MATTIAS DESMET Breaks Down Mass Formation and Totalitarianism in New PERSPECTIVES ON THE PANDEMIC Interview
In a new interview with John Kirby of Perspectives on the Pandemic, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ghent University Mattias Desmet gives new insights into the phenomenon of “mass formation,” as well as the perils of totalitarianism.
“How is it possible that an entire society—experts and population included—don’t see what’s happening; or continue to buy into a narrative that is blatantly wrong… in many respects?”
“The totalitarian state always becomes a monster that devours its own children.”-Mattias Desmet
(NOTE: The interview with Desmet is embedded twice, with a BitChute embed—top—as a backup for the one on YouTube, bottom.)
Filmmaker John Kirby is back with a new episode of the Perspectives on the Pandemic series of interviews, this time featuring Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ghent University Mattias Desmet. Desmet, who’s still teaching at the Belgian university, further elaborates on the “mass formation” the world has been in since the beginning of 2020; noting the societal-wide psychological phenomenon has made people “one way or another, unable to think critically, and to consider critically what they believe in,” forcing them to “think all the same.”
Desmet, whose point of view has entered the zeitgeist thanks to outspoken professionals like Dr. Robert Malone, expounds on the theory of “mass formation” in the interview above. The professor of psychology—who also has a degree in statistics—says the societal-wide phenomenon is “identical to hypnosis” in the way it affects the mind. By focusing people’s attention on one specific issue—in this instance, COVID-19—mass formation disallows them from seeing the rest of the world clearly.
The hypnotist in the context of surgery “focuses the attention of someone on one small aspect of reality and, consequently, the patient is not aware anymore of [the world around them]” Desmet tells Kirby. By focusing everyone’s attention solely on the “novel coronavirus,” Desmet says, people have been unable to process the downsides of supposed “public health measures” like lockdowns and masking. There is “no psychological impact” produced by these downsides, and people consequently don’t recognize “their wealth, their health, the future of their children and so on” are slipping away.
In order for mass formation to take hold Desmet says four “very specific” conditions must be met so a population is primed for the phenomenon. The four conditions are as follows:
1. People must feel socially isolated
As Desmet notes, even prior to 2020 social isolation had been on the rise (in the Western world, at least). He cites, for example, the fact that U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy warned in 2017 that there is a “loneliness epidemic” ongoing in the U.S. Likewise, the professor of psychology notes that in 2018 then Prime Minister of the U.K. Theresa May appointed one of her ministers to “lead on issues of loneliness.”
2. People must have a lack of meaning in life
Desmet notes that the first condition feeds into the second condition, which is a lack of meaning in life. The professor notes that “once there are a lot of people who feel socially isolated… [they] start to wonder what the meaning of their life is.” This is because, Desmet explains, people are social animals. And “if they are not connected to others, they will start to wonder what the meaning of their lives is.”
Desmet also cites a 2013 Gallup Poll that found “Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work… .” (Gallup specifically found that “across 19 Western European countries, 14% of employees are engaged, while a significantly higher 20% are actively disengaged.”)
3. People must have “free-floating” anxiety
“Free-floating is a kind of anxiety that is not connected to a mental representation,” Desmet says. “So, usually, when you feel anxious—or if someone feels anxious—he or she knows what he feels anxious for. For instance, a dangerous animal or a dangerous dog… people can connect their anxiety to a mental representation, or an object of anxiety. If this is not the case, we call the anxiety free-floating,” he adds.
Desmet adds that if “you feel anxiety without knowing what you feel anxious for, then your anxiety is much harder to mentally control. So it means that you don’t know the object of your anxiety, and hence, you cannot think of a strategy to deal with that object of anxiety. People who are in this state, they typically try to find an object of anxiety just to be able to manage and to deal with the anxiety.”
