1. What is the focus of your research and teaching?
Since writing my doctoral thesis in the 1970s on Erich Fromm's social psychology and ethics, I have been concerned with the social psychology approach of the psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. In addition to being the editor of his works (a complete edition of Erich Fromm's works has been available since 1981), in my research and lecturing activities I deal especially with the application of this approach to character theory and social developments, as well as to therapeutic practice, which has been the focus of my career over the last 30 years.
2. What is the content you convey in your module?
In Module 6 of the BA Psychology study course, I teach two specialised seminars on "applied social psychology", both of which are identical in terms of content. What makes these seminars so appealing is the fruitfulness of revealing a social psychology approach, and that through an intensive and in-depth involvement with Erich Fromm's social character theory. It is possible with it to analyse current social processes and at the same time to survey those psychological aspirations which many people in a certain culture or a specific milieu think, feel and act upon.
3. What can students learn from you?
Fromm's social psychology approach in particular attempts to bridge the highly different routes today to understanding and researching sociology and psychoanalytically oriented psychology. In this seminar you learn how each of us develop and pursue psychological aspirations within ourselves which promote living together as a society, as well as how such characteristics are experienced as being prone to conflict and which, for this reason, can demonstrate a pathogenic effect with specific individuals, depending on the circumstances.
4. What is it about analytical social psychology that excites you?
Since psychology is still primarily only understood as an empirical behavioural science which is solely interested in expressions of behaviour, and in testing, measuring and calculating these, psychoanalytically oriented social psychology attempts to understand concrete behaviour as an expression of a subject, or also of numerous subjects, together with its psychic driving forces and structural formations. It is only once you have recognised the psychic dynamic in the life stories of many people and thus understood why these are so ambitious, or competitive or unmotivated, can sustainable behavioural changes be achieved. This is more complicated and more difficult, but it is also more fascinating – and close to people.
5. Do you have a motto on life?
The more we are able to remove the limits to our reality through medial stagings, virtualisations and simulations, the more important being down-to-earth and having a sense of reality becomes.