The Century of the Self

We’re big fans of Adam Curtis here at Red Eye. He is quite possibly one of the most important documentary filmmakers of our time. He uses historical news footage, interviews and a powerful narrative to draw lateral connections and reveal hidden trajectories in our recent past – trajectories that have shaped our present world and the way we think about it. His new series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, recently aired on the BBC, and is well worth watching, giving as it does, a unique angle on how computers have changed the way we think about the world. More on this soon…

The Century of the Self is now a cult classic, and probably the best introduction to his work. It was originally a four part documentary, but is included here as one file… I hope this doesn’t put people off watching it in full, as it is a work that really needs watching in it’s entirety. It draws a huge arc across the 20th century starting with Freud and how psychoanalysis began to be used by advertisers and the propaganda machine to control the population, the illusion of democracy, the rise of consumerism and individualism and the death of socialism. It is our history in the raw perfectly told. Essential viewing for all.



  1. Separate episodes for more manageable bitesize chunks of truth 😉

  2. Superb documentary series! Yeah this had to be posted – a classic.

    I think Freud got it wrong. Yeah, we have a lot to thank him for – he, after all realised there was a side to us other than the ego. But I think his interpretation of the “sub-conscious” was wrong. I don’t think we are ruled by the libido, I don’t think the “sub-concious” mind is something to fear, I think it’s something to embrace. You must trust the “sub-concious”. Therefore the “century of self” has not been about the sub-concious but instead about the ego ruling the sub-concious – because in his school of thought the sub-conscious is dangerous and must be suppressed/controlled by the ego.

    I think Carl Jung got it more right than Freud did. Check out his “Red Book”. I might actually post an article about it here on red eye. Also, check out the Wiki article on Mandalas. At the bottom, where there are examples or various madalas there is one, a lotus mandala, by one of his patients.

    From Wikipedia on Jung: “He considered the process of individuation necessary for a person to become whole. This is a psychological process of integrating the opposites including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy. Individuation was the central concept of analytical psychology.”

    Wiki page on Jung’s “Red Book”

  3. (Repeat comment from On Zen & The Ego post:

    Like, you get some westerners, who after a period of being totally absorbed & ruled by the ego, people who were wrapped-up in the world of business and commerce and status and the consumerist world, that they eventually break-down from this way of living. Then they travel to India and go totally the opposite way, and seek permanent nirvana. If they had balance to begin with they would not be seeking to balance it out in such an extreme way: All one way, the ego way, then all the other, the non-ego way of satori.

    • Either way, they are “brainwashed” totally, first one extreme, then the other. If they had balance to begin with they would not need to go to the extremes.

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