ponedeljek, 25. maj 2015

Manipulation, the Unconscious, Psychoanalysis …

Manipulation is the control of people without their awareness. People who are being managed and manipulated are like marionettes in the hands of others (i.e. the manipulators). Manipulated people are outwitted – one way or another – directly (by tricks or deception) or indirectly (through ideology). Inevitably, people are always being manipulated – it is an inherent part of their natural psychological functioning.
If Freud had been writing a book concerning psychological manipulation, it would probably have been the thickest book of all his writings. Fortunately – or unfortunately – Freud never examined the issue of manipulation through psychoanalysis.  In his time, neither parliamentary democracy nor market capitalism existed as it is known today. The paradigm of both, monarchy and autocratic government of state or people has different characteristics – mostly related to transference – than parliamentary democracy. In the time of Freud, market capitalism has not yet been developed to the level of merciless manipulation of consumers. In his time or towards the end of his life, pathological consumers, as they are known today, were only being born.

Smart Eddy and Stupid Jack [1]
Edward Bernays (1891-1995), Freud’s (“double”) nephew, was the one biting the bullet of pathological consumerism. At the beginning, he did not know much about psychoanalysis. Yet, it is the field of science that tells us the most about psychological manipulation. By applying psychoanalysis to psychological manipulation, Bernays focused on product advertising. Later on, his main point of interest became politics, in particular people (public) “management” for the needs of politics; in other words, to gain and maintain power and authority, hegemony, even across borders. In order to be a successful manipulator (e.g. to trick people – consumers – through deceptive marketing), Bernays had to rely on well-educated psychoanalysts. Abraham A. Brill was the one who informed Bernays that a cigarette is a symbol of penis – i.e. masculinity and masculine power. Only after learning about that interpretative psychoanalytical clue, Bernays joined an advertising (commercial, propaganda) campaign for an American Tobacco Company. By manipulating cigarette buyers (actual and potential smokers), he relied on several basic concepts already introduced to the discipline of psychoanalysis by his uncle, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Manipulation – either carefully planned or quietly expected, or even unplanned and spontaneous – is based on some (psychoanalytic) ground or (theoretical) facts:
  • A person is controlled by the unconscious; the unconscious is the centre of person’s mentality.
  • The basic attribute of the unconscious (subconscious) is the unconscious desire.
  • Reasons for conscious desire or volition are always unconscious.
  • A person is (in principle) suggestible; a person is led by an authority figure, perhaps an idea that directs him, manipulates him, manages him (without one being aware of it).
  • A person is guided by the principle of comfort (pleasure) – its basic/fundamental attribute is sexuality (both covertly and overtly – sexuality in a broad and narrow sense).
  • Money is equivalent to the principle of comfort. It presents both attributes, anal and phallic – on the one hand, it is a symbol of a child’s first gift – his faeces – and on the other hand, a symbol of a penis.
  • An inherent part of psychological manipulation paradigm is often the famous transference, introduced by Freud for the purpose of understanding psychological praxis; sometimes it is the transference that makes psychological outwitting or manipulation and management possible.
  • Lastly, the “desire of the (intra-psychic) Other” is placed within the manipulation praxis.
A euphemism for various types of manipulation (tricks, deception, “brainwashing,” etc.) is “public relations.” Simply put, Bernays’ question or idea was: how to outwit people, how to deceive them, how to brainwash them, to make them adopt a forced political idea or belief, or how to purchase and sell an item, even if the buyers do not need it. Only the manufacturer and merchant (capitalist) would like to sell it and earn some money. When talking about manipulation, (marionette-like) people, public management, or “handling,” it is always about the application of certain “moves,” tricks, or deceptions. Edward Bernays was successful in his field of science (and in psychological theory) – thanks to his uncle, Sigmund Freud, and psychoanalysis. If a person wants to obtain manipulative managing skills from a book, one should read both Bernays’s books: Propaganda, 1928 and Public Relations, 1945, as well as the essay “Engineering of Consent,” 1947. In 1955, the same title was given to a book written by several authors.
Bernays was definitely a master of psychological manipulation. However, that does not mean that he had the knowledge of the entire theoretical background behind his own ideas and his intuitive or unconscious feelings. In this regard, another minor detail is important: Bernays was “corrupt” enough to consider psychological manipulation as morally acceptable. At the same time, he was narcissistic and obsessed with being worshiped and famous because of his skills of psychological manipulation.
The moral context poses problems and impediments to those of us who possess psychoanalytical knowledge which can be used for the manipulation of the masses. We do not think – at least I do not – that it is morally acceptable to persuade people (intentionally and targeted) or to put it differently, to outwit them (“outsmart” them with different tricks, deceptions, schemes, to brainwash and manipulate them) under a false pretence that these are examples of (classic) “political communication” or “modern marketing approaches.”
The current social and political crisis and the recession encourages us, especially those of us possessing “special” knowledge and skills, to persuade rich people with money stocked in banks (in the form of capital or real estate) to spend it so it would be back in circulation. It would not matter if this was done through manipulation tricks; as long as it is “for the greater good, kindness or ethics.” Knowledge (i.e. manipulation skills) exists; it is only a matter of someone powerful, a politician, state or government official turning to those of us who have it and ask for help.

