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The Century of the Self and Edward Bernays; Or How The Psyche Is Used Against Us.

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posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 01:09 PM
Who has seen this excellent documentary? I was drawn by the fascinating title: The Century of the Self.
Very interesting to think of the previous century in such terms.
And also interesting is to wonder at this new century, and how it might be characterized by a later and more objective analysis.
I almost see something of a hive mind now that we're all connected the way we are. The Return to the Hive.

Anyway, let's get to the film! I wrote some of my ideas down as I was watching--it's a 4 hour (3 part) documentary.

I'd love to hear your ideas on the subject, whether you've watched the film or not. It's really fascinating stuff to me. (Link to documentary at end of post)

Part One Freud’s Legacy

Edward Bernays, Freud’s American nephew, began his career as a press agent. At this point in his career, he was already keen on/at manipulating public opinion.
When WWI broke out, Bernays was put to work to show the war in a good light to American citizens.
He was a member of the “Committee of Public Information (CPI),” which framed America’s effort in the war as a fight to bring democracy to all of Europe (hmmm, does sound familiar, doesn’t it?)
The war ended and Bernays, along with 16 others from the CPI, worked publicity for the Paris Peace Conference.
His time in Europe revealed that his propaganda had worked to sway European masses in favor of Woodrow Wilson-- as a bringer of peace, the champion of the common man.
Bernays created the “Council on Public Relation” and theorized propaganda could work during peace time too!
He used his uncle’s writing to inform his plan to make money from manipulating the human unconscious. An appeal to irrational emotions is quite powerful and successful.
Bernays convinced women to smoke using psycho-analysis.
He came up with the notion of “Torches of Freedom.” It’s empowering to smoke!
The notion of controlling others through the illusion of empowerment has been used many times since.
Initiated the idea of emotionally connecting the consumer to products.
Here’s a link to a great article giving an overview of Bernays advertising campaigns: (some of which are really gross, ludicrous, example he overlaid subliminal images of a vagina and venereal disease atop a cup to show how unsanitary regular cups were in order to sell disposable dixie cups. My, that is just yucky. Almost sorry to write it but it's such a prime example of the lengths which were taken, I had to include!)

Bernays worked in conjunction with the American Dental Association and fluoridationists to get fluoride added to the tap water and with The United Fruit Company (Chiquita) to paint Guatemala’s democratically elected president as a communist (this is where the term Banana Republic originates)

Up to this point, marketers promoted goods as necessities, not luxuries (the “masses” not used to accumulating stuff as the wealthy had been doing).

Now the goal is to shift the mentality from buying based on need to buying based on desires-- from a needs to a desire culture. (Man’s desires must overshadow his needs. Marketers goal was to guide, sway, recreate society rather than accommodate it.)

Other interesting notes from the film:
Planned obsolescence-- the notion that things are made to break or to be replaced by a newer or better thing.
The film mentions the great liberation of the self-- the opponents to Freud’s notion that the base desires need be repressed now are voicing the notion that our base needs ought to be freed, accepted, celebrated, and allowed to reign. One key idea that came with this movement was that we can
“Be whatever we want to be.”
Noted that the effects of freeing our inner/instinctual selves by allowing ourselves complete liberation from our repressive and traditional forebearers resulted in a populace that was “greedy, open to suggestion as consumers and politically” (quote from the movie).

Manipulators/marketers found that they could “control the self not by repressing it, but by feeding its’ infinite desires.”

A push was made to market goods as expressions of the individual self-- as a way of saying this is ME, check my style and the things I flash and you will see the REAL me.

Another interesting point made is that surveys were conducted on a more psychological level, and researchers found that people are highly willing to answer deep, revealing questions about themselves, and that certain psychological characteristics defy social constructs such as class, sex, race, ideology, and that to market to a characteristic rather than a demographic is very effective.

Great documentary, great title-- “The Century of Self”
Here's part one and the link to the whole documentary follows:
thanks for reading if you made it this far!

Have a good one!!!

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts

edit on 25-3-2019 by zosimov because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 01:15 PM
a reply to: zosimov

Here's a shorter video on Bernay's techniques:

Here's a classic work often referenced:

The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

I also like the works of Jacques Ellul. Here's a really good introductory video:

edit on 25-3-2019 by dfnj2015 because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 01:39 PM
a reply to: zosimov

I'll have to check this out... I've been looking for new documentaries so this will be very welcome.

The last one I finished was Noam Chomsky's "manufacturing consent" which seems to be a little similar based off of your description.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 01:44 PM
a reply to: dfnj2015

Thanks for the extra resources, and I've definitely read some of your comments about Bernays and can see you're no stranger to his work (your sig).

