2017-08-20T21:58:31

The challenge of having been born human.

Here are my notes from book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness by Erich Fromm

  • p4 However, man differs from the animal by the fact that he is a killer; he is the only primate that kills and tortures members of his own species without any reason, either biological or economic, and who feels satisfaction in doing so.
  • p6 sadism - the passion for unrestricted power over another sentient being; necrophilia - the passion to destroy life and the attraction to all that is dead, decaying, and purely mechanical
  • p8 The human passions transform man from a mere thing into a hero, into a being that in spite of tremendous handicaps tries to make sense of life. He wants to be his own creator, to transform his state of being unfinished into one with some goal and some purpose, allowing him to achieve some degree of integration. Man's passions are not banal psychological complexes that can be adequately explained as caused by childhood traumata. They can be understood only if one goes beyond the realm of reductionist psychology and recognizes them for what they are; man's attempt to make sense out of life and to experience the optimum of intensity and strength he can (or believes he can) achieve under the given circumstances.
  • p9 The truth is that all human passions, both the "good" and the "evil," can be understood only as a person's attempt to make sense his life. Change is possible only if he is able to "convert himself" to a new way of making sense of life by mobilizing his life-furthering passions and thus experiencing a superior sense of vitality and integration to the one he had before. Unless this happens he can be domesticated, but he cannot be cured.
  • p9 But even though the life-furthering passions are conductive to a greater sense of strength, joy, integration, and vitality than destructiveness and cruelty, the latter are as much an answer to the problem of human existence as the former. Even the most sadistic and destructive man is human, as human as the saint. He can be called a warped and sick man who has failed to achieve a better answer to the challenge of having been born human, and this is true; he can also be called a man who took the wrong way in searching of his salvation. These considerations by no means imply, however, that destructiveness and cruelty are not vicious; they only imply that vice is human. They are indeed destructive of life, of body and spirit, destructive not only of the victim but of the destroyer himself. They constitute a paradox: they express life turning against itself in the striving to make sense of it.
  • p15 The death instinct is directed against the organism itself and thus is a self-destructive drive, or it is directed outward, and in this case tends to destroy others ranter than oneself. When blended with sexuality, the death instinct is transformed into more harmless impulses expressed in sadism and masochism.
  • p20 Lorenz states that "present-day civilized man suffers from insufficient discharge of his aggressive drive." Both, by different routes, arrive at a picture of man in which aggressive-destructive energy is continuously produced, and very difficult, if not impossible in the long run to control. The so-called evil in animals becomes a real evil in man, even though according to Lorenz its roots are not evil.
  • p22 So-called polar disease, also known as expedition choler, attacks small groups of men who are completely dependent on one another and are thus prevented from quarreling with strangers or people outside their own circle or friends. From this it will be clear that the damming up of aggression will be more dangerous, the better the members of the group know, understand, and like each other. In such a situation, as I know from personal experience, all aggression and intra-specific fight behavior undergo an extreme lowering of their threshold values. Subjectively this is expressed by the fact that one reacts to small mannerisms of one's best friends - such as the way in which they clear their throats or sneeze - in a way that would normally be adequate only if one had been hit by a drunkard. --K. Lorenz
  • p23 Such a development is by no means found only in relations of employers and servants. Often the history of marriage conflicts is identical; however, since it is easier to fire a servant than to divorce, the outcome is often that of a lifelong battle in which each partner tries to punish the other for ever-accumulating wrongs. The problem that confronts us here is that of a specific human character, namely the narcissistic-exploitative character, and not that of an accumulated instinctive energy.
  • p24 A personal bond, an individual friendship, is found only in animals with highly developed intra-specific aggression; in fact, this bond is the firmer, the more aggressive the particular animal and species is. --K. Lorenz
  • p25 Every man of normally strong emotions knows, from his own experience, the subjective phenomena that go hand with the response of militant enthusiasm. A shiver runs down the back and, as more exact observation shows, along the outside of both arms. One soars elated, above all the ties of everyday life, one is ready to abandon all of the call of what, in the moment of this specific emotion, seems to be a sacred duty. All obstacles in its path became unimportant; the instinctive inhibition against hurting or killing one's fellows lose, unfortunately, much of their power. Rational considerations, criticism, and all reasonable arguments against the behavior dictated by militant enthusiasm are silenced by an amazing reversal of all values, making them appear not only untenable but base and dishonorable. Men may enjoy the feeling of absolute righteousness even while they commit atrocities. Conceptual thought and moral responsibility are at their lower ebb. As a Ukrainian proverb say: "When the banner is unfurled, all reason is in the trumpet. --K. Lorenz
  • p27 Knowing oneself means gaining increasing insight, intellectually and effectively, in heretofore secret parts of one's psyche. It is a process which may take years for a sick person who wants to be cured of his symptoms and a lifetime for a person who seriously wants to be himself. Its effect is one of increased energy because energy is freed from the task of upholding repressions; thus the more man is in touch with his inner reality, the more he is awake and free.
  • p28 Reading prescriptions does not make one well. --Chinese sage
  • p30 The deep need of man not to feel lost and lonely in the world had, of course, been previously satisfied by the concept of a God who had created this world and was concerned with each and every creature.
  • p35 Skinner has shown that by the proper use of positive reinforcement, the behavior of animals and humans can be altered to an amazing degree, even in opposition to what some would loosely call "innate" tendencies.
  • p39 The slave controls the master as completely as the master slave, in the sense that the techniques of punishment employed by master have been selected by the slave's behavior in submitting to them.
  • p40 There must be impulses inherent in man which set limits to the power of conditioning; to study the failure of conditioning seems just as important, scientifically, as its success.
  • p40 Indeed, man can be conditioned to behave in almost every desired way; but only "almost." He reacts to those conditions that conflict with basic human requirements in different and ascertainable ways. He can be conditioned to be a slave, but he will react with aggression or decline in vitality; or he can be conditioned to feel like part of a machine and react with boredom, aggression, and unhappiness.
  • p51 Is it not precisely the peculiarity of human functioning - and its tragedy - that man tries not to face his conflicts; that is, that he does not choose consciously between what he craves to do - out of greed or fear - and what his conscience forbids him to do? The fact is that he removes the awareness of the conflict by rationalization, and the conflict manifests itself only unconsciously in increased stress, neurotic symptoms, or feeling guilty for the wrong reasons.
