisfied, he reaches the emphatic defi- been considered by Freud an example of „wild
nition already quoted: „The analyst understands psychoanalysis”. In his 1910 paper on this sub-
the patient only inasmuch as he experiences in ject, Freud utters his first call for caution (C.P.
himself all that the patient experiences.” II, p. 302). At the end of this paper, however,
This historical outline, coupled with the ex- Freud recognizes some merit to wild psycho-
tensive references to Ferenczi in the prewar analysis. He goes back to this point at the end
paper quoted earlier, suggests that Ferenczi of his fourth technical paper (C.P. II. pp. 363-
may have been an important precursor of 364), where he says that an active approach
Fromm’s concept of non-erotic love as the most „first arouses resistances, but then sets a men-
appropriate attitude for the analyst. This would tal process in action”.
further increase Ferenczi’s importance in the Freud affirms the same need for caution in
development of alternative approaches in psy- his fourth technical paper, in which he says that

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„one must be careful not to communicate [an in- Psycho-Analytic Therapy”, where it is directed
terpretation] until the the patient is already close against acting out in general (C.P. II, p.396).
upon it”. (C.P. II, p. 361). Another expression of This subject is also addressed by Fromm
Freud’s caution is the rule, stated in his first in the unpublished seminars (9, p. 332). This is
technical paper (C.P. II, pp. 306 and 307), ac- another point on which he basically agrees with
cording to which one should start from what is Freud. He says: „If you act out the very thing
on the surface of the patient’s mind. you want to analyze, that you want to get rid of,
There is some contradiction between this then indeed there are very great limitations to
impatience with the length of the treatment, ex- what you can do analytically”.
pressed by Fromm in the interview, and the So much for Freud’s first essential discov-
opinion he states in other places, for instance in ery - the existence of unconscious processes,
his book on Zen (GA VI, p. 309; pp. 84-85 of the methods of discovering them, and the ana-
the English paperback edition), in which he ad- lyst’s role in doing so. Fromm has written much
mires Freud’s willingness to devote so much less on the other two essential discoveries of
time to one person, as an attitude transcending Freud - transference and resistance. Here we
contemporary Western values. have to rely mainly on the evans interview, on
In addition to the basic difference on the reports by students and on the unpublished
role of the analyst, Fromm also differs from seminars.
Freud on various technical details of the psy- Transference is discussed at the very be-
choanaytic procedure. In his first book on Freud ginning of the interview. Fromm makes a dis-
of 1959, he criticizes the use of the couch, the tinction between transference in a narrow
frequency of four or five weekly sessions and sense, arising in the analytic situation, and
the analyst’s silence. Fromm says that all these transference in a more general sense, which
features have become part of a ritual, and that arises in relationship to many other people. I
many patients are attracted by the ritual itself, wish to point out that here Fromm does not dif-
because it gives them the feeling of belonging fer from Freud, who says the same thing in his
to the psychoanalytic movement (1959a; GA second paper on technique (C.P. II, p. 313).
VIII, pp. 213-214). Fromm then goes on to say that the ana-
Landis (1981, p. 539) gives a good de- lytic relationship takes place on two seperate
scription of Fromm’s approach at the beginning levels. The analyst „must offer himself as an ob-
of a psychoanalytic treatment. He says that ject of transference, and analyze, but he must
Fromm established the analyst’s competence offer himself as a real person, and respond as a
from the outset. He quotes Fromm as saying: real person.”
„The patient is always impressed by indications This, of course, is a consequence of the
that the analyst has listened with concentration different view of the analyst’s role, which we
and interest.” have already discussed: the analyst is not
Among the technical details, Fromm basi- merely the detached observer of transferential
cally agrees with the fundamental rule concern- and countertransferential distortions, but par-
ing the communications of the patient, which ticipates in the relationship.
Freud set forth in his fourth technical paper A consequence of the phenomenon of
(C.P. II,p. 355). In the Evans interview and in transference is the emergence of dependency
other places Fromm states this rule in a basi- feelings. This is another topic which is dis-
cally similar form. cussed in the interview. Evans points out that
Another important technical topic is the Fromm, by his emphasis on the patient’s re-
rule of abstinance. Menninger and Holzman sponsibility, discourages dependence from aris-
(1973) consider it „Freud’s second ‘fundamental ing. When Evans asks if this limits the number
rule’ of psychoanalysis”. Freud mentions it twice of patients who continue, Fromm denies it, but
in his papers on technique: once in his sixth then recognizes that it is a question of dosage,
paper, on „Transference Love”, where it is di- and that more caution is required with more se-
rected against the gratification of the erotic vere cases.
transference (C.P. II. p. 383), and again in the
later 1919 paper on „Turnings in the Ways of

