Written by Dr Wanda Skowronska
Since early 2020, some psychologists have looked deeply at the changes in society since the Covid phenomenon took over the globe. Among them, and perhaps the most prescient, is Matthias Desmet, Professor in Clinical Psychology at Ghent University, who also has a Masters in Statistics. He, like most around the world, was affected by the first global-wide fear of the Coronavirus and listened attentively to the statistical information given on the mass media.
By May 2020, Desmet realised that something was wrong and that the death rate, concerning as it was, was greatly over-estimated. For example, he states that the Imperial College London predicted that by the end of May, 2020, 80,000 in Sweden would die within months if they did not go into lockdown, but he noted that 6,000 died in the period specified.[i] Similar errors were made for other countries, for example over half a million deaths were predicted in the short term for Britain by Neil Ferguson – also greatly mistaken.[ii] While the statistics were presented as a result of ‘scientific analysis’, they were wrong but no admissions of error were made. At this point, Desmet turned from his statistical analysis to psychological analysis. He asked why so many people could be taken in by errors and outlandish predictions.
As a psychologist, Desmet recognised that what was facing him was what he termed ‘mass formation’, that is, a phenomenon that affects groups, societies and even countries. It arose out of the study of social psychology in the past century, where entire nations and groups of nations bought into a narrative at the same time. For ‘mass formation’ to happen, Desmet said there had to be four conditions:
- A wide lack of social connectedness high rates of depression and suicide. This was evident BEFORE Covid hit.
- A lack of meaning making. With the loss of religious or cultural shared stories, people look elsewhere for meaning, or stay in a generally unhappy state.
- Arising from these previous two points, there is a free-floating anxiety, a sense of unease without any awareness of its cause. If you see a lion coming at you, this is very specific fear. But fear arising out a lack of meaning and social connection remains diffuse, ever present, without any specific representation. It is, Desmet says, an extremely painful state and people look for something to connect their anxiety to.
- Free-floating frustration and anger arising from the previous three points. There is widespread unease and nowhere to direct it. [iii]
Suddenly, Desmet explains, a new narrative is given on all the media platforms of the world – we are told a very dangerous virus can threaten our lives and we are galvanised with fear. Suddenly the free-floating anxiety finds a representation of its fear which it could not find before in the alienated state of existence. In finding this object of fear, there is also a global invitation to come together to fight it – a new collective sense which creates social bonds, gives meaning to daily life. There is a high level of connectedness, in the sense of fighting a heroic battle against the object of anxiety. There arise rituals which emphasise that ‘we’re all in this together’ and ‘Don’t be a granny killer’, which were British devised slogans permeating the media around the world. In fact, Desmet says, no matter how absurd the ritual, people are very willing to participate in it, to show they belong to a group. That is the function of rituals, to unite people in a common purpose. So, when people applauded the NHS in Britain, people felt connected with everyone in their own front yard with others. This kind of behaviour was carefully shaped by British behavioural psychology organisation, as investigative journalist Laura Dodsworth explains in her book A State of Fear (2021).[iv] Dodsworth is pro vax in general but was astounded in this situation to learn how public responses to the Covid situation were manipulated and her work outlines factual origins for the mental intoxication of fear. She asks, ‘why do governments use fear?’ explaining that a meta-analysis of its use clearly shows ‘messages with fear are nearly twice as effective as messages without fear.’[v] The pandemic, while real, gave a way into generating and maintaining fear as a means of ongoing social and political control. She says the British government took advice from several behavioural insight teams: RICU, the Home Office’s Research, Information and Communications Unit; the Rapid Response Unit, based in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office; the Counter Disinformation Cell; the 77th Brigade, an army unit combining media and psychological operations; and Perhaps the most important of all was the SPI-B, the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) which focused on shaping our attitudes. [vi]
Meantime, Professor Desmet, who says he is a factual, logical person, noted that after the continual repetition of announcements in the 592 days, social behaviours and views changed. He noted that mass formation, a kind of hypnosis, had indeed set in. As in individual cases of hypnosis, people displayed little regard to every other measure of wellbeing. The focus is very specifically on a particular thing. For example, in daily fear-laden reports, about ‘flattening the curve’, there was no other discussion of how to build up the immune system. Desmet noted:
Through the lens of mass formation, it becomes clear that their narrow focus on just a singular goal – safety from Covid – prevented them from noticing other real-world harms and consequences. It is for this same reason that skyrocketing mental health issues, drug abuses, and suicides go ignored to this day. If it isn’t directly about Covid, then it isn’t an issue.[vii]
This hypnotic concentration on one thing only, that is, the constant media Covid narrative, led people to watch the daily reports on TV, read by medical bureaucrats. Here in Australia it took the form of the Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) being endowed with godlike status. Along with this total focus, arises what Desmet calls “fascistic intolerance to competing outlooks.” The intolerance is a natural self-defence manoeuvre because the psyche would have to confront reality that contradicts its purpose-filled state. Also challenging the current reality would bring people back to the initial anxiety and discontent that lay the ground for the mass formation in the first place. And people in general do not want to be shifted from the sense of community, meaning and purpose which they previously lacked – to go back to the old reality. In fact, Desmet says the resistance is quite fierce. So entrenched is the fear of Covid that people can literally not process or handle the endless studies and statistics that question what they hold to be true. They cannot listen to evidence that lockdowns don’t work, vaccines have problems, other treatments do work, liberties are being crushed, and so on.