  • p72 For a narcissistic male, for instance, the sight of a woman may be sexually exciting because he is excited by the possibility of proving to himself how attractive he is. Or a sadistic person may be sexually excited by the chance to conquer a woman (or as the case may be, a man) and to control her or him. Many people are bound for years to each other emotionally just by this motive, especially when the sadism of one fits the masochism of the other. It is rather well known that fame, power, and wealth makes its possessor sexually attractive if certain physical conditions are present. In all these instances the physical desire is mobilized by nonsexual passions which thus find their satisfaction. Indeed, it is anybody's guess how many children owe their existence to vanity, sadism, and masochism, rather than to genuine physical attraction, not to speak of love.
  • p73 My thesis - to be demonstrated in the following chapters - is that destructiveness and cruelty are not instinctual drives, but passions rooted in the total existence of man. They are one of the ways to make sense of life; they are not and could not be present in the animal, because they are by their very nature rooted in the "human condition."
  • p83 Conditioning works through its appeal to self-interest, such as the desire for food, security, praise, avoidance of pain. In animals, self-interest proves to be so strong that by repeated and optimally spaced reinforcements the interest for self-preservation proves to be stronger than other instincts like sex or aggression. Man of course also behaves in accordance with his self-interest; but not always, and not necessarily so. He often acts according to his passions, his meanest and his noblest, and is often willing - and able - to risk his self-interest, his fortune, his freedom, and his life in the pursuit of love, truth, and integrity - of for hate, greed, sadism, and destructiveness. In this very difference lies the reason conditioning cannot be a sufficient explanation for human behavior.
  • p84 Psychoanalysis is essentially a theory of unconscious strivings, of resistance, of falsification of reality according to one's subjective needs and expectations (transference), of character, and of conflicts between passionate strivings embodied in character traits and the demands for self-preservation.
  • p93 P.D.MaxLean called these basic brain mechanisms the four Fs: "feeding, fighting, fleeing and ... the performance of sexual activities". As can easily be recognized, these activities are vitally necessary for the physical survival of the individual and the species.
  • p95 Mobilization of aggression in the corresponding brain areas occurs in the service of life, in response to threats to the survival of the individual or of the species; that is to say, phylogenetically programmed aggression, as it exists in animals and man, is a biologically adaptive, defensive reaction.
  • p98 Not only does predatory behavior have its own neurophysiological substance, distinct from that for defensive aggression, but the behavior itself is different. It does not show rage and is not interchangeable with fight behavior, but it is purpose-determined, accurately aimed, and the tension ends with the accomplishment of the goal - the attainment of food. The predatory instinct is not one of defense, common to all animals, but of food-finding, common to certain animal species that are morphologically equipped for this task. Of course, predatory behaviour is aggressive, but it must be added that this aggression is different from rage-connected aggression provoked by a thread. It is close to what is sometimes called "instrumental" aggression, i.e., aggression in the service of attaining a desired goal. Non predatory animals lack this kind of aggression.
  • p100 The data of the neurosciences which I have discussed have helped to establish the concept of one kind of aggression - life-preserving, biologically adaptive, defensive aggression. They have been useful for the purpose of showing that man is endowed with a potential aggression which is, mobilized by threats to his vital interests. None of these neurophysiological data, however, deal with that for of aggression which is characteristic of man and which he does not share with other mammals: his propensity to kill and to torture without any "reason," but as a goal in itself, a goal not pursued for the sake of defending life, but desirable and pleasureful in itself. … Man is the only mammal who is a large-scale killer and sadist.
  • p103 Observations show that primates in the wild show little aggression, while primates in the zoo can show an excessive amount of destructiveness. … "Civilized" man has always live in the "Zoo" - i.e., in various degrees of captivity and unfreedom - and this is sill true, even in the most advanced societies. … there are at least two different elements in crowding which must be kept apart. One is the reduction of space; the other is the destruction of the social structure.
  • p107 Man needs a social system in which he has his place and in which his relations to others are relatively stable and supported by generally accepted values and ideas.
  • p107 What has happened in modern industrial society is that traditions, and common values, and genuine social personal ties with others have largely disappeared. The modern mass man is isolated and lonely, even though he is part of a crowd; he has no convictions which he could share with others, only slogans and ideologies he gets from communications media. He has become an a-tom (the Greek equivalent of "in-dividual" = indivisible), held together only by common, though often simultaneously antagonistic interests, and by the cash nexus.
  • p123 There is good clinical evidence for the assumption that destructive aggression occurs, at least to a large degree, in conjunction with momentary or chronic emotional withdrawal.
  • p130 In most cultures torture and suffering are made public spectacle for the enjoyment of all. --S.L.Washburn and V.Avis, 1958
  • p138 We are accustomed, because of the nature of our own economy, to think that human beings have a "natural propensity to truck and barter," and that economic relations among individuals or groups are characterized by "economizing," by "maximizing" the result of effort, by "selling dear and buying cheap." Primitive people do none of these things, however; in fact, most of the time it would seem that they do the opposite. They "give things away," they admire generosity, they expect hospitality, they punish thrift as selfishness. And strange of all, the more dire the circumstances, the more scarce (or valuable) the goods, the less "economically" will they behave and the more generous do they seem to be.
  • p139 You must not thank for your meat: it is your right to get parts. In this country, nobody wishes to be dependent on others. Therefore, there is nobody who gives or gets gifts, for thereby you become dependent. With gifts you make slaves just as with whips you make dogs.
  • p145 The market makes freely available a dazzling array of products - all these "good things" are within a man's reach - but never his grasp, for one never has enough to buy everything. To exist in a market economy is to live out a double tragedy, beginning in inadequacy and ending in deprivation.
  • p148 H.H.Turney-High stressed that while the experiences of fear, rage, and frustration are universal, the art of war develops only late in human evolution. Most primitive societies were not capable of war because war requires a sophisticated level of conceptualization.
  • p152 … an entirely new concept: man recognized that he could use his will and intention to make this happen, instead of things just "happening." It would not be exaggerated to say that the discovery of agriculture was the foundation for all scientific thinking and later technological development.
  • p165 In order to achieve the aims of this new society, everything, nature and man, had to be controlled and had to eithe exercise - or fear - power. In order to become controllable, men had to learn to obey and to submit, and in order to submit they had to believe in the superior power - physical and/or magic - of their rullers.
