Edward Bernays

Edward Louis Bernays (November 22, 1891 – March 9, 1995) is considered the father of public relations, spin, and propaganda. Combining the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion using the psychology of the subconscious. He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational and dangerous as a result of the ‘herd instinct’. (Wikipedia, 9/28/2008)

“Let's examine a little-known United States Committee on Public Information — often referred to as the Creel Commission. You will recall that the nation at that time was largely pacifist. Wilson had been elected to a second term of office in 1916 using the slogan, ‘He kept us out of the war.’ The nation had no intent of becoming embroiled in a European conflict that didn't in the least affect the United States' interests. To add power to the new committee, he brought in two men who would go on to completely reshape the new field of public relations. The first, Walter Lippman, was a young CFR leader who was close to the Wilson administration and would continue to write and shape public opinion for another half-century. The second, Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was an upcoming publicist that would transition democracy into a tool for the elite.

“To get an idea of Bernays' abilities, think for a moment about a traditional breakfast. What do you think of? If you are like most, you will come up with bacon and eggs — so what? Prior to 1915, bacon was not part of a traditional breakfast — so Edward Bernays was hired to increase bacon consumption in the United States. He incorporated a new theory of gaining assent from recognized leaders either with their knowing cooperation or without. He conducted a survey among physicians and received their overwhelming recommendation that Americans should eat a hearty breakfast. Coupled with predictive results from the physicians, he began an advertising campaign stressing that a breakfast of bacon and eggs was just that — a hearty breakfast. It may sound simple, but look where we are today because of it.” (Jack Monnett, PhD.)

Quotes by This Author

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.… We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.… In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928.)

“Goebbels… was using my book, Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany.” (Edward Bernays)