This 4-part BBC mini-series aired in 2002, tracing the development of Freudian psychology and its exploitation by advertising to manipulate people into wanting things they don’t need. The documentary describes the impact of Freud’s theories on the perception of the human mind, and the ways public relations agencies and politicians have used this during the last 100 years for their engineering of consent. Among the central characters are Freud himself and his nephew Edward Bernays, who was the first to use psychological techniques in advertising. He is widely regarded as the father of the modern public relations industry.

The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism and representative democracy. The series also questions contemporary attitudes toward identity as expressed in fashion.

Part 1: Happiness Machines – Part one documents the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays, who adapted Freud’s ideas in the 1920s to techniques of mass manipulation.

The Century of The Self Part 1 of 4 from Kia Ora Media Group on Vimeo.

Part 2: The Engineering of Consent – Part two explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud’s ideas about the unconscious mind to try to control the masses. Politicians and planners came to believe Freud’s underlying premise that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires –which could be channeled to benefit the manipulators.

The Century of The Self Part 2 of 4

Part 3: There is a Policeman Inside All of Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed – In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas, which led to the creation of a new political movement that sought to create new people, free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people’s minds by business and political manipulation.

The Century of The Self Part 3 of 4 from Kia Ora Media Group on Vimeo.

Part 4: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering – This episode explains how politicians turned to the same techniques used by business in order to read and manipulate the inner desires of the masses. Both Tony Blair’s New Labor in England and middle-of-the-road Democrats led by Bill Clinton tested policy proposals on focus groups to best learn how to advertise them to the public.

The Century of The Self Part 4 of 4. from Kia Ora Media Group on Vimeo.



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8 years ago

This, and Curtis’ other docus: “The Power of Nightmares”, “The Trap”, “Mayfair Set”, ought to be required viewing for anyone, regardless of political persuasion, who wishes to get a grasp on how we got here. Without that understanding the future will mean more of the same, exponentially magnified.

8 years ago

I have to admit “The Century of the Self” and it’s companion series “The Power of Nightmares” are very interesting to watch and provoke thought, conversation and argument, BUT, I am not really sure of the validity of making broad sweeping statements of specific truths about Western history like this.

Certainly there is value to looking at how we got here, but structuring it in this certain one man’s view way – I am not sure that is any better than how we got here to begin with. What I am astounded at every day is how our country could get so many things wrong. It has to have been deliberate, and it is cynical and cold-blooded the way we have designed our society to revolve around money and the funnelling of that money and power to a small hidden segment of the government – and then painting a nice mythic facade over that government so we accept this fantasy world.

It is also pretty slick how any conversation of this is minimized or prevented and day after day we all seem to be forced to work to make this juggernaut stronger and broader … ugh.

Flying Tiger
Flying Tiger
8 years ago

And then there’s Evidence of Revision… Long but epic, fantastic exposure of the JFK murder, using only original footage, much of it suppressed until the film maker obtained it during his time as a US Navy intelligence operative working on covert media control.

Anthony Danes
8 years ago

I thought it was neat how Robert Reich critiqued the previous four hours and left us thinking wow…why can’t we listen to people like him…But then you realized that is what Curtis explained the previous four hours.

Mr. M
Mr. M
8 years ago

I too have found this documentary, especially part I, exceedingly informative. The elite have been ‘managing’ the opinions of the Herd for a while now, and this documentary shows how they do it.

8 years ago

Good documentary! Many good documentaries have aided in my learning process about what is actually going on in this world. Thanks for posting this. Hopefully many more to come.

Charles Frith
8 years ago

I’ve been listening to all of Russ Bakers interviews and I think he would benefit from taking a gander at the “network” research tool over at Gnostic Media called Brain. Lot’s of overlap with the ‘Family of Secrets network.

4 years ago


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