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Study Task 1: The Century of the Self



Notes
Governments and those in power using Sigmun Freud's theory to control the 'crowd' in mass democracy

Freud's theories used to manipulate the masses

Make people want things they don't need, but linking products to their unconscious desires, by fulfilling these inner most desires of the masses this made those within society happy and therefore docile which allowed them to be more easily controlled

At the time Freud developed and put forward his theories it was unaccpetable within society to show or talk about one's feeling and the idea of examining ones inner most thoughts and feelings and the workings of the mind was frowned upon

Freud's theories also began to worry those in power at time, as Freud suggested we have powerful instinctual drives within us, that are uncontrollable.

Edward Bernays began to consider how if propaganda could be used for war, how could it be used for peace in order to control and persuade the masses, Bernays renamed this from Propaganda to Public Relations because the bad conntations germany has created around the word Propaganda

Bernays came to the realisation through reading the works of his uncle Freud, that human decision making was a complex process and that this decision making was made even more valuable when considered in not the context of the individual but how humans are grouped together and the influences this creates.

Bernays realised that you must play into people's most irrational emotions

'Torches of Freedom' irrational phrase, made cigarettes socially accept, if women smoked they become more powerful and independent

Possible to persuade people to behave and act irrationally when you link a product to their emotions desires, needs and wants. It's irrational to think that smoking cigarettes could make you more independent, but it made them feel this way.

This meant that everyday objects could become power symbolic objects of how you wanted to be seen by others, Bernays devised that you don't sell a product in their intellect but you sell it to them on the basis they are making an emotion connection with the product and they will feel better for buying the product

The new American of mass produced goods that came about after the war also brought with it concerns of over production, in that eventually people would have everything they needed and wouldn't by new things. At this point products were sold on the basis of need and not want. Create a shift in American culture from a culture of needs to a culture that desires. To want new things before the old is at the end of its life.

He constructed and created the need for department stores which sold the goods we makes capable of making people want, also Started the idea of product placement within movies. Paid celebrities to wear products to in turn make people want those products and for the celebrities to advocate the idea that what you buy, wear and use is part of who you are, it form part of your personality. Bernays developed this use of fashion as a way and means to sell new clothes by making people believe it's away of revealing their hidden personality to the world.

Consumptionism, consumerism helped to created a stock market boom

The mind of the crowd: Bernays didn't think about groups of people in terms of the one, the individual, he thought of people as groups of thousands.

Group Behaviour: Unconscious aggressive forces are more easily triggered when people are in crowds, these forces are far more dangerous then he (Freud) had originally theorised

What frightened America's intellectuals was the submerged dangerous forces they lay beneath america society, forces that can easily erupt to produce the power of the mob, which was powerful enough to over through governments and those in power

The idea that human beings can make decisions on a rational basis, was now thought to be wrong, in reality people are driven my unconscious irrational emotions and thoughts, democracy needed to be re thought

Bernay's created what he believed to be a new way to control the masses by fulfilling the irrational needs of the unconscious minds with products referred to the engineering of consent

Consumerism the central motor and driving force behind american life

PR and advertising was placed with the task of creating desires within american society and this created 'happiness machines' which in turn drove forward the american economy. This created the consuming self, which helped the economy, was happy and docile, creating a stable society through managing the masses.

Creating a feel good medication, which changes your emotions but doesn't really change the situation. Through the government continuing to stimulate the irrational self of those living in society this means those in power can continue to do what they want to do without implication from society.

Human civilisation was created to control the instinctual human unconscious forces from within, the idea that democracy was about individual freedom was impossible to ever achieve as, if human were to ever truly express themselves it would be too dangerous, but civilisation brings discontent, one must be discontent in order to survive.

10 Key Points

  1. The most significant theme that was put forward within the documentary how governments and those in power have used the theories of Freud to help passively control what is refered to as the mass mob that is society. 
  2. Additionally it was also put forward that through the use of Bernay's using Freudian theories, that but linking products to our deep rooted emotions and desires this makes us temporarily happy and docile as we feel emotionally fulfilled. Allowing us to be in this state means that we are more easily controlled. 
  3. The process of human decision making was also discussed at length within the documentary and how Freud had suggested that humans decision making is based on the irrationally of the human unconscious and that therefore humans can't rationally make decisions on their own. (An idea demonstrate by the mass mob's in Russia). Bernay's believed that by fulfilling the irrational needs humans will become happiness machines and docile. 
  4. After the war America was in a time of mass production and mass products, however it was thought that a time would come when people would stop buying things because they had everything they needed, this also where Bernay's innovated. He turned american society in a culture of want from a culture of need. This meant that products were targeted towards people's wants and desires rather than what they actually need.
  5. The functionality of groups was also talked about in the documentary and Bernays was the main focus of this. Bernay's saw people in groups rather than as individuals. Freud put forward the theory that taking advantage of ones inner most desires was easier when people were in groups rather than targeting them as individuals. 
  6. Everyday objects could become power symbolic objects of how you wanted to be seen by others, Bernays devised that you don't sell a product in their intellect but you sell it to them on the basis they are making an emotion connection with the product and they will feel better for buying the product.
  7. Human civilisation was created to control the instinctual human unconscious forces from within, the idea that democracy was about individual freedom was impossible to ever achieve as, if human were to ever truly express themselves it would be too dangerous
  8. PR and advertising was placed with the task of creating desires within american society and this created 'happiness machines' which in turn drove forward the american economy. This created the consuming self, which helped the economy
  9. What frightened America's intellectuals was the submerged dangerous forces they lay beneath america society, forces that can easily erupt to produce the power of the mob, which was powerful enough to over through governments and those in power
  10. Consumerism is now what drives American life, Economy and society.


  • Within the documentary it was mentioned that Bernay's had clients in many different sectors and industries, he would often us this to his advantage to construct something that would positively impact most of his clients. He has clients how were celebrities, politicians and those who worked in retail and big corporations. He was one of the first people to use celebrities to endorse products which is what is being done within this piece of advertising. Jlo has put her name on a fragrance and is using her appeal and celebrity status to sell the product. The public idolise celebrity culture and by using celebrities within Ad campaign people relate to the celebrity and want to by the product. Additionally the culture lifestyle is something we all want a desire, which is deep rooted in out unconscious desire to be liked by others. Therefore is image/ad has been constructed to create the idea that through buying this perfume you can be a little bit like Jlo. 
  • Furthermore the image plays on the desires of all women to have a sexy and beautiful body, Jlo is using her body to endorse this idea of how women should look and what the perfect woman looks like. Through using this provocative and sexy imagery of her body the ad appeals to females desires of a body like this. 
  • The Ad also creates the idea they Bernay's discussed of how products can be linked to our deep rooted emotions and this is done by making you want to desire the product because Jlo uses it or it is in some linked with her. Therefore when you buy the product you will also be connected within Jlo and become like her. Additionally one who purchases the product will feel fulfilled and happy in that are alike Jlo when in actual fact they are not. This works on our irrational mind wanting to be like her but in reality a perfume can not make you like Jennifer Lopez. 
  • The image also plays with our uncontrollable instinctual desires for sexual pleasure, the naked presentation of Jennifer Lopez plays to both the male and the female consumer. In that it is a desire in all of us for sexual pleasure with the fulfilment meaning emotions of completeness, recognition and power. The Ad is innately sexual and appeal to men by wanting to buy it for there partners and females wanting to be like this for their partners to fulfil the irrational instinctual drive for sex. 

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