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Multimedia posted Mar 21 2006, 9:29 PM Source: InformationLiberation Print

The Century of the Self

The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires

"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.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized."
- Edward Bernays


Adam Curtis' acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund's devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund's great grandson, Matthew Freud.

Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal.

Please Note: Viewers should be sure to read Ludwig Von Mises' 'The Anti-Capitalist Mentality' to balance the socialistic elements of this film.

This film was produced by BBC which is Britain's government run news channel, therefor it downplays the evils of government and plays up the vices of business. The enemy is not capitalism or 'consumption' but government and its insidious propaganda. Mass produced goods enrich society because they reduce the amount of time a person has to work to satisfy one's essential needs. Government propaganda debases society because it is used as an excuse for everything from murderous wars of aggression to oppressive economy killing taxation and regulation. When a business sells you something voluntarily you will only buy it if you think the product is worth more than the price you have to pay for it. When the government propagandizes you they are merely giving you excuses to submit to their use of force which will be bearing down on you whether you like it or not. The two are very different and this film does a disservice by confusing them. That said, it's important to understand the propagandists who serve to justify the crimes of the state. Selling someone a product they don't truly "need" hurts no one, selling people on a war they don't need gets millions of people murdered and destroys entire societies. - Chris, InformationLiberation

Happiness Machines
Part One

One: Happiness Machines

The story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud's ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn't need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.

Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.

His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile.

It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today's world.

See Ludwig von Mises "The Noneconomic Objections to Capitalism" and "The Argument of Happiness" to balance the propaganda in this section.

The Engineering of Consent
Part Two

Two: The Engineering of Consent

The programme explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud's ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses.

Politicians and planners came to believe Freud's underlying premise - that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires and fears. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany. To stop it ever happening again they set out to find ways to control this hidden enemy within the human mind.

Sigmund Freud's daughter, Anna, and his nephew, Edward Bernays, provided the centrepiece philosophy. The US government, big business, and the CIA used their ideas to develop techniques to manage and control the minds of the American people. But this was not a cynical exercise in manipulation. Those in power believed that the only way to make democracy work and create a stable society was to repress the savage barbarism that lurked just under the surface of normal American life.

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads:
He Must Be Destroyed

Part Three

Three: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed

In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas in America. They were inspired by the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of Freud's, who had turned against him and was hated by the Freud family. He believed that the inner self did not need to be repressed and controlled. It should be encouraged to express itself.

Out of this came a political movement that sought to create new beings free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people's minds by business and politics.

This programme shows how this rapidly developed in America through self-help movements like Werber Erhard's Erhard Seminar Training - into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.

But the American corporations soon realised that this new self was not a threat but their greatest opportunity. It was in their interest to encourage people to feel they were unique individuals and then sell them ways to express that individuality. To do this they turned to techniques developed by Freudian psychoanalysts to read the inner desires of the new self.

[InfoLib Note: The portrayal of Wilhelm Reich in this film is completely wrong, Wilhelm Reich was one of the greatest men to ever live, check out his book "Listen, Little Man!"]

Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering
Part Four

Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

This episode explains how politicians on the left, in both Britain and America, turned to the techniques developed by business to read and fulfil the inner desires of the self.

Both New Labour, under Tony Blair, and the Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group, which had been invented by psychoanalysts, in order to regain power. They set out to mould their policies to people's inner desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learnt to do with products.

Out of this grew a new culture of public relations and marketing in politics, business and journalism. One of its stars in Britain was Matthew Freud who followed in the footsteps of his relation, Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations in the 1920s.

The politicians believed they were creating a new and better form of democracy, one that truly responded to the inner feelings of individual. But what they didn't realise was that the aim of those who had originally created these techniques had not been to liberate the people but to develop a new way of controlling them.

Other options to view the film:

1. Click here to watch it instantly in Real Media Format

2. Click here to get to and download it for free

3. Download it directly from the following links, right click and choose "save as".

The Century of the Self -- Part 1--Part 2--Part 3--Part 4
(right click, save as)

There are four parts. Each part is around 160 MB. The video is in MP4 format which requires VLC Media Player (

Media Lens critiques aspects of the film

The Unspoken Rule of Media Reporting: The BBC's The Century of the Self - Part 2 - Part 3

Comments 21 - 40 of 92 Add Comment < Page of 5 >

Posted: Jul 01 2007, 2:07 PM

episode 3: inner-directed...that's the majority then I assume, but they didn't say.
Techniques; What do you want, what do you rally want? These are manipulations upon poeple, I think.
Answer: something good to eat that's tasty.

What did they do with my answers?