  • p165 As a result of my clinical experience in psychoanalytic therapy I had long come to the conviction that the essence of sadism is the passion for unlimited, godlike control over men and things.
  • p180 Enough instances suggest that man, in contrast to virtually all mammals, is the only primate who can feel intense pleasure in killing and torturing.
  • p186 To put it more generally, only man appears to be destructive beyond the aim of defense or of attaining what he needs.
  • p189 By far the most important case of pseudoaggression is that which is more or less equivalent to self-assertion. … To be aggressive, in its original meaning of "aggressing" can be defined as moving forward a goal without undue hesitation, doubt, or fear.
  • p193 In brief, anger, i.e., basically defensive aggression, weakens sexual interest; sadistic and masochistic impulses, while not generated by sexual behavior, are compatible with it, or stimulating.
  • p194 The sadistic person is sadistic because he is suffering from impotence of the heart, from the incapacity to move the other, to make him respond, to make oneself a loved person. He compensates for that impotence with the passion to have power over others.
  • p197 But the range of man's vital interests is much wider than that of the animal. Man must survive not only physically but also psychically. He needs to maintain a certain psychic equilibrium lest he lose the capacity to function; for man everything necessary for the maintenance of his psychic equilibrium is of the same vital interest as that which serves his physical equilibrium. First of all, man has a vital interest in retaining his frame of orientation. His capacity to act depends on it, and in the last analysis, his sense of identity. If others threaten him with ideas that question his own frame of orientation, he will react to these ideas as to a vital thread. Man needs not only a frame of orientation but also objects of devotion, which becomes a vital necessity for his emotional equilibrium. Whatever they are - values, ideals, ancestors, father, mother, the soil, country, class, religion, and hundreds of other phenomena - they are perceived as sacred. Even customs can become sacred because they symbolize the existing values. The individual - or the group - reacts to an attack against the "sacred" with the same rage and aggressiveness as to an attack against life.
  • p198 Fright, like pain, is a most uncomfortable feeling, and man will do almost anything to get rid of it. There are many ways to get rid of fright and anxiety, such as the use of drugs, sexual arousal, sleep, and the company of others. One of the most effective ways of getting rid of anxiety is to become aggressive. When a person can get out of the passive state of fright and begin to attack, the painful nature of fright disappears.
  • p199 The revolutions that have occurred in history must not obscure the fact that infants and children also make revolutions, but since they are powerless, they have to use their own methods, those of guerrilla warfare, as it were. They fight against suppression of their freedom by various individual methods, such as stubborn negativism, refusal to eat, refusal to be toilet trained, bed-wetting, up and on to the more drastic methods of autistic withdrawal and pseudomental debility. The adults behave like any elite whose power is challenged. They use physical force, often blended with bribery, to protect their position. As result, most children surrender and prefer submission to constant torment.
  • p204 At the same time, fostering group narcissism is very inexpensive from the standpoint of the social budget; in fact, it costs practically nothing compared with social expense required to raise the standard of living. Society has only to pay ideologists who formulate the slogans that generate social narcissism; indeed, many social functionaries, like school teachers, journalists, ministers, and professors, participate even without being paid, at least with money. They receive their reward from feeling proud and satisfied to be serving such a worthy cause - and through enhanced prestige and promotion.
  • p205 Group narcissism is one of the most important sources of human aggression, and yet this, like all other forms of defensive aggression, is a reaction to an attack on vital interests.
  • p206 The reason lies, I believe, in that by speaking the truth they mobilize the resistance of those who repress it. To the latter, the truth is dangerous not only because it can threaten their power but because it shakes their whole conscious system of orientation, deprives them of their rationalizations, and might even force them to act differently. Only those who have experienced the process of becoming aware of important impulses that were repressed know the earthquakelike sense of bewilderment of confusion that occurs as a result. Not all people are willing to risk this adventure, least of all those who profit, at least for the moment, from being blind.
  • p207 ... the impulse not to obey or not to conform constitutes for many a real threat, against which they defend themselves by performing the required aggressive act.
  • p208 The truth is that people desire not only what is necessary in order to survive, not only that which provides the material basis for a good life; most people in our culture are greedy: greedy for more food, drink, sex, possessions, power, and fame. Their greed may refer more to one than other to another of these objects; what all people have in common is that they are insatiable and hence never satisfied. Greed is one of the strongest noninstinctive passions in man, and it is clearly a symptom of psychical dysfunction, of inner emptiness and a lack of a center within oneself.
  • p209 Greed is a passion - that is to say, it is charged with energy and relentlessly drives a person toward the attainment of his goals.
  • p214 Another important factor for the possibility of war is the deeply ingrained feeling of respect for and awe of authority. The soldiers had traditionally been made to feel that to obey his leaders was a moral and religious obligation for the fulfillment of which he should be ready to pay with his life.
  • p214 To put it in a very accentuated form: war is an indirect rebellion against the injustice, inequality and boredom governing social life in peacetime, and the fact must not be underestimated that while soldier fights the enemy for his life, he does not have to fight the members of his own group for food, medical care, shelter, clothing; these are all provided in a kind of perversely socialized system. The fact that war has these positive features is a sad comment on our civilization.
  • p218 What is unique in man is that he can be driven by impulses to kill and to torture, and that he feels lust in doing so; he is the only animal that can be a killer and destroyer of his own species without any rational gain, either biological or economic.
  • p220 In proportion with his higher intelligence, man's behavior is more flexible, less reflex or instinctive. Man shares such complex factors as curiosity, imitation, attention, memory, and imagination with other relatively advanced animals, but has them in higher degree and applies them in more intricate ways. More, at least, then other animals, man reasons and improves the adaptive nature of his behavior in rational ways. Man regularly both uses and makes tools in great variety. Man is self-conscious; he reflects on his past, future, life, death, and so forth. Man makes mental abstractions and develops a related symbolism; the most essential and complexly develped outcome of these capacities is language. Some men have a sense of beauty. Most men have a religious sense, taking that term broadly to include awe superstition, belief in the animistic, supernatural, or spiritual.
