Century of self by adam curtis essay

The legacy of famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud informs the lives of people throughout the world even to this day, though it's a phenomenon to which most are unaware.

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It is the nature of democracy that the view of someone who is highly knowledgeable about the healthcare system, for instance, carries no more weight — in terms of votes and the future of the NHS — than someone who knows, or cares, nothing about it. We talk about our 'selves' all the time, about what and how we feel today, how we feel about someone else … endlessly. Ronald Reagan was elected on the slogan of 'let the people rule'. But another way to control people was found — through consumerism. Individuals began to look for new ways to bring about change, thinking that, if enough people could change themselves, then the state too would change. It was in their interest to encourage people to feel they were unique individuals and then sell them ways to express that individuality. We must be careful not to think there was a golden age when people lived in nice communities.

By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. The Engineering of Consent.

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You think only in terms of your own influence on the world. So what I tried to do in the series was to trace how that side of human nature was discovered, worked on, agitated as it were, puffed up, given life — so that it became possible to appeal to it emotionally. Ah well, a lot of highly dangerous people are charming! One example of its naivety is how easily and quickly it was exploited and used. Art is far from being a radical outside movement. It seemed to show that underneath every American was an irrational, potentially very violent creature. Segment three takes place during a vastly different period of American history: the s. In the s, they were instrumental to bringing the Democratic Party in the US and New Labour in the United Kingdom back into power through use of the focus group , originally invented by psychoanalysts employed by US corporations to allow consumers to express their feelings and needs, just as patients do in psychotherapy. They turned to the ideas of renegade psychoanalysts like Wilhelm Reich and Fritz Perls.

Adam Curtis explores the psychological methods they now massively introduced into politics. They were convinced that the breakdowns were not the direct result of the fighting. The series describes the ways public relations and politicians have utilized Freud's theories during the last years for the "engineering of consent".

Tyrrell: Yes, that was absolutely fascinating, and horrifying, when you think of the massive rise in cancer among millions of women, as a result.

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But what I hadn't fully appreciated until your programmes was just how much these ideas influenced big business and politics.

A team at the Stanford Research Institute, which worked for corporations and governments, thought his hierarchy could be used to categorise society not by class but by inner drives. It was George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, who recognised that an important part of his market was not being tapped into, and he hired Bernays to expand the sales of his Lucky Strike cigarettes to women.

Tyrrell: And that idea gained power because of what had happened with the traumatised veterans of the Second World War.

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Review of _Century of the Self_, a BBC Documentary