Desmet states that if it seems that many are living under a sort of hypnosis, unable to consider other realities, it is because they are. He refers to the work of Gustav Le Bon who wrote a prescient book on mass psychology in 1895 entitled Psychologie des Foules (literally, The Psychology of Crowds). Le Bon claimed that “an individual immersed for some length of time in a crowd soon finds himself … in a special state, which much resembles the state of fascination in which the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotizer.”[viii] When people are under hypnosis, their field of attention is very narrow. Operations cutting through their skin cause no pain. Attempts to draw them further afield meets with simple resistance and the hypnotised person ignores any invitation to consider other issues. When the scientific results of well-known researchers are brought before those under hypnotic mass formation, they simply reject them. In our day, most are swayed by the media narrative which claims other studies are not scientific, when in fact they are, done by renowned scientists according to strictest scientific methods. The fact that the drug Ivermectin, used in India’s Uttar Pradesh, with a population of 240 million people, virtually eliminated Covid, is sidelined or deleted from consideration.This phenomenal result in Uttar Pradesh, which should be cause for rejoicing, not unease.
The successful treatments of Covid, especially with Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, among others, are a new reality which would require a reassessment. It is interesting that those who report Ivermectin’s positive results such as Professor Thomas Borody, Dr Tess Lawrie, Dr Ryan Cole, Dr Pierre Kori, among other researchers, are NOT anti-vaccination – and state so openly- they simply ask questions of THIS set of vaccinations, presented to the world. They simply present evidence-based studies to show the effectiveness of OTHER means of treatment. Ivermectin, the anti-parasitic, anti-viral drug, whose initial developers, William C. Campbell, and Satoshi Ōmura initially called Avermectin, wiped out many conditions such as river blindness (onchocerciasis), strongyloidiasis, scabies and other viral illnesses. For this Campbell and Ōmura they won the Nobel Prize in 2015. They never claimed it cured Covid19 – this was found ‘along the way’ in 2020 by doctors who were desperate to find some treatment in the absence of early treatment protocols. In trying this safe broad-spectrum anti-viral, doctors were surprised at its effectiveness in treating Covid especially if given in the early stages. They followed the science and began to do specific studies. Despite the evidence (which was dismissed as ‘not enough’ or ‘not recommended’ by the TGA and FDA), the results continued to show its effectiveness. One can simply ask – why were scientists not allowed to present and debate their evidence-based research on media platforms? Professor Borody, a researcher with immensely higher qualifications than many of the medical bureaucrats who were dealing out ‘best medical advice, was on such media platforms for a short while, but as the date of vaccination release neared, the interest went cold.
Among many medical professionals and researchers, however, the interest did not go cold. In 2021, more than 5,200 doctors and scientists signed the “The Physicians Declaration” which condemns policymakers for authoritarian approaches in forcing a “one-size-fits-all” COVID-19 treatment strategy on all, resulting in “needless illness and death.” [ix]
American Dr Ardis has brought up another constantly dismissed research finding. He explains that the drug Remdesevir, was reported as having adverse consequences in drug trials, in fact an inordinate number of deaths, facts reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (Dec 12, 2019).[x] Yet, despite the findings of this trial, the drug was recommended for treatment in US hospitals and in many Australian hospitals from 2020 onwards. Dr Ardis, among others was astounded and urged avoiding Remdesivir and adopting alternate protocols. The media, however, ignored this. In fact such discussion was met with fierce resistance for questioning the narrative. Mass formation exhibits a radical intolerance of dissident voices. In fact, this leads to anger directed at these who question the dominant narrative and even suggestions by one Sydney radio announcer that ‘all unvaxed should be locked up’.