  • p225 … man's thinking has acquired an entirely new quality, that of self-awareness. Man is the only animal who not only knows objects but knows that he knows. Man is the only animal who has not only instrumental intelligence, but reason, the capacity to use his thinking to understand objectively - i.e., to know the nature of things as they are in themselves, and not only as means for his satisfaction. Gifted with self-awareness and reason, man is aware of himself as a being separate from nature and from others; he is aware of powerlessness, of his ignorance; he is aware of his end: death. Self-awareness, reason, and imagination have disrupted the "harmony" that characterizes animal existence. Their emergence has made man into an anomaly, the freak of the universe. He is part of nature, subject to her physical laws and unable to change them, yet he transcends nature. He is set apart while being a part; he is homeless, yet chained to the home he shares with with all creatures. Cast into this world at an accidental place and time he is forced out of it accidentally and against his will. Being aware of himself, he realizes his powerlessness and the limitations of his existence. He is never free from the dichotomy of his existence: he cannot rid himself of his mind, even if he would want to; he cannot rid himself of his body as long as he is alive - and his body makes him want to be alive. Man's life cannot be lived by repeating the pattern of his species; he must live; Man is the only animal who does not feel at home in nature, who can feel evicted from paradise, the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem that he has to solve and from which he cannot escape. He cannot go back to the prehuman state of harmony with nature, and he does not know where he will arrive if he goes forward. Man's existential contradictions results in a state of constant disequilibrium. This disequilibrium distinguishes him from the animal, which live, as it were, in harmony with nature. ... Man's existential, and hence unavoidable disequilibrium can be relatively stable when he has found, with the support of his culture, a more or less adequate way of coping with his existential problems. But this relative stability does not imply that the dichotomy has disappeared; it is merely dormant and becomes manifested as soon as the conditions for this relative stability change.
  • p230 Whether he believed in sorcery and magic as final explanations of all events, or in the spirit of his ancestors as guiding his life and fate, or in an omnipotent god who will reward or punish him, or in the power of science to give answers to all human problems - from the standpoint of his need for a frame of orientation, it does not make any difference. His world makes sense to him, and he feels certain about his ideas through the consensus with those around him. Even if the map is wrong, it fulfills its psychological function. But the map was never entirely wrong - nor has it ever been entirely right, either. It has always been enough of an approximation to the explanation of phenomena to serve the purpose of live.
  • p231 Man would probably not be so suggestive were it not that his need for a cohesive frame of orientation is so vital. The more an ideology pretends to give answers to all questions, the more attractive it is; here may lie the reason why irrational or even plainly insane thought systems can so easily attract the minds of men. But a map is not enough as a guide for action; man also needs a goal that tells him where to go. … Man, lacking instinctive determination and having a brain that permits him to think of many directions in which he could go, needs an object of "ultimate concern,"; he needs an object of devotion to be the focal point of all his strivings and the basis for all his effective - and not only proclaimed - values. The object intergrates his energy in one direction. It elevates him beyond his isolated existence, with all its doubts and insecurity, and gives meaning to life.
  • p233 Man, aware of his separateness, needs to find new ties with his fellowman; his very sanity depends on it. Without strong affective ties to the worlds, he would suffer from utter isolation and lostness. But he can relate himself to others in different and ascertainable ways. He can love others, which requires the presence of independence and productiveness, or if hes sense of freedom is not developed, he can relate to others symbiotically - i.e., by becoming part of them or by making them part of himself. In this symbiotic relationship he strives either to control others (sadism), or to be controlled by them (masochism). If he cannot choose either the way of love or that of symbiosis, he can solve the problem by relating exclusively to himself (narcissism); then he becomes the world, and loves the world by "loving" himself. A last and malignant form of solving the problem (usually blended with extreme narcissism) is the craving to destroy all others. If no one exists outside of me, I need not fear others, nor need I relate myself to them. By destroying the world I am saved from being crushed by it.
  • p234 There is only one approach to unity that can be successful without crippling man. Such an attempt was made in the first millennium B.C. The great religions springing from soil of these cultures taught that man can achieve unity not by a tragic effort to undo the fact of the split, but by fully developing human reason and love. Great as are the differences between Taoism, Buddhism, prophetic Judaism, and the Christianity of the Gospels, these religions had one common goal: to arrive at the experience of oneness, not by regressing to animal existence but by becoming fully human - oneness within man, oneness between man and nature, and oneness between man and other men. In the short historical time of twenty-five hundred years man does not seem to have made much progress in achieving the goal that was postulated by these religions.
  • p235 Man's awareness of himself as being in a strange and overpowering world, and his consequent sense of impotence could easily overwhelm him. If he experienced himself as entirely passive, a mere object, he would lack a sense of his own will, of his identity. To compensate for this he must acquire a sense of being able to do something, to move somebody, to "make a dent," or, to use the most adequate English word, to be "effective." We use the world today in referring to an "effective" speaker or salesman, meaning one who succeeds in getting results. But this is a deterioration of the original meaning of "to effect" (from the Latin ex-facere, to do). To effect is the equivalent of: to bring to pass, to accomplish, to realize, to carry out, to fulfill; an effective person is one who has the capacity to do, to effect, to accomplish something. To be able to effect something is the assertion that one is not impotent, but that one is an alive, functioning, human being. The be able to effect means to be active and not only to be affected; to be active and not only passive. It is, in the last analysis, the proof one is. The principle can be formulated this: I am, because I effect.
  • p236 The need to "effect" expresses itself in interpersonal relations as well as in the relationship to animals, to inanimate nature, and to ideas. In the relationship to others the fundamental alternative is to feel either the potency to effect love or to effect fear and suffering. In the relationship to things, the alternative is between constructing and destroying. Opposite as these alternatives are, they are responses to the same existential need: to effect.
  • p238 Experimental studies have also demonstrated the need for stimulation and excitation.
  • p239 Observations of daily life indicate that the human organism as well as the animal organism are in need of a certain minimum of excitation and stimulation, as they are of a certain minimum of rest. We see that men eagerly respond to and seek excitation. … In psychological and neurophysiological literature the term "stimulus" has been used almost exclusively to denote what I call here a "simple" stimulus. … The responding person "reacts," but he does not act - by which I mean to say he does not actively integrate and response beyond the minimum activity necessary to run away, attack, or become sexually excited. One might also say that in this kind of response the brain and the whole physiological apparatus act for man. What is usually overlooked is the fact that there is a different kind of stimulus, one that stimulates the person to be active. Such an activating stimulus could be a novel, a poem, an idea, a landscape, music, or a loved person. None of these stimuli produce a simple response; they invite you, as it were, to respond by actively and sympathetically relating yourself to them; be becoming actively interested, seeing and discovering ever-new aspects in your "object" by becoming more awake and more aware. You do not remain the passive object upon which the stimulus acts, to whose melody your body has to dance, as it were; instead you express your own faculties by being related to the world; you become active and productive. The simple stimulus produce a drive - i.e., the person is driven by it; the activating stimulus results in a striving - i.e., the person is actively striving for a goal.