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Excerpts From Interview classes of relationships: current events outside


the treatment situation, current events in treat-
The emphasis on the real relationship, coupled ment situation, and past events. This idea is re-
with the discouragement of dependency, gives ferred to as Menninger’s „triangle of insight”, or
the impression that, of the two levels of the rela- Malan’s „triangle of person”, but it had already
tionship, Fromm favors one over the other - the been presented by Sullivan in The Psychiatric
level of the real relationship over the transferen- Interview (1954).
tial level. With his „X-ray approach”, Fromm seems
Let us now turn to Freud’s third essential to differ from present analytic practice. This is in
discovery - that of resistances to the uncovering keeping with Tauber’s remark to the effect that
of unconscious material. In the unpublished „Fromm has tended more recently to lay much
seminars (8, p. 283) Fromm says: „perhaps the less stress on the effects of other individuals
most important thing in analysis is the recogni- than on the patient” (Tauber, 1959, p. 1814).
tion of resistance.”. He goes on to acknowledge Instead, in the clinical material reported in chap-
the importance of Wilhelm Reich’s contribution ter 6 of The Forgotten Language, Fromm
in this respect. He then lists the use of im- seemed to be very sensitive to the importance
provement, of dreams and of free associations of early relations and their influence on later life.
as resistances. He omits the very important On the other hand, both Landis (1981, p. 547)
topic of transference as resistance, which fig- and Schecter (1981, p. 471) agree that also in
ures prominently in Freud’s second technical his later phase Fromm had an historical orienta-
paper on „The Dynamics of the Transference”. tion. He believed the patient had to go back to
This omission may be further evidence of the point where something went wrong and ex-
Fromm’s tendency to discourage an intense amine possible alternatives.
transference. Another technical subject is what Freud
In describing Fromm’s model of direct re- calls the mechanism of the cure, which he dis-
latedness, Schecter (1981) presents a picture cusses at the end of his fourth technical paper,
of Fromm stripping away „The layers of charac- the one on beginning the treatment (C.P. II, pp.
ter defense and neurotic avenues of escape”, 362-365). Freud says that knowledge in itself is
and converting „a chronic or alienated life not enough. A shift in the distribution of energy,
situation into an acute crisis in the here and by means of the transference, has to occur.
now”. This is reminiscent of certain modern Fromm addresses the same subject in one
techniques of brief psychotherapy, such as the of the unpublished seminars (8, pp. 247-283),
anxiety-arousing technique of Sifneos or the where he discusses the therapeutic effects of
anger-provoking approach of Davanloo, and psychoanalysis. Also Fromm mentions both in-
confirms that Fromm had a very active ap- sight and energy. At first he mentions „the in-
proach to resistance. crease of freedom which a person has when he
Another issue raised in the Evans interview can see his real conflicts instead of fictional
is that of the field of investigation. At one point, conflicts” (op. cit. p. 274). Then he says: „Once
the interviewer asks Fromm if he has a situ- you lift the repression [...] energy becomes
ational or a historical orientation. Fromm thinks available” (op. cit., p. 277). Finally, „innate striv-
that is a wrong dichotomy. He says his aim „is ings for health can begin to work”. Freud also
to arrive at an insight into the unconscious acknowledged these strivings in his 1919 paper
processes which the patient has right now” - (C.P. II, p. 395).
what he calls „a X-ray approach”. This is This leads to one final point which actually
equivalent to asking the question „Who am I?”, transcends analysis, namely the additional
rather than „Why am I the way I am?” (unpub- steps which are necessary beyond analysis.
lished seminars, 4, p. 139). „However”, adds Fromm discusses them in the unpublished
Fromm in the interview, „the patient himself will seminars (9, pp. 301-313). I shall only mention
understand this only if he can [...] re-experience the first, which is „to change one’s action”, to
some childhood experiences.” take steps „which are the consequences of this
Today, analysts generally consider three new awareness” (op. cit., p. 301).
fields of events, which are actually three

