Wednesday, September 15, 2010


(Long post, so covers Wednesday and Thursday)

Century of Self, a set of 4 on-line videos (links below) was recommended to me recently. I watched them two per sitting, greatly impressed. I must have been fully engaged to have been patient enough to watch the whole four hours without skipping anything!

Century of Self originated in 2002 as a BBC TV documentary series written and directed by Adam Curtis. The films are also available in DVD format. They explore Sigmund Freud's theory of the subconscious and how it has been successfully exploited during the 20th century and beyond in the areas of consumer manipulation and social control.

The BBC's brief overview of the four episodes is HERE.
Episodes are
#1: Happiness Machines
#2: The Engineering of Consent
#3: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed
#4: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

Links to on-line videos of the episodes are at end of this post.

The concept of "self" is, of course, central to much astrological interpretation. Astrology assists people to understand themselves. What astrology cannot do, though, is indicate what might be being done to us by others, while we are busy studying ourselves. Deciding exactly how to approach this topic astrologically is tricky, but there's a lot to be learned from Century of Self, one way or another. Let's see what develops.

First, a brief synopsis of Century of Self, with clips from a review by Paul Shepherd.

Leading roles:
Sigmund Freud, neurologist/psychoanalist, born in Moravia, Austrian Empire (now part of the Czech Republic).
Anna Freud, Sigmund's daughter.
Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, Austrian-born, influential pioneer in the field of public relations.
Wilhelm Reich, Austrian-American psychoanalyst, pioneer of sexual freedom.

Tentacles of their influence have reached out through many decades, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Focus of attention on "self" and away from "society as a whole" is key.

At centre stage, the starting premise of Sigmund Freud regarding the unconscious: that humans
were motivated more by irrational sexual and violent urges than by rational thoughts, and therefore democracy was not a matter of allowing people to choose for themselves between a range of different policies, rather they had to be guided towards the 'correct' choice by an elite composed of people in command of the theory. People just like Edward Bernays.
Freud's theory was taken up by his daughter Anna, and exploited by his nephew Edward Bernays as a tool of psychological, political and social control, for benefit of Big Business and political elites. The development of marketing techniques, later adapted and modified by Reich's theories was where it all began.
Bernays set to work for major corporations, with one of his most spectacular successes being to help break the taboo against women smoking. He paraded a group of attractive young ladies through New York smoking and bearing the slogan 'March for Freedom'. Anyone criticising the idea of women smoking would now appear to be against freedom, and the numbers of women taking up the habit shot through the roof.

After this success Lehman Brothers and other big New York banks financed the development of department stores, confident that they could use the techniques pioneered by Bernays to persuade people to purchase a range of products that left to themselves they may very well not have bothered with. This period also saw the introduction of the techniques of product placement and psuedo-scientific product endorsement so familiar to us today. All of this dubious activity in the capitalist economy was one of the main factors leading to the bubble which ended in the Wall Street crash of 1929.........
The psychoanalytical theories of Wilhelm Reich also fed into this stream, despite his being a convicted fraudster with some very strange beliefs. Reich argued that the release of orgasmic sexual energy was neccessary for the mental health of the individual and society. After the defeat of the New Left in the political conflicts of the late 1960s and early 70s, Reich's theories gained a mass influence as many former activists turned in on themselves. The thinking now was that perhaps you didn't need to go on demos., hand out leaflets etc., what was required was to change oneself, though not neccessarily in the traditional, transcendental sense. A myriad groups emerged, all promising that they had the correct technique for the re-discovery and re-moulding of the Self.

A blend of techniques arising from the ideas of Freud, Bernays and Reich remains in place, both in business and, more importantly and dangerously, in politics today.

Any idea of manipulation and control of the minds of others is an anathema to me, and I suspect it's the same for everybody, if they stopped to consider it. It can only be that they are not, and have never been, aware that this has been going on - and for many decades. I wasn't fully aware until now, apart from realising that advertising is a mild form of mind manipulation. I ought to add here that, perhaps, at the start, there may have been no ulterior motive involved - simply a genuine attempt to construct a better system by those who believed they had superior intellects. But were those making decisions fit to be the deciders? Is anybody? Eventually, their own human nature could, and did surface with a different agenda, far removed from the good of society.

