Erich Fromm: Psychologist, Psychoanalyst and Social Philosopher
March 23, 1900, Frankfurt, Germany, 7:30 PM (Source: Birth Certificate) Died of a heart attack on March 18, 1980, Muralto, Switzerland.
(Ascendant Libra; MC Cancer; Sun in Aries with Mercury retrograde also in Aries; Moon is in Sagittarius conjunct Chiron, also in Sagittarius; Jupiter, Uranus, and NN all in Sagittarius, and conjuncted; Venus in Taurus conjunct Vesta, also in Taurus; Mars in Pisces; Saturn in Capricorn; Neptune in Gemini, with Pluto also in Gemini conjunct the SN) Eric Fromm was a distinguished psychoanalyst and social philosopher. His books were widely read in the 1950s and 1960s, especially by those outside academic circles. An unorthodox and eclectic thinker, the scope of his thought included many disciplines. The more orthodox adherents of these schools of these schools of thought invariably found his theories controversial, especially the orthodox psychoanalysts.
Fromm was raised in an devout Jewish household descended on both sides from illustrious rabbinic families, he received an intensive religious education. The name Fromm, in German, means pious. The role models for Fromms intellectual growth were all scholarly Jews, and he studied personally with a Rabbi who was a keen student of Jewish mysticism. Even as an early disciple of the founder of Psychoanalysis, the atheistic Sigmund Freud, Fromm did not abandon his sympathy for a religious understanding of life, though at the age of twenty-six he rejected the religious observances in which he had been raised.
Fromm’s life was suffused by a sense of mission, and he consecrated himself to the historical project of human emancipation. He was a keen, perceptive (though compassionate) critic of human society. He understood that human neurosis was not rooted exclusively in biology (as Freud and his disciples thought), but were caused, as well, by the pervasive presence of dysfunctional social patterns (i.e., socially patterned defects). These patterns prevented the socially-conditioned person from expressing his full human nature. In fact, in order to reduce friction within the social milieu and to benefit from the rewards offered by society to those who conform to its sanctioned patterns of thought and behavior, the acculturated human being would very often seek to escape from the deeper possibilities and potentials of his individuality. Through this flight from personal responsibility, the conformist with a weak sense of individual identity succeeded in allaying his existential anxieties at the price of self-determination.
From was a deeply religious man all his life. He was clearly open to spirituality in many of its forms. At one point he cooperated with the famous Zen school, D.T. Suzuki in preparation of the book, May Man Prevail. But; Fromm never abandoned the insights of his psychoanalytic training which allowed him to see deeply into the unconscious causes of many of societies psychological and social ills. Outside the psychoanalytic establishment, his lucid and inspiring writings were enthusiastically received and formed part of a gradual liberation in consciousness which preceded and nourished that explosion of new ideas called the consciousness revolution of the 1960s and 1970s (occurring especially in the United States and parts of Europe).
Careful readers of Eric Fromm will realize that he saw into modern mans insanities, and the insanities of the society which molded him and thwarted him. His continuing conviction was that an enlightened response to such conditioning was possible and that man could break free of the bonds of illusion which conditioned himfor the most part unconsciously.
From the time he moved to the United States in 1933 (fleeing the Nazi persecution of Jews and intellectuals), he because continuously more progressive and controversial in his thinking and writing. This progressivism (including a vigorous support of the Peace Movement) lasted for almost fifty years until his death. Eric Fromm can be understood as an enemy mans alienation from his deeper self, and a proponent of individual, social and existential sanity based upon wise ethics, self-understanding and the assumption of individual responsibility.
Some of his better known words are: Escape from Freedom, 1941; Man for Himself, 1947; Psychoanalysis and Religion, 1950; The Sane Society, 1955; The Art of Loving, 1956; May Man Prevail?, 1961; Beyond the Chains of Illusion, 1962; The Revolution of Hope, 1968; The Crisis of Psychoanalysis, 1970.
