The Psychology of Mass Phenomena – How We Got To Where We are Now?

In the video below is Mattias Desmet. He is a Professor in Clinical Psychology, at the Ghent University, Belgium. He also has a Masters Degree in Statistics.

He is being interviewed here by Dr. Reiner Fuellmich.

I am going to set out what he says in the introduction, almost word for word, as I’ve just spent hours going back over my blogs – they have been censored and many links disappeared, no longer available. Some of them only had a vague opinion posted alongside them by me, so I don’t even know what the missing links were about specifically. If this YouTube video ever gets deleted, we will at least have the intro to the interview, written up here!




He talks about how, at the beginning of the Covid crisis last year, he was studying the statistics and the numbers and he noticed that they were often wrong, blatantly wrong, and at the same time, people continued to believe in it and go along with the mainstream narrative. And that is why he decided to study the crisis from the perspective of mass psychology, because he knew that ‘mass formation’ had a huge impact on an individual’s intelligence and cognitive functioning, and he felt that this was the only thing that could explain why highly intelligent people, started to believe in a narrative and the numbers that in many respects were utterly absurd.

He talks about 4 things that need to exist or be in place, for mass phenomena to emerge.

They are:

  1. There needs to be a lot of socially isolated people, people who experience a lack of social bond.

2. There needs to be a lot of people who experience a lack of sense-making in life.

3. There needs to be a lot of free-floating anxiety

4. There needs to be a lot of free-floating psychological discontent

These last two refer to anxiety and discontent that is not connected to a specific representation – it needs to be in the mind without people being able to connect it to something.

If you have these four conditions, societies are at high risk of the emergence of mass phenomena.

All of these things already existed shortly before this crisis! Epidemic of burnout, people hating their jobs, massive numbers of people on anti-depressants etc. etc. …

The Professor explains that free-floating anxiety is the one of the most painful psychological phenomena that someone can experience, extremely painful – it leads to panic attacks and all kinds of psychologically painful experiences, so what people want in this situation, is something to which they can connect their anxiety. They are looking for some kind of explanation for their anxiety.

And now, if this free-floating anxiety is highly present in a population, and the media provide a narrative which indicates an object of anxiety, and at the same time, describe a strategy to deal with this object of anxiety, then all the anxiety connects to this object, and people are willing to follow this strategy to deal with this object, no matter what the cost is. That is what happens in the beginning stages of mass formation.

THEN …in a second step, people start a collective and heroic battle against this object of anxiety, and in that way a new kind of social bond emerges and a new kind of sense-making. Suddenly, life is all directed at battling the object of anxiety and in this way, establishing a new connection with other people.

And that sudden switch of a negative state – a radical lack of social connection to the opposite – to the massive social connection that is experienced in a crowd, that sudden switch leads to a sort of mental intoxication. And that’s what makes mass or crowd formation the exact equivalent to hypnosis.


So what happens, is that at that moment, when people experience that mental intoxication, it doesn’t matter anymore whether the narrative is correct or wrong, or even blatantly wrong. What matters is that it leads up to this mental intoxication, and thats why they continue to go along with this narrative, even if they could know, by thinking for one second, that it is wrong,

It’s a really interesting look at how we got to where we are right now, and what needs to happen to change things. Strap yourselves in!

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