Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and Elissa Meininger
February 20, 2006
“The twentieth century has been
characterized by three developments of great political importance: the
growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of
corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against
democracy." --Alex Carey (Australian academic)
Looking back over how corporate power became the
dominant force in our everyday life and how government now follows in lockstep
to suit every corporate whim, it is useful to understand its origins. In all,
it’s been a long, deliberate process that continues to become evermore
sophisticated in its manipulation of us, the American public.
One of the principle architects in the takeover of the American mind is a fellow
named Edward Bernays, who is considered the father of the American public
relations industry. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, then maybe his Uncle
Sigmund Freud’s will.
In 2002, the BBC broadcast a four-part documentary called “The Century of Self,”
covering the story of the relationship between Freud and his American nephew, as
Bernays learned about the human mind and how to manipulate the masses. Bernays’
goal, from the early part of the 20th Century, was to be able to teach
corporations how to make people want things they didn’t need through a variety
of manipulative techniques appealing to people’s unconscious fears and desires.
What makes this production interesting is that it covers post-war America and
illustrates how politicians and policymakers learned to use Freud’s ideas in
their desire to control the masses as well. It shows how Sigmund Freud’s
daughter, Anna, and his nephew Bernays, were central players, along with the
U.S. Government, corporate America, and the CIA in believing that by controlling
the masses via “engineering consent,” they could avoid the debacle of Nazi
Germany where all the baser elements of the human character had committed
Interestingly, during the 1960s, thanks to others in the psychological field,
reactions against Freud’s ideas emerged, resulting in the idea of the “Me
Generation” where individualism, not Freudian conformity, became the norm.
Corporate America quickly adjusted by using focus groups, an idea first
developed by the psychoanalyst industry, and learned how to further manipulate
us by appealing to the unconscious desires in all of us to be “individualistic.”
"...Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna, and his nephew Bernays, were central
players, along with the U.S. Government, corporate America, and the CIA in
believing that by controlling the masses via “engineering consent,” they could
avoid the debacle of Nazi Germany where all the baser elements of the human
character had committed atrocious acts. ...
The basis upon which all of us are being manipulated, whether we realize it or
not, rests on Freud’s basic theory that deep down, all human beings possess
dangerous fears and desires that need to be controlled. The goal is to condition
us like Pavlov’s dogs! The moment we hear our cue, we, in perfect unison, are
motivated to think and act as we have been conditioned to do, even if the
conditioning we received was outside our conscious awareness.
In Bernays 1928 book, Propaganda, which was
recently re-issued, he talks about the invisible governance by manipulation.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of
the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in
democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society
constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our
country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas
suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. ... Vast numbers of human
beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a
smooth functioning society."
A “smoothly functioning society” molded by
advertising is what we now have as corporate America and Big Pharma think
nothing of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the promotion of one drug
alone. The fact that the drug may be harmful further illustrates their
understanding of the power of propaganda.
Bernays, thanks to his relationship to his Uncle
Sigmund, believed that the “group mind” does not think but, instead, it has
impulses, habits, and emotions. The first of these impulses, according to
Bernays, is to follow the example of a trusted leader. In the area of
medicine and disease, use of doctors, scientists, government officials, private
or public agencies associated with public health, and prominent social leaders
and celebrities all should be drafted to carry the propaganda message....
© 2006 Carolyn Dean - All Rights Reserved
Permission granted to post this excerpt.
You can read the whole article at
Dr. Carolyn Dean's
Death by Modern