Greed is a common quality of desires by which men are driven to achieve a certain goal. In the nongreedy feeling, man is not driven, he is not passive, but he is free and active.
Greed can be motivated in two ways: 1. By a physiological imbalance which produces the greedy desire for food, drink, etc. Once the physiological need is satisfied, the greed ceases, unless the imbalance is chronic. 2. By a psychological imbalance, especially the presence of increased anxiety, loneliness, insecurity, lack of identity, etc., which is alleviated by the satisfaction, power, fame, property, etc. This type of greed is, in principle, insatiable, unless a person’s anxiety, etc., ceases or is greatly reduced. The first type of greed is reactive to circumstances; the second is inherent in the character structure.
The greedy feeling is highly egocentric. Whether it is hunger, thirst, or sexual desire, the greedy person wants something for himself exclusively, and that by which he satisfies his desire is only a means for his own purposes. This is obvious when we speak of hunger and thirst, but it is also the case when we speak of sexual arousal in its greedy form, where the other person becomes primarily an object. In the non-greedy feeling, there is little egocentricity. The experience is not needed to preserve one’s life, to allay anxiety, or to satisfy or enhance one’s ego; it does not serve to still a powerful tension, but begins precisely where necessity in the sense of survival or stilling of anxiety ends. In the non-greedy feeling, the person can let go of himself, is not compulsively holding on to what he has and what he wants to have, but is open and responsive.
excerpt from: Erich Fromm (1968) The Revolution of Hope.pdf: Greed