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Mass Formation - Theory, Implications & Jon Stewart
Professor Mattias Desmet brought to attention the theory of Mass Formation. What started as a testimony to the Berlin Corona Investigative Committee, has now ignited attention around the world.
The internet has been set alight with attention on Mass Formation/Psychosis thanks to the discussion between Dr. Robert Malone on The Joe Rogan Experience.
It has gotten so viral that Google has provided the following disclaimer when you search “Mass Formation Psychosis.”
Dr. Malone is referring to insights made by Professor Mattias Desmet, a psychologist from Belgium, who provided testimony to the Berlin Corona Committee on the theory of Mass Formation and how it applies to our current predicament.
The following is a summary & thoughts on the full testimony found here.
Mass Formation Phenomenon
Professor Mattias Desmet begins by observing that the phenomenon of Mass Formation & Totalitarianism are tightly linked. He refers to the works of Hannah Arendt and Gustave Le Bon, amongst others, to relay historical precedent for the emergence of this phenomenon.
Four Necessary Pre-conditions
For Mass Formation to take hold, he notes the following pre-conditions:
Widespread social isolation
Loss of sense-making
Overwhelming free-floating anxiety
…which invariably lead to an aversive psychic tension
It is in the presence of these pre-conditions that the emergence of Mass Formation is possible.
Desmet argues that these pre-conditions already existed prior to 2020.
Loss of sense-making: Eric Weinstein and Rebel Wisdom have done a series on the crisis of sense-making. We need only look at the state of our regulatory agencies (FDA, CDC, NIH, WHO, etc) to see that our sense-making apparatuses have been corrupted by corporate interest who have installed puppets in positions of authority.
Epidemic of burnout: According to the book Bullshit Jobs, 40-70% of people describe their work as meaningless. Almost every industry has been focused on “burnout” and “work-life balance” for years. For good reason.
Widespread use of Psychopharmacology: In Belgium, with a population of approximately 11 million, Desmet estimates 300 million doses of anti-depressants are used per year. The use of anti-depressants, anxiolytics and mood stabilizers is an epidemic worse than the Opioid Crisis.
Free floating anxiety: Anxiety that is not tied to a specific mental or physical object. One is unaware of the source, and thus feels loss of control. One of the most painful psychological experiences, and can lead to devastating physiologic responses such as panic attacks.
Desmet notes that with an atmostphere of free-floating anxiety and psychologic discontent, people need an anchor for their anxiety - an object, an explanation.
That leaves us with widespread social isolation. In addition to the ever-expanding digital landscape, both by the ventures of Big Tech and now virtual reality, there have been lockdowns and movement restrictions enacted around the globe for almost two years. This was the final necessary condition.
Desmet identifies that the core problem is that these are all ailments which are in the mind, without a specific physical object that can be identified as the cause.
The Media has joined the Game
Once the media provide a narrative which points to an object of the anxiety, and describes a strategy to deal with this object, then all the anxiety becomes linked to this object.
People become willing to follow the strategy to deal with this object, no matter what the cost. Because the risk of reverting back to the state of anxiety and discontent is too great.
It is in this phase that the people, who were once isolated and under tremendous psychological burden, come together in a collective heroic battle with the object of anxiety. A new social bond emerges, as well as a new kind of sense-making.
Suddenly, life is directed at battling the object of anxiety and in doing so establishing a new connection with the people.
This switch from a radical lack of social connection to a massive connection, such as the one experienced in crowds & mobs, delivers a sort of mental intoxication. This has the added effect of narrowing the peoples’ focus of attention to this one problem.
The masses become so intoxicated that they become radically intolerant to dissident voices. The voice threatens to wake people up…and in doing so bringing back the psychological discontent that the masses are running from.
This narrow field of view is so extreme, that the masses only see the victims of coronavirus. They are blind to the fallout from lockdowns, mandates, and mass vaccination. Thus, they have limited to no empathy for those affected by the fallout of the dominant narrative.
Desmet notes that this behavior is not intentional, merely an effect of the mass phenomenon.
Rise of the Ideologue
The danger here is the positive-feedback loop. The more you focus on this problem, the more connected you feel with the masses. Rinse. Repeat.
Desmet, and his precedessors, argue that this element of Mass formation makes it equivalent to hypnosis.
Some suggest that if there's one difference between hypnosis & mass formation, it is that in hypnosis the one who hypnotizes is awake - his field of attention is not narrowed.
In Mass Formation, the field of attention of the leader is even narrower than the population. Which suggests that leaders in the population under Mass Formation are themselves ideologues. It is for this reason that Mass Formation can be likened (and for Desmet is equivlanet) to a tyrannical Totalitarian capture of the population.
