Holiday Special: Something That Changed My Perspective (#2)

Yesterday, I took advantage of this (hopefully) quiet week to share some things I have come across that affected how I view the world.

I can’t recommend strongly enough that you view the four-part 2002 BBC documentary, The Century of the Self. Creator Adam Curtis said, “This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.” It focuses on how Freud’s ideas were used by business and government, far more deliberately and extensively than one might imagine, during the 20th century to achieve what Curtis calls “the engineering of consent.” This term was first used by Edward Bernays, the father of the public relations industry and nephew of Sigmund Freud. In Bernay’s words:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,…Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. . . . In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons . . . who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

This series describes how this “invisible government” came into being and operates.

Yesterday, we encouraged readers to watch the first segment, “Happiness Machines.” Part 2 is “The Engineering of Consent.” I encourage you to watch a few minutes here, and then go over to Google Video, since you will see it in a larger scale format there.

Click here to view it at Google Video.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. LarryInCincy


    This documentary was an eye opener. I can’t recommend it enough either.

    Of particular interest to me was how business got out of the business of supplying goods and services people needed, which was limited, and started providing lifestyle/identity stuff to people’s psyches which was unlimited. No more boom and bust cycle based on over production.

    Unfortunately, we forgot that, although the psyche is unlimited in its desires, the planet is limited in its resources.

  2. foesskewered

    Whoa, blast from the past, the last time I heard theories like that was at a social sciences fac dinner and a anti-globalization march pamphlet, and they called those people conspiracy theorist nuts.The “they” were people sceptical of big government.But frankly, it’s very british university fare, the politics students , depending on their preferences tend to think of those who believe in such theories as quirks, of course, some of these quirks turned into spin doctors, irony in caps

Comments are closed.