Attempting to avoid work at all costs, leisure frequently fails to offer any consolation, as it is also rendered meaningless. Rather than being an opportunity to fulfill passions, Baran and Sweezy argued that leisure has become largely synonymous with idleness. The desire to do nothing is reflected in popular culture, with books, television, and films inducing a state of passive enjoyment rather than demanding intellectual energies.
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As a result, the conditions required for optimum mental health are violently undermined, with monopoly-capitalist society plagued by neuroses and more severe mental-health problems. For one, they made references to the centrality of latent energies such as libidinous drives and the need for their gratification. Moreover, they accepted the Freudian notion that social order requires the repression of libidinal energies and their sublimation for socially acceptable purposes.
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He had been associated with the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt in the early s and was directly influenced by the work of Eric Fromm and Herbert Marcuse. It was Fromm, most notably, who was to develop a unique Marxist psychoanalytical position that remains relevant to understanding mental health in the current era of monopoly capitalism. And it was from this that Baran, in particular, was to draw. While making explicit the importance of Sigmund Freud, Fromm acknowledged his greater debt to Karl Marx, considering him the preeminent intellectual.
Turning to Marxism, he constructed a theory of the individual whose consciousness is shaped by the organization of capitalism, with unconscious drives repressed or directed toward acceptable social behavior. While Marx never produced a formal psychology, Fromm considered that the foundations of one resided in the concept of alienation.
For Marx, capitalism separates individuals from their essence as a consequence of their existence. Considering it imperative to construct an understanding of human nature against which mental health could be evaluated, Fromm identified five central characteristics of the human condition.
The first is relatedness. Aware of being alone in the world, humans strenuously endeavor to establish ties of unity. Without this, it is intolerable to exist as an individual.
Humans developed the ability to express a creative intelligence, transforming this into a core human characteristic that requires fulfillment. With birth severing ties of natural belonging, individuals constantly pursue rootedness to feel at one with the world.
Erich Fromm: Mental Health and Human Nature
For Fromm, a genuine sense of belonging could only be achieved in a society built on solidarity. All individuals must establish a sense of self and an awareness of being a specific person. Representing what Fromm argued to be a universal human nature, the satisfaction of these drives is essential for optimum mental well-being. Mental illness consists in the failure of such development. Under capitalism, however, the full satisfaction of the human psyche is thwarted. For Fromm, the origins of poor mental health are located in the mode of production and the corresponding political and social structures, whose organization impedes the full satisfaction of innate human desires.
Like Marx, Fromm asserted that the instinctual desire to be creative had the greatest chance of satisfaction through work. In the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of , Marx strenuously argued that labor should be a fulfilling experience, allowing individuals to be freely expressive, both physically and intellectually. Workers should be able to relate to the products of their labor as meaningful expressions of their essence and inner creativity. Labor under capitalism, however, is an alienating experience that estranges individuals from its process.
In Britain, there is widespread dissatisfaction with work. One recent survey of employees conducted in early estimated that 47 percent would consider looking for a new job during the coming year. Of the reasons given, a paucity of opportunities for career advancement was prominent, along with not enjoying work and employees feeling like they do not make a difference.
Many people experience work as having little meaning and little opportunity for personal fulfillment and expression. From such evidence, a claim can be made that in Britain—as in many monopoly-capitalist nations—a substantial portion of the labor force feels disconnected from their work and does not consider it a creative experience.
For Fromm, the realization of creative needs are essential to being mentally healthy. Having been endowed with reason and imagination, humans cannot exist as passive beings, but must act as creators.
Considerable evidence suggests that far from being beneficial to mental health, work is actually detrimental to it. Although the exact figures are likely to remain unknown due to the intangibility of such experiences, it can be inferred that, for many members of the labor force, it is commonplace for work to provoke general unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and despondency. Moreover, more severe mental-health conditions, such as stress, depression, and anxiety, are increasingly emerging as the consequences of discontentment at work.
In —18, such conditions constituted 44 percent of all work-related ill health in Britain, and 57 percent of all workdays lost to ill health. With around half of the labor force in Britain having experienced work-related mental-health issues, and many more likely feeling a general sense of despondency, there exists what Fromm termed a socially patterned defect. Negative feelings become commonplace and, to varying degrees, are acknowledged as normal reactions to work. With the exception of severe mental-health disorders, many forms of mental distress that develop in response are taken for granted and not considered legitimate problems.
As such, the degradation of mental well-being is normalized. For Fromm, there existed an inherent relationship between positive mental health, meaningful personal relationships in the form of both love and friendship, and expressions of solidarity. The inadequacy of social relationships within monopoly-capitalist societies was identified by Baran and Sweezy. Toggle navigation. Log-in or create an account first! Glossary Some terminology that may be used in this description includes: New A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer.
Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new Ask the seller a question. The Importance of Dust Jackets Is the dust jacket of a book worth holding on to? A special order item has limited availability and the seller may source this title from another supplier.
In this event, there may be a slight delay in shipping and possible variation in description. It must mean, Marx concluded, that capitalists were underpaying or overworking, and thereby exploiting, laborers to drive down the cost of production. While Marx's answer was eventually proved incorrect and later economists adopted the subjective theory of value , his simple assertion was enough to show the weakness of the labor theory's logic and assumptions; Marx unintentionally helped fuel a revolution in economic thinking.
This underlies an often unappreciated aspect of economics: the emotions and political activity of the actors involved. A corollary of this argument was later made by French economist Thomas Piketty, who proposed that while nothing was wrong with income inequality in an economic sense, it could create blowback against capitalism among the people.
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Table of Contents Expand. Who Was Karl Marx? Marx's Inspiration. Marx's Social Economic Systems. Marx's Historical Materialism. Using Marx as a Foundation. His Early Life. Personal Life. Famous Works. Contemporary Influence.
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