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The I and his education forms the common mind. Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined. Yeah. This series the tender twigs proposes to bring together those best able to address themselves to the individual and social problems of youth in the 20th century. It proposes to discuss a few of the most clearly recognised problems of our time. Mental health. Delinquency. Crime. Social pressures and human growth. And the practical steps that parents school community and church may take. In order to ensure youth development. That is safe. Sane and straight.
The tender twigs is produced and recorded by W. K.. Our radio at Michigan State University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The tender twigs are our you know task to help them grow safe sane and straight. The title of this program man for himself. This program features a single guest. Each week we present a distinguished person who we feel has left a mark on our time by his thought and by his work. As it relates to our youth our guest Dr. Eric Froome head of the department of psychoanalysis National University of Mexico internationally known author of Escape from freedom the art of loving psychoanalysis and religion the forgotten language man for himself and most recently
the same society. Our interviewer for the series is Ben Thompson Research sociologist with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Doctor from from your many writings you have been associated with education in this country for a great many years. We are all aware of education is a dominant characteristic of democracy education of the masses. Do you feel that education has helped to bring happiness and well-being to our people. Will Mr. Downs It all depends what one means by happiness. I think I'll just Huxley has phrase the problem very well in his brave new world in which he describes of Earl as he thought it would exist 500 years from now. I think he thinks now we are already there. Five hundred years.
And one of the slogans of the brave new world is everybody is happy nowadays. That is to say everybody consciously has the idea of being happy because if he wouldn't feel happy he would feel he's a failure. He's supposed to be happy and so everybody tries to persuade himself that he is happy. But it's one thing at least that's what the second of these things whether somebody thinks he is happy. And it's quite another thing what the fact is whether he's really happy. And I believe from what I see that a great number vast number of people while conscious they believe they are happy and why they sure all the gestures of being happy actually are not so happy at all that they feel kind of anxious alone isolated bored and don't quite know what to do with their lives. So from this standpoint I would say our mass education hasn't produced as much
happiness as the supposed to have produced. May I ask how would you define what you believe happiness to be. Yes I would say happiness is really not any specific thing one can chase after. In fact I think if one chases after happiness or never catches it. Happiness is perhaps one aspect of a whole way of life of a whole way of being and by that I mean a way of being in which one is responsive to the word. In which one is aware what goes on and responds to what goes on. Whether that means to respond to another person or to a sunset or to a flower. And sometimes responding means being joyous and sometimes responding means to be very sad because we can't help often to be said. If you
respond but it means always to be alive to be keyed to respond rather than to be to live mechanically like a record which is played for the tens of the hundreds of times. Now perhaps I could make this clearer if I talk about what I think most people mean by happiness. But there I have to talk about make one remark before hand. Our whole mass culture today I think is to a large extent determined by the idea of consumption. Of being the eternal sucklings we drink in cigarettes and drinks and books and lectures and movies and love and affection and wisdom and everything. We are the eternal sucklings and we are eternally disappointed because by being
sucklings but only being passively related to the world and receiving it we don't produce we don't create. We don't feel really alive. We are always waiting. The fun always waits ones hopes are always disappointed. If I would be a little ironical I would say the picture perhaps which most people have of heaven if they dared to be explicit about it is that of a big department store with unlimited amount of things to buy new things every week and enough money to buy everything one wants and would wander around with an open mouth. Look at the new things buy them and the next week they would come back and maybe the pleasure would be enhanced if they're always a little bit more mounted in the neighborhood. But that isn't essential. The most important thing that it's new. Now could I come
back then to the definition of happiness. I would define happiness as most people experience it. It ality an age in the western culture as a state of our limited consumption. If there are no limits to my consumption to or to use a different word to the uninhibited and immediate gratification of our own needs then I have the illusion of being happy. And this is what our advertising and many other means of communication. Try to persuade us that we would be happy if we only had a chance to satisfy our needs without limitation and without hesitancy immediately without conflict without waiting. Maybe we are safe in saying that the person who can be unhappy and happy with is and happiness is the happiest person of all.