A Summary of Essential Points to Bear in Mind when Interpreting the Astrological Chart of Eric Fromm
a. We will hypothesize that the soul is focussed on the second ray of Love-Wisdom, with the wisdom line emphasized (though it is to be remember that one of Fromms most popular books was The Art of Loving. Fromms writings bespeak a deep experience as an observer of the human condition. His writings demonstrate a wise perspective steeped in religious and ethical philosophy strengthened by the insights of twentieth century psychology.
b. Two of the second ray constellations/signs are emphasized in his chart. Pisces holds Mars, the exoteric ruler of his Aries Sun, and second ray Gemini holds both Pluto and Neptune (a planet with a high second ray association).
c. There is much of the third ray implicit in his work. The Jewish Tradition from which he derived so much of his early conditioning and intellectual training, is strongly upon the third ray of Creative Intelligence.
d. Fromms Libra Ascendant confers the third ray as does third ray Saturn in third ray Capricorn, placed in the third house of the chart.
e. When considering the union of the second and third ray, a reasonable case can be made for a third ray soul and second ray personality. The wisdom line of the second ray is, however, resonant with the third ray (and the first). Much will depend upon how we see Fromms role and who we find to be his intellectual associates (were they Freud, Jung, Adler, Assagioli?). Although, not trained as a physician (as were Freud, Jung and Assagioli) he did engage in psychoanalytic practice (which is therapeutic) and his writings were, shall we say, philosophically therapeutic in nature. His purpose was to heal the ills of society. The second ray soul emphasis does make sense (according as well with his continuing faith, even though he incorporated Marxists ideas into his theories).
f. The strong Sagittarian emphasis (three major planets, the NN and Chiron) emphasize the abstract mind (attuned generically to the third ray) and a strong Gemini (the third sign) emphasizes the versatility of mind associated with the third of the ray energies.
g. We can isolate a significant sixth ray as well, given Fromms commitment to the emancipation of humanity from its psychological illusions. For an Aries person, sixth ray Mars is always a significant factor, and it is placed in sometime sixth ray Pisces. Sagittarius, the strongest of the sixth ray signs/constellations holds Jupiter (its ruler), Uranus and the Moon, as well as Chiron (with which it has special resonance) and the forward directing North Node. We can see some of the contributants to Fromms progressivism.
h. The energies of Fromms Aries Sun-sign reinforced his pioneering attitude, helping him rebel against the psychoanalytic establishment (well represented in his chart by conservative Saturn in conservative Saturn in the third house of mind). He surely had his orthodox and traditionalist aspects, represented by a very strong Saturn, but we can read this position in relation to his continuing interest in ethics and morality. With strong Aries he was always ready to break with orthodoxy (whether religious or intellectual) and force his own rather eclectic path.
i. We note that the Aries Sun is placed in the therapeutic sixth house, contributing to his strength as a social critic.
j. Mars, the exoteric ruler of Aries is on the cusp of the fifth/sixth house. It is often the position of one with a mission, and a sense that something or someone can be saved. We can easily see that Fromms writings were no mere academic exercise, but were presented with the purpose of changing society and healing its ills. Pisces is also a medical sign, and Mars is placed on the cusp of a medical house, so we cannot overlook the therapeutic intent of his thought, or the degree to which he was moved and moved others in the cause of correcting the perceived wrongs (i.e., dysfunctional patterns).
k. Incidentally, from an physiognomical perspective, the placement of ruling planets is very important in defining appearance. You will note the bow in Fromms nose. This, different from the Roman nose often produced by Leo and Capricorn (especially when functioning with the first ray) is found in relation to Pisces. Mars, the exoterically ruling planet of the Aries Sun-sign is placed in Pisces. Hence the feature. Of course, Saturn in boney Capricorn helps.
l. When we speak of Fromm as a social therapist we must note the conjunction of mentoring/guiding Chiron in Sagittarius with the aspiring Sagittarian Moon in the third house of thought. There is something about Fromm which seems to know the right direction, and he wishes to point the way (Chiron) to others.
