Publishing Erich Fromm

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In founding AMHF Books, the book-publishing arm of The American Mental Health Foundation, I along with our board sought two things. (1) To disseminate our knowledge in a way that also would preserve the lifework of the late Stefan de Schill. This would include books written in the spirit of Dr. de Schill’s work but not necessarily directly derived from it. De Schill was one of the premier proponents of group therapy, a Freudian, and a humanist. He very much, and specifically, told me on more than one occasion that he had wanted his book Crucial Choices, Crucial Changes to be published by one of Erich Fromm‘s publishers. (2) To issue out-of-print classics that deserve to be in print, which reflect the mission and spirit of AMHF.

In publishing two posthumous books and reissuing two classics by Fromm, we seek to accomplish both simultaneously. These books are featured elsewhere on our website, so in this forum I will not belabor their significance for AMHF Books. I would like to talk a bit about my reaction to these works in preparing them for publication.

Although much of Beyond Freud and The Pathology of Normalcy date to the 1950s through the 1970s, they are timeless books. The world was a very different place, polarized during the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States. Nuclear holocaust was looming. We lived in a far more secularized world since the free expression of theology and spirituality, and belief of the soul was restricted amid large swaths of the population. Yet, if one were to substitute, for example, the Taliban or Al-Qaeda for Soviet Union, or consider the rampant materialism and greed that have characterized our recent generations, all the threats to personal freedom (what Fromm calls engaged “Being” as opposed to mere “Having”) are startlingly similar. Likewise, if one were to substitute “political extremism” for “McCarthyism,” the reader finds him- or herself smack in 21st-century America. Fromm’s warnings about making material things our god ring as true today as ever; and for this reason, his work is more compelling than ever.

The Revolution of Hope and The Heart of Man were each published in the late 1960s. Revolution appeared in a second edition following the unsuccessful presidential candidacy of Eugene McCarthy. AMHF Books is issuing this revised edition with its subtle changes.

Timeless is an overused word. But at the risk of sounding less-than-original, I have to say working among the words of Erich Fromm, so in the spirit of Dr. de Schill’s humanistic approach to psychotherapy, so sensible and current…well, it has been an inspiring experience well beyond almost anything, among 1,200 books, I have edited in my former 30-plus years as a publisher’s editor.

You assuredly will be amazed by these four books by Fromm, scheduled for issue by AMHF Books in November 2010. We are taking advertising in New York Review of Books to let the literary world know about this important publishing event.

Relevance, no doubt, is another overused relic of a word from the 1960s vocabulary. In fact, Fromm’s visionary humanism is more “relevant” and necessary to our survival and flourishing, as a humane, mentally stable, and healthy society, than ever. Thank you for reading this. I hope you will permit yourselves to be inspired!

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