by Amanda Bretz
Over the last several weeks, the term Mass Formation Psychosis exploded across the internet. The reason for the increase in search terms and memes going viral is largely due to Dr. Robert Malone’s reference to the term on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. During the interview, Malone spoke about the work of Mattias Desmet, a professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, and how Desmet posed a theory on societal conditions that allow a population to become susceptible to dangerous groupthink that is a form of hypnosis leading people to willingly surrender their freedoms.
After the Rogan podcast, listeners took the internet to learn more about the groupthink phenomenon but quickly discovered that finding a clear answer wasn’t that easy. What is Mass Formation Psychosis? Why is the definition so hard to find on the largest internet search engine (just try to find the definition on Google or DuckDuckGo)? Why is it something we need to understand at this pivotal moment in modern history?
Mass Formation Psychosis: Defined
According to Desmet’s theory, Mass Formation Psychosis occurs when our human need for social bonds and acceptance is used against us. There are specific conditions required for this phenomenon to take shape. Those conditions are: social isolation, feeling like life has no meaning, free-floating anxiety, and aggression. Although we’re currently living through Mass Formation Psychosis, the groundwork for the problem was laid prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For nearly a decade, we’ve lived through social isolation due to increasing political division, reliance on technology, and a cultural decrease of traditional family roles and community bonds. Those things alone have led to an increase in an overall lack of meaning in almost every area of life. Society as a whole is also anxious for no clear reason. Because of that anxiety, a lot of aggression has been fired at total strangers when spending time online.
Desmet’s theory says that when these conditions are present, the media can sweep in and construct a narrative that collectively controls the masses by playing on the very conditions that increase fear and anxiety. The group being controlled feels a sense of accomplishment because now they have a place to channel all their anxiety and create a new social bond by fighting a perceived common enemy.
This experience leads to a sort of “mental intoxication” that hooks people. Data and circumstances can change, but their viewpoint won’t change because it’s not about the information. It’s about the social bond and a feeling of solidarity with others in their group. Latching onto this crisis of the moment gives people meaning and a narrative to believe in. They want to cling to that narrative because they finally feel as though they’re part of something. Their lives finally have meaning. If they let go of what they have come to believe, they will return to their previously meaningless life. They won’t listen to facts that go against the narrative they cling to. They’re just not interested in giving up their newfound sense of belonging, no matter how strongly their perception has been upended.
Groupthink is especially powerful at the moment. If you read any newspaper, I don’t have to tell you that the stakes are incredibly high. Leaders in the US and across the globe are pushing to relinquish all our civil liberties, using medical segregation, forced vaccination, and the installation of technology that will allow endless tracking of every aspect of our lives. Obviously, the more people willingly surrender their freedoms, the more likely humans will be enslaved in the future.
But how can we awaken an entire segment of the population that doesn’t appear to want to wake up?
Desmet says there is some hope for reaching people who are under this hypnosis. Continually speaking truth helps break the spell they’re under. Even though it’s uncomfortable at times to speak out, it’s extremely necessary, now more than ever. Besides speaking out, Desmet says the most important thing to do is to practice forms of “nonviolent resistance”. That means peaceful noncompliance is the surest path to regaining our freedoms.
My hope is that I’ve reached at least one person and I’ve inspired them to be more courageous. I, too, am newly familiar with the term Mass Formation Psychosis as a way to understand what has happened to our society. I’m no expert on the subject; I’m a concerned American who believes it is my duty to search for truth and speak up.
As the saying goes, we may not be able to wake up all the sheep, but we will be able to awaken other lions.
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Amanda Bretz is a contributing writer for The Flame, a newspaper on a mission to fight tyranny and censorship by distributing “truth bombs” across America and inspiring widespread citizen-led action to spread COMMON SENSE and TRUTH like WILDFIRE across AMERICA. Bretz is also head of feature and professional writing for Freelance Services LLC.