Democracy = Manipulation
In my opinion[2], democracy is a failed political paradigm because the voters do not have the free will to decide who to vote for. The voters are always manipulated, they are always duped and they are always outwitted and deceived. Manipulation is not necessarily anticipated. In one way or another, the voters are always “brainwashed.” Psychological manipulation is possible due to the basic laws of human mentality mentioned in the introduction. The fundamental law governing manipulation is: “The consciousness does not know what the unconscious really thinks.” The paradox of manipulation is that the manipulated (the victim of manipulation), and often the manipulator, are not aware of manipulation, and the manipulator does not know how he manipulates people. On the other hand, the manipulator is being used and manipulated by a purchaser of manipulation. The purchaser of manipulation is also not aware of manipulation by his own unconscious by, in Lacan’s words, “the desire of the Other.” The fact that someone wants to use others, manipulate them, appropriate something out of comfort or pleasure, is the “desire of the (intra-psychic) Other” or determined processes, motives or causes unknown to the consciousness. The entire (wider) circle of manipulation is thus vicious.
In the last century, the best experts in psychological manipulation have been the most respected people with the highest income. From an ethical point of view, this is one of the biggest failures of human society. In his time and throughout the 20th century, Bernays was one of the most influential people in the USA. Due to his knowledge and manipulation skills, people all over the world were in awe of him. Considering (political and social) power and authority as a drug “taken” by men in the political (and economic) spheres, it is clear that the largest psychological manipulation schemes occur in the world of international politics, as well as in the military (economy and business). Skills and “tricks” from political marketing are like manipulation or the act of outwitting. Experts in political marketing use schemes, tricks and deceptions to persuade people to vote a certain politician or accept a certain ideology. Due to their skills, they are awarded money, social prestige and other privileges, which often presents an ethical dilemma. In the traditional (consumerist) marketing, the silent imperative is structured around the idea or ideology that the consumers should be convinced to buy something that they do not need or even had no intention of buying. The real manipulation is the one that is planned, intentional and accomplished by the manipulator or the purchaser of manipulation. The culmination of pure manipulation is subliminal or unconscious advertising (with all its derivatives).