I'd like to discover how such long-term influence has been able to take a hold in a diverse and vast country such as the USA and a small but historically independent one like the UK. Can astrology help here? Do I investigate the natal charts of the Freuds, Bernays and Reich? That can be a start, but will it throw any light on how their influence has been so powerful and long-lived? Perhaps some connection to the slow-moving outer planets which represent long spans of time will emerge. Perhaps.

Here are the natal charts of the 2 Freuds, Bernays and Reich. Clicking on the images will enlarge them. (Note: Place of birth for Reich is set as near the coordinates given at astrodatabank as possible. All but Sigmund Freud's chart are set for 12 noon - birth times unknown, so ascendants and Moon degrees are not accurate.)


Sigmund, although at the root of this discussion, is really "odd-man-out" astrologically. He belonged to the generation before that of the other three characters. He planted the seed.

Bearing in mind that Freud himself had, as far as we know, no aspirations to control directly, he simply presented the theory upon which the "empire" was built: that humans need control.

Freud was mainly a blend of Taurus/Gemini, grounded, determined with the soul of a communicator. His passionate, investigative Scorpio ascendant seems, to me, to be what links him most to those who came later. That's all I'll say about him, in this context. Millions of words have been written in connection with other aspects of his work and his astrology, and are available elsewhere.


Anna carried her father's work into the next generation. She never married, and in Century of Self is described at times as a rather unpleasant character. In her chart we see the symbol of her generation: Pluto conjunct Neptune in Gemini. I've noticed, and commented several times on the blog that Pluto in Gemini people in all spheres, the arts, sciences, politics, seem to carry within them "something extra special", for good or ill. When Pluto conjoined Neptune in Gemini an exta layer was added to the characteristics of this already gifted group to which Anna, Bernays and Reich all belonged.

Sun in Sagittarius was opposed in Anna's chart by Pluto/Neptune in Gemini. Moon could well have been in Gemini matching her father's Moon. The Scorpio planets, Mars, Uranus and Saturn make up a formidable stellium (cluster) they are the planets of energy/aggression, rebellion/change and restriction/limitation, and uneasily blended in the sign ruled by powerful Pluto, the dwarf planet with with dark connections.


Bernays, using his uncle's theory, became the driving force in development of a method of "people control": feeding the desires of the masses to repress other urges. Later his ideas were opposed by William Reich's theory that "it's the repression of unconscious drives that is the cause of trouble."

Sun in the last degrees of Scorpio with Pluto/Neptune in opposition - repeat of a similar in Anna Freud's chart, this time also taking in Mercury/Venus. This opposition, in Bernays' case, forms part of a T-square involving 90 degree (challenging) aspects to Jupiter in Pisces, possibly reflecting some of the challenging situations to his leadership arising from Wilhelm Reich's opposing theories.

Pluto and Scorpio are a common denominator thus far.


Here's a chart of a slightly different flavour. There was, in all probability though, an opposition similar to that in the previous two charts, involving the Pluto/Neptune conjunction, this time Moon instead of Sun being part of it (Reich's Moon would lie somewhere between 13 and 28 Sagittarius. As to Scorpio input: Uranus was in late Scorpio conjunct Saturn in early Sagittarius, and in harmonious trine to Sun and Mercury in early Aries.

Reich is described at Wikipedia as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.
"Later in life, he became a controversial figure who was both adored and condemned. He began to violate some of the key taboos of psychoanalysis, using touch during sessions, and treating patients in their underwear to improve their "orgastic potency." He said he had discovered a primordial cosmic energy, which he said others called God, and that he called "orgone". He built "orgone energy accumulators" that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about "sex boxes" that cured cancer...." See here
He believed that the inner self should be encouraged to express itself, rather than be repressed and controlled. A movement arose from this and developed rapidly in the USA using self-help programmes, books etc. The so-called "Me Generation" emerged. Corporations saw a new opportunity here: to encourage people to feel they are unique individuals, then sell them ways to express their individuality, using techniques developed by Freudian psychoanalysts to read their inner desires.

