A documentary about the rise of psychoanalysis as a powerful means of persuasion for both governments and corporations.
The legacy of famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud informs the lives of people throughout the world even to this day, though it’s a phenomenon of which most are unaware. The Century of the Self, written and produced by Adam Curtis, is an exhaustive examination of his theories on human desire, and how they’re applied to platforms such as advertising, consumerism, and politics. This four-hour odyssey is divided into four distinct segments.
Part 2: The Engineering Of Consent:
This episode 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 barbarism throughout History. To stop it from 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 centerpiece 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.