A rare interview with Adam Curtis – Freud’s hold over history

Here is an interview with Adam Curtis, the film maker whose latest program The Trap: Whatever happened to our dreams of freedom aired on the BBC yesterday evening.

This interview is about his previous series The Century of the Self, and explores with Ivan Tyrrell, a founder the human givens approach to therapy, how Freudian ideas are flourishing in business and politics today and indiously influence all of our lives.

A seething mass of desires: Freud’s hold over history

Tyrrell: The Century of the Self was for me and many others I’ve spoken to, by far the best TV series for a long time. In four 60 minute programmes on BBC2, you showed how the ideas behind psychoanalysis were responsible for the development of mass consumerism and self absorption in western society. You also explored the link between consumerism and politics in ways that were terrifying to contemplate. How did you come to piece this amazing history together?

Curtis: I’m a journalist who stumbled over a story, not a historian. For me it began when I came across the intriguing information that Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays had invented public relations, specifically using his uncle’s ideas about human beings and human nature. From there came the idea that I should look at how Freud’s ideas have been used generally in social and political ways, not telling the history of psychoanalysis but the history of how psychoanalytical ideas have been applied. When I started to research this I found lots of different stories about the application of psychoanalytical theories which had been missed out in the history of it, largely because psychoanalysis, as I am sure you know, is a very hermetic world …

Read the entire interview here.

Posted by: Eleanor


2 responses to “A rare interview with Adam Curtis – Freud’s hold over history

  1. You might be interested in reading “An Exclusive Interview with Sigmund Freud” & the follow-up piece, “My Dinner with Dr. Freud”, both found on my blogsite, “Necessary Therapy”.

  2. That’s a strange coincidence! I was reading that post of yours this very morning!

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