Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?

and I would add, to exploit?

Bruce E. Levine, a practicing clinical psychologist, writes and speaks about how society, culture, politics and psychology intersect. His latest book is  Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and .... His Web site is www.brucelevine.net

“Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies which achieved tremendous power in the twentieth century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects."

“Those who rise to power in the corporatocracy are control freaks, addicted to the buzz of power over other human beings, and so it is natural for such authorities to have become excited by behavior modification.”

And let us not forget that Sigmond Freud's nephew was Edward Bernays who used his Uncle's  ideas to help convince the public that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast, not toast and coffee. He used Freud's complex ideas on people's unconscious, psychological motivations and applied them to the new field of public relations. Thus was born the behaviorist-consumer.

Bruce E. Levine, 

Psychologist, social critic, diagnosing what’s wrong with psychotherapy and psychiatry, he clearly, concisely, and captivatingly describes approaches which help change our social system. He dissects its failures, condemns the cold, technological approach to mental health and looks for deeper solutions.

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Replies to This Discussion

Try and look on the situation positively. The sizable minority of Americans who are not so easy to manipulate and control would be equal to or greater than the entire populations of many smaller nations regardless of the demographics.

The glass is half full.

Napoleon, I agree that maintaining a positive attitude is necessary to keep balance in one's life. The problem in this case is the exponential growth of tipping points that are created by or exacerbted by human action. Many do not realize how fast things are changing, just for example, money supply, private and public debt, and what they mean to our future generations. I observe trends, as I was trained to do, and see some dark clouds unseen and unexpected on the horizon. 

There was a video I watch recently of a young man who was in economics school and realized the financial collapse that was coming. He complete his training, went back for a medical degree and went into practice. His research confirmed his intuition and he made some adjustments, including leaving medicine and going into financials. Let me see if I can find his video

Michael J. Burry: Failed Ideologues are Writing Reality out of the ...

Thank you, an interesting video.

Thanks for the link and video - great discussion here.

I don't understand what's "evil" with bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Or why anybody had to be convinced that starting the day with protein instead of carbohydrate-loaded cereals (think Post and Kellogg's) won't leave you craving a donut, or some other sweet by mid-morning.

I do know that anyone who spent their early years  before TV blasted into our homes isn't quite so susceptible to advertising as younger people....but there aren't that many of us left...  I've always thought it was a crock, even before I spent 3 years working for JCPenney Advertising.

My usual reaction to television commercials is, "Oh, sheesh."  Or worse.  In fact I go out of my way to avoid buying products I see advertised. 

I know the difference between "want" and "need."

There is nothing evil about bacon and eggs for breakfast; it appears a typical USA breakfast before Edward Bernays was toast and coffee.  You are quite correct about proteins instead of carbs won't leave you craving sugar smeared delectable mid-morning. The point is Bernays used behavioral psychology in advertising and propaganda as had not been done before. Have you read or watched any of the books or videos on him? he was an interesting person. 

How to Brainwash a Nation

Freud and Bernays understood how to manipulate and exploit fear and desire. 

I don't own a TV and haven't for years. I have no interest in commercial news or reports; why should I, they are owned by corporate USA. 
The difference between "want" and "need" makes a big difference in how people consume. Glad you have that figured out. Add to the desire for goods and services, the ability to buy on credit, we have a very risky situation, indeed. 


I figured out the difference between "want" and "need" so long ago that I can't remember when I made the switch...it may have been gradual.

I do have one constant "want" that I don't really need.  Books.  I try to keep my book spending down to $25 a month, and I buy only used books on Half.com.  Most of the time the cost of Shipping and Handling (Media Mail) is more than the price of the book. I have actually bought some beautiful new or nearly new books for under a dollar apiece (the S&H is less than $4, and if you buy more than one book from the same vendor in one transaction the S&H costs for the "extra " books is $2 each).

I can't live without my books, but I do reread the good ones at least once a year.  I always find something new, or something I forgot when I read them agaiin.  (If I put the mysteries away for 5 years, I even forget whodunit, and why.)

BUT I do have a library card...I just don't have a car anymore.  And if I don't do anything tout de suite, I won't have a driver's license, either.  I'm terrified that I'll fail the vision test. I don't even want to take the written test!  Brain freeze!

I'm kind of toying with the idea of selling my car. I live only a block from the bus line, so that would be no problem. Just so used to getting in and going wherever. It would be harder to get to and from Farmer's Markets with loads of vegetables and fruits. 

Get one of those lightweight, foldable shopping carts.  I'm pretty sure they'll let you take those things on a bus whether it's empty or full. 

Does your area have special bus services for "Seniors" and disabled people?  I have a friend in Tacoma who is legally blind, and she can get just about anywhere in Tacoma (I took the Coast Starlight up there twice, and both times that bus picked us up at the depot, rather late at night, and took us right to her apartment), AND there are drop-off places where she can get another bus to Seattle...and back. It's slow, but it beats taking a taxi, or walking.


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