Blog of the AMM

Wilhelm Reich: Even Behavior in a Daydream is Social Behavior

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“…when Fromm goes further and asserts that psychoanalysis has something “essential” to impart about the “background causes of social behavior” because society is composed of separate individuals, this is a wrong use of words which opens the way to abuses of psychology which Fromm himself would condemn. Insofar as we understand “social behavior” to mean the behavior of human beings in social life, to oppose personal to social behavior has no meaning, since there exists no behavior other than social behavior. Even behavior in a daydream is social behavior…To make my point finally…clear we must take Fromm’s criticism in conjunction with the official psychoanalytical sociology…there are plenty of instances of of human social behavior in which the unconscious instinctual mechanisms interposed in human action, which psychoanalysis has described and which are of decisive importance in other phenomena, play virtually no part at all…say a peasants’ uprising after a sudden drop in wheat prices cannot be explained by unconscious libidinous motives or as a case of rebellion against the father. [I]n such cases psychology can indeed have something to say about the effects of the behavior but not about its causes or background…capitalism cannot be explained by the anal-sadistic structure of man, but that this structure can be explained by the sexual order of the patriarchal system..” (Reich ‘Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis’ pp.66-67 in “Sex-Pol Eassys 1929-1934.”

Wilhelm Reich responds to Erich Fromm’s criticism when Fromm was deemed responsible for arriving at an alloy of Marx and Freud for the Institute of Social Research in the early 1930s.

5 Comments

  • Out to Lunch says:

    I'm completely with Reich here. His unabashed "everything is social" breathes the revolutionary Marxism which elevates the writings of Trotsky and Volosinov and Pashukanis above most. This is just where the AMM should stand, defending daydreams not under the rubric of bourgeois individualism but because they are social products worth analysing. Lukacs' importation of German

  • Out to Lunch says:

    PLEASE AMEND: insert "did a great deal of harm" after "fellow travellers" … Sorry about that!

  • Or, as Luke Staunton put it: "The psyche is social, we're not forever impounded within the walls between self and society, subjectivity and the big bad world outside. Its the explosive realisation that fires Voloshinov's revolutionary linguistics, Joyce's collideorscape in Finnegans Wake, J.H. Prynne's microscopic synapse sparking poetics, or Wilhelm Reich's sexual

  • battersea says:

    Everything is social…<br /><br />I&#39;m not.

  • Out to Lunch says:

    If you&#39;re not social … whence this need to share this information with us?

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