The first part of the documentary, The Century of the self entitled Happiness Machines is a direct and straight forward attack to the rationality of the human beings. Its theme can be summarized by saying that deep within the the human brain is a programming that can control and influence our thoughts and actions. This programming is basically the pursuit of pleasure in the form of sexuality and violence. As the documentary had stated, this is rooted in Sigmund Freud’s scholarship. Seeing this documentary, it is very difficult to accept and believe that I do not control my thoughts and actions. To say that what I am pursuing in the short term and long term is not a product of my own rational thinking is a giant blow to my humanity.
Freud’s theory regarding the influence of our primitive history can be true, however it does not automatically follow that we are ought to follow it just because the influence is there. Humans is not a simple animal that is driven by its innate desire and impulse. Despite our commonality to animals and other living creatures, something separate us from them and that is our rationality. This rationality is the one thing that can over ride our instincts for sexuality and violence. As our rationality determine that harm will be done due to our instinctive desire, it has the capability to take in charge and say, “Stop.”
It is true that it is difficult especially at first. However our self control (i.e. rationality) is a muscle. It takes time, practice and effort to control our instincts. We cannot decide now and we will be it tomorrow. Just like any muscle in our body, our rationality as our defense on the harm of our desires and impulses can take in charge and lead us to a more harmonious way of life.
- The Century of the Self. Adam Curtis (dir). Adam Curtis et al. (prod). 2002. Documentary Web. Accessed 8 June 2010.