  • p240 Contemporary life in industrial societies operates almost entirely with such simple stimuli. What is stimulated are such drives as sexual desire, greed, sadism, destructiveness, narcissism; these stimuli are mediated through movies, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the commodity market. On the whole, advertising rests upon the stimulation of socially produced desires. The mechanism is always the same: simple stimulation → immediate and passive response. Here lies the reason why the stimuli have to be changed constantly, lest they become ineffective.
  • p241 There is another important difference between simple and activating stimuli. The person who is driven by the simple stimulus experiences a mixture of release, thrill, satisfaction; when he is "satisfied", ha "has enough." The activating stimulation, on the contrary, has no satiation point - i.e., it never makes the person feel he "has enough," except, of course, when normal physical tiredness sets in.
  • p243 The persons who are capable of responding productively to "activating stimuli" are virtually never bored - but they are the exception in cybernetic society. The vast majority, while not suffering from a grave illness, can be nevertheless considered suffering from a milder form of pathology: insufficient inner productivity. They are bored unless they can provide themselves with ever changing, simple - not activating - stimuli.There are several probable reasons that chronic, compensated boredom is generally not considered pathological. Perhaps the main reason is that in contemporary industrial society most people are bored, and a shared pathology - the "pathology of normalcy" - is not experienced as pathology. Furthermore, "normal" boredom is usually not conscious. Most people succeed in compensating for it by participating in a great number of "activities" that prevent them from consciously feeling bored. Eight hours of the day they are busy making living; when the boredom would threaten to become conscious, after business hours, they avoid this danger by the numerous means that prevent manifest boredom: drinking, watching television, taking a ride, going to parties, engaging in sexual activities, and, the more recent fashion, taking drugs. Eventually their natural need for sleep takes over, and the day is ended successfully if boredom has not been experienced consciously at any point. One may state that one of the main goals of man today is "escape from boredom." Only if one appreciates the intensity caused by unrelieved boredom, can one have any idea of the power of this impulse.
  • p248 Not the least dangerous result of insufficiently compensated boredom is violence and destructiveness. … there is only a short step from passive enjoyment of violence and cruelty to the many ways of actively producing excitement by sadistic or destructive behavior; the difference between the "innocent" pleasure of embarrassing or "teasing" someone and participating in a lynch mob is only quantitative. In either instance the bored person himself produces the source of excitement if it does not offer itself ready-made. … Such persons have no interest in anything, nor do they have any contact with anybody except of the most superficial kind. Everybody and everything leaves them cold. They are affectively frozen, feel no joy - but also no sorrow or pain. They feel nothing. The world is gray, the sky is not blue; they have no appetite for life and often would rather be dead than alive. Sometimes they are acutely and painfully aware of this state of mind, often they are not.
  • p251 The motives for these killings does not seem to be hate, but … an unbearable sense of boredom and impotence and the need to experience that there is someone who will react, someone on whom one can make a dent, some deed that will make an end of the monotony of daily experience. Killing is one way of experiencing that one is and that one can produce an effect on another being.
  • p251 It seems plausible to speculate that man, being still less determined be instinct than the chimpanzee, would have been a biological failure if he had not developed a substitute for the instincts he lacked. This substitute also had to have the function of instincts: enabling man to act as if he were motivated by instincts. This substitute is the human character. … In more than a rudimentary sense, character is a human phenomenon; only man was able to create a substitute for his lost instinctive adaptation.
  • p251 Character is the specific structure in which human energy is organized in the pursuit of man's goals; it motivates behavior according to its dominant goals: a person acts "instinctively," we say, in accordance with his character. To use Heraclitus's phrase, character is man's fate. The miser does not ponder whether he should save or spend; he is driven to save and to hoard; the exploitative-sadistic character is driven by the passion to exploit; the sadistic character, by the passion to control; the loving-productive character cannot help striving for love and sharing. These character-conditioned drives and strivings are so strong and unquestionable for the respective person that they feel that theirs is simply a "natural" reaction, and find it difficult to really believe that there are other people whose nature is quite different.
  • p252 The concept of social character is based on the consideration that each form of society (or social class) needs to use human energy in the specific manner necessary for the functioning of that particular society, Its members must want to do what they have to do if the society is to function properly. This process of transforming general physic energy into specific psychosocial energy is mediated by the social character. The means by which social character is formed are essentially cultural. Through the agency of the parents society transmits to the young its values, prescriptions, commands, etc.
  • p253 The destructive and sadistic passions in a person are usually organized in his character system. In a sadistic person, for instance, the sadistic drive is a dominant part of his character character structure and motivates him to behave sadistically, limited only by his concern for self-preservation. In a person with a sadistic character a sadistic impulse is constantly active, waiting only for a proper situation and a fitting rationalization to be acted out. Such a person corresponds almost completely to Lorenz's hydraulic model inasmuch as character-rooted sadism is a spontaneously flowing impulse, seeking for occasions to be expressed and creating such occasions where they are not readily at hand by "appetitive behavior." The decisive difference is that the source of the sadistic passion lies in the character and not in a phylogenetically programmed neural area; hence it is not common to all men, but only to those who share the same character.
  • p253 The need for an object of devotion can be answered by devotion to God, love, and truth - or by idolatry of destructive idols. The need for relatedness can be answered by love and kindness - or by dependence, sadism, masochism, destructiveness, and narcissism. The need for unity and rootedness can be answered by the passions for solidarity, brotherliness, love, and mystical experience - or by drunkenness, drug addiction, depersonalization. The need for effectiveness can be answered by love, productive work - or by sadism and destructiveness. The need for stimulation and excitation can be answered by productive interest in man, nature, art, ideas - or by a greedy pursuit or ever-changing pleasures.
  • p255 Man's capacity for intelligently directed self-development confers upon him the ability to determine the pattern of his culture and so to shape the course of human evolution in direction of his own choice. This ability, which no other animal have, is man's most distinctive characteristic, and it is perhaps the most significant fact known to science. -- C.J.Herrick
  • p264 It needs to be repeated that life-thwarting passions are as much an answer to man's existential needs as life-furthering passions: they are both profoundly human.
