Erich Fromm believed that character determined behavior. In his studies of how society affects our development, he concluded that every society shares a common character structure, meaning a common set of traits that motivate us to behave in ways that fulfill the goals and ideals of our culture. For example we are taught and conditioned to believe our self-worth depends upon our achievements, our financial value, the things we own, how productive we are, and how other people evaluate us. Fromm called this collection of traits our social character. Society from its largest institutional units down to its smallest, the family, endeavors to teach us these traits.
In June 2011 I was invited to give the C.G. Jung Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Jung Society of Washington D.C. and presented at the Embassy of Switzerland. The title of the lecture was “Individuation, The Promise in Jung’s Legacy …