The Century of the Self is a brilliant four-part documentary that I consider to be essential viewing for people wishing to be more conscious in this artificial world we live in. It was produced by Adam Curtis and released in 2002. You can read a description of it here on Wikipedia.
It was released in four parts, each an hour long, as listed below. Although in the version viewable below, they have been combined into one four hour documentary.
- Happiness Machines (originally broadcast 17 March 2002)
- The Engineering of Consent (originally broadcast 24 March 2002)
- There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads; He Must Be Destroyed (originally broadcast 31 March 2002)
- Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering (originally broadcast 7 April 2002)
If you don’t have the time to watch it in one sitting, I recommend watching in one hour segments, and returning to watch the rest. Remember to click the fullscreen button for better viewing.
Original BBC description
Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.
To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?
The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud.
Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.