Subliminal or Unconscious Advertising – Planned and Unplanned 
Many people can discuss manipulation wisely and in a likeable way. However, psychoanalysis is a mental concept explaining this topic, and subliminal or unconscious advertising in more detail. Subliminal or unconscious advertising is the most effective way of brainwashing or manipulating people. Even successful and inventive creators of specific advertising messages (advertisement, video advertisements or political campaigns) do not realize how (when, why and in what way) they affect consumers or voters.  It is often an unintended, unplanned and unconscious influence or mediation. It ensures that the person who is being influenced is unaware of the message being directly transferred or foisted into their unconscious, e. g., a hint to purchase a certain product or elect a certain person. Unconscious or subliminal advertising spread around the globe in the period of Bernays’s advertising activities. Numerous advertising experts began to adopt Bernays’s or psychoanalytical strategies. In the middle of the 1950s, the well-known Coca-Cola advertisement of a female silhouette in an ice cube, demonstrating fellatio, triggered enormous amounts of subliminal or unconscious advertising. The psychological laboratories preformed experiments confirming that human consciousness is non-autonomous. Hence, consciousness can be manipulated and influenced by the will of others. The manipulated consciousness eventually accepts this will as its own. Such hypocritical and subtle framing can be called “brainwashing.” Nowadays, “brainwashing” is a domain of the so called neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Before NLP became popular, people could be directly and completely brainwashed through hypnosis. Almost everything that could not be censored by the strong super-ego could be forced into the unconscious and subconscious of the most suggestible individuals. It is most likely that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy under hypnosis or a strong posthypnotic suggestion, therefore, he could have been skilfully “brainwashed.” This possibility was confirmed in an experiment by hypnosis and NLP experts. Various films[3] showed that whilst ignoring ideology, it is possible to quickly, efficiently and directly “brainwash” people, manipulate them and to instil different ideas, volitions or wishes into their unconscious.
Mechanisms or concepts intervening subliminally into the unconscious or directly “brainwashing,” were merely perceived and presented in theory by Freud. His nephew Bernays, however, implemented them unmercifully. The story is even more horrific since all possibilities of hypocritical intervention into the unconscious or manipulation of consumers or voters have not even been used yet. If people who know the methods and strategies of “brainwashing” or manipulation had no ethical restraints, people would be manipulated from all directions.
According to the above mentioned, goals in ball games are in reality not goals but symbols of a vagina which adds another dimension to the story. Scoring goals may be symbolically coitus or a simulation of a sexual act. It would be difficult to say that players are manipulated: they do not know that the game may actually symbolize sexual perversity, pornography, even an orgy in which the players ‘rape’ a significant female of the opponent, and in doing so, they find this highly enjoyable (beyond this manifest pleasure is the latent/symbolic coitus and (symbolic) castration of the opponent). The players are manipulated by their unconscious (subconscious) or their Symbolic; therefore, it cannot be stated that this is the real, traditional and pure consumerist manipulation. It is not manipulation when at important ball sport championships, “suspicious businessmen,” the pimps, place their “workers,” the prostitutes, near stadiums, restaurants and hotels knowing that the spectators may want sexual pleasure and services. It has been shown that spectators, especially men, experience increased sexual craving at the time of important championships. These do not include volleyball or tennis games since these two sports do not include the goal paradigm.
Similar but conceptually different sport manipulation takes place when the state sport ideologist or the control, regulation and discipline ideologist tries to manipulate people through (fantasy or latent sexual) sport exploitation. The most militant state ideologists use sport manipulatively to achieve carefully planned control, discipline and regulation of crowds, especially amongst young people. They do it in the sense of: “Play sports and be placid and calm, enjoy sports and do not cause trouble.” Their lure and a cover-up is a “scientific” remark and an excuse that sport is healthy (and beneficial because of its many positive effects on health). In reality, sport may be (symbolically sexually) exhibiting the male ego. The fact that an athlete may be a “subject of privilege considered by females” may not yet be realized by sport ideologists or control, regulation and discipline ideologists nor “experts” in marketing (the market manipulators).
Nevertheless, those of us who engage in psychoanalysis know precisely that sexuality undermines conscious illusion and many principles, including moral. The easiest way to manipulate, outwit or force an idea on someone is through the medium of sexuality. This has been known since the time of Freud; since Bernays’s time, however, it has been used as a method of manipulation, or worse yet, abused as psychoanalytical knowledge. In my opinion, the problem is not the drafting of the concept plan of marketing campaigns – the problem is whether or not this is appropriate or ethical. Those of us who have the knowledge of the methods underlying manipulating, exploitation or abuse, hesitate to question whether this is ethical or not. Driven by capitalism and pathological consumerism, Bernays did not exercise similar restraints. It is not a secret that he was unethical and pathologically narcissistic, as it is unsurprising  that he ended up assisting politicians and the government, and that they abused his knowledge severely for political and even military purposes – i.e., the American military intervention in Guatemala, which began with the banana trade.
The trouble with knowing the theory of manipulation is that people simply follow their intuition. Consequently, certain ideas about how people could be deceived, controlled, manipulated, and brainwashed are formed in their unconscious despite not knowing about the theoretical or psychoanalytic background. Nowadays, the main experts in marketing (manipulation of consumers) or political marketing (manipulation of voters) do not know the concepts of psychoanalysis very well. Those of us who are slightly more familiar with psychoanalysis or the human psyche, especially the unconscious and sexuality, know what these great “experts” in marketing and political marketing have in mind. And it is frightening when we realize how the system, i.e., the socio-economic system, including (market and consumerist) capitalism, as well as democracy and political paradigm, based on “free” elections, really works. Consumers, as well as voters are always manipulated, exploited and are never free. The main issue is not that the unconscious controls people; the problem is that people are influenced by experts with manipulative skills, abilities, and knowledge – and precisely these people attack the (unsuspecting) human unconscious.
The human unconscious absorbs everything from its environment. The basic characteristic of one’s mentality and the unconscious is one’s suggestibility, the susceptibility for “suggestions” or intrusions from outside, from others. The most perverse manipulation is that which directly attacks the human unconscious. And then, the “indoctrinated” fools believe that their purchase and voting decisions are the result of free will.