COMMON DENOMINATOR throughout ~ Scorpio and Pluto/Neptune: powerful, deep, long-lasting elements, motive hidden from view, dark and often paranoid. Sex, also connected to Pluto/Scorpio involved too, via the theories of Reich.

If we are in the midst of decline now it is due to a serious lack of integrity in certain individuals discussed above. Astrologically those individuals shared some of the most powerfully dark zodiacal and planetary "flavours".

The truly unconscionable element in all of this is the notion that any individual(s) should have the power to secretly dictate, manipulate minds, in such a way as to benefit one section of society over another section....or for any reason whatever.
The public is not to blame for what happened in the past, and what still happens today. The public is, in fact, victim of a near atrocity in my view. We need to take control of our own minds, or others will be ready to do it for us.

Links to on-line videos of the 4 episodes of Century of Self:
(For viewers in the UK, if strapped for time, I'd recommend starting at episode 3, but the background presented in the first two episodes does shed a lot of essential light on what came next.)


Gian Paul said...

Freud and his consorts may have rendered some service to the advertising and similar industries, but hardly to humans, if considered to be more than just "manipulable entities".

A human being deserving to be called an INDIVIDUAL remains free in his thought and action and reaction to his environment. If he is weak, he succumbs to its influence. And that's what now usually happens. The "diktat of the masses" is practically killing who dares resisting what's being decided to be "right" for him by some manipulator who has no other than some commercial or political interest. Or worse, religious or ideological, in some cases.

Wisewebwoman said...

I caught some of these docs as a free adjunct to my "Mad Men" collection, the ultimate series on how manipulated we truly are.
Thanks for the links on the ones I've missed, T.

RafaelVR said...

Hello Twilight, Again!
First I have to say, that I admire very much your written! As I can recall you have mercury in Capricorn/Aquarius? Although I would like to know what your 3th house is too!
I didn’t watch the videos (yet), but I am very interested in the subject. From the premise of Freud, we can do rationalize and accept to a certain degree the idea that society needs control, but then again, what kind of control would that be, and would beneficiate every living body, regarding the idea that we as humans are special, and we don’t need a good marketing to say that to us, well for me it’s a case of detached observation, meaning that you need the brain tool to detect it, therefore to study it. And so they did! And now here we are the 21century, and the knowledge that humans can achieve now by the history, and the people that lived here before us, to show us the range of effects that human can go trough at this experience on earth, and the energies that had dissolved progressively are now, likely to collide. Because we don’t know what the person behind the power of the office, is ‘designed’ to deliberate harm and control. And that is a heavy problem.
Now, I am adept to the fact that people must have their own brains, their own minds, but let the ‘kid’ (society) first have a decent life, so we can restart again, and isn’t there the parents fault (worldwide leaders)? But since a kid has a lot to go through until learns what is right and wrong, I think the humans then, have a lot to learn that transcends the rights and wrongs.

Thank you!
Rafael VR.

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~ Ah yes, you mention something I didn't include, mainly to stop the post extending even longer and sickening any readers brave enough to tackle it. :-) Religion.

Some churches - all faiths and denominations - already knew about, and used, control and manipulation long before Bernays came onto the scene. In the case of religion it's even more difficult for people to see what is going on, because there's the "guilt" factor involved for them to deal with.

I see political manipulation as worse than commercial or religious - for with that goes POWER. Very, very dangerous.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Oh good - I'm pleased someone has seen at least some of the films already, and has an idea of the content.

Yes, pleae do see the others WWW.

This is no conspiracy theory, and goes to the heart of just about everything that is wrong in our world now.

Twilight said...

RaphaelVR ~~~ Hello again! Nice to "see" you, and thanks for your kind remarks. Yes, I have Mercury in Capricorn, Sun in Aquarius.
My 3rd House is empty, with Leo on 2/3 cusp (if my rectified ascendant is near acorrect.)

