if you spend 4hr doing anything, few things can be more valuable to you and the people you love than watching the documentary series “The Century of the Self”. This 4 part docu-series covers the rise of pyschological manipulation by big business, politicians, media and advertising.
The series describes how politicians fearing the irrational nature of the average citizen, turned to freudian psychology to understand the unconscious drives of the masses.
Politicians, business leaders and psychiatrists came to believe if people refused to control themselves, they must be controlled from above. The series documents from 1914-1999 and describes how mass events were engineered. It also gives an amazing view into human nature and many different psychological theories. If you want to understand the world you live in now, this is ground zero.
Part 1 Happiness machines – this episode describes how fearing the shadow and destructive potential of the average person, social engineers decided to manage the unconscious desires of the masses. By satisfying peoples inner selfish desires it made them happy, and thus docile.
Part 2 The engineering of consent – describes the rise of the Freud family and Psychoanalysis’s marriage to marketing, business and media. It describes how the idea that if people were taught to conform to social norms, this would strengthen their ability to control their own thoughts and emotions. It also describes how business leaders realized that by linking products to peoples unconscious hopes and fears, they could control how they behaved. This also describes the birth of subliminal advertising. This episode also describes the CIA’s study of mind control techniques.
Part 3 There is a policeman inside all our heads and he must be destroyed – This episode talks about how the human potential movement grew as branches of psychology rejected the idea that social control was the answer. The humanist movement believed the human beings can take part in our own growth and can through exploration gain insight. At the same time big business realized that the “individualism” movement was the best thing to happen to business. They learn how to take the selfish individualism and make and market products around it. Because people used objects to represent “who they are” business could sell infinite products as people “buy their identity.”
Part 4 describes how because North American citizens have become so selfish, it has become very difficult to bring about social change. Programs to care for people and fix social problems don’t work, because “individualist’ fell they shouldn’t have to help out. It also describes how psychological surveys were used to understand the unconscious motives behind how people vote.