Adam Curtis’ ‘The Century of the Self’

I’ve just watched this documentary by Adam Curtis and it is mindblowing.


This 4-part documentary details how the PR industry was formed to ‘manipulate the masses’ (population) and keep us under control… ‘for our safety’.

It is also about the clever creation of Consumerism, and the orchestrating mind control advertising often used to encourage us to purchase goods from Capitalist corporations.

I find these eye-opening teachings fascinating, but of course, somewhat disturbing. These techniques are still used today, more than we realise. To be either controlled or sold to, we are often categorised into stereotypes not just by demographic (age, gender, class etc) but also by our core values and beliefs using very clever techniques.

If you’re like me and love learning about life and the way things (seemingly) work, I’d urge you to stick on some comfy clothes, tune-in, and prepare to be shocked. Here’s the summary of ‘Century of the Self’.

“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 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. “

Part 1 – Happiness Machines

For ease, here are all 4 parts in one upload: 

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