The will to destroy must rise when the will to create cannot be satisfied


«Man can create life. This is a miraculous quality which he indeed shares with all living beings, but with the difference that he alone is aware of being created and being a creator. […] In the act of creation man transcends himself as a creature, raises himself beyond the passivity and accidentalness of his existence into the realm of purposefulness and freedom.

To create presupposes activity and care. It presupposes love for that which one creates. How then does man solve the problem of transcending himself, if he is not capable of creating, if he cannot love?

There is another answer to this need for transcendence; if I cannot create life, I can destroy it. To destroy life makes me also transcend it. Indeed, that man can destroy life is just as miraculous a feat as that he can create it, for life itself is the miracle, the inexplicable.In the act of destruction, man sets himself above life; he transcends himself as creature.

Thus, the ultimate choice for man, in as much as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or destroy, to love or to hate. […] Creation and destruction, love and hate, are not two instincts which exist independently.

They are both answers to the same need for transcendence, and the will to destroy must rise when the will to create cannot be satisfied. However, the satisfaction of the need to create leads to happiness; destructiveness to suffering, most of all, for the destroyer himself.»

Erich Fromm (1955) The Sane Society