Edward Bernays

The Century Of The Self 1 of 4 | One: Happiness Machines


Uploaded by DiversusVir on Feb 22, 2012


Due to a copyright claim on the second part of this series, made by BBC Worldwide, I'm unable to upload the rest of this series on YouTube. I'm currently trying to contact their organization about the issue and searching for a peaceful resolution, in which neither would have anything to lose. I will let you know how things progress.

Series information;

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.

Creator, Adam Curtis, has graciously made this BBC series available for download in various formats at Internet Archive here:


The Century Of The Self 1 of 4 | One: Happiness Machines

The Century Of The Self 2 of 4 | Two: The Engineering Of Consent

The Century Of The Self 3 of 4 | Three: There Is Policeman Inside All Our Heads

The Century Of The Self 4 of 4 | Four: Eight People Sipping Wine In Kettering

EPISODE DETAIL: 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 and use them 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.


Edward Bernays (from Wikipedia)

Edward Bernays (1891-11-221995-03-09) was an Austrian-born American publicist, sometimes called "the father of public relations".

The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people. Of course, the means and methods of accomplishing these ends have changed as society has changed.
Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923)

This is an age of mass production. In the mass production of materials a broad technique has been developed and applied to their distribution. In this age, too, there must be a technique for the mass distribution of ideas.
"Manipulating Public Opinion", American Journal of Sociology 33 (May, 1928), p. 958–971

The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.
"The Engineering of Consent", Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science No. 250 (March 1947), p. 113; Reprinted in Edward L. Bernays, Howard Walden Cutler, The Engineering of Consent, University of Oklahoma Press, 1955

Goebbels [...] was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me.
Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel (1965)

It is sometimes possible to change the attitudes of millions but impossible to change the attitude of one man.
Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102

For the same reason I read the National Geographic, I like to see places I will never visit.
Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102
On why he read Playboy

The best place to find things: the public library.
Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102

The best defense against propaganda: more propaganda.
Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102

Propaganda (1928)

Unless otherwise noted, page numbers refer to the 2004 Ig Publishing edition, ISBN 0970312598 (The text begins on p. 35, after an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller.)

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. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
p. 37

In almost every act of our 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 that control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
p. 37–38

In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered to him on the market. In practice, if every one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed.
p. 39

Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.
p. 48

A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable.
Page 63 (1928 edition?)

If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.
Page 71 (1928 edition?)

Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

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