m. There are those who heal the physical body, those who heal the emotional body, and some have the task of ridding the mental body from debilitating illusions. Eric Fromm belonged to this last category. This Chiron placement is about releasing us from the conditioning (Moon) of our prevailing thoughtforms (third house), and pointing the way to a more enlightened (Sagittarius) perspective.
n. It should be noted that Neptune opposes Chiron, adding a subtle, intangible quality to the healing suggested. Neptune is associated with intuition and the buddhic plane (the plane of harmony and healing). To guide others, Fromm was relying upon some very deep intuitions. This Neptune placement tells us something about his innate mysticism, and why he never abandoned it. It is a mystical placement, whereas the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction opposing it by sign is more occult.
o. If we wish to locate an energy stream contributing to Fromms breadth of philosophical understanding and his eclecticism, we have but to note the conjunction between comprehensive Jupiter and iconoclastic Uranus, in perspectivizing Sagittarius. An original and comprehensive point of view is what we may expect, especially as these two are united in the house of mind. We have these two planets placed in Sagittarius, one of the signs of higher mind, but expressing through the third house of lower mind. We see here the possibility of antahkaranic workthe bridge between the lower and higher mind.
p. Fromm was clearly a social visionary, a utopian, but a very sane one. He saw the possibilities of a truly sane society, filled with the possibility of beneficent consummation for its members. He was possessed of a benevolently revolutionary vision. Heinrich Himmler, who had the very same conjunction in the tenth house (for they were born in the same year) was also a utopian, and foresaw an entirely new social order based on an internationally triumphant Nazism. Himmlers vision was malign and Fromms (based on love, wisdom and illusion-dispelling understanding) was benefic. The planetary energies are neither good nor bad in themselves; the beneficence or maleficence of their expression depends, in the case of humanity, upon the spiritual quality of the human being who utilizes them.
q. We note the presence of the North Node in Sagittarius conjuncted to Fromms Uranus and also Jupiter. Indeed he was to be an author and a thinker, and his mission (indicated by that Sagittarius NN) was to help people see more clearlyboth their possibilities and their illusions.
r. The Neptune/Pluto wide conjunction in Gemini in the ninth house, shows Fromms concern with glamors and illusions (though the word glamor would not have been used by him). Through Neptune, he appreciated well the deception imposed by socially patterned defects, and also the stream of buddhic intuition which could dispel such illusions. That stream was pervaded by a stream of love, for Neptune is the God of Reasoning and represents Pure Reason in a buddhic sense. Pluto on the other hand, is the will to destroy illusions, but digging deeply into them (the analytic method) and proving them to be insubstantial. It is interesting how much like the glyph for Sagittarius the true glyph for Pluto appears. The opposition between utopian Jupiter/Uranus and destructive Pluto works as a unit of revelation. From destroyed through acute reasoning and penetrating analysis those illusions which impeded the way to a more optimal functioning of man and society.
s. Some of Fromms power of critique can be seen in the close contraparallel between assertive Mars and Mercury the planet of thought and speech.
t. Mercury is the esoteric ruler of the Sun-sign, Aries, and is placed in Aries, and thus esoterically dignified. For the advanced individual, Mercury in Aries confers originality of thought and has special relation to the destruction, as by fire, of the jungles of illusion. We note as well that Mercury is retrograde indicating one who does not think in a strictly orthodox manner, one with his own style of thinking. The wide trine from Jupiter to Mercury surely expands the thought, and Uranus, also involved through translation of light adds to the originalityindicated in this chart in a number of ways already mentioned.
u. Libra is the Rising-sign, and the probable decanate is the second ruled by Saturn. Here we find a soul-orientation towards the sanity and true normality which would result in ethical behavior and right human relations. Fromm was a pioneering individual, ever forging ahead with his own agenda, but he strongly believed in the social contractnot the contract of conformity, but a contract involving real mutuality and cooperation by authentic, self-directing individuals.