I meant to make a thread about the 1939 World Fair at one point (might still do it) and was pretty amazed when his name came up.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 01:47 PM
a reply to: CriticalStinker

It's so long and I'm fairly certian I haven't even watched it in its entirety- Went back and watched the beginning over again in order to take notes and I think I've missed some fairly large parts- BUT it's really interesting.

I don't think you'll regret checking it out. I'll look into the doc you mentioned-- I like hearing Chomsky's perspective and think he has many really brilliant ideas.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 02:00 PM
a reply to: zosimov

Who has seen this excellent documentary


Adam Curtis is a great doco film maker.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 02:04 PM
Must watch.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 02:06 PM
a reply to: mekhanics

I'm very impressed by the scope of this film, and at the bird's eye view it portrays of societal/historical events in regards to psychology, manipulation, and propaganda!

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 02:43 PM
awesome s&f

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 02:43 PM
a reply to: zosimov

Great post, Zos!

It's been a while since I studied Bernays and all this stuff, but if I remember correctly it was Bernays who called this type of mental/emotional manipulation the "titillation of the egos."

And to be clear, "ego" in this sense is not just vanity or a sense of superiority, although that was part of it; but particularly in terms of making it personal... invoking the self or the ego. So whatever presented wasn't just about "this" or "that," it was about the "me." Some way, somehow, the message spoke to them and their condition directly. Therefore, at some point, once people "own" the message, they will defend the message (and the messenger) as if they are defending themselves, because they are. But if one pays close enough attention, we will find that the message (and the goal) are founded upon a solid premise, the "truth" that hooks us, but somewhere takes a wrong turn.

For example, "bringing democracy to Europe," sounds so altruistic! So noble! So generous!!! And by golly gee we know because look at how awesome possum our democracy is. That just says it all, right???

But the truth is, democracies suck, which is why our founders gave us a Constitutional Republic. But it sure sounded good, eh?

The devil is always in the details!!!

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 02:55 PM
a reply to: CriticalStinker

That reminds me that I didn't get back with you. That thread got closed for review.

That documentary could have been shorter and emphasized the points.

Main point from 2nd part was that Media format is designed to fit into time slots; making nuanced points impossible to present. It takes much more time to present various outlooks and the synthesis which makes up the concluding position. Time slots lead to "lowest common denominator" type speaking. (this is somewhat in my own language and not necessarily Chomsky's terminology.)

Chomsky may not have used the word "anarchist", but Chris Hedges uses it in one of his recent talks. Media people become unconsciously institutionalized (back to Chomsky) by adjusting their use of language and phrases to conform to what is commonly understood, so that long explanations are not needed in conversations. Think shorthand.

Back to Hedges: The investigative reporter must be an anarchist with respect to commonly, easily understood, phrases. They must take just as much time as needed to understand and then explain what it is they are reporting. What they are reporting is by nature a "new thing".

Chomsky and Hedges both would suggest that alternative sources should be sought for news and information. Chomsky warns that separating fact from spin is not easy, and should not be considered easy. His own method involved going to original reporter sources and reading reports that were filed yet never published. Spin can easily happen when there are gaping holes in the data set; balance lost through partial broadcasting.

That's my take.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 03:02 PM
a reply to: pthena

Thanks for the reply!

I think going back in time on these issues really shows our inability to address them as the same problems still exist.

Luckily we do have smaller media outlets popping up, and podcasting proves to be a low overhead way to open the door to new voices.

So it's not all doom and gloom, but the media empires still have a strong foothold.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 03:22 PM
a reply to: zosimov

Manipulators/marketers found that they could “control the self not by repressing it, but by feeding its’ infinite desires.”

A push was made to market goods as expressions of the individual self-- as a way of saying this is ME, check my style and the things I flash and you will see the REAL me.

A current example: pro-pot marketers are making claims by misusing medical studies. One statement quoting one medical study from 2008 about Endocannabinoids is taken completely out of context.

The original statement taken out of context is here:

Cannabis and endocannabinoid modulators: Therapeutic promises and challenges

Studies have found dronabinol to be effective in stimulating appetite in both cancer patients [93] and HIV infected patients [94]. Interestingly, endocannabinoids are present in breast milk, 2-AG levels being much higher than those of anandamide [95].

Notice that this has to do with appetite as noted above that:

The CB1 receptor has also been implicated as essential in the development of the feeding response in mice pup neonates—in the absence of CB1 receptor signaling, mediated either by CB1 antagonism or genetic CB1 deletion, mice pups do not draw milk from the mother and die [15,16]. These data suggest that endocannabinoids play a critical role in survival of the newborn mouse by controlling milk ingestion.

To emphasize: Cannabinoids are not Endocannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are no more a cure-all than Laudanum was during the snake-oil salesman days.

