Reaction Paper: The Century of the Self

Read Summary

The documentary The Century of the Self discusses how the pursuit of pleasure, rooted in Sigmund Freud’s theories, can control and influence human thoughts and actions. The film argues that our pursuit of pleasure is a result of our primitive history, but rationality is what separates humans from animals and allows us to control our instincts. Rationality is like a muscle that can be trained to lead us towards a more harmonious way of life. While the documentary challenges the idea of free will, it ultimately suggests that our rationality can override our primitive desires.

Table of Content

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.

Works Cited

  1. The Century of the Self. Adam Curtis (dir). Adam Curtis et al. (prod). 2002. Documentary Web. Accessed 8 June 2010.

Cite this page

Reaction Paper: The Century of the Self. (2017, Feb 09). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront