Erich Fromm was an only child born to Orthodox Jewish parents in Frankfurt, Germany. He would later describe his own childhood as “highly neurotic.” At the age of 14, Fromm was very influenced by the start of World War I and developed a strong interest in the behavior of groups. He began looking for answers to his questions in the writings of thinkers including Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.
He went on to study sociology at the University of Heidelberg, earning his doctorate in 1922 under the supervision of Alfred Weber. In 1924, he began studying psychoanalysis at the University of Frankfurt before moving to the Berlin Institute of Psychoanalysis. In 1926, he married Freida Reichmann, a women ten years his senior who had once been Fromm’s own psychoanalyst. The marriage dissolved after four years.
Throughout his life, Fromm maintained a busy career that included numerous teaching positions in addition to publishing a number of books and running his own clinical practice. Fromm helped found the Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute, where he lectured from 1929 to 1932. After the Nazi’s rose to power, the Institute was moved to Geneva, Switzerland and later to the United States at Columbia University.
After moving to the United States, Fromm taught at a number of schools including the New School for Social Research, Columbia and Yale. His criticisms of Sigmund Freud’s theories began to put him at odds with other psychoanalysts, and in 1944 the New York Psychoanalytic Institute suspended him from supervising students for this reason.
Fromm remarried in 1944, became a U.S. citizen and moved to Mexico in hopes of alleviating his second wife’s illness. He began teaching at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1949 and continued to work there until he retired in 1965. After his wife’s death in 1952, Fromm founded the Mexican Institute of Psychoanalysis and continued to serve as its director until 1976. He remarried in 1953 and continued to teach in Mexico while also teaching at other schools including Michigan State University and New York State University for part of each year.
Fromm moved from Mexico City to Muralto, Switzerland in 1974 and remained there until his death in 1980.
Source: psychology.about.com. Web Nov 3rd 2014.
Photo: Erich Fromm (1900-1980) Liss Goldring / Erich Fromm Estate.