  • p265 It is not history that makes man; man creates himself in the process of history. Only dogmatic thinking, the result of the laziness of mind and heart, tries to construct simplistic schemes of the either-or type that block any real understanding.
  • p276 The name of the town is Calanda. I saw a film of this ritual and have never forgotten the extraordinary impression the orgy of hate made on me.
  • p284 Mental cruelty, the wish to humiliate and to hurt another person's feelings, is probably even more widespread than physical sadism. This type of sadistic attach is much safer for the sadist; after all, no physical force but "only" words have been used. … Mental sadism may be disguised in many seemingly harmless ways: a question, a smile, a confusing remark. Who does not know an "artist" in this kind of sadism, the one who finds just the right word or the right gesture to embarrass or humiliate another in this innocent way. Naturally, this kind of sadism is often all the more effective if the humiliation is inflicted in front of others.
  • p288 I propose that the core of sadism, common to all its manifestations, is the passion to have absolute and unrestricted control over a living being, whether an animal, a child, a man, or a woman. To force someone to endure pain or humiliation without being able to defend himself is one of the manifestations of absolute control, but it is by no means the only one. The person who has complete control over another living being makes this being into his thing, his property, while he becomes the other being's god.
  • p291 For the sadistic character everything living is to be controllable' living being become things. Or, still more accurately, living being are transformed into living, quivering, pulsating objects of control. Their sadist wants to become the master of life, and hence the quality of life should be maintained in his victim. This is, in fact, what distinguishes him from the destroying person. The destroyer wants to do away with a person, to eliminate him, to destroy life itself; the sadist wants the sensation of controlling and choking life.
  • p291 Another trait of the sadist is that he is stimulated only by the helpless, never by those who are strong. It does not cause any sadistic pleasure, for instance, to inflict a wound on an enemy in fight between equals, because in this situation the infliction of the wound is not an expression of control. For the sadistic character there is only one admirable quality, and that is power. He admires, loves, and submits to those who have power, and he despises and wants to control those who are powerless and cannot fight back.
  • p291 The sadistic character is afraid of everything that is not certain and predictable, that offers surprises which would force him to spontaneous and original reactions. For this reason, he is afraid of life.
  • p292 Another element in the syndrome is the submissiveness and cowardice of the sadist. It may sound like a contradiction that the sadist is a submissive person, and yet not only is it not a contradiction - is is, dynamically speaking, a necessity. He is sadistic because he feels impotent, unalive, and powerless. He tries to compensate for this lack by having power over others, by transforming the work he feels himself to be into a god. But even the sadist who has power suffers from his human impotence. He may kill and torture, but he remains a loveless, isolated, frightened person in need of a higher power to whom he can submit.
  • p293 This need to submit is rooted in masochism. Sadism and masochism, which are invariably linked together, are opposites in behavioristic terms, but they are actually two different facets of one fundamental situation: the sense of vital impotence. Both the sadist and the masochist need another being to "complete" them, as it were. The sadist makes another being an extension of himself; the masochist makes himself the extension of another being. Both seek a symbiotic relationship because neither has his centre in himself. While it appears that the sadist is free of his victim, he needs the victim in a perverse way.
  • p296 What the sadist is striving for is power over people, precisely because he lacks the power to be.
  • p298 When the individual character deviates from the social character, the social group tends to reinforce all those character elements that correspond to it, while the opposite elements become dormant.
  • p303 Himmler belonged to those people who submit not because the authority is so frightening but because they are so frightened - not of the authority but of life - that they seek for an authority and want to submit to it.
  • p312 Himmler was in the same position as many others who became Nazis because they had nowhere to go socially or professionally, and yet were ambitious and had an ardent desire to rise.
  • p322 Himmler was also an absolute opportunist. His sadistic passion was always governed by what he thought was advantageous for him; he was disloyal and an inveterate liar - not only toward others, but equally toward himself.
  • p330 The necrophilus character is an extreme form in which necrophilia is the dominant trait. In reality, most people are a blend of necrophilus and biophilus tendencies, and the conflict between the two is often the source of a productive development.
  • p331 You will win, because you have more then enough brute force.
  • p332 Necrophilia in the characterological sense can be described as the passionate attraction to all that is dead, decayed, putrid, sickly; it is the passion to transform that which is alive into something unalive; to destroy for the sake of destruction; the exclusive interest in all that is purely mechanical. It is the passion "to tear apart living structures."
  • p339 The necrophilous person is a wet blanket and a joy killer in a group; he is boring rather than animating; he deadens everything and makes people feel tired, in contrast to the biophilous person who makes people feel more alive. Still another dimension of necrophilous reactions is the attitude toward the past and property. For the necrophilous character only the past is experienced as quite real, not the present or the future. What has been, i.e., what is dead, rules his life: institutions, laws, property, traditions, and possessions. Briefly, things rule man; having rules being; the dead rules the living.
  • p343 But looking is not seeing. Seeing is a human function, one of the greatest gifts with which man is endowed; it requires activity, inner openness, interest, patience, concentration.
  • p348 Do we not have to admit that contemporary technical man is not motivated be a passion for destruction, but would be more properly described as a totally alienated man whose dominant orientation is cerebral, who feels little love but also little desire to destroy, who has become, in a characterological sense, an automaton, but not a destroyer?
  • p349 For the marketing character everything is transformed into a commodity - not only things, but the person himself, his physical energy, his skills, his knowledge, his opinions, his feelings, even his smile. This character type is a historically new phenomenon because it is the product of a fully developed capitalism that is centered around the market - the commodity market, the labor market, and the personality market - and whose principle it is to make a profit by favorable exchange. This market is by no means entirely free is contemporary capitalism. The labor market is determined to a large extent by social and political factors, and the commodity market is highly manipulated.
