Edward Bernays was the master of influencing and shaping public opinion who developed upon the ideas of earlier social psychologists and the work of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, in order to create techniques to manipulate the subconscious desires of the masses.
Throughout his 103 year life-span, the “father of public relations” was at the pinnacle of his field advising US Presidents Coolidge, Eisenhower, Hoover and Wilson, as well as inventor Thomas Edison, US industrialist Henry Ford and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
He also reportedly refused invitations by Hitler and Franco to work on fascist propaganda campaigns in Europe.
At the end of World War 1 Bernays served as a propagandist for America before going on to work with various government departments and corporations throughout his lifetime, including: the US Department of State, CBS, Procter and Gamble, and the American Tobacco Company, as well as designing the propaganda campaign for the United Fruit Company which led to the CIA coup against the Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz in 1954.
Bernays combined the work of people such as the French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon to create techniques which appeal to the subconscious emotions of the public, as opposed to engaging the public in rational and intellectual debate.
Le Bon studied the mental characteristics and the behaviour of the crowd, believing that when part of a mass, individuals are subordinate to the crowd mind and that a human behaves in a more emotive, irrational manner.
Bernays observed that if a propagandist could understand the “motives of the group mind”, they would possess the ability to “control and regiment the masses”:
“The systematic study of mass psychology revealed to students the potentialities of invisible government of society by the manipulation of the motives which actuate man in the group.
“Trotter and Le Bon, who approached the subject in a scientific manner, and Graham Wallas, Walter Lippmann, and others who continued with searching studies of the group mind, established that the group has mental characteristics distinct from those of the individual, and is motivated by impulses and emotions which cannot be explained on the basis of what we know of individual psychology.
“So the question naturally arose: If we understand the mechanism and the motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing of it?”
Bernays continues to reveal the growing ability of the propagandist to understand and successfully alter “public opinion” way back in the 1920’s, long before television sets were in every household and the sophisticated modern media techniques of today:
“The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits. Mass psychology is as yet far from being an exact science and the mysteries of human motivation are by no means all revealed.
“But at least theory and practice have combined with sufficient success to permit us to know that in certain cases we can effect some change in public opinion with a fair degree of accuracy by operating a certain mechanism, just as the motorist can regulate the speed of a car by manipulating the flow of gasoline.”
The basic premise of Bernays thesis is that humans are “rarely aware” of the true motivations and desires powering their actions, and if certain individuals could uncover the real desires of the mass mind, the public could be influenced and manipulated without their knowledge of it:
“Men are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions. (…) It is chiefly the psychologists of the school of Freud who have pointed out that many of man’s thoughts and actions are compensatory substitutes for desires which has been obliged to suppress.
“A thing may be desired not for its intrinsic worth or usefulness, but because he has unconsciously come to see it as a symbol of something else, the desire for which he is ashamed to admit to himself. (…) This general principle, that men are very largely actuated by motives which they conceal from themselves, is as true of mass as of individual psychology.
“It is evident that the successful propagandist must understand the true motives and not be content to accept the reasons which men give for what they do. (…) Human desires are the steam which makes the social machine work. Only by understanding them can the propagandist control that loose-jointed mechanism which is modern society.”
The study of mass psychology and herd behaviour were important areas which had to be understood to intelligently manipulate the public:
“The whole basis of successful propaganda is to have an objective and then to endeavour to arrive at it through an exact knowledge of the public and modifying circumstances to manipulate and sway that public.
“But clearly it is the intelligent minorities which need to make use propaganda continuously and systematically. (…) Small groups of persons can, and do, make the rest of us think what they please about a given subject.”
In ancient times, leaders of a tribe, group or society held tremendous power over the rest of the people especially if they are skilled in the art of persuasion.
Political leaders in modern times have the ability to shape and mould the psychology of their followers in a truly profound manner, especially if they have the ability to use propaganda effectively:
“The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion.
“Fortunately, the sincere and gifted politician is able, by the instrument of propaganda, to mould and form the will of the people.”