After All
Considering the fact that people are prisoners of their unconscious, that the perception of free and autonomous will is always a mere illusion, a kind of unplanned “manipulation” is practically always present because this is a part of their permanent psychic functioning. In reality, they are not aware of the true motives behind their actions but think that they are a result of free (conscious) will/decision. This is the basic human error that was discovered with the help of psychoanalysis. The structural problem here lies in the fact that a conceptual mistake cannot be proven. Many (ego)psychologists and similar “experts” still do not accept Freud’s epistemic break or the “Copernican turn” in understanding human spirituality, which is troublesome. Actually, the epicentre (and the essence) of human mentality is not the conscious but the unconscious. Furthermore, people are never autonomous in their decisions, never have free will, and are always controlled and manipulated by their unconscious or simply put their subconscious. The sheer manipulation by the manipulator is subsequent; due to the notion or the concept of human unconscious. One is always a slave to the unconscious and consequently double-blind. The first blindness derives from the before-mentioned fact that human consciousness (in reality) does not know what their unconscious (in reality) thinks and/or desires. The other blindness is more complicated. Namely, the real or the “real real,” as Lacan would put it, is symbolic (which is constituently unconscious and inaccessible to the sense of the ego and the censorship of the super-ego, i.e., the consciousness) – and this is not a rhetorical phrase. The symbolic is primary (the primary process) and is in domain of the id; consciousness is secondary. As it is with dreams, which have to be first decoded from manifest into latent shape for one to be able to understand what he or she dreams about, we have to first decode the (manifest) events/happenings in wakefulness. In other words, we have to solve the latent symbolic of a certain event/action/happening, to be able to know the (latent) essence of what happens to us in wakefulness, in everyday life.

Translated by: Špela Fleisinger, Vesna Krofl, Marina Korpar, Marko Maričnik
Reviewed and edited by: Kristina Kočan Šalamon and Lainey Keane

Full version - part 1 and part 2 (in Slovenian language): http://www.publishwall.si/roman.vodeb/post/89248/manipulacija-nezavedno-psihoanaliza-1-del

[1] http://www.balkanmagazin.net/nauka/cid144-32159/pametni-edi-i-glupi-dzek
[2] http://www.rtvslo.si/blog/roman-vodeb?&page=26
[3]The Manchurian Candidate (2004),  Now You See Me (2013). Recently, a hypnotizer Derren Brown and an illusionist Steven Frayne Dynamo are the ones introducing the public to the biggest frauds.