Regina Saphier: The Century of the Self

Regina Saphier: The Century of the Self

What is the series “The Century of the Self” about? (The Century of the Self, BBC, 2002, 4 part series, 4 x 60 minutes) To me the series is about how Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays (as a PR professional), and one of Freud’s six children Anna Freud, and even Hitler (in his political PR) used the famous Austrian neurologist’s psychological insights and methodology (plus the PR insights of Freud’s nephew).

Yes, indeed, Hitler adopted Freud’s and Bernays’ knowledge of the human psyche for the purposes of mass political manipulation, therefore Freud’s insight became a weapon of mass destruction. Since there were no goods to satisfy desires, goods were replaced by the ideal of “serving the nation”. “The Century of the Self” is about how Freud unknowingly built the psychological toolkit of the persecution and genocide of his people.

Later, his over psycho-analyzed daughter, Anna Freud went out of her way to develop a generalized psychological theory of the “American society”, to prevent anything even remotely similar to the Holocaust. She wanted people to have emotional tools to keep their unconscious desires under control (her goal: instead of experiencing, people should control and suppress their impulses). This approach (obviously) backfired.

It is especially important to notice that while the US government financed the development of therapies and educational methods that would result in suppression of emotions, US enterprises invested in psychological research to increase sales (making people hyper focused on fulfilling their desires), and both did that at US universities! Astronomical budgets were spent on the generalization of two opposing impulses. Nobody could quantify the suffering this complex and contradictory brainwashing had on millions of unsuspecting people. This brainwashing is ongoing and you can easily notice this when you open a magazine and pages after pages contain luxury sweets, gourmet foods, weight loss programs, and models who obviously have extremely low BMI.
Suppress or indulge, that is the question. People in the eastern parts of the EU had a sudden high dose of this contradictory brainwashing after the borders were opened. And this horrible impact clearly shows up in people’s behaviors. In my opinion, treating uneducated and unprepared people like this is a criminal act, because experts are using psychological insights against the masses that individuals don’t possess, while those clueless individuals were instrumental during the market research process in focus groups.

The series tells the story how PR and the focus group method of psychoanalyst Ernest Dichter were combined to support the elections of Clinton and later Blair. Clinton’s reelection was achieved by the analysis of the desires of undecided voters (not only based on statistics, but also based on psychology and targeted questionnaires). This “desire-mining” resulted in Clinton’s success. Freud’s psychoanalysis applied to politics. Later Blair used the same method, but he even believed his own narrative that was based on the desires of his voters (after simply having copied the desperate Clinton campaign’s questionnaire based method, because it apparently worked). Simply put, the two politicians narrated what people (based on the targeted questionnaires and focus groups) wanted to hear. This approach is obviously morally wrong, because voters don’t always desire what their real needs are. The best example: The condition of the railway system in the UK did not show up as a primary need, but when the service became noticeably terrible politicians were immediately blamed.

I agree with Robert Reich! (Note: It shows the humanity and kindness of his family that in Northampton his sister Ellen once gave me her own apartment for a few days when I worked for CTY of Johns Hopkins University in 2002.) According to Robert, who for a while served as the secretary of labor during the Clinton administration, a politician who aims to fulfill irrational desires has no mandate. Bill Clinton responded by saying that if he doesn’t get reelected he can’t do anything. This is why Robert Reich quit politics and Clinton’s personality clearly got (even more) distorted by the pressures of his desperate steps.

It has always been my opinion (let us imagine me as a cute toddler with my curly brown hair having this opinion already) that mass democracy is a distorted phenomenon. It is still lacking even in societies with the best education systems, because humanistic and rational decisions would be needed and those require waste interdisciplinary knowledge, understanding of systems, and maturity, and that should be true for each and every member of a society. This requirement isn’t present in 90% of individuals, not even if many of them are degree holders. In my opinion elections aren’t decided based on rationality because humans aren’t rational beings. The Obama campaign wasn’t based on rationality either. It was based on the fondling of desires.