Hi Zosimov: thought an example might be helpful.
edit on 25-3-2019 by pthena because: (no reason given)

edit on 25-3-2019 by pthena because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 03:30 PM
a reply to: pthena

Hi pthena

Thanks for the concrete example, and an interesting one!
In my state, CBDs are marketed everywhere and people even feed them to their dogs.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 03:37 PM
a reply to: zosimov

I read that your state still warns pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to not smoke pot. And that doctors are required to report cases they come across. I think that's what I read.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 03:47 PM
a reply to: pthena

I'm guessing you have (though I've managed not to read anything of the sort) and a quick search brought up lots of results. Here's an interesting article I found on the subject:
Seems dispensaries were marketing mj to women in their early pregnancy to treat nausea. Hmmm.
According to article:

About 70% of Colorado's cannabis dispensaries recommended marijuana products to pregnant women to treat their first-trimester nausea, according to an August study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 04:08 PM
a reply to: zosimov

I liked the symbolism of switching America from a needs culture to a desire culture.

Only took a few decades to make debt go out of control 😂

Edit: not even decades. Its a rainy day, so perfect for watching a documentary. Thanks for the suggestion, it's great so far.
edit on 25-3-2019 by CriticalStinker because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 07:09 PM
a reply to: zosimov

I'm guessing you have (though I've managed not to read anything of the sort)

I may have gotten confused. Note my description of Chomsky documentary. I could not comment specifically on that because I was filtering it involuntarily through what I had already learned from the Hedges talk. I recognize that and admit it. Fact checking is useful and necessary.

I was reading many sources and got confused. It was Oregon actually, not Colorado; but I did have Colorado in my head from another source. Ummm, where was I?

Oh yeah. This is the piece that purposely blurs the distinction between endocannabinoids and cannabinoids. Note the name of organization also.

CannabisCure: cannabis-breast-milk
Is there evidence to support the claim that there is such a thing as cannabis breast milk?

Scientists have discovered cannabinoids in breast milk – so the answer is yes there is evidence of cannabis breast milk – absolutely!

Right under that statement is the link to study piece quoted in my previous post.
Later on they have a cautionary tale. Moral of the story: Don't tell your Doctor (my spin though).

a problem even in the piece you cited.

But the researchers' deepening concerns don't seem to be hitting the broader medical community amid changing public views, the growth of the cannabis industry and a backlash against the former stigma around marijuana use. Jansson has applied for grants to study marijuana-dependent mothers and impacts of cannabis on their infants before and after birth but, she said, those applications haven't been well-received.

Back in the old days the U.S. relied upon hemp; for ropes, for canvas, paper, clothing, etc. Once the cotton gin increased productivity and hence the profitability of cotton, Cotton became king. Cotton replaced hemp in Levi Jeans.

Oh yes LEVIS, which had originally been made of hemp sail cloth, double stitched with rivet reinforced pockets so that all you gold prospectors can carry your tools close to hand, in your pockets without ripping your pockets out. So get your long lasting Levis today. One pair of Levis is worth four pairs of inferior jeans which rip out at inconvenient times!

Then the chemical companies made nylon to replace hemp for rope. The Cotton and Chemical PR people saw to the outlawing of hemp, eliminating the competition.

Now the MJ PR people are spinning things the other way. Step right up folks, here is the new cure-all, good for whatever ails you!

It's Propaganda. You can tell because they don't care about hemp rope. I love hemp rope. I grew up on big fat hemp rope swings tied high up in oak trees. But they don't care

posted on Mar, 25 2019 @ 10:03 PM
a reply to: zosimov

Here is an acid test: Determine Pthena's positions on Medical/Recreational use

Scroll slowly please.

1) Is it possible to determine my position on Medical and/or Recreational use based upon what I have written so far in this thread?

2) If you were hired by a PR firm to paint my positions either Pro or Con, which would be easier, based upon what I have written so far in this thread?

See? I hope you answered 1) correctly.

edit on 25-3-2019 by pthena because: added more spaces

posted on Mar, 26 2019 @ 08:46 AM

originally posted by: pthena

a problem even in the piece you cited.

Oh hahaha! The irony is so nice and thick, that in a piece decrying the insidious effects of propaganda, I'd post my own propaganda laden article, and even extract perhaps the most questionable part to quote!

Where are the studies cited to prove or show how statistics were gathered proving 70% of dispenseries would recommend that pregnant woman try cbds?
Here's some other facts

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, has also found that 34% to 60% of marijuana users keep using during pregnancy "with many women believing that it is relatively safe to use during pregnancy and less expensive than tobacco." A 2015 analysis in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that more than 70% of pregnant women see no or slight risk to using marijuana once or twice a week.

This is a lot of info, but no guess as to how it was acquired. (No-one asked my opinion when pregnant.)

Thanks for pointing that out.
edit on 26-3-2019 by zosimov because: (no reason given)

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