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making value judgements he answers: „It is not


Case Material a value judgement. This is a statement of facts”
(unpublished seminars 7, p. 358).
After discussing psychoanalytic technique in In the modern psychoanalytic literature, a
theoretical terms, we would like to be able to comparable forthrightness is to be found in
examine case material. In the field of psycho- Bowlby, who, in The Making and Breaking of
analysis, this would be the most suitable way Affectional Bonds (Bowlby, 1979), reports tell-
for arriving at what Fromm calls „experiential ing a patient. „Your mother never has really
knowledge” in his book on Zen (GA VI, p. 332; loved you” (p. 150).
p. III of the English paperback edition), or „af-
fective knowledge” in his unpublished seminars
(I, p. 18). Here, however, Fromm’s contributions Comparison With Other Psychoanalysts
are even fewer. Luban-Plozza and Biancoli
(1987) ascribe this to Fromm’s refusal to exploit In the previous section, the account of Fromm’s
another person (p. 119). As I mentioned before, views on technique involved at the same time a
there is some reference to patients in the chap- comparison with the view of two earlier ana-
ters on dreams in The Forgotten Language, es- lysts, Ferenczi and, especially, Freud. Now I
pecially in chapter 6. This is possibly the richest would like to compare Fromm’s position with
source of case material in Fromm’s published that of contemporary or later analysts.
writings. Fromm is not often quoted in the psycho-
Only case material could reveal certain analytic literature. This may be due to his radi-
facets of Fromm’s technique. For example, ac- cal views and to the scarcity of his technical
cording to Schecter (1981, p. 471), „one of contributions. For instance, in Merton Gill’s im-
Fromm’s greatest clinical talents is his ability to portant paper on the interpersonal paradigm
delineate in a relatively short time the central (Gill, 1983), Fromm is not even mentioned. On
strivings and issues in the patient.” the other hand, it must be admitted that this ne-
I expect there is unpublished material on glect is reciprocated by Fromm. In his unpub-
other cases in Mexico and the USA. In the lished seminars, the only contemporary analyst
sources I consulted I have found an extensive to whom he refers is Sullivan, and among more
presentation of only one case, which was dis- recent writers, the only one he mentions is
cussed in the unpublished Locarno seminars Ronald Laing, in order to express admiration for
and partly published, in disguised form, in the his work on the families of schizophrenics.
paper by Bernhard Landis (1981). Fromm antedated certain modern psycho-
In the published part, Fromm makes clear analytic concepts, such as symbiosis, by dec-
his very active approach to resistance: „The re- ades (Greenberg and Mitchell, 1983, p. 196). In
sistance will be enormous. I would tell her of order to obtain recognition for his priority and to
her resistance, hitting very hard to drive it make his concepts circulate more widely in the
home” (Landis, 1981, p. 544). In the unpub- psychoanalytic community, they have to be in-
lished part, Fromm reveals an attitude which tegrated with the developments which have
may be the ultimate explanation of what en- taken place, to a large extent, independently
abled his patients to face the anxiety aroused from him.
by his direct approach. Fromm says: „The prob- In his discussion of Sullivan (unpublished
lem is of taking sides. There is no neutralitiy in seminars, 4, pp. 144-161), Fromm gives him
this question.” For example, he would say to credit for having continued in Pinel’s tradition of
this patient, who is reporting a negative attitude giving the psychotic the dignity of a human be-
in her mother: „That’s what you feel and you’re ing. Secondly, he recognizes the importance of
damned right” (op. cit., p. 237). Here Fromm is Sullivan’s emphasis on interpersonal relations.
repeating literally what he had already said in He differs from Sullivan on his view of human
his prewer paper: „Sie haben damit recht” nature. For Sullivan, according to Fromm,
(„you’re right there”). This is an interpretation in „there is no core”, „there is no individual self”
terms of real-life situations, in the spirit of psy- (op. cit., p. 154). Sullivan’s concept of man,
choanalysis prior to 1897. To the charge of says Fromm, is actually „a description of the