4. People must have “free-floating” anger and frustration
People having “free-floating” aggression and frustration “follows logically from the first three pre-conditions,” Desmet says. “If some one feels socially isolated, experiences a lack of meaning making, is confronted with a lot of free-floating anxiety, he will typically feel frustrated and aggressive without really knowing what he feels frustrated and aggressive for. And consequently he will try to find an object to direct and to aim all this frustration and aggression at.
“If these four conditions are fulfilled, and the narrative is distributed through the mass media, indicating an object of anxiety, and at the same time, providing a strategy to deal with this object of anxiety, then all this free-floating anxiety… might connect to this object of anxiety indicated in the narrative,” Desmet says. “And people might be [extraordinarily] willing to participate in the strategy to deal with the object of anxiety. That’s the first step.”
Once a society has fulfilled these criteria, all of its free-floating anxiety hooks up with the object of anxiety. Then, as the society coalesces to deal with the object, “a new kind of social bond emerges.” And that, Desmet says, is the most important aspect of mass formation.
“This new social bond, which was typically experienced in the Soviet Union, but also in Nazi Germany, and I believe also now in the corona crisis… [forms] a new kind of solidarity,” Desmet says. And “a new kind of citizenship.”
“That is the reason people buy into ‘the narrative'” Desmet says. And “the reason people continue to buy into the ‘narrative,’ even if the ‘narrative’ becomes utterly absurd.'” (Emphasis Desmet’s.)
Much of the actions taken by individuals—e.g. masks in the case of COVID—“function as a ritual” according to Desmet. Furthermore, these rituals—which require a sacrifice of the individual—help somebody to signal to their peers that they agree that “the collective is more important than the individual.”
The social bond—the new kind of solidarity—is not with other individuals in society, however. Rather it is “between the individual and the group or collective.” Indeed, Desmet says that during mass formation “bonds between individuals deteriorate,” which is why in “totalitarian states, there is typically a paranoid atmosphere.”
Desmet makes clear, however, that mass formation gives way to totalitarianism—not a dictatorship. Unlike a classical dictatorship, which sees a single dictator silence opposition with violence before returning to a more subdued baseline—“just because he has enough common sense to realize that he has to show to the population, to the people, that he will be a good leader for them”—the totalitarian state starts to grow aggressive after the silencing of opposing voices. And, not just aggressive, but “aggressive in an absurd way.” And that is, according to Desmet, because of the fact that in a totalitarian state, “both the population and the leaders are hypnotized. The two of them.”
The “center of gravity is situated in the mass [of people]” with totalitarianism Desmet says. This means that, again, unlike a classical dictatorship, top leaders are interchangeable. Kirby offers the example of Governor Andrew Cuomo being replaced by Governor Kathy Hochul.
Not only are leaders genuinely enamored with their “ideologies”—as opposed to “the narrative,” which they consciously know to be false (see Gavin Newsom at the French Laundry)—according to Desmet, but they’re also “convinced we cannot tackle [society wide] problems in a democratic way.”
As for what totalitarian leaders idealize? A technocracy, according to Desmet. And “transhumanism to deal with all these problems.”
“There are several options for the ‘new normal,'” Desmet says. Although he says “the transhumanist new normal won’t make anybody happy.” To “wake people up,” however, those who are already “awake” will need to encourage those still stuck in the mass formation that there are several options to consider for the new normal; not just the one pitched by big government, big pharma, and the mainstream media. Although one of those options cannot ever be “the old normal” ever again. Desmet says to pitch the old normal to those in a mass formation only forces them to dig their heels in deeper as escaping the old normal is precisely the reason they’ve gone along with all of this “COVID-19 theater.” (To use Governor DeSantis’ description.)
If enough people aren’t woken up, the totalitarian state will continue growing, and, according to Desmet, become “a monster that devours its own children.” Fighting the monster is harder than it would seem, however, as only those outside the mass formation can grapple with it. And those very same people, it seems, are always on the brink of joining the crowd.
“We always think that people just want to be free, but that’s not true,” Desmet says. “We’re also scared to be free.”
Feature image: Perspectives on the Pandemic via Sparemethelies
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