In Hungary for example in 2014 it was the general disillusionment in relation to Europe and the national inferiority complex that was easy to be used in an economically and socially ruined, vulnerable and backward country. People voted in larger numbers for the one who narrated what they wanted to hear, even though they knew that it wasn’t true. Most Hungarian citizens don’t know much about the world, because most people can’t speak any languages and most of them use the internet for idiotic activities. And every party should be ashamed of their behaviors (even today).

So, this series is about how the famous and infamous talents of the Freud family influenced the history of the XX. century (and even the XXI. century). And a particular representative of this influence is Anna Freud. This woman had enormous social and psychological impact… However, sadly she wasn’t a healthy human being! After having been over analyzed by her own father in relation to her depression and eating disorder… after having been addicted to masturbation… she remained a virgin until her death… She clearly got stuck in a personal emotional hell of not being able to be an authentic woman with well integrated impulses. From one extreme to the other. According to a relative, Anna Freud was a very cold adult. Based on her father’s theories and methods she suppressed all of her sexual impulses for life. She became the main servant of her father’s oeuvre.

As a famous therapist she for example used the four children of a billionaire divorce to develop her methods to divert societies, like the masses of the US, in a “good” direction. Based on her theories and advice the CIA developed a national method to teach people how to follow norms and how to suppress their unconscious and unwanted desires.

Parallel to this Edward Bernays was working to kindle, manipulate and legitimize on a mass scale impulses (almost turning them into a right): to smoke, to have an expensive car, fancy clothes and anything the average heart desired… or suddenly believed to desire, need and even deserve.

Again, this high profile and contradictory brainwashing went on and on. Companies were screaming at people to live their deepest desires, while the state whispered: suppress your desires. Hm… Just what could be the reason behind the massive number of depressed people in the US. And not only in the US… Anna Freud was so blind to her own mistakes that not even the fact that one of the four siblings she experimented with died of alcoholism and another committed suicide in her house in London during a psychoanalytical program. This was the horrific result of her distorted, emotionally stunted, left brained, analytical “love” for humans.

It is important to mention that Edward Bernays didn’t like people, he could only handle large crowds, and never believed in democracies. He was most likely a psychopath with zero compassion, or a sociopath with very limited empathy. His skepticism was based on the theories of Freud. He used this knowledge to lead people by their noses… or more specifically by their psyches.

According to the daughter of Bernays it was a terrible experience to have a father who assumed that everyone was an idiot. Such fathers are smiling or snarling depressed monsters, who maintain their unstable self confidence by constantly trying to destroy the self worth of their child and wife (notes by me: these types of people are mostly sociopaths and narcissists with some ability to feel anxiety… psychopaths don’t care about other people’s feelings at all… unless the person has acquired psychopathy… but these people all mostly look at others as means to their ends). Instead of building up their family members’ souls, they aim to destroy them while experiencing a perverted joy. In my opinion these people are extremely dangerous and as of today can not yet be cured and should be avoided (it is OK to have compassion for them, but it is also vital to keep a very healthy distance from them). People who look down on others never ask for help and never change their narcissistic point of view. To me this looks like severe brain damage that distorts such mentally ill people’s perception.

According to Wilhelm Reich’s daughter (no relations to Robert Reich), not much good can be expected of people like Anna Freud, who became asexual as a result of her father’s analysis. The woman who determined child psychology remained childless, as a result of the paternal trauma that she never faced up to. This should be emphasized because this is a horrific constellation. Anna Freud was an emotional wreck who was destroying a society among the most vulnerable. She systematically brainwashed children on a national level based on her own delusions. I seriously don’t understand people who respect Anna and Sigmund Freud. The father was a monster who played with people’s psyche, while his daughter determined the nature of child psychiatry in the developed world, and caused unimaginable damage to millions of people. I am sure she also did some good things, but as an heiress and as an internationally influential mental health professional she made sure her work and her father’s work is only seen in a positive light. She controlled all of the publications. Sigmund Freud turned away from people when he was an old man. We should turn away from Sigmund Freud.