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marketing character”, „a description of contem- or later, the analyst will behave like the bad
porary character in American society” (op. cit., parent; when this happens, it has to be ac-
p. 160). knowledged and analysed; as Levenson (1972)
Next to these theoretical differences there puts it, we have to be trapped in the patient’s
are corresponding differences in therapeutic situation, then work our way out of it; (2) the
technique. Sullivan, for example, was careful view of the patient as being sought in a basic
never to arouse too much anxiety in his pa- conflict between repeating the past and differ-
tients. However, this antinomy can be solved by entiating the self; (3) the importance of provid-
realizing that Fromm and Sullivan were ad- ing clarity to the patient by making the thera-
dressing two very different types of patients. peutic interaction explicit.
Sullivan’s cases were much more severe than I find Greenberg (1981) makes a useful
Fromm’s, and it could be argued that for them distinction between „participating with” the pa-
the goal of transcending the culture was not tient’s strivings towards health and „participat-
feasible. In his 1981 paper, already referred to, ing in” the patient’s pathological relationships.
Wolstein suggests that these two approaches Hirsch’s „participant” group could be character-
should be integrated. Maybe, we could say that ized as only „participating with”, whereas his
Fromm has better defined the ultimate aim of more radical group of „observing participants”
psychoanalysis, but that in many cases an could be characterized as also „participating in”.
analysis of dependency is an indispensable I have tried to present these various group-
means to reach that aim. ings in a table which is added to the text of this
In order to compare Fromm’s position to lecture (Table I).
other recent developments in psychoanalysis, I Hirsch claims that the term „observing par-
shall make use of a very valuable recent paper ticipants”, with which he defines the more radi-
by Hirsch (1987), who examines these devel- cal group, is taken from The Heart of Man. Ac-
opments in terms of the varying degrees of par- tually, Fromm uses this term in a slightly differ-
ticipation on the part of the analyst. We have ent form - „observant participant” - and in a dif-
seen that this is the central point in Fromm’s ferent place - in his book on Zen Buddhism
theory of technique, and the one on which he (1960a; GA VI, p. 333; p. 112 of the English
differs most from Freud. paperback edition).
Hirsch starts by remarking that analysts Aside from this formal question, I would
vary in the relative therapeutic importance ac- like to raise a substantial question: although
corded to (I) insight and (2) the experience of a Hirsch uses a term taken from Fromm to char-
new relationsship, with the orthodox Freudian acterize the more radical group of analysts,
position standing at one extreme, that of insight. where does Fromm actually stand? As we have
Hirsch then refers between radical and conser- seen, Fromm certainly views himself as partici-
vative critics of the blank-screen model. Hirsch pating intensely in the therapeutic relationship,
calls the radical critics „observing participants” but at an empathic level, namely as „participat-
and the conservative critics merely „partici- ing with”. I doubt if Fromm sees himself as in-
pants”. The analysts he lists come from differ- evitably enmeshed in the patient’s past pat-
ent theoretical backgrounds. Among the ob- terns, namely as „participating in”.
serving participants are Gill, Levenson, Racker, If we consider the three features which,
Sandler and Searles. Among the participants according to Hirsch, characterize the more radi-
are Fairbairn, Melanie Klein, Winnicott, Kohut cal group, Fromm certainly shares the view of
and Sullivan. the patient as being cought in a basic conflict
According to Hirsch, three features charac- between repeating the past and differetiating
terize the radical group of „observing partici- the self. But, as to the inevitability of „participat-
pants”: (1) in the inevitable enmeshment of the ing in”, which may be viewed as an extreme
analyst in the patient’s pattern of repetition; this form of transferential and countertransferential
is Merton Gill’s (1983) third principle of the involvement, we have seen that Fromm tends
transference, which states that, sooner or later, to discourage an intense transference. As to in-
the analyst inevitably falls in with the patient’s sight, it is the most important aim for Fromm,
negative expectations; this means that, sooner who extended it beyond Freud’s original mean-

