The Art of Listening by Erich Fromm

The Art of Listening by Erich Fromm pdf

The Art of Listening by Erich Fromm pdfWhat Is Psychoanalysis ?

The Aim of Psychoanalysis

The question with which I want to start is at the same time a basic question for all that follows: What is the aim of psychoanalysis? Now that’s a very simple question
and I think there’s a very simple answer. To know oneself. Now this “To know oneself’ is a very old, human need, from the Greeks to the Middle Ages, to modern times you find the idea that knowing oneself is the basis of knowledge of the world or—as Meister Eckhart expressed it—in a very drastic form: “The only way of knowing God is to know oneself.” This is one of the oldest human aspirations. And it is indeed an aspiration or an aim which has its roots in very objective factors.

How is to know the world, how is one to live and react properly if the very instrument which is to act, which is to decide, is not known to ourselves? We are the ‘uide, the leader of this “I” which manages in some way to live in the world, to make decisions, to have priorities, to have values. If this “I,” this main subject whi decides and acts is not properly known to us it must follow that all our actions, all our decisions are done half blindly or in a half-awakened state.

One has to think of the fact that man is not endowed with instincts like the animals, which tell him how to act so that he really does not have to know anything except what his instinct tells him. This requires a qualification because in even the animal kingdom the animal and even the animal of a very’ low level of evolution needs to learn something. Instincts do not operate without a minimum of learning at least. But that is only a minor point—but by and large the animal does not have to know much. Although it has to have some experience which is indeed transmitted through memory’.

But man has to know everything in order to decide. His instincts don’t tell him anything about how to decide except that they’ tell him that he must eat, drink, defind himself, sleep and possibly’ that he ought to produce children. The trick of nature is, y’ou might say’, to endow him with a certain pleasure or lust for sexual satis-action. But that is not by’ far as strong an instinctive demand as the other drives or impulses are. So to know oneself is a condition not only’ from a spiritual or—if you like—religious, or moral or a human standpoint, it is a demand from the biological standpoint.

Because the optimum of efficiency in living depends on the degree to which we know ourselves as that instrument which has to orient itself in the world and make decisions. The better known we are to ourselves obviously the more proper are the decisions we make. The less we know ourselves the more confused must be the decisions we make.
Psychoanalysis is not only a therapy but an instrument for self-understanding. That is to say an instrument for self-liberation, an instrument in the art of living, which is in my opinion the most important function psychoanalysis can have.

The main value of psychoanalysis is really to provide a spiritual change of a personality’, and not to cure symptoms. As far as this is there to cure symptoms that is fine if there are no better and shorter cures but that the real historical importance of psychoanalysis goes in the direction of such knowledge which you find in Buddhist thinking. The kind of self-awareness—mindfulness—plays a central role in Buddhist practice to achieve a better state of being than the average man does.

Psychoanalysis claims that to know oneself leads to cure. Well that’s a claim which is made already in the Gospels: “The truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) Why does the knowledge of one’s unconscious, that is to say full self-knowledge, help to make a person free from symptoms or make him even happy?


Editor’s Foreword

I. Factors Leading to Patient’s Change in Analytic Treatment

1. Curing Factors According to Sigmund Freud and My Critique
2. Benign and Malignant Neuroses—with a Case History of Benign Neurosis
3. Constitutional and Other Factors for Cure

II. Therapeutic Aspects of Psychoanalysis

4. What is Psychoanalysis?

  • The Aim of Psychoanalysis
  • Sigmund Freud’s Therapeutic Aim and My Critique on It
  • Freud’s Concept of the Child and My Critique on It
  • The Relevance of Childhood Experiences for the Therapeutic Practice
  • Therapeutic Practice and the Relevance of Psychoanalysis
  • Harry Stuck Sullivan’s Contribution to the Psychoanalytic Concept of Man
  • Diseases of Our Time as Challenge to Psychoanalysis

5. Preconditions for Therapeutic Cure

  • The Ability for Psychic Growth
  • The Individual’s Responsibility for Psychic Growth
  • The Ability to Experience Reality by Oneself
  • The Molding Impact of Society and Culture
  • The Dynamics of Psychic Development and Man’s Freedom

6. Factors Leading to Therapeutic Effect
7. About the Therapeutic Relationship

  • The Relation between Analyst and Analysand
  • Preconditions of the Psychoanalyst
  • Dealing with The Patient

8. Functions and Methods of the Psychoanalytic Process

  • Mobilizing Unconscious Energies and Showing Alternatives
  • Sublimation, Satisfaction or Renunciation of Sexual Strivings
  • About the Recognition of Resistance
  • Transference, Counter-Transference and the Real Relation
  • Remarks on Working with Dreams

9. Christiane: A Case Flistory with Remarks on Therapeutic Method and on Understanding Dreams

  • The First Three Sessions and the First Dream
  • The Second Month of Therapy and the Second Dream
  • The Following Months and the Third Dream
  • The Forth Dream and Some General Consideration about This Therapy

10. Specified Methods to Cure Modern Character Neuroses

  • Changing One’s Own Action
  • Developing Interest in the World
  • Learning to Think Critically
  • To Know Oneself and to Get Aware of One’s Unconscious
  • Becoming Aware of One’s Body
  • To Concentrate and Meditate
  • To Discover One’s Own Narcissism
  • Analyzing Oneself

11. Psychoanalytic “Technique”—or, the Art of Listening

A Biography of Erich Fromm

Language: English
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