Propaganda by Edward Bernays, 1928, Excerpts
It is chiefly the psychologists of the school of Freud who have pointed out that many of man’s thoughts and actions are compensatory substitutes for desires which he has been obliged to suppress. A thing may be desired not for its intrinsic worth or usefulness, but because he has unconsciously come to see in it a symbol of something else, the desire for which he is ashamed to admit himself.
Men are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions. A man may believe that he buys a motor car because, after careful study of the technical features of all makes on the market, he has concluded that this is the best. He is almost certainly fooling himself.
This general principle, that men are very largely actuated by motives which they conceal from themselves, is as true of mass as of individual psychology. The successful propagandist must understand the true motives and not be content to accept the reasons which men give for what they do.