Rieff explains the process in this manner. The entire culture functions as a superego, replete with symbolic expression and procedures for bringing the individual into conformity with the community purpose. The individual is thus brought to health by conforming the individual to the community superego.
The person who brings the individual into conformity with the community superego was the earlier therapist. In this role, particularly if the earlier “therapist” utilized any sacral symbolism, functioned as a “priest.”
To bring the individual into conformity to the community superego brought about a “transformation” of the individual and formed a “positive community.
Rieff also proposes an interesting role for the estatic or ascetic religionist. Such a person by means of an extreme religious action which disestablishes prior bonds and re-establishes the individual into a new positive community, a new set of symbols.
In contrast to a positive community where the therapist brings about a “transformation” the analytic therapist, as developed by Freud creates no positive community and engages in no commitment therapy.
Freud’s therapy was precisely for the purpose of removing the “analysand” from any positive community. The therapist had no end of bringing the individual into conformity to a communal superego: quite the opposite. The individual was taught to understand the superego. The therapist does not propose any new community, he rather acts to free the analysand.
When the analysand comes to the therapist, he is “buried alive … in the culture.” (64) The previous sacral system is no longer a means of healing, but “sickness.” Freud offers not salvation, merely I suppose – although the this word is not used by Rieff – reality:
To be thus freed from a tyrannical cultural super-ego is to be properly bedded in the present world.
This does not mean those who followed in Freud’s footsteps were content to leave the individual freed from all external superego. Such persons are considered by Rieff later in the book.
At this point, Rieff merely posits that analysis is a means of psychologically detaching oneself from broken symbols which are symptoms of an earlier, no longer functioning community: “The analytic therapy developed precisely in response to the need of the Western individual … for a therapy that would not depend for its effect on a symbolic return to a positive community.” (61)