Anna Freud acted out of a compensatory, yet delusional love for humanity. She suppressed her female impulses, first to serve her father’s creation, and second to “serve” the children of others. Bernays wanted to cynically control and manipulate the masses by making them believe that they are free, and able to achieve their dreams, fulfill their desires. Consuming goods is going to occupy their minds and entrepreneurs are going to become rich. The terrible motto of Bernays was essentially: “Consumption makes you free.” Anna Freud’s motto: “Freedom isn’t a goal, adapt at any cost, suppress your primal and human impulses.” These are already wrong on their own, but devastating when forced on an unsuspecting society at the same time.

The age of needs was replaced by the age of desires, created by Freud and Bernays. Freud provided the theory, while Bernays unethically and unscrupulously implemented these theories in the business world. Societies the world over are suffering from these tragic mistakes since the 1920s. Bernays and Anna Freud ended up in the large scale business of controlling the masses.

Those people who opposed Anna Freud, like Wilhelm Reich, fell out of favor (W. Reich went mad, his life and traumas predestined him to lose his mind, and he died in a prison in his sleep)..Those who criticized Anna Freud believed that the individual shouldn’t be blamed for their impulses. Rather it is the social context that pressures them to do the wrong thing. This destructive social pressure is what people should break free from (this is what people need help with). In the age of network analysis we now know that this is true on many levels. This means that instead of the externally and artificially induced desires, people should access and experience their true selves (whatever that means…). However, the true self is shaped by the surrounding society. If the society is sick, has the wrong values, that makes the individual sick. In a healthy society the same person would be most likely healthy.

Unfortunately, I am not surprised by these organized mental health crimes against humanity (add to this the criminalization of healing psychedelics). There is an interesting experiment that perfectly demonstrates the extreme influence psychological interventions can have on people (controlling the masses versus releasing the individual). In a US convent nuns participated in an experiment that increased their individual awareness… To put it simply: The convent was soon disbanded.

The women who had to look and behave as similar as possible suddenly became individuals. The question is: When they left the convent and underwent another brainwashing, were they happier people as consumers? The freedom of shopping can’t be the optimal freedom of people. But is there a true freedom of will? Doubtful, because people are social organisms. Humans (supposedly) are just one type of organism living on Earth… in the Universe… in the Multiverse… The individual got trapped by “modern” and artificial social pressures and is now empty… has everything… or believes to have nothing… and is therefore unhappy. Alone as an individual… reduced to the level of the consumer who thinks that products exist to show his or her uniqueness as an individual. But those products exist to make investors extremely rich and influential.

The endless stream of goods is there to serve the desires of the investors. But are those people happy? I don’t think so! There are many artists who could see and show the empty lives of the 1%. I also had multiple opportunities to witness this emptiness. For example while studying at Columbia University I participated in 12 group psychotherapy sessions of a famous Manhattan psychotherapist. An average human being can’t imagine the shallowness, the snobbism, and the emotional destitution of rich people of Manhattan. I was a total outsider, an international student, and I knew that these people were the prisoners of this expensive therapist. Buñuel’s movies came to mind…

These were my thoughts after I watched The Century of the Self many years ago. The mini series is in itself a manipulated version of reality. It is how the director wanted to represent Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays, Anna Freud, Hitler, Clinton, and Blair. Individual subconscious processes… artificially inflated desires versus suppressed desires. Sales, genocide and emptiness. We have a shocking century behind us, and now we live in the era of social media manipulation… The movie is the story of the confused self and ego. Every character in this series was talented, influential and severely damaged.

In Zen Buddhism it is a fundamental idea that we create the world with our minds. I agree with Gábor Máté MD that it is also important to consider that first the world creates our minds (and most people in the developed world are traumatized and disconnected and many people will be helped by psychedelic therapies). People are looking for their own selves… a concept… a feeling… Not many people know how it feels to be a human being in a healthy community and society. We are healthy when we are in flow, we learn, we create, we grow and help others. We are healthy when we are in a healthy connection with ourselves and with others. The goal is not to own things. The goal is to help decrease suffering. Aim to be a better human being and build strong and loving connections with each other. Stop focusing on yourself. Start focusing on helping other people, while also taking care of yourself.


Watch the Century of the Self:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s