I watched a documentary yesterday about how corrupt our country is. It was awesome. And by awesome, I mean depressing. And the documentary started out with a disclaimer about conspiracy theories, so obviously I went in assuming everything they said was going to be pure fact. Kidding aside though, the documentary did touch on one subject that I found particularly interesting: public relations and advertising.
The segment focused on Edward Bernays, who happens to be Sigmund Freud’s nephew. Bernays is often credited as the father of public relations. During World War I, he was the man who realized the government could garner more public support for war if America’s involvement was positioned as an effort to bring democracy to Europe, rather than an effort to gain power for America. After the war, he wondered whether he could employ the same tactics during peacetime. He pulled together his uncle’s work on psychoanalysis and other great thinkers’ work on crowd psychology to develop a means to control what people think. He called it “public relations.” Continue reading