Bernays reveals the power propagandists have to manipulate and control the “public mind” through understanding the techniques of managing the public:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised 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 moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of (…).
“Whatever attitude one chooses toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by a relatively small number of persons – a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million – who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses.
“It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.”
By Steven MacMillan / The Analyst Report
Everybody dreams, but most of the time our dreams are nothing more than the subconscious mind processing thoughts and feelings from our waking hours.
Yet, every so often a creative individual has a vivid dream which inspires them to put pen to paper and create a great work of literature.
Below are five examples of famous novels that were inspired by their author’s sleeping mind.
In June of 2003, suburban Arizona mother Stephenie Meyer woke up from an intense dream in which two young lovers were lying together in a meadow, discussing why their love could never work.
On her website, Meyers says, “One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.”
This dream turned out to be the very basis of what would become one of the most popular series in Young Adult fiction of all time. To date, Meyer’s novel has sold 17 million copies worldwide, spent over 91 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and has spawned four subsequent novels and four big budget Hollywood movies.
Stephen King is one of the most prolific and popular writers of our time, so it may surprise you to learn that he came up with plot concepts and graphic images for a few of his novels while sound asleep.
In the case of Misery, King describes falling asleep on an airplane and having a dream about a fan kidnapping her favorite author and holding him hostage. When he awoke, King was so anxious to capture the story of his dream that he sat at the airport and frantically wrote the first 40-50 pages of the novel. Misery became a best-seller that inspired a successful movie and earned Kathy Bates, who played deranged fan Annie Wilkes, a Best Actress Academy Award and Golden Globe.
King has been quoted as saying, “I’ve always used dreams the way you’d use mirrors to look at something you couldn’t see head-on, the way that you use a mirror to look at your hair in the back.” He credits his dreams with giving him the concepts for several of his novels and for helping him to solve troublesome moments in the writing of his novel IT as well.
In 1816, Mary Shelley was just eighteen years old when she spent the summer with her lover (and future husband) Percy Shelley, at Lord Byron’s estate in Switzerland. One night, as they sat around the fire, the conversation turned to the subject of reanimating human bodies using electrical currents. Shelley went to bed that night with images of corpses coming back to life swirling through her head; as she slept, she clearly saw Frankenstein’s monster and imagined the circumstances under which he had been created.
Shelley woke up and began to write a short story about her dream. Later that year her husband, also a writer, encouraged her to expand her story into a full-length novel. She complied, and the great literary masterpiece Frankenstein was published when Shelley was just nineteen. Incidentally, Lord Byron was also inspired by their fireside chat; his resulting work, Vampyre, is considered to be the predecessor of all romantic vampire-human love stories.
Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson was already a successful writer when he had a dream about a doctor with split personality disorder and woke up gripped by a creative frenzy. Stevenson quickly documented the scenes from his dream and then went on to write a first draft of his novel in less than three days.
As was his custom, he allowed his wife to review the draft and, using her suggestions, edited and rewrote sections of the work (allegedly fueled by copious amounts of cocaine). He finished the entire manuscript in an astounding ten days, from the moment he woke up from his dream.
The story of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has withstood the test of time, garnering dozens of stage and screen adaptations to this day.
In 1959, writer Richard Bach, an avid aviator, heard what he called a “disembodied voice” whisper the title of this novella into his ear. He immediately wrote the first few chapters of the work before running out of inspiration. He shelved the half-finished manuscript and it wasn’t until eight years later, after he had a dream about the now-famous titular seagull, that he was able to complete what is one of the most profound and philosophically-moving novellas ever written.
Bach’s fable was a surprise best-seller, eventually surpassing the hardcover sales record, set by Gone With The Wind. Though both his book and the manner in which it was conceived seem to have a strong connection to psychic phenomenon, Bach believes that good writing is more dependent on hard work than on anything metaphysical. He is quoted as saying, “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
So there you have it – dream big! You never know from whence you’ll get your next flash of inspiration.
By Beverly Jenkins / Listverse
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