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New Left Review I/47, January-February 1968

Theodor Adorno

Sociology and Psychology (Part II)

Social developments thus affect even the most recent trends in psychology. Despite the ever-widening rift between society and psychology, society reaches repressively into all psychology in the form of censorship and superego. As part of the progressive integration of society, socially rational behaviour gets melted together with the psychological residues. But the revisionists who perceive this give an oversimplified account of the interaction of the mutually alienated institutions id and ego. They posit a direct connection between the instinctual sphere and social experience. The latter, however, takes place, according to Freudian topology, only at the outer layer of the ego which has been allotted the task of testing reality. But inside the instinctual dynamic, reality is ‘translated’ into the language of the id. If there is any truth in Freud’s notion of the archaic and indeed possibly ‘timeless’ nature of the unconscious, then concrete social circumstances and motivations cannot enter it without being altered and ‘reduced’.

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Theodor Adorno, ‘Sociology and Psychology (Part II)’, NLR I/47: £3

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