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In 1947, Erich Fromm, a humanist, psychoanalyst and philosopher, developed a theory of character that divided people into five “orientations,” mostly determined by their relationship to stuff. He characterized four of these — the receptive, exploitive, hoarding and marketing orientations — as part of the “having” mode, which is focused on consuming, obtaining and possessing. (The fifth orientation was “productive,” which focuses on experience and human connection.) Fromm specifically linked the hoarding orientation to the Protestant work ethic and the American merchant middle class and argued that this orientation is characterized by, among other things, being “constipated and squinty.”

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