The leaders are convinced that this ideology will bring people into an artificial paradise - which is common to all totalitarian regimes. This is why they feel that almost anything can be sacrificed to realize this ideological fiction.
For example, Hitler felt he could sacrifice a proportion of the population (Jews) to bring about paradise for the rest of the German race. As did Stalin, and almost every ideological tyrant since the 20th century.
This would suggest that the politicians who are taking advantage of this state of affairs are either woefully ignorant of what is happening, or ideological to the extent of sociopathy.
They often say with “we are just responding to the people.” To the psychosis. In doing so, propagating and amplifying it.
Ministry of Truth
It is important to recognize the strength of the motivation to avoid the psychological distress associated with these pre-conditions. Once people have transitioned from the distress to a new sense of collective belonging and safety, it becomes nearly impossible to reverse.
The intoxication is so strong, in fact, that it does not even matter if the narrative is incorrect. What matters is it leads to intoxication - not unlike an addiction. So, people will continue obliging the narrative, irrespective of how ridiculous it may seem.
This is the central mechanism of Mass Formation, and makes it so difficult to relinquish its psychological hold.
Immune to Hypnosis
One of the lawyers from the Berlin Corona Committee asks Desmet why and how are some people immune to the hypnosis.
Desmet notes that in the Mass Phenomenon, approximately 30% of the population are inextricably gripped by the hypnosis. Approximately 40% of the population conform merely to avoid the consequences of dissent. This is the group which can be reached with concrete evidence and argumentation.
Gustave Le Bon notes that the higher the degree of education, the more susceptible one is to Mass Formation. The reason may lie in how you view “education.”
On the one hand, education can be viewed as a process by which you learn to think for yourself…
On the other hand, modern education can more accurately be characterised by a a process in which you learn to think like everybody else.
There is a minority (15%) of the population that are not under the spell, and are themselves vocal about it.
One very interesting observation about the 15% is that this group tends to be highly diverse, across political and socioeconomic classes.
There is a unifying motivation across all groups, however, and relates back to the pre-conditions.
Everyone is trying to reach psychological stability.
Those aligned with the Mass Formation are attempting to establish stability by going along with the masses.
The dissident voices are establishing stability by sticking to what they believe is reasonable.
The futility of trying to correct the dominant narrative is quite apparent.
It does not matter that the dominant narrative is wrong.
What matters is that people do not want to return to the state of free-floating anxiety.
This whole time the dissident minority has been trying to show how the narrative is wrong. This may be, in large part, futile.
What we need to address are the factors that have led to the pre-existing conditions. People must feel that their psychological burdens are acknowledged.
We do not need the Corona Crisis to establish a social bond.
Even if people are not conscious of this, their behavior suggests a move towards easing these pre-conditions. People are flocking out of major cities. They are re-discovering their interests. Balancing work and life, with greater emphasis placed on family, friends and community.
Importance of Free Speech
Desmet adds that the distinguishing feature of Totalitarianism versus classical Dictatorships, is that at the peak of its regime, Totalitarianism tends to consume its own children, so to speak. As can be seen by the destruction of the regime’s allies and society’s children.
In contrast, classical Dictators ease off after a certain point, because they realize that to keep the people on their side, they need to chill and give way to their needs and desires to maintain their position.
One can suggest, then, the great risk in the rise of Mass Formation/Totalitarianism is the risk of becoming captured by a Dictator, who is more likely to persist in this role for far longer than the Ideologue may.
Free speech plays a critical role. By publicizing dissenting perspectives, it has the effect of limiting the peak of the psychosis. In doing so, it limits the damage associated with the inevitable self-destructive pattern of Mass Formation & Totalitarianism.
Desmet states that not only is it meaningless to “wake people up” from this hypnosis, but it can even be dangerous unless we solve the underlying problems associated with the pre-conditions.
You cannot simply wake people up from the Corona Crisis, as they become susceptible to another narrative that can help alleviate the widespread psychological problem.
Furthermore, the manner in which people are woken up matters. Many of us have been hammering the people with data, facts, and ever-more elaborate technical considerations.
The problem here is, people are so attached to their narrative and the authorities which push the narrative, the moment you suggest they are wrong, you simultaneously trigger psychological defense mechanisms to preserve the narrative.
Desmet notes that gentle, and polite humor is very efficacious in disarming the subjects of the mass phenomenon.
A perfect example of this was when Jon Stewart appeared on Colbert and discussed the Lab Leak Origin hypothesis of Coronavirus. Stewart masterfully wakes the audience up to the non-sense of the dominant narrative. So effectively, that Colbert struggles to cope himself.
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