1) live in a jungle
2) eat home cooking, picked from the garden.
3) improve my relationship with god
3) to go and play with my children and our home-made toys instead of submitting to expert questions
4) to die a martyr today
3) to live in seclusion in the tropics, with free rent (my own hut)
4) to live in an ancient city in one room with a window and breeze
5) to keep walking
6) nothing really
7) freedom. Full stop
8) the company of freedom fighters
9) play my indian village-made drums
10) to cut some sticks to brush my teeth from birch trees in the forest, for nextt week.
11) you to become unemployed and wander like a sufi then report back to me with a story.
12) to call me in six months for more items for you list.

Posted: Aug 08 2007, 6:29 PM

8235 "Just add eggs"


Posted: Dec 13 2007, 3:36 PM

166179 I blame thre monkeys. Not only the group but also the nefarious evolutionarilly controlled genetic computer networks the monkeys run - .. it is true what they say... monkeys at the bottom look up and see arseholes... but the ones at the top get drunk and fall on the ones at the bottom - or something like that.

Its all about monkeys... ever since that woman on the Omen said...
"its all for you damien" and hung herself ... we all know deep down that the word "damien" is a secret society word for "monkey".

Monkeys and more monkeys ... thats what is going to happen...soon the world is going to vomit off this miscreant evolutionary mistake and revert to monkey power...

Its a good thing i changed my name to Charlton.

Posted: Jan 28 2008, 8:11 PM

2487 As far as Tony Robbins is concerned,his schtick and success was based entirely upon looking up and putting together volumes of well know "CLICHES" and passing them off (for Big Buck$) to the gullible public as a sensational "Motivational Course"!
Tony Robbins (who doesn't have a clue about psychology let alone human psycho dynamics) just pilfered the already well worn "Cliche Based Psychology" of Norman Vincent Peale,Napolean Hill,Dale Carnegie etc. and passed it off as his new,unique and wonderfully effective Motovational Course which it isn't not even in the slightest!
Artemise--Goddess of

Posted: Jan 28 2008, 8:59 PM

69152 First, let me compliment whomever came up with Hop-a-long-catastrophe! Very witty name for Dubbya Bubba and well-suited, however, being from Texas and tired of everyone associating brain death with my home state, I'd like to state for the record that very bright people who have met DB state unequivocally that "the porch light's on, but nobody is home" with reference to his intellect. He is not intelligent at all, nor does he care to be. His father was neither bright nor bold and his mother, well, she believes that the Astrodome is a housing project for the "unprivileged," DB's genetics are accurately reproduced in his behavior.

Now that many of you are coming to the realization that we have all been duped horribly, please read these books to find out who is driving the bus: Public Enemy No. 1: the Story of John D. Rockefeller Psychopath; Ida Tarbell--the history of Standard Oil and the report from the REESE commission...finally, read Smedley Butler's book, "The Plot to Steal the White House." Then search for anything by Eustace Mullins, Emmanuel Josephson or Anthony Sutton and the facts will become clear. It is time to abandon the mess that these idiots have created of the US government and build a new decentralized governance that they cannot successfully corrupt. There is not much time to get on this activity as they have plans in place to wipe out huge numbers of people so that they can dominate the earth itself. (surely, you did not think that bird flu was natural)


Posted: Jan 29 2008, 3:10 AM

4232 If you cannot 'take away from your mind' preconceived notions, then you will not watch this film and take anything away with you. Most people cannot fathom that they are not in their 'full consciousness' 100 percent of the time, but if you think about it, you must realize when you are explosively angry, as the greatest example of, being the deepest asleep in one's mind and prisoner to impulse behavior. Furthermore, when we are in a mass consciousness, we sway one another with our thought processes, which is where you get a 'mob mentality' as we become integrated with and are easily manipulated by mass suggestion.

It's reallyTRUE about the Matrix. IF one considers consciousness than one realizes that only as we become completely individual, do we realize the unity of the consciousness as ONE. Thought is energy, energy is matter and matter can be turned to an awakened state in which, we cannot collectively stop the manipulation of our senses by them, by changing the course of our thinking patterns away from them. Awakening from the matrix.

Posted: Feb 01 2008, 10:14 PM

At first glance it seems clear to me that the PR function has only been used for the sole benefit of Corporations and government institutions. Never before have the People, collectively, united, created and then initiated a PR campaign for their own benefit. I definitely see potential for long-time-tried and proven techniques to be used to give something to the People rather than taking something away from them.

Let’s see if we can exponentially increase the visits and contributions to this extremely valuable blog that is attached to material that has the power to help transform the People from oblivion to front stage.

These four videos can be a great springboard for developing a PR campaign for the United People System which was designed to allow the People to exercise their Collective Sovereign authority over their elected public servants.

Complete details can be found in the United People Trust’s Global Call for Collaboration - viewable on

Although the full implementation of the plan calls for the receipt of significant funding, it is not in our best interests to wait for that funding before we implement a PR campaign that we can create and implement ourselves. Thus, we can begin targeting specific communities prior to major funding. In turn, this may attract the attention of the people we are looking for who can appreciate what we have done on our own initiative and then help finance full-fledged PR campaign with the assistance of one or more of the best PR companies in the world.

