View Full Version : Freud and Capitalism

12-01-2016, 01:01 AM
A nice documentary that my girlfriend found... It's quite long, but very interesting... It's about how a relative of Freud was the "creator" of the concepts that are still used to sell products and changed the direction that Capitalism had.


12-01-2016, 04:37 PM
This is almost 3 hours long perhaps you could summarise zoas23 because frankly I have a life. Alternatively you could provide shorter more concise sources particularly as I am fairly knowledgable with respect to the work of Sigmund Freud.

12-01-2016, 10:51 PM
This is almost 3 hours long...

Actually it is almost 4 hours long.


12-02-2016, 06:47 AM
This is almost 3 hours long perhaps you could summarise zoas23 because frankly I have a life. Alternatively you could provide shorter more concise sources particularly as I am fairly knowledgable with respect to the work of Sigmund Freud.

I have a life too.
The movie was found by my girlfriend, who is a Freudian psychoanalyst. It is a documentary and it is worth watching it.
There is a synopsis in wikipedia, but it's not quite good or misses the point and focuses on collateral issues.

The documentary begins explaining how Freud was somehow a problem for the Status Quo of Vienna... because the upper class was not in love with the idea of seeing a doctor who made their wives talk about their sexual life, it was a taboo.

And then it goes to the life of Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had emigrated to the USA. Freud was sending him his books because they were family and Bernays was reading them with interest. The idea of the unconscious fascinated him and thought what else was possible to do with it... So he ended up having a strange idea: "Oh, I can use it to reshape Capitalism".
Bernays discovered that the companies in the USA were selling products by describing their technical features.

Bernays understood that what we decide is not based on rational choices, but unconscious desires, which are somehow irrational... and began to think on how to sell products to the working class by using complex advertising campaigns. He understood that the traditional adverts were in most cases not the BEST method to sell products, so he organized campaigns that often involved journalists, who were not his collaborators, but he knew how to produce "news" and spoon-feed them with the news he wanted to create.

His main idea was: "The companies are trying to sell what the people needs and trying to explain why their product is better... I am going to sell what people does not need, but what people desires... and I can manipulate what people desires". So he developed a new idea: a more "inclusive" capitalism that focused on selling products to the working class by providing them with *irrational* ideas, desires, specially designed by him for them.

One of his early experiments was around 1920, in which he was hired by a tobacco company. They had a problem: women who smoked in public were seen as "prostitutes" or "decadent", whilst the males were not facing this "problem". So he thought what was the unconscious meaning of a cigarette and he realized that it was a phallic symbol. Thus he organized a "feminist march" and hired several young and attractive women to participate there and sent letters to the press explaining that there was going to be a scandalous feminist protest. The central part of the protest was that a large group of the hired attractive women had to gather in front of the press and each one of them had to light a cigarette in a seductive way... knowing that the journalist were going to ask what they were doing, he gave them the answer: they were lighting their "torch of freedom". The story was interesting for the journalists and they published it.

The logic of Bernays was uniting the "penis envy" complex with the cigarette as a phallic symbol that "empowered" the women... his hidden message was: you are a woman and you have the right to have your own penis too... and that penis is a cigarette.

His campaign was a success and normalized the idea of women smoking in public.

He also was the first one to think of product placement in movies, so he payed to some movie studios to feature the "diva" of the movie smoking a specific brand... He knew that such thing was going to work better than a classical advert.

He was also hired by a bacon producer company to sell more bacon. So Bernays hired a doctor and discussed with him if his opinion was that a light breakfast or a high caloric breakfast was better... the doctor said that a high caloric breakfast was better... so he made him write a short paper on that and send it to other 5,000 doctors who were tricked into peer-reviewing the idea. 4,500 doctors reviewed the paper in a positive way and agreed that a high caloric breakfast was better.

Bernays did the same with another group of medics, but asked them to investigate if Bacon was a highly caloric or not. Of course they agreed that it was highly caloric... and then payed to two different doctors to send the articles to the newspapers as separate studies, but knowing that the newspapers were going to unite both articles... and he invented that way the idea that including bacon in your breakfast was good.

He invented a word for what he was doing: "Public Relations".

It was by the 1930's that he was contacted by Calvin Coolidge (US president) who asked him to help him. He used the techniques that he was borrowing from Freud to induce the masses to support the president.... He kept on working, since them, with several other presidents and in political campaigns. Some of them involved techniques of how to convince the public that beginning a war was a good idea.... or even worked in campaigns to overthrow leftist governments in Latin America, the most notable case was in 1954, when he became a lobbyist to create a coup in Guatemala ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat#Lobbying_the_Un ited_States )

Bernays was not appreciated by Freud, but when the 1930 crisis began, Freud found himself bankrupt... so Bernays gave him a hand and made media stunts that were simply meant to promote the books by Freud in the USA, which he did with great success. Freud knew very well what Bernays was doing and didn't like it at all, but collaborated with him to promote his books in the USA (with some restrictions, since Freud didn't want to do some things that Bernays wanted him to do, like writing a column for the Cosmopolitan magazine). Freud was interested in developing a technique to heal and improve society... Bernays was interested in deceiving the masses.

The political ideas of Bernays are VERY interesting too: he was very afraid of Democracy and considered that the Masses had to be manipulated to perpetuate the Status Quo... creating systems of political manipulation to prevent the empowering of the working class, which he feared the most. This was done in direct collaboration with several US presidents.

What I like about this movie is that it could have easily been a typical "conspiracy theory" movie... but it's based on real information and one of the main sources is Bernays himself (Bernays died in 1995). He got repented of several of the things he did during his life and as an old man explained everything in a interview. i.e, he was quite sorry for his involvement in the promotion of the habit of smoking tobacco... and devoted his last decades to create consciousness about the health risks of smoking by using EXACTLY the same techniques he used to promote smoking.

So it's worth watching, because it shows how Freud's nephew used the theories of Freud to reshape Capitalism and create our society as it is. The movie is very much an "eye opener". Yeah, it's a long movie... that's not my fault. You can watch the first part and get an idea of what it is. Maybe you unconsciously desire to watch it! ;)

12-02-2016, 09:51 AM
Maybe you unconsciously desire to watch it! ;)
lol very subliminal ;)

You could break the video down into four one hour sections and watch it as a series...maybe.


12-02-2016, 01:02 PM
What you explain certainly sounds interesting zoas23, I shall go to YouTube and watch it on a big screen I think.��