By David Marks
Historians analyzing the Covid-19 pandemic will one day consider what was going on in the minds of those who supported a narrative that only served profits and power. Looking back, they will greatly appreciate the analysis of contemporary experts, particularly Mattias Desmet, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences at Ghent University in Belgium. He is recognized as a leading thinker in his field, and has written over one hundred peer-reviewed academic papers.
Desmet has presented his understanding of human behavior in response to the pandemic and vaccine policies to forums and international media. His book on the topic, The Psychology of Totalitarianism, will be published in June of 2022. It examines the emotional climate that has allowed a singular, focused, crisis narrative that forbids dissenting views and relies on destructive groupthink.
The central tenet of Desmet’s evaluation of the emotional response to the pandemic rests on the psychological concept of mass formation. It is a general term that applies to individual, group, and crowd behavior as influenced by the manipulations and conduct of dominant social forces. The concept is not new — nor is it in any way a stretch to apply it in analyzing the extensive anxiety driving the attitudes and demeanor of billions of people during the world-wide pandemic.
Mass formation can be associated with mass psychosis, a disturbance in the minds of small or large groups — to the degree where there is a loss of contact with reality — often with an eclipse of morality and objectification of an imagined enemy.
The hostile and dismissive response to Desmet’s perspective on the pandemic’s emotional climate is both fascinating and revelatory.
Enter The Media
Desmet was interviewed by a number of prominent individuals in a variety of media outlets, with his views on the current rise of mass formation taken seriously by some of the public and medical professionals with open minds. Detractors quickly appeared in an attempt to minimize his impact.
When Dr. Robert Malone, respected veteran expert in molecular biology and a pioneer in mRNA research, discussed and amplified Desmet’s theory on the “Joe Rogan Experience,” a threshold seemed to have been crossed. Mainstream media and medical websites went into high gear pronouncing mass formation as discredited and bunk. The distain for anyone invoking the term was overt. Medpage Today reported, “It sounds like the name of your friend’s failed high school band.”
The vast majority of criticism had little to say about the reasonable theory that government representatives, a huge portion of the medical profession and at least one-third of the general population had fallen into a trance. And most importantly, there was no willingness to consider that there might be a powerful psychological force skewing judgement and provoking irrational behavior.
In a show of reflexive impulsive bias, media coverage claimed that the concept of mass formation did not exist. This response simply revealed how the process of mass formation blinds the minds of scientists and journalists.
Widely attributed press sources, including Reuters, quickly found experts who said that, “Mass formation psychosis is not an academic term recognized in the field of psychology, nor is there evidence of any such phenomenon occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.” To ensure readers need not fear they were under any spell, they advised, “numerous psychologists have also told Reuters that such a condition is not officially recognized.”
Mass formation was also dismissed in a number of articles because it is not mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a simplified clinical guide to individual psychiatric disorders that does not cover crowd psychology.
Not Necessarily The News
The blast of commentary was presented as objective news, yet the press response directly conflicts with the knowledge of prominent psychotherapists, including luminaries who enriched the modern understanding of the human psyche, such as Scipio Sighele, Gustave Le Bon, Elio Cannetti, and Hannah Arendt.
In his 1921 book on Crowd Psychology and Ego Analysis, the founder of psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud, discusses mass formation and its ramifications, saying, “The strangest and at the same time most important phenomenon of mass formation is the increase in affectivity evoked in each individual (as) exaltation or intensification of emotion.”
The preeminent psychiatrist, Carl Jung, highlights mass formation in his prescient 1957 book, The Undiscovered Self, on the state of mankind and the dangers of modern materialism. His perspective is foundational, relative to Desmet’s recent findings:
“Under the influence of scientific assumptions, not only the psyche but the individual man and, indeed, all individual events whatsoever suffer a leveling down and a process of blurring that distorts the picture of reality into a conceptual average. We ought not to underestimate the psychological effect of the statistical world picture: it displaces the individual in favor of anonymous units that pile up into mass formations.”
Despite a wealth of historical precedents, the reaction to Desmet’s ideas was bizarre and unfounded. A renowned and respected psychotherapist had postulated that we might need to reconsider the unconscious response to lockdowns and mandates — and his ideas were summarily dismissed by the voice of the state.
The diagnosis is clear. Deriding mass formation and dismissing its influence during a global crisis is in itself a verification of the phenomenon. Mainstream media demonstrates how it perpetuates mass formation by indulging in another well-accepted psychological phenomenon: denial.
Read the rest of the article here.
David Marks is a veteran writer and documentary film producer. He was the originator and lead investigator for the BBC/PBS co-production of Nazi Gold – revealing the role of Switzerland in World War II – and one of the most widely viewed documentaries on television. David’s new book, “The Way,” is an interpretation of the Chinese classic, the Tao Te Ching, available at LaoTzu-TheWay.org.
4 thoughts on “Opinion: Deriding mass formation is a verification of the phenomenon”
“Deriding mass formation and dismissing its influence during a global crisis is in itself a verification of the phenomenon.”
With all due respect for the rest of the article, this sentence is not true. You might as well say that denial of white fragility proves the phenomenon of white fragility. Or that denial of insanity is proof of insanity. This is a kafkatrap and is bad logic.
It’s like saying that if you criticize the theory of CRT, then that proves that the theory is true.
Here’s an excellent summary of everything that mass formation is about: https://margaretannaalice.substack.com/p/letter-to-the-menticided-a-12-step?s=r.
We need to consider, especially, how science is being abused in order to serve other agendas. Many readers of TNR can see this in climate (pseudo)science as well as in the abuse of science that happened, and is still happening, during Covid.
“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”– title of a famous drawing by Goya. There’s a very interesting connection among fantastical thinking, the occult, the sleep of reason, and the rise of eugenics and Nazism. And in this connection, let’s recognize that contrary to popular opinion, Ukraine really is full of neo-Nazis, and the US is supporting them. We are being taught, however, that Putin is an evil monster and his actions are entirely unjustified. This is simply propaganda. The story is much more nuanced than that.
Third Reich: lots of mythology went into that regime and pseudoscience as well. The most famous pseudoscience then was eugenics. This regime was primarily biomedical in nature: everything was done in the name of purifying the race according to a mythology of a master race.
Today, we’re seeing the rise of pseudoscience in Covid-19 as well as in climate science. Covid was/is a bizarre denial of real science and a worshiping of “data” that was essentially cherry-picked to prove whatever was desired to be proved. Climate science is an insistence on defending a speculative theory and confusing causation in order to defend that theory. CRT is built on a myth that America was founded to perpetuate slavery– an absurd assertion easily countered by historical facts. But CRT also perpetuates a fallacy of universal attribution: because one thing happened in one time or place or among a certain group of people, then that thing happens everywhere and at all times to everyone. So yes, racism existed and does exist: no one can deny that. But it’s not universal and it’s not as ongoing and systematic as its proponents would have us believe.
The sleep of reason: Covid, climate science, and CRT are all promoting myths and logical fallacies and groupthink that are precursors to dangerous tendencies. Nazism grew out of irrationality such as this– the monsters that arise when reason sleeps. CRT is an exact parallel this sleep of reason, and in fact we can easily see elements of eugenics in it as it pretends that one’s skin color is determinant, and that the universal evils of that skin color must be countered.
Wonderful, insightful commentary.
Comments are closed.