Desmet says that mass formation can lead to a lack of empathy for dangers other than that of Covid – deaths from hunger (due to lockdown), deaths from other illnesses, psychological health, the loss of jobs by those who cannot take the virus for whatever reason. Individual rights are sacrificed to the ‘social’ good – there is a moralisation of policies, all for the collective – except for those who question the current findings. Desmet claims that mass formation is the precursor to a totalitarian society. Mass formation needs an enemy, and the sense of the enemy increases as time moves on.
Researchers of mass formation find that usually 30% get ‘hypnotised’ and go along with the dominant narrative, 40% go along with them, and 30% resist it. The latter group covers a wide group in society, are not as suggestible to mass formation, and do not comprise any one religious or political group. Thus, in Australia, we see Byron Bay new agers, Catholics with statues of Our Lady, left wing and right-wing workers appearing at Freedom Marches in all states. Interestingly Desmet states that it is generally more intelligent people who are susceptible to Mass Formation and become the respected transmitters of the dominant narrative. The 95% vaxed touted on the media includes many very unhappily vaxed, and no doubt part of the 30% who were against it.
Does this state of Mass Formation ever dissipate? Desmet says that history shows that, reality does eventually seep in, and the ‘spell’ of the mass fades. He suggests talking to those under such mass hypnosis in a thoughtful, deliberate way can work at times. As does some polite, gentle humour pointed at the erroneous statistics, exaggerated claims and rituals.
Desmet, one of the few who has seen through the times on a psychological level, says that it is important to continue opposition to the dominant narrative in an era of Mass Formation. He adds, once such voices are silenced, the violence begins. When history looks back on periods of such Mass Formation, such as occurred in the Soviet and Nazi periods, the opposing voices acquire a significance beyond their numbers. These voices, like that of Desmet, do not deny Covid, nor are they anti-vax, they simply question the scientific facts of the vaccines, seek scientific discussion and present scientific studies of alternative treatments. They state what scientists should welcome – that the science is not settled, that new developments are occurring all the time. There are other narratives beyond the dominant one deserving of scrutiny and consideration.
[i] See text and video: Professor Mattias Desmet, ‘Why do so many still buy into the narrative,’ Professor Matthias Desmet interviewed by Dan Astin-Gregory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLDpZ8daIVM;
Also: ‘Why do ‘Mass Formation and Totalitarian Thinking in This Time of Global Crisis’ https://ratical.org/PandemicParallaxView/EyeOfTheStorm-ProfMattiasDesmet.html?fbclid=IwAR2V2ajtBvsn73cL5t4U9qLdAoKbHqoV7O00pAd_sVhOUavFFIC4d4EvZBs
[ii] Phillip Magness, ‘Imperial College Predicted Catastrophe in Every Country on Earth. Then the Models Failed,’ American Institute for Economic Research, May 5, 2021 https://www.aier.org/article/imperial-college-predicted-catastrophe-in-every-country-on-earth-then-the-models-failed/
[iii] Professor Mattias Desmet, “Is the Coronavirus Virus part of a Totalitarian Mass Hypnosis?”, Aug 2, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtxCVXaeyME; Parker Beauregard, “Mass Formation: The Psychological Term to Describe Society’s Brain Melting”, The Blue State Conservative, October 8, 2021. https://thebluestateconservative.com/2021/10/08/mass-formation-the-psychological-term-to-describe-societys-brain-melting/?fbclid=IwAR2nwuO7hHpWDWodoyosJkkPsq-IpNuaTe3xCk_GjPD51634DB6Q-5CkkVU
[iv] Laura Dodsworth, A State of Fear (UK, Printer and Martin, 2021), 55ff.
[v] Ibid., 54.
[vi] Ibid., 55ff.
[vii] Marlies Dekkers, “Mass Formation: The Psychological Term to Describe Society’s Brain Melting”.
[viii] Jaap van Ginneken. Crowds, psychology, and politics, 1871-1899.(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 131.
[x] Malangu et al. “A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Ebola Virus Disease Therapeutics”, New England Journal of Medicine, Dec 12, 2019. Available online: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1910993