Short Story about Edward Bernays

1900-- A nine-year-old Edward Bernays and four sisters visit with their double uncle*, Sigmund Freud, in the Austrian Tyrol. Bernays and Freud had a close, mutually beneficial relationship that lasted until Freud's death in 1939. It was Bernays who arranged to translate and publish Freud's "Introductory Lectures" and sell it in the U.S. The volume was responsible for stimulating widespread American interest in the new field of psychoanalysis, and its royalties provided Freud much needed financial support during the economic hardships of 1920s Austria. How Bernays obtained the manuscript is interesting PR history itself: A fellow WWI PR associate named Carl Byoir (who eventually built one of the most prominent agencies in the U.S.) visited with Freud in 1919, carrying a gift from Bernays: a precious box of Havana cigars (then nearly impossible to find then in Austria). In exchange, Freud gave Bryoir a copy of his "Introductory Lectures," with a note inscribed on the flyleaf: "In grateful acknowledgment of a nephew's thought of his uncle." Freud had doubts that the American public would ever embrace his radical new theories of the mind, much less, buy his books. Bernays, serving as book agent, tried unsuccessfully to persuade his uncle to come to the U.S. to give lectures, treat patients and generally, help promote the book. Nonetheless, the book did sell, and did much to make famous Freud and his radical new concepts of the mind. In turn, these concepts helped influence Bernays' theories about human behavior and public opinion. Thus, Bernays throughout his life described public relations as an "applied social science" --drawing upon social psychology, political science, economics, and even anthropology to understand how to read, analyze and influence the opinion of the public.

*Bernays' mother, Anna, was Freud's sister. Bernays' father's sister, Martha, was Freud's wife.