Preface to the 1961 Edition
This essay employs psychological categories because they have become political categories. The traditional borderlines between psychology on the one side and political and social philosophy on the other have been made obsolete by the condition of man in the present era: formerly autonomous and identifiable psychical processes are being absorbed by the function of the individual in the state--by his public existence. Psychological problems therefore turn into political problems: private disorder reflects more directly than before the disorder of the whole, and the cure of personal disorder depends more directly than before on the cure of the general disorder. The era tends to be totalitarian even where it has not produced totalitarian states. Psychology could be elaborated and practiced as a special discipline as long as the psyche could sustain itself against the public power, as long as privacy was real, really desired, and self-shaped; if the individual has neither the ability nor the possibility to be for himself, the terms of psychology become the terms of the societal forces which define the psyche. Under these circumstances, applying psychology in the analysis of social and political events means taking an approach which has been vitiated by these very events. The task is rather the opposite: to develop the political and sociological substance of the psychological notions.
I have tried to reformulate certain basic questions and to follow them in a direction not yet fully explored. I am [xviii] aware of the tentative character of this inquiry and hope to discuss some of the problems, especially those of an aesthetic theory, more adequately in the near future.
The ideas developed in this book were first presented in a series of lectures at the Washington School of Psychiatry in 1950-51. I wish to thank Mr. Joseph Borkin of Washington, who encouraged me to write this book. I am deeply grateful to the late Professor Clyde Kluckhohn, to Barrington Moore, Jr., of Harvard University, and to Doctors Henry and Yela Loewenfeld of New York, who have read the manuscript and offered valuable suggestions and criticism. For the content of this essay, I take the sole responsibility. As to my theoretical position, I am indebted to my friend Professor Max Horkheimer and to his collaborators at the Institute of Social Research, now in Frankfurt.