Where I think one might say that you might see the person who can tolerate sadness who can can tolerate uncertainty who can tolerate to be objective about the fact that he is after all while the most important thing in the world at the same time the most important thing in the world. That person shows that he lives productively that he makes use of his human powers. I wonder in your observation of the cultures of the world are there other concepts other than happiness for instance that we in America particularly have some misconceptions about. At least we think we understand them but truly from the point of view of a psychoanalyst and your own thinking we do not have. What do you mean by Saddam's other concept you hold as ideas. And about which we are deceiving ourselves like we are deceiving
ourselves about happiness. Or do you mean other concept of happiness. No I mean other concepts. Equality democracy freedom Well indeed I think. For instance if I could come back first for a moment to education I think the trouble with our education and our failure in education is that we offer it in the same consumer fashion. That is to say we try to persuade the young people they should get as much education as possible. We called them into it we make it easy. And so education for them and knowledge is the same thing as buying thing of a department store. Nobody really becomes educated unless he has an urgent wish to overcome the hindrances the difficulties to get an education. Now I don't mean by that we should make it difficult in a monetary sense. I don't mean we should have less fellowships or anything like that. But I think we should make it very clear that one becomes educated only if one wants to be educated very much
and not if one is coaxed into it is if one did a favor to society by becoming educated. Now I think that is one of the mistakes in our conservation occasion now. Let me come back to your question more directly. Take for instance the concept of equality. We talk a lot about equality we are very proud of the equality which we have achieved. Now what did equality mean in the Christian sense and what did it mean in the sense of humanist philosophy of the 18th or 19th century. I think there is a meaning whether we express it religiously or your ministry clearly is the same religiously it was expressed. We all are created in the likeness of God. We all are children of God. And in that much we are equal. Philosophically you could express it. We are all equal with regard to one will in one respect namely that each man must be an end in himself and never means for the purposes of
another man. We are different in all other respects that in this fact that we are all ins and never means we are equal. Now if you are asked what most people understand by equality today I think they mean something quite different. They really understand by equality seem this lack of difference that we all are the same. They really mean by equality conformity. But they are not aware of it. The last remnants of differences I think we find of the initials of the handbags on the sweater on the name of the bank teller on his window. There we have come down to the smallest amount of any reality where we see it sometimes in a pathetic advertising slogan. It's different. It never says what's different about but just the vert difference has a magic appeal
because everything is so equal. It's so much the same. And people I'm afraid think that if they are not the same they have no right to be equal and so they try to be the same as much as they can and yet they are terribly bored with being the same. Because being the same is the source of all boredom. And if I me make a footnote here I think people underestimate the suffering boredom produces. We think of suffering usually in terms of physical pain or economic failure or this that and the other. Perhaps the greatest suffering is boredom. Clinically this kind of boredom when it goes to a certain extreme is called depression. And I would say as a result of this seamless of this over conformity most people today suffer from a slight depression slight chronic depression. But since everybody else suffers from the
same nobody recognizes that he's repressed that he's depressed. And also we do all sorts of things to kid ourselves about it so we drink and we are gay this that and the other and only our nightmares at night show us how anxious or depressed we really are. This is the one of the ideas I think that you expanded in man for himself when you talked about aloneness. And it's one of the things that those of us in the field of Criminology have wondered about the causation of crime. To say nothing of alcoholism mental illness drug addiction and some of the other areas which we are greatly concerned about in our 20th century and particularly with reference to our youth. Do you like to talk to those you know with years. You know I often wonder why we don't have more juvenile delinquency. I'm not surprised that we have that much but I'm really surprised that we don't have more because if you
consider the fact that because there is a profit behind it the whole industry produces movies television plays comic books which have no other purpose then to attract our adolescents by the cruelty put tallit in by the appeal to their citizen. Then indeed I don't see why one should be surprised that this works. One of the troubles I think that our whole culture is we think one thing you react another thing we think in terms of the Bible of the precepts of the sermon of the Mount and we act by permitting the most vicious and the most destructive material being presented to our young generation. What wonder what reason is there to wonder if we have a great deal of effect of something which we cause I think in both
escape from freedom and man for himself. You have dealt with the concept of freedom. I like to read something which you have written which appears in man for itself man for himself. According our moral problem is man's indifference to himself. It lies in the fact that we have lost the sense of the significance and uniqueness of the individual that we have made ourselves into instruments for purposes outside ourselves that we experience and treat ourselves as commodities and that our own powers have become alienated from ourselves. Is this the problem of youth of the 20th century. Yes I think it's a problem of use of the 20th century as it is a problem of the adults of the 20th century. Perhaps I could start out with one remark. Our adult population our parents today think and that is part of our whole consumption method.