  • p349 Cybernetic man is so alienated that he experiences his body only as an instrument for success. His body must look youthful and healthy; it is experienced narcissistically as a most precious asset on the personality market. ... He turns his interest away from life, persons, nature, ideas - in short from everything that is alive; he transforms all life into things, including himself and the manifestations of his human faculties of reason, seeing, hearing, tasting, loving. Sexuality becomes a technical skill; feelings are flattened and sometimes substituted for by sentimentality; joy, the expression of intense aliveness, is replaced by "fun" or excitement; and whatever love and tenderness man has directed toward machines and gadgets. The world becomes a sum of lifeless artifacts; from synthetic food to synthetic organs, the whole man becomes part of the total machinery that he controls and is simultaneously controlled by. He has no plan, no goal for life, except doing what the logic of technique determines him to do. He aspires to make robots as one of the greatest achievements of his technical mind, and some specialists assure us that the robot will hardly be distinguished from living men. This achievement will not seem so astonishing when man himself is hardly distinguishable from a robot.
  • p352 ... this "monocerebral" orientation is by no means only to be found in those who are engaged in scientific work; it is common to a vast part of the population: clerical workers, salesmen, engineers, physicians, managers, and especially many intellectuals and artists in fact, one may surmise, to most of the urban population. They all approach the world as a conglomerate of things to be understood in order to be used effectively. Second, and not less important, this cerebral-intellectual approach goes together with the absence of an affective response. One might say feelings have withered, rather than they they are repressed; inasmuch as they are alive they are not cultivated, and are relatively crude; they take the form of passions, such as the passion to win, to prove superior to others, to destroy, or the excitement in sex, speed, and noise.
  • p358 ... the United States, where the hope that more "progress" will bring happiness has been proved to be an illusion for most of those who have already had a chance to get a taste of the new "paradise".
  • p361 The affective tie to mother is so intense because it represents one of the basic answers to man's existential situation: the desire to return to "paradise" where the existential dichotomies had not yet developed - where man can live without self-awareness, without work, without suffering, in harmony with nature, himself/herself and his/her mate. ... Indeed, the tie to mother is not only a developmental problem of the individual; it is related to one of the most powerful desires in every human being: the wish for unconditional love - which does not have to be acquired, be being "good", and which can never be lost, by sinning - the wish for harmony and for union.
  • p363 It seems that one can ward off the danger coming from father by obedience; but there is no defense against mother's destructiveness; her love cannot be earned, since it is unconditional; her hate cannot be averted, since there are no "reasons" for it, either. Her love is grace, her hare is curse, and neither is subject to the influence of their recipient.
  • p363 Biophilia is the passionate love of life and of all that is alive; it is the wish to further growth, whether in a person, a plant, an idea, or a social group. The biophilous person prefers to construct rather than to retain. He is capable of wondering, and he prefers to see something new rather than to find confirmation of the old. He loves the adventure of living more than he does certainty. He sees the whole rather than only the parts, structures rather than summations. He wants to mold and to influence by love, reason, and example; not by force, by cutting things apart, by bureaucratic manner of administering people as if they were things. Because he enjoys life and all its manifestations he is not a passionate consumer of newly packaged "excitement". Biophilic ethics have their own principle of good and evil. Good is all that serves life; evil is all that serves death. Good is reverence for life, all that enhances life, growth, unfolding. Evil is all that stifles life, narrows it down, cuts it into pieces.
  • p366 Destructiveness is not parallel to, but the alternative to biophilia. Love of life or love of dead is the fundamental alternative that that confronts every human being. Necrophilia grows as the development of biophilia is stunted. Man is biologically endowed with the capacity for biophilia, but psychologically he has the potential for necrophilia as an alternative solution. ... If man cannot create anything or move anybody, if he cannot break out of the prison of his total narcissism, he can escape the unbearable sense of vital impotence and nothingness only by affirming himself in the act of destruction of the life that he is unable to create. Great effort, patience, and care are not required; for destruction all that is necessary is strong arms, or a knife, or a gun.
  • p370 The formation and fixing of the character has to be understood in terms of a sliding scale; the individual begins life with certain qualities that dispose him to go in certain directions, but his personality is still malleable enough to allow the character to develop in many different directions within the given framework. Every step in life narrows down the number of possible future outcomes. The more the character is fixed, the greater must be the impact of new factors if they are to produce fundamental changes in the direction of the further evolution of the system. Eventually, the freedom to change becomes so minimal that only a miracle would seem capable of effecting a change. ... The impression that the character never changes is largely based on the fact that the life of most people is so prefabricated and unspontaneous that nothing new ever really happens, and later events only confirm the earlier ones. The number of real possibilities for the character to develop in different directions is in inverse proportion to the fixity the character system has assumed. But in principle the character system s never so completely fixed that new developments could not occur as the result of extraordinary experiences, although such occurrences are, statistically speaking, not probable.
  • p371 The most important influence on a child is the character of its parents, rather than this or that single event. For those who believe in the simplistic formula that the bad development of a child is roughly proportionate to the "badness" of the parents, the study of the character of Hitler's parents, as far as the known data show, offers a surprise: both father and mother seem to have been stable, well-intentioned people, and not destructive.
  • p384 As a consequence, not being able to change reality, he had to falsify and reject it.
  • p387 He was not only not interested in his school subjects; he was also uninterested in everything. He did not work hard at anything - either then or later. That he was lazy was not because he was a person who was satisfied with enjoying life without being specially concerned with achieving goal. On the contrary he was filled with a burning ambition for power; endowed with extraordinary vital energy, he was tense and almost incapable of any quiet enjoyment.
  • p391 By the fall of 1909 his money had given out and he skipped his lodging without paying the rent he owed. The worst period began at this point. He slept on benches, sometimes in flophouses, and in December 1909 he joined the ranks of the real tramps, spending the nights in a place for destitute men that was sustained by a philanthropic society. The young man who had come to Vienna two and a half years before with the conviction that he would become a great artist had been reduced to the status of a homeless tramp, eager to get a bowl of hot soup, with no prospects of any kind and making no effort to support himself. This defeat was one not only for Hitler the artist, but also for Hitler the proud and well-dressed bourgeois who had nothing but contempt for the lower classes. He had now become a bum, an outcast; he belonged to the dregs of society. This would have been an intense humiliation even for a less narcissistic member of the middle class. Since he was stable enough not to go to pieces, this situation must have strengthened him. The worst has happened, and he emerged toughened, his narcisism unbroken; everything depended now on wiping out the humiliation by taking revenge on all his "enemies" and devoting his life to the goal of proving that his narcissistic self-image had not been a phantasy but was reality. This process can be better understood if we recall the clinical observations made earlier regarding the fate of extremely narcissistic persons who are defeated. Usually they do not recover. Since their inner, subjective, and the outer, objective reality are completely torn apart, they may become psychotic or suffer from other severe mental disturbances; if they are lucky they may find some niche in reality - a minor job for instance, that permits them to hold on to their narcissistic phantasy while they blame the world and muddle through their lives without a major catastrophe. But there is another outcome open only to those who have special gifts; they can try to change reality in such a way that their grandiose phantasies are proved to be real. This requires not only talent but also historical circumstances that make it possible. Most frequently this solution is open to political leaders in periods of social crisis; it they have talent to appeal to large masses and are shrewd enough to know how to organize them, they can make reality conform to their dream. Frequently the demagogue on this side of the borderline to a psychosis saves his sanity by making ideas that seemed "crazy" before appear to be "sane" now. In his political fight he is driven not only by the passion for power, but also by the need to save his sanity.