In order to develop this original homegrown PR campaign for the Untied People System, I am suggesting all participants view the four videos, about one hour each, on this web page.

The four videos found here, I believe, will provide a no-nonsense and “direct to the point” primer that will be sufficient to get all interested individuals onto the same frequency that will easily enable this dialog.

I look forward to significant contributions in this blog. An alternative will be to post comments on my Facebook wall. It may be best to include something in your Facebook wall that will introduce what we are doing on my wall to your friends. Anyone who has interest may become one of my Facebook friends in order to participate in this dialog.

I also wish to set a tentative completion date of 13 March 2008.

Posted: Feb 13 2008, 10:43 PM

I have written a short five page (2655 word) blurb on my observations and impressions of this four hour viedo series and how it relates to the implementation of a remedy via the United People System. I have titled it "Liberation of Romance Leads to Safe Politics." Since it is too long to publish on this blog, I will publish it on in the book reports section under "news events." The direct link is:

I, personally, believe that these videos have presented us with the tools we need to fine tune the much-needed and long-awaited remedy to a problem with governance that needs immediate attention. I look forward to an exciting and lively dialog concerning the final pulling together of a PR plan for the United People System.

Posted: Feb 15 2008, 4:42 AM

After writing the article I previously posted some initial questions that have occurred to me that may stimulate further thought are:

1. What slogans can be used? Who's Afraid of Naomi Wolf? Citizen first, Consumer second? Liberation of Romance Leads to Safe Politics?

2. What events can be used to introduce the UP campaign and its slogans? Country-wide, state-wide, nation-wide and world-wide?

3. Shouldn't this effort be completely decentralized? There can be completely unique campaigns started by many different people at the same time in different areas. Self expression, individualism, non-conformity. All based upon genuine truths, they should simply and harmoniously overlap each other.

4. What celebrities can be approached and recruited to assist?

5. What type of perpetual party system can be created? Is this the opportunity to combine business fun and politics? Can we imaging community get togethers (parties) where there is a combination of things going on? Some pure party, some business focus group that look at specific products, and another focus group that looks at a specific policy for government?

6. How do we tie in corporate sponsors and their products? What corporations should be approached first? Should there be a "test area" to first focus on?

7. How do we apply the "products/proposition/empathy chart to the overall UP PR campaign and to all issues thereafter?

8. Is there an opportunity to connect these techniques to the launch of any campaign?

9. Like Rupert Murdock revealed, what events or programs can we use to "funnel" people into the UP system?

10. How much do we need to focus on VALS (values and lifestyles categories?

11. If we have to know the basic needs of an individual or group in order to fully exploit them, what does this mean for the UP? Desires need to overshadow needs?

12. How does the process "Create/Make acceptable/capitalize" apply to UP?

Posted: Mar 03 2008, 7:42 PM

Follow up to the "Liberation of Romance Leads to Safe Politics" can be viewed on

Posted: Jul 13 2008, 7:57 PM

72216 Julie,

Maybe learn how to spell "moron" before name calling someone else? Just a thought....

Posted: Aug 08 2008, 11:24 AM

4227 it is better to please him now, or alot could be lost in order to save the masses.
give in to the rulers needs, demands, don't allow this company to lose it all.
knowledge is to the ruler more powerful than 10,000 workers could defend in their haste.

Posted: Sep 22 2008, 7:07 AM

149254 Learn to spell before attempting to sound clever.

Posted: Nov 10 2008, 3:35 PM

68217 HELP is on the way!

Posted: Dec 28 2008, 11:17 PM

76123 Hale Boggs was Speaker of the LOUISIANA House, not the U.S. House, so he was never in line to be the President.

Posted: Jan 02 2009, 1:41 AM

220233 How can we get all Australians to refuse to pay taxes to the evil ones ruling over us. That would fix them!

Posted: Jan 10 2009, 10:58 PM

216234 The descriptions make it sound so complicated and as if it's a big disgusting manipulation, but politicians were doing it long before Freud. It's a fairly simple concept they're following: give the people what they want. People don't need to need something to want it, and both businesses and politicians simply exploited the desires of people to meet their own personal ends. This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing because by following that rule, the people get what they want, or at least what they think they want. They have to for the it to equate.

Posted: Feb 07 2009, 6:07 AM

8575 thank you very very very much

Posted: Feb 14 2009, 3:36 PM

78147 This is how the world was fooled!
Dave Eldred.

Posted: Mar 22 2009, 2:47 PM

9366 This is a very good programme. Programming and Unprogrammening then ultimately re programming you back into itself. Perputual motion, but it's quite cool...I'm amazed this is the first time i have viewed it...
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