Honore de Balzac - John Muir - Star Trek: Voyager TV - D H Lawrence - William Shakespeare - Socrates - Sigmund Freud - Ayrton Senna - Agatha Christie - Alexander Bain - Thomas Hardy - Thomas Huxley - Adam Curtis TV -
Man is neither good nor bad; he is born with instincts and abilities. Honore de Balzac, 1799-1850, French novelist
I will follow my instincts. Be myself for good or ill. And see what will be the upshot. As long as I live I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, and storm and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild pathdoms, and get as near to the heart of the world as I can. John Muir
I am the logical one to make the egress. I can breathe the rarefied atmosphere. I am looking for Mr Neelix’s instinct. Perhaps it will be marked. Star Trek: Voyager s3e19: Rise, Tuvok to all aboard Meglev
Instinct is simply another term for serendipity. ibid. Tuvok to Neelix
Two things control men’s nature: instinct and experience. Blaise Pascal
Be a good animal, true to your instincts. D H Lawrence, The White Peacock, 1911
Instinct is a great matter, I was a coward on instinct. William Shakespeare, I Henry IV II iv 304
I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean. Socrates
It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct. Sigmund Freud
And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. Ayrton Senna
Instinct is a marvellous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored. Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Instinct is untaught ability. Alexander Bain, The Senses and the Intellect, 1855
Our impulses are too strong for our judgement sometimes. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
It is not to be forgotten that what we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts. Thomas Huxley
A hundred years ago a new theory of human nature was put forward by Sigmund Freud. He had discovered he said primitive sexual and aggressive forces hidden deep inside the minds of all human beings. Forces which if not controlled, led individuals and societies to chaos and destruction. Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self I: Happiness Machines, BBC 2002
Bernays was the first person to take Freud’s ideas about human beings and use them to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations for the first time how they could make people want things they didn’t need by linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires. Out of this would come a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying people’s inner selfish desires, one made them happy and thus docile. It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate our world today. ibid.
Freud’s idea that hidden inside all humans were dangerous instinctual drives. ibid.
‘If you could use propaganda for war, you could certainly use it for peace.’ ibid. Bernays, 1991 interview
Bernays returned to New York and set up as a public relations counsel in a small office off Broadway. It was the first time the term had been used. ibid.
He wondered if he could make money by manipulating the unconscious. ibid.
Bernays set out to experiment with the minds of the popular classes. His most dramatic experiment was to persuade women to smoke. At that time there was a taboo against women smoking. And one of his early clients, George Hill, the president of the American tobacco corporation, asked Bernays to find a way of breaking it. ibid.
What Bernays had created was the idea that if a woman smoked, it made here more powerful and independent. An idea that still persists today. It made him [Bernays] realise that it was possible to persuade people to behave irrationally if you linked products to their emotional desires and feelings. The idea that smoking actually made women freer was completely irrational but it made them feel more independent. ibid.
For the first time politics became involved in public relations. ibid.
What was beginning to emerge in the 1920s was a new idea of how to run mass democracy. At its heart was the consuming self which not only made the economy work but was happy and docile, so created a stable society. ibid.
He [Bernays] was about to help create a vision of the Utopia that free market capitalism would build in America if it was unleashed. ibid.
This is the story of how Sigmund Freud’s ideas about the unconscious mind were used by those in power in post-War America to try and control the masses. Politicians and planners came to believe that Freud was right to suggest that hidden deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires and fears. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany. Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self II: The Engineering of Consent
An extraordinary number of mental breakdowns amongst its troops: 49% of all soldiers evacuated from combat were sent back because they suffered from mental problems. It was the first time anyone had paid attention to the feelings and anxieties of ordinary people. ibid.
Psychoanalysts were convinced they not only understood these dangerous forces but they knew how to control them too. They would use their techniques to create democratic individuals because democracy left to itself failed to do this. ibid.
In 1946 President Truman signed the National Mental Health Act. It had been born directly out of the wartime discoveries of psychoanalysts that millions of Americans who had been drafted suffered hidden anxieties and fears. The aim of the Act was to deal with this invisible threat to society. ibid.
Psychoanalysts were about to move into big business and use their techniques not just to create model citizens but model consumers. ibid.
By the early ’50s the ideas of psychoanalysis penetrated deep into American life. The psychoanalysts themselves became rich and powerful. ibid.
And as the psychoanalysts’ ideas took hold in America a new elite began to emerge: in politics, social planning and in business. What linked this elite was the assumption that the masses were fundamentally irrational. ibid.
Bernays had manipulated the American people but he had done so because he like many others at the time believed that the interests of business and the interests of America were indivisible … He called it the Engineering of Consent. ibid.
But the idea that it was necessary to manipulate the inner feelings of the American population in the interests of fighting the Cold War now began to take root in Washington. Above all in the CIA who were going to take it much further. They were concerned that the Soviets were experimenting with psychological methods to actually alter the memories and feelings of people. The aim being to produce more controllable citizens. It was known as brainwashing. Psychologists in the CIA were convinced that this really might be possible and that they should try to do it themselves. In the late ’50s the CIA poured millions of dollars into the psychology departments of universities across America. They were secretly funding experiments on how to alter and control the inner drives of human beings. The most notorious of these experiments was run by the head of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr Ewen Cameron. ibid.
In fact Cameron’s experiments were a complete disaster. All he managed to produce were dozens of individuals with memory loss, and the ability to repeat the phrase, I am at ease with myself. And it was not an isolated case. Almost all the experiments the CIA funded were equally unsuccessful. Despite their ambitions, American psychologists were beginning to find out how difficult it was to understand and control the inner workings of the human mind. ibid.
High profile figures in American life who had previously been enthusiasts for psychoanalysis now began to question why psychoanalysis had become so powerful in America. Was it really because it benefited individuals? Or had it in fact become a form of constraint in the interests of social order? ibid.
At the same time [as the CIA’s mind-control experiments], an onslaught was launched on the way psychoanalysis was being used by business to control people. The first blow came with the best seller The Hidden Persuaders, written by Vance Packard. It accused psychoanalysts of reducing the American people to emotional puppets whose only function was to keep the mass-production lines running. ibid.