  • p392 Hitler, like many unrelated persons, was afraid of being alone. He needed to compensate for his inner aloneness by superficial contact with others. More than this, he needed an audience that he could impress.
  • p393 There had been only one change: the months of intense poverty had taught him to work - mediocre as his work was. But otherwise his character had not been changed - except, perhaps, in the sense of becoming more deeply engraved. He remained an extremely narcissistic man without any interest in anybody or anything, living in an atmosphere of half-phantasy and half-truth, with a burning wish to conquer, and filled with hate and resentment; he remained a man without any realistic goal, plan, or concept about how to realize his ambitions.
  • p404 Clinically well-established form of dealing with repressed strivings: a person denies their existence by developing traits that are exactly the opposite.
  • p406 The sadist would demand surrender; only the necrophile demands annihilation.
  • p406 He is interested only in himself, his desires, his thought, his wishes; he talked endlessly about his ideas, his past, his plans; the world is interesting only as far as it is the object of his schemes and desires; other people matter only as far as they serve him or can be used; he always knows everything better than anyone else. This certainty in one's own ideas and schemes is a typical characteristic of intense narcissism.
  • p413 The characterological analysis of Hitler has show us a withdrawn, extreme narcissistic, unrelated, undisciplined, sadomasochistic, and necrophilous person. Surely these qualities would not explain his success, unless he was a man of considerable gifts and talents. The greatest of Hitler's talents was his capacity to influence, impress and persuade people. One must first think of what has often been called his magnetism, which, according to most observers, originated in his eyes. There are a number of reports showing that even people who were biased against him suddenly became converted when he looked straight at them.
  • p414 In fact, it is sometimes not easy to distinguish between the expression in the eyes of an extremely devoted, almost saintly man and those of a highly narcissistic, sometimes even half-crazy man. The only distinguishing quality is the presence - or absence - o warmth, and all reports agree that Hitler had cold eyes, that his whole facial expression was cold, that there was an absence of any warmth or compassion. ... Cold ruthlessness and the lack of humanity in a face produces fear; one prefers to admire rather than be afraid. ... Another factor in Hitler's impressiveness was his narcissism and the unshakable certainty that, like so many narcissists, he felt about his ideas. ... especially at a time of as much social and political uncertainty as there was in Germany in the twenties, the fanatic who pretends to be certain becomes a most attractive figure, somebody akin to a savior. A related factor that facilitated Hitler's influence was his gift for oversimplification. His speeches were not restrained by intellectual or moral scruples. He picked out the facts that served his thesis, connected the pieces, and made up a plausible argument, plausible at least for uncritical minds. He was also a consummate actor, showing a remarkable capacity for mimicking the speech and gestures of the most diverse people. He had complete control over his voice, consciously playing on it in order to achieve the desired effect.
  • p415 As far as our knowledge is concerned, nothing is certain except death. But to say that nothing is certain does not imply that everything is a matter of guesswork. From an educated guess, to a hypothesis, to a theory, an ever increasing approximation of certainty exists mediated by reason, realistic observation, critical thought, and imagination. For the one who has these capacities, relative uncertainty is very acceptable because it is the result of the active use of his facilities, while certainty is boring because it is dead.
  • p415 Hitler was generally courteous, polite, and controlled; his spells of anger even though they were not rare, were the exception, but they could be of the greatest intensity. These angry outbursts occurred on two kind of occasions. First, in his speeches, especially toward the conclusion. This anger was quite authentic because it was fed by his very genuine passion of hate and destruction, to which he gave full and uninhibited expression at a certain point in his speeches. It was the very authenticity of his hate that made it so impressive and infectious. Genuine as these oratorical expressions of hate were, they were not, however, uncontrolled. Hitler knew very well when the time had arrived to let go and to whip up the audience's emotions, and only then did he open the floodgates of his hate. His angry outbursts in conversations seem to have been of another nature, not unlike those he had had as a child, when he felt frustrated. Speer has compared them with the tantrums of a six-year-old, which was in many aspects Hitler's "emotional age". He used these outbursts to intimidate people, but he could also control them when he felt it was expedient to do so.
  • p416 One capacity that astounded everybody again and again - including those who were not under his spell, was his stupendous memory; a memory that could exactly retain even unimportant details, like the characters in Karl May's novels, the authors of books he had once read, even the make of the bicycle he had ridden in 1915. He remembered exactly the dates in his political career, the inns he had been to, the streets he had driven on.
  • p423 He has been excluded from further promotion because of his arrogant attitude toward him comrades and because of his spitlicking subservience toward his superiors.
  • p427 Hitler became the supersalesman of a commodity for which there was much demand on the part of disappointed and frustrated "little men" and in whose sale first the army and then other powerful groups were vitally interested - a nationalist, anti-Communist, militarist ideology. When he had proven his success in this job, considerable sectors among German bankers and industrialists supported him financially to such an extent that he was able to seize power.
  • p433 Hitler was not genius, and his talents were not unique. What was unique was the sociopolitical situation in which he could rise; there are hundreds of Hitlers among us who would come forth if their historical hour arrived.
  • p437 The attitude of the majority is neither that of faith not that of despair, but, unfortunately, that of complete indifference to the future of man.
  • p438 To have faith means to dare, to think the unthinkable, yet to act within the limits of the realistically possible; it is the paradoxical hope to expect the Messiah every day, yet not to lose heart when he has not come at the appointed hour. This hope is not passive and it is not patient; on the contrary, it is impatient and active, looking for every possibility of action within the realm of real possibilities.
  • p438 Critical and radical thought will only bear fruit when it is blended with the most precious quality man is endowed with - the love of life.

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