Social psychologist Erich Fromm probes deep into the roots of religion to find its humanistic essence. In 1950, Erich Fromm attempted to free religion from its social function and to develop a new understanding of religious phenomena. Rather than analyzing what people believe in ‘whether they’re monotheistic, polytheistic, or atheistic, Fromm presents an idea of what religion means in secular terms. In his timeless and straightforward style, Fromm unmasks the alienating effects of any authoritarian religion. He reveals how a humanistic religion is conducive to one’s own humanity, and explains why psychoanalysis does not threaten religion.

I was recently reminded of this book after first reading Fromm about a year ago. As someone who has always had a deep interest in both psychoanalysis and religion, I found this to be one of the most insightful books about the subject matter.

“In discerning the positive and negative effects of religion on individuals, Fromm drew a distinction between authoritarian and humanistic religions. Authoritarian religious entities promulgate the belief that humans are at the mercy of an omnipotent God, whereas humanistic ones promote the belief that the power of God is visible in the mane of the individual. According to Fromm, authoritarian religions disserve the individual by denying their individual identities, while humanistic ones provide for personal validation and growth.”

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