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Edward Bernays: blame him.

"I think I'm gonna spew," said Brad Cranfield, winner of The Block, which is certainly how this viewer felt watching the Channel Nine renovation show.

As the contestants listened to hundreds of thousands of dollars pour into their bank accounts during the show's finale, a glassy-eyed, almost drugged stupor took hold of them.

It was like watching a coked-up businessman fondle a stripper during a lap dance: naked human desire, stoked ridiculously for 10 weeks, then sated with a bacchanalia of "Block-tion" bids.

Hell, I felt it too. Half a million bucks! The surge of hardware- and fast-food-sponsored endorphins left me dreamy on my couch. Then, reflecting upon how superbly I was being manipulated, I, too, was overwhelmed by nausea.

As a franchise The Block was on its knees last year, with three from four properties passed in at auction. The fiction it peddled - renovate a house and months later you're rich - proved just that.

This year producers gave us fantasy mainlined to the brain - setting the reserves for the South Melbourne properties so low they guaranteed contestants a small fortune.

Brad's partner, Lara Welham went one better than her beau and myself, actually vomiting (with joy) after her shot of gratification, which saw the pair pocket more than $600,000.

"This could be life changing for all of us," said Brad, a sentiment giddily echoed by the other contestants, who like so many of us aren't content with simply being healthy, safe and having hot water.

2.7 million Aussies watched this consumer confection and I wonder how many went to bed that night dreaming of being the next big winners; of the cash, the property, the soft furnishings, the stuff they could buy.

Turning to Twitter, I expected a redemptive torrent of snark and cynicism about the show, only to find an overwhelming stream of "I'm so happy for them!" and "this is unbelievable!!"

Religion may well be the opiate of the people but nowadays it's a little old-fashioned compared with the meth-hit of consumerism; the result, a zombie-like lust for crap we do not need, for a house we cannot possibly fill, a life most of us will never lead.

The concept of "bread and circuses" to appease the masses has been with us since Roman times but I wonder how many of us realise the finely tuned soul smack of shows such as The Block owe as much to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud as they do Channel Nine's programming department?

In 1900, Freud shocked the world with his theories about mankind's primitive, hidden desires, but it was his little-known American nephew, Edward Bernays, who packaged this knowledge, and, some would argue, changed Western culture forever.

The award-winning BBC documentary The Century of the Self traces the roots of consumerism back to Freud and Bernays, widely held to be the inventor of modern "public relations".

"Bernays was the first person to take Freud's ideas about human beings and use them to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations ... how they could make people want things they didn't need by linking mass produced goods to their hidden desires," the doco says.

Bernays - who convinced American women to smoke cigarettes, kids to like soap and for all of us to eat eggs with our bacon - saw that if you continuously stimulated our irrational selves (seriously, is it rational to put artificial turf on your ceiling?), you could then satisfy our primitive desires with ... stuff, transforming the rambunctious "citizen" to a happy, docile "consumer".

Or Blockhead.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.