Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Ghent, sits down with Dr Chris Martensen of the Peak Prosperity podcast to talk about the psychological conditions of society which allowed the Covid narrative to take such a hold on people. (Video)
I have written of Desmet before, offering Why Smart People are Stupid. In this post, I will highlight some of the new (for me) points made by Desmet, or points that perhaps I have previously heard but make more sense to me today.
Desmet begins by pointing out the obvious errors in the early covid models, pointing to Sweden as an example demonstrating the nonsense behind the models. His point here is important, because his comments will move to explaining why smart people are stupid – in the face of all evidence against the corona narrative that claims to be based on science, why does the narrative continue – free-floating from all evidence?
Further, all claims of consequences that result from lockdowns and other measures were ignored – remember that the United Nations warned early on regarding the starvation and poverty that would overwhelm much larger portions of the world than would be impacted by covid.
John Mauldin offered an excellent example of this (here and here) – a smart person who is stupid, one who sees only a virus and not the devastation that the government actions will cause – this despite his own daughter suffering a stroke after losing both of her apparently “unessential” jobs at the start of the lockdowns and with her husband just having returned to school….
From all of this, Desmet concluded that the problem was not a biological problem but a psychological problem. In August of 2020, he wrote his first paper on mass formation. This requires, first, a lack of social bonds – a lack of connectedness with other people. This isn’t just physical isolation, unable to connect emotionally with other people. This was already a serious problem before the lockdowns.
For example, as evidence of this reality – a lack of social bonds even prior to the lockdowns: a loneliness minister was appointed in the UK; in the US, it was estimated that 50% of the people had connections only online; in a country like Belgium, with a population of 11 million people, each year 300 million doses of anti-depressants are used – to not even mention anti-psychotics and other such medicines.
The second requirement is a lack of meaning-making. For example, forty percent of the population experienced their job as completely meaningless. From a different poll, worldwide only thirteen percent felt their job was meaningful; over sixty percent found their job meaningless – they can sleep in their office all day.
Desmet points to the reality that the lack of meaning-making has been developing for the last two centuries. Consider, (my point, not his), that this corresponds with the Enlightenment taking full impact, the death of God, the sidelining of Christianity.
Returning to Desmet: we can have anxiety connected to a reality – we can be anxious about a roaming dog or a lion. But what we have today is free-floating anxiety – we don’t know what it is we can run away from. Martensen asks if this is something buried deep in our brains, something primitive. Desmet says no – this is an issue of today.
Finally, there has to be a lot of free-floating frustration and aggression. It will be without object – they don’t know who or why, so they accept a narrative that focusses them on an object. Then, the free-floating anxiety will connect to the object.
This will then give these anxious and aggressive people a community, a new bond. They have to accept the masks, the social distancing, the vaccine. Even if the story is utterly absurd, they have to believe in it – not because it conforms to facts, but because it offers community for those who have none.
Further, all the frustration and aggression can be directed at an object: the people who do not want to participate in the mass formation. Examples of this mass formation: the French Revolution, Stalinism, Nazi Germany. All shared the same characteristics (which says something of where we are headed today; as Pageau offered: this type of thinking can actually destroy the world or lead to tyranny…or both).
Life starts to make sense again – in and through the struggle against the coronavirus; it offers something in which “we are all in this together.” This is why they continue to believe the narrative even if it is utterly absurd. My thought: perhaps you can tell who from your friends and family had the most meaningless lives by the extent to which they continue to believe the narrative despite the facts.
There is thirty percent of the population that is really caught in this process of mass-formation. For them, the more absurd the narrative and the measures, the more they buy into it. The statement is both stunning and obvious at the same time. Stunning…well this is self-evident; obvious…this is explained by the fact that many of us gave up talking to friends and family long ago because we saw that there was no point.
Thus, we see the rituals, without pragmatic meaning (no advantages are gained by performing these rituals), and for which people have to sacrifice something. The field of vision is very narrow – the same thing happens under hypnosis. In other words, this thirty percent are hypnotized. You can take away everything from this person, even his own life, and the person will not even notice it. Desmet means this literally.
This is different than a dictatorship – the people know that they are the enemy. This describes a totalitarian state – where the people are bought in. And there is no relationship of intelligence with susceptibility to mass-formation. “Not at all.” Everyone in the mass becomes as intelligent and as stupid as the others. In fact, the most intelligent are the most completely blind.
Yet, those not in the mass must continue to speak out – this has, in other situations, successfully prevented the mass from performing atrocities. However, at the same time, Desmet points out that in the past, it was precisely when dissident voices were silenced that the totalitarian system was able to fully succeed. Desmet then goes on to describe totalitarian systems. Sadly, much of what he says we see forming today.
They move to a discussion of the controllers – those who are driving the actions. They believe that they can control everything. Desmet agrees that this is their belief, but points out that this is completely contrary to science – it is an absurd idea. Complex dynamical systems are unpredictable. This attempt to control everything will lead to only one place: self-destruction. Totalitarianism always destroys itself (again, reminding of Pageau).
For those free of this mass-formation, the best tactic is non-violent resistance, because violent resistance will always be used as justification for ever-greater totalitarian measures (and those in the mass have no problem with this). The key is finding ways to buy time, because such systems always destroy themselves.
Find those with whom you can bond. In making this point, Desmet offers an observation I first found in Robert Nisbet and his book, The Quest for Community (the first of about ten posts based on this book can be found here). It is in community where some freedom and independence can be found (and survival); it is in the state’s interest to break the bonds of every voluntarily-formed community.
Desmet believes that many of those leading this narrative know that it isn’t true, know that the measures they are pushing don’t work as advertised. But they are so desirous of shaping the world in the image that they believe is best, they are will to kill fifty percent of us – even one-hundred percent of us – in the process.
Ultimately, mass formation destroys the core of the human being, it destroys the humanity of the human being. We are human, I think, as long as we try to speak to each other.
Yes. But it will be painful. Potentially even deadly.
The crisis we face today is a symptom of the real problem, that was already faced before corona – and this is due to the mechanistic view of human beings. We are not mechanical machines.
In other words, the meaning crisis must be resolved. For this, Christianity and the natural law ethic are fundamentally necessary.