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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Edward Bernays derived his ideas about propaganda from his assumptions about the unconscious. “The Hidden Tyrant” shows how his writings built on new concepts about the nature of the human based on a growing acceptance of the idea his uncle, Sigmund Freud, had put into circulation in the early twentieth century. Increasing acceptance of the unconscious, however, generated concerns about the nature of human susceptibility to external influences, especially totalitarianism. This essay draws on sources from psychoanalysis and social psychology to fiction and film to chronicle how those concerns found expression, in the early years of the Cold War, in anxieties about brainwashing that permeated debates surrounding the use of propaganda and the emerging public relations industry. Focusing in particular on the novel and film versions of The Manchurian Candidate, the essay places the nuclear family at the center of these concerns and considers the implications for Cold War psycho-politics.

Keywords: brainwashing, Manchurian Candidate, nuclear family, psycho-politics, the unconscious

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