Thank you for adding your thoughts.

Please do watch the videos if you can.

It's not an easy subject for sure, as you say, it's "a heavy problem" -but very important.

If left completely to our own devices with no controls in place at all, then things would soon get very wild. But that is what laws are for, and we are supposed to elect those who make our laws. In this way we ought to have some control over those making the laws - a "2-way street"!

Over time Freud's theories, exploited as they have been, have endangered this legitimate source of control by we the people, by making elections something of a farce. Corporate money, amassed via the exploitation of Freud's theories, can now buy politicians and election outcomes via campaign donations of HUGE sums of money. We the people have lost our say in who makes our laws. Not good!
In fact it is horrendous.

Yes, we humans do have a lot to learn. We've progressed well, but maybe too fast for our own good.
We have trusted too much for too long.

RafaelVR said...

Maybe that’s how I find it so particular; I have mercury in Leo, and a Capricorn rising ;) Anyhow, the thing is that I admire your style!

I planned to watch the video tonight, while then, I have to totally agree with you! Wouldn’t be this part where the worldwide leader would emerge? Well, we don’t know it until something worst happen in terms of what we consider as personal and collective values! Wouldn’t we? I mean, it’s already happening, and I don’t like what I see. People cannot be used as weapon, as a number and a machine, but as a source of the sorcerers in an individual way, because we are the intelligent creatures walking, and do have the conscious choice to make it through. So what is missing there? If we can do it.
You say that maybe we progressed too fast, I do agree, in parts. A person cannot know how is to be old, until he/she gets old, but can have the idea of it while is young. But, I do believe as well that as human, have to precede the next level, and for that, a hard work is necessary in all circle of the human life, in the physical and spiritual plane also, so I see your point.

People like them (FREUD), had to be here to plant a seed, for better or worse. Is society recycling its worldpedia of intellectual knowledge for a better placement of the benefit of doubt? I want to believe that is true… so that we won’t need in the future, need to wear masks and a number painted on it.

Twilight said...

RafaelVR ~~~ I'm glad the blog is of interest, you are very kind.

Becoming aware of what has gone on in the background for so long is a first step to realising what kinds of changes are needed.

A worldwide leader will, one day emerge I think. It's not time yet though. I think we have a way to go yet, to get past the manipulators and would-be maipulators.

Without that "something worse" happening, which I think I understood you to say - the status quo, or something very similar is going to remain (at least in the USA and Europe) because it is so firmly established and without tangible opposition.

A leader, already established elsewhere, might step in after some very serious crisis in the West - perhaps environmental or accidental, or other. That could be one future scenario.

Yes, perhaps this is how things have to be, at this point in time, in order to force us to learn the lessons we need to learn. I hope we shall be good students - for otherwise we could be expelled!

RafaelVR said...

Oh yes! I don’t think it would be appropriate for a worldwide leader now to appear, it’s not the time yet, but I tend to think of this when the subject “age of the self” comes to the topic. And the future scenarios are many, that only percentages can give us clues.
But whatever happens, we have to do with mind/eyes opened and clear of motives! until then, lets walk in the sand of time.

Your blog is inspiring! And remarkable! Or I wouldn’t recall your work ;)
Have a great day Twilight.

Twilight said...

Thank you again, Raphael for your kind remarks. As you so poetically say - we shall "walk in the sand of time".... keeping eyes wide open. :-)

anthonynorth said...

An excellent post. I don't accept that any form of non-hypnotic manipulation can work on the individual, but over time, it can have a considerable effect on culture, and through that, our psychology. Freud added greatly to this by bringing out the unconscious into culture. It allowed us to be chaotic and slave to our desires.

Twilight said...

anthonynorth ~~~ Thanks. It's hard to be sure exactly how much this kind of manipulation affects the individual. Certainly there's hardly ever an instant result, but subtle suggestions remain tucked away in memory/subconscious and are built on little by little, then like constant drip of water on stone will make an impression. which then, multiplied by millions can, as you say, change culture.