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ing. Fromm, however, does not seem to con- theoretical terms.


sider the therapeutic interaction itself as one of As a first, general definition, the new rela-
the areas to which insight should be applied. By tionship provided by Fromm could be regarded
being intensely involved at an empathic level, as what Franz Alexander termed a „corrective
but by not seeing himself as inevitably en- emotional experience”. More specifically,
meshed in the repetition of the past and by not Fromm’s reference to non-erotic love would
making the therapeutic interaction explicit, I lead to define his attitude as that of parental
suggest that Fromm is nearer to Hirsch’s „par- love, although Fromm himself would probably
ticipant” group - which I would characterize as be suspicious of this definition because of the
only „participating with”. I therefore believe it danger of encouraging the analyst’s narcissistic
would be misleading to describe the radical view of him/herself as a good parent.
group of analysts with Fromm’s term of „observ- Fromm differs from the radical group of
ing participants”. analysts because he apparently does not be-
On the other hand, Fromm differs from all lieve that the patient’s unconscious efforts to
these groups because of his wider frame of ref- provoke confirmations of his/her negative ex-
erence, characterized by his view of man as pections can make the analyst really behave
having basic needs and by a critical view of so- like the bad parent. In this respect he resem-
ciety as frustrating these basic needs. To define bles Winnicott, who believes he can withstand
Fromm’s position in comparison to these the patient’s pressure and remain the good - or
groups of analysts, I would place him on the „good-enough” - parent.
outside of the „participant” group. I would also On the other hand, Fromm also differs
place Ferenczi at the top of the „participants”, from Winnicott and the other analysts of the
as the precursor of this group, and Bowlby at „participant” group. What we said in connection
the bottom, as the most recent exponent of the with Sullivan can apply to this group as a whole.
British school. In my opinion, Bowlby is the These analysts are mostly involved with chil-
closest to Fromm in regarding man as endowed dren or with severe cases, and they are mainly
of basic needs and in having a critical view of oriented towards the patient’s attachment
society, although less explicit than Fromm’s. needs. Fromm, instead, is mainly oriented to-
wards autonomy needs. The other analysts of
Conclusion this group would maintain that, in order to relin-
quish the attachment to bad objects, an alterna-
From this comparison of Fromm’s position with tive good relationship with the analyst is neces-
that of other analysts we can try to draw some sary, Bowlby, in particular, would say that,in or-
conclusions on Fromm’s therapeutic technique. der to acquire insight, to explore, one needs a
There is something paradoxical in Fromm’s dis- safe base. Fromm does not theorize this, but,
cussion of this subject. Of the two essential when he says to the patient „Sie haben Recht”
therapeutic factors listed by Hirsch - insight, or „You’re damned right”, also he supplies a
and the experience of a new relationship - , basic security.
Fromm only stresses the first. Yet, his insis- I would sum up by saying that Fromm as
tence on direct, „core-to-core” relatedness im- an analyst gives the impression of a good par-
plies that the patient’s experience of a new rela- ent intensely concerned with the growth of his
tionship with the analyst would inevitably be- patient, and providing a basic security implicitly.
come the second major factor in a Frommian
analysis. Fromm does not discuss this factor in

TABLE I

Groupings of analysts according to the degree of participation

only observation oberservation and ”partici- oberservation, ”participation with” and


pation with” ”participation in”

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orthodox Freudians conservative critics of the radicals critics of the blanc-scrren model
blanc-screen model (Hoffman, 1983)
(Hoffman 1983)
”participants” (Hirsch 1987) ”observing participants” (Hirsch 1987)
Ferenczi Gill
Sullivan, Kohut Levenson
M. Klein, Fairbairn Racker
Winnicott, Bowlby Sandler
Fromm Searles

analyst’s experience. Contemporary Psy-


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