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Freud's Nephew and the Origins of Public Relations

Years ago, Americans grabbed toast and coffee for breakfast. Public-relations pioneer Edward Bernays changed that.

Bernays used his Uncle Sigmund Freud's ideas to help convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast.

He took Freud's complex ideas on people's unconscious, psychological motivations and applied them to the new field of public relations.

This story is part of a series commemorating the scientific breakthroughs of 1905. That was the year Freud published his seminal work, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and Albert Einstein published most of his important papers.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alix Spiegel has worked on NPR's Science Desk for 10 years covering psychology and human behavior, and has reported on everything from what it's like to kill another person, to the psychology behind our use of function words like "and", "I", and "so." She began her career in 1995 as one of the founding producers of the public radio program This American Life. While there, Spiegel produced her first psychology story, which ultimately led to her focus on human behavior. It was a piece called 81 Words, and it examined the history behind the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
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