The latest is the best. So they have very little conviction about everything about anything and should like to stress. Saying this the difference between conviction and opinion has all sorts of opinions but conviction means something. I live by and which is not accessible to the Hidden Persuaders. Now appearance usually think their children should have no conflicts. They should avoid conflicts. They are under the influence of a misunderstood Freud theory that any conflict is a trauma every frustration will be the cause of being put on the analyst's culture 20 years later. And many parents think that since the latest is always the best their children know better what is best because being younger they are acquainted with the latest. And so they do not
present their children with principles with ideals with convictions but with a less a fear attitude with a lack of conviction which is called tolerance and sometimes progressive education. I have wondered something in this area in terms of especially those of us essentially of the middle class who make enough money to get along and have the upper middle class. This business of tolerance we're flooded with so many ideas about how to raise children that we are unable to make any decisions about the things in which we believe because we've heard so many experts tell us what is right and quite often they conflict. Yes I think that's perfectly true and right and this has something to do with education again. While there is a point of course to listening to the opinions of experts. Nevertheless our attitude of relying on the expert is actually the abdication of our own judgment based on
thought and experience. And this has something to do with the quote you were mentioning namely the process of alienation. Perhaps I could say a word about this. I wish you would. We are preoccupied mainly with the production of things and with the consumption of things. Or regionally let us in the 19th century in the 18th century producing more material things was a means to an end. We thought the majority of people were very poor and if we produced more material goods this would be a means to a more dignified human existence. But one of the troubles and the very tragic troubles with our modern culture is that means have been transformed into NS. We produce and if we ask why we don't know. We are very eager to save time for instance and when we have saved time we don't know what to do with it in fact we are embarrassed.
We want to kill it as quickly as possible. Man himself transforms himself into a thing He experiences himself like an alien person he experiences him self like a commodity and sometimes he goes to the psychiatrist in the same spirit in which he brings his car to an automobile mechanic asking him what's wrong. And the specialist is supposed to fix it. But man is not a thing. And if we experience men as a thing we kill him. There is incidentally a wonderful definition of power given by Simone Weil. She says power is the function which can transform a man into a thing. The most extreme form of the expression of power is to kill somebody because if I kill somebody I transform a man into a corpse and a corpse is a thing. But killing is by no means the only way
of transforming a man into a thing treating him like a thing as a bureaucrat's to relieving oneself to man is an object. It is also a form of killing and the worst of all is that we treat ourselves things we treat our allies energy as a capital to be invested profitably and we call it success. If we have a profit in terms of social advancement money prestige power and so on. But where are we in this process. I wonder for the parents that might be listening especially since we hear so much these days about discipline both in the school and in the home and the kinds of problems parents are having. Is there a conflict between these two words freedom and authority. Well this all depends what one means by authority. I would suggest a difference between two kinds of authority. What you might call rational of oratory and irrational
authority irrational authority is an authority based on fear and intimidation and usually the person who uses this kind of authority uses it for the purpose of exploiting the object of authority. Rational authority is something quite different. It's an authority based on competence and it's motive is not to exploit it but its motives on the contrary to the solve itself to make the person subject to authority like the authority that is actually the relationship the authority which a good teacher has. No people to be in a leaning over backwards. They have for irrational authority the irrational authority of it in the 19th century. But then they got frightened of any kind of authority of any kind of principle and freedom indeed is not possible with out principles because without principles without conviction without conflict and without rational