v. There is something of the strict teacher in Eric Fromm, pointing out the dangers of our present, stultifying crystallizations (Saturn strong) and offering us an ethical and edifying structure to replace the stultification (Saturn again).
w. Issues of conformity and non-conformity were prominent in his psyche and his social philosophy. We can see why. Saturn (the planet of the conformistand not all conformity if bad) is powerful through his placement in Capricorn which it rules exoterically and esoterically, and its rulership of the middle decanate of rising Libra). However, Uranus is the esoteric ruler of Libra and the hierarchical ruler of his Sun-sign Aries. The first is certainly important, far more so than the latter.
x. Uranus in Libra alters the social contract to break Saturnian stultification. Fromm was writing about a potentially new society (Libra, in conjunction with visionary Sagittarius). We note that Uranus, as the Ascendants esoteric ruler is placed in forward-looking Sagittarius, so the social structure conceived was definitely a departure from the one existing. Uranus comes to change the status-quo.
y. The question of the individuals (Aries) role in society (Libra) was a major theme. Could the individual be not-aggressive (Libra) yet still self-directing (Aries), and still retain his individuality (Aries) without being like a blind sheep (Aries)? Could a new society (Libra and Uranus) be fashioned in such a way to promote the expression of each individuals core identity (Aries) and yet lead to peaceful, cooperative and progressive social interaction (Libra)?
z. We cannot enter this chart extensively, discussing the interesting issues of timing and many of the finer points. It should be noted that a number of the fixed stars have made their contribution to Eric Fromms energy system. The nebulae Acumen and Aculeus are prominent (Acumen conjuncting the Moon and Aculeus, Chiron). Sharpness of intellect is associated with both as well as issues of blindness. In this case we find Fromm revealing the blindness of his contemporaries and, as a result, enduring their stinging attacks (for these two nebulae are found in the stringing tail of the Scorpion. Mirzam, the star called the Announcer is also closely involved with Chiron (and Venus) indicating the importance of the guiding Chiron function, announcing the way for those who need guidance through the maze of dysfunctional social conditioning. Pluto conjuncts Rigel, Who is a teacher and educator. The destructive influence of Pluto clears the way to the great illumination which Rigel represents. There are several other star contacts for which study is recommended.
aa. Parallels of declination should also be studied. There is a great configuration of opposing parallels (one group contraparallel to the other) placed in twenty-two degrees north/south. Within this complex we find an exact parallel of the Moon and Uranus (transformation of the lunar nature, and rebellion against traditionalism and orthodoxy) and a very close connection between MC, South Node and Neptune, strengthening the transcendental dimension.
bb. We see in Eric Fromm a spiritualized intellectual. He was able to synthesize many different streams of thought into a coherent, if eclectic, whole. He was also able to blend the demands of the mystic and the intellectual (or in terms of the Ageless Wisdom) of the mystic and the occultist.
cc. We might say that in relation to the Ten Seed Groups, his work was with the Observers of Reality (second group) and also with the Psychologists (group eight). One of his significant purposes was the dissipation of glamor and illusion, and this he undertook not so much with occult means as with the power of thought.
dd. Living true to his Venus (planet of the soul) in illuminating Taurus, he was a bearer of the light (a committed light bearer, one might say, as Vesta was conjuncted to the Venus position). That light was taken into the dark places of the human psyche represented by the eighth house.
ee. As we contemplate his life and work, we are obliged to recognize one who has conquered many of his own glamors and illusions and is committed to seeing the same cleansing performed on a larger, social scale. It is the work of one who has at least achieved the second initiation, and is working therapeutically on the astral and mental bodies of humanity.
ff. Fromm seemed to be cognizant of a great choice (Libra) confronting humanitybetween freedom and slavery, between individuality and conformity, between enlightenment and illusion. It was his task to present the alternatives (Libra) and help humanity make the correct decision. We must judge that in terms of that aspect of the Divine Plane with which he was associated, his work was successful.