Frame of Orientation

A final human need is for a frame of orientation. Bemg split off from nature, humans need a road map, a frame of orientation, to make their way through the world. Without such a map humans would be "confused and unable to act purposefully and consistently" (Fromm, 1973, p. 230). A frame of orientation enables people to organize the various stimuli that impinge on them. People who possess a solid frame of orientation can make sense of these events and phenomena, but those who lack a reliable frame of orientation will, nevertheless, strive to put these events mto some sort of framework in order to make sense of them. For example, an American with a shaky frame of orientation and a poor understanding of history may attempt to understand the events of September 11, 2001, by blaming them on "evil' or "bad" people.

Every person lias a philosophy, a consistent way of looking at things. Many people take for granted this philosophy or frame of reference so that anything at odds with then view is judged as "crazy" or "unreasonable." Anything consistent with it is seen simply as "common sense." People will do nearly anything to acquire and retain a frame of orientation, even to the extreme of following irrational or bizarre philosophies such as those espoused by fanatical political and religious leaders.

A road map without a goal or destination is worthless. Humans have the mental capacity to imagine many alternative paths to follow. To keep from going insane, however, they need a final goal or "object of devotion" (Fromm, 1976, p. 137). According to Fromm, this goal or object of devotion focuses people's energies in a single direction, enables us to transcend our isolated existence, and confers meaning to their lives.

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