authority. There is only chaotic cancerous growth and not organic structuralist growth. And I think we do our children a disservice if we believe that the best thing for them is to avoid any conflict. Besides that we must not forget it in the 19th century we head over to authority in the twenty century we have anonymous authority. Let me give you an example. If her father the nineteenth century didn't want Johnny to do something he said Johnny I forbid you to do this and if you do it I'll spank you. That was fine because Johnny knew that this was a prohibition he knew what would follow. He could submit or he could rebel and sometimes the best human qualities develop from the rebellion. Today mother rather than father says Johnny I know you won't like to do that. Apparently no prohibition. It's left up to Johnny. Johnny knows unconsciously that mother will make a very sad face
if he does what she doesn't want to do. And this sad face is much worse than a good spanking. But he's in a much worse position because who came fight against anonymous authority who can fight against an order when he doesn't know that an order is given. And so we have a kind of hidden secret money politian of children already and of the customer by advertising of the citizen by political propaganda and we are surrounded by the Hidden Persuaders in all fields. And yet we have the illusion that we do exactly what we think and what we want. And having this illusion we are not even able to know what we want and to know that actually we are subject to a tremendous amount of anonymous manipulation. And I find it very difficult indeed to have a will of our own an aim of our own. You might say in general we are today mostly concerned what we are against what
we should defend ourselves against and relatively little what we are for what our aim is. There we simply repeat old formula in a ritualistic way. Dr from Would you talk a moment to the concept democracy being another thing that particularly in our world of Sputnik's etc. We hear so much about. Yes indeed I think there you have a similar discrepancy between the original meaning of the idea and what it means today to people. The original meaning of democracy in a philosophic and human sense was that every citizen is a responsible participant in his society and participates in the decision making even though in an indirect way. Today that's what we still see. That is our ritual. But actually I would define the reality of democracy more and more as consent. Or rather is manipulated consent manipulated without force but with a great
deal of hidden persuasion. And we can see how this money policeman takes more and more of the same forms of advertising of influencing people without their being aware of it. I ask you as a parent. I don't know any rules of thumb that you can give me to help my child before himself. I would say first of all before yourself. Yourself. That is to say be yourself and try to have the courage and the feast in you as a human being that nothing terrible with appear when you are yourself rather than to feel terribly anxious and compulsive about having to conform with all sorts of things you and your child have to be. Our guest has been Dr. Eric frome internationally known author and head of the department of psychoanalysis at the National University of Mexico.
This concludes our series of 13 programs on the tender twigs. You have been listening to the tender twigs a series devoted to ensuring youth development that a safe sane and strained. Our interviewer was Ben Thompson Research sociologist by the state of Michigan's Department of Corrections. The tender twigs was produced and recorded by Wayne C. Wayne or Devon UK our radio at Michigan State University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. And is being distributed by the
National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Tender twigs
Man for himself
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Dr. Erich Fromm, author and psychoanalyst, concludes series with discussion of the cultural pressures of our time and how we must learn, not in any selfish sense, to be for ourselves.
Series Description
This series discusses problems affecting today's youth, such as mental health, delinquency, crime, social pressures. It also considers solutions for parents and youths to employ.
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Social Issues
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: Fromm, Erich, 1900-1980
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Wayne, Wayne C.
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-43-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:50
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Chicago: “Tender twigs; Man for himself,” 1958-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 25, 2023,
MLA: “Tender twigs; Man for himself.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 25, 2023. <>.
APA: Tender twigs; Man for himself. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from