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’.

The time-lag between consciousness and the unconscious is itself the stigma of the contradictory development of society. Everything that got left behind is sedimented in the unconscious and has to foot the bill for progress and enlightenment. Its backwardness becomes Freud’s ‘timelessness’. Today it harbours even the demand for happiness, which does indeed begin to look ‘archaic’ as soon as it aims not at fulfilment but at some purely somatic, fragmented, local gratification, which increasingly turns into ‘having some fun’ the more diligently consciousness aspires to the condition of adultness. Psychology insulates itself against society, like society against psychology, and regresses. Under the pressure of society the psychological sector responds in the end only to sameness and proves incapable of experiencing the specific. The traumatic is the abstract. The unconscious therein resembles the abstract society it knows nothing about, and can be used to weld it together.

Freud should not be reproached for having neglected the concrete social dimension, but for being all too untroubled by the social origin of this abstractness, the rigidity of the unconscious, which he registers with the undeviating objectivity of the natural scientist. The impoverishment that has resulted from an unending tradition of the negative is hypostatized into an ontological property. The historical dimension becomes changeless; the psychic, in return, is made into an historical event. In making the leap from psychological images to historical reality, he forgets what he himself discovered—that all reality undergoes modification upon entering the unconscious—and is thus misled into positing such factual events as the murder of the father by the primal horde. It is this short-circuit between reality and the unconscious which lends psychoanalysis its apocryphal features. Such ideas as the crudely literal conception of the Moses legend have served to buttress the resistances of the official sciences that have no trouble in disproving them.

What Kardiner has called Freud’s ‘myths’—the translation of the intrapsychic into the dubiously factual—recurs wherever Freud too perpetrates ego-psychology, in his case an ego-psychology of the id, and treats the id as if it possessed the consummate rationality of the Viennese banker it at times really does resemble. In his all too refutable striving to gain a foothold in irrefutable facts, Freud unwittingly sanctions society’s belief in the usual criteria of the very science that he challenged. For the sake of these criteria, the Freudian child is a little man and his world that of a man. Thus, no less than its sociologically well-versed counterpart, a psychology that turns in on itself is aped by the society it refuses to heed.

The psyche that has been extracted from the social dialectic and investigated as an abstract ‘for itself’ under the microscope has become an object of scientific inquiry all too consistent with a society that hires and fires people as so many units of abstract labour-power. Freud’s critics have seized on his mechanistic bias. Both his determinism and also such implicit categories as the preservation of energy, the transformation of one form of energy into another and the subsumption of successive events under general laws, are reminiscent of scientific procedure. The concrete upshot of his ‘naturalist’ posture is the consistent exclusion of the new, the reduction of psychic life to a repetition of what happened in the past.