What Is Mass Formation Psychosis?
Since the release of Joe Rogan's recent episode with Dr. Robert Malone, fact-checkers have stayed busy "debunking" the existence of mass psychosis in modern society. Dr. Malone explains the phenomenon in the controversial podcast episode by providing listeners with the following definition.
“The answer is mass formation psychosis,” he says, “When society becomes decoupled from each other and has a free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don't make sense…Then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point, just like hypnosis."
So now, psychologists are saying that Dr. Malone’s mass formation psychosis theory is invalid since the term isn’t even found in psychiatric literature, even though there’s proof out there of Covid-19 inducing mass hysteria in the general population. Terms like mass hysteria (also known as mass psychogenic illness), emotional contagion, and groupthink are seen as valid in the psychiatric community, but they’re apparently different from what Dr. Malone is proposing. To investigate Malone’s claims further, let’s dissect his explanation as well as the meaning of all of the “valid” psychiatric terms in relation to social psychology.
Psychosis: Psychosis is when someone loses touch with reality. It can be triggered by many things like schizophrenia and other illnesses, trauma, extreme stress, and physical injuries.
Mass Hysteria: Mass psychogenic illness or mass hysteria is a contagious dissociative state that takes place in groups of people. An example is when a group of people start to feel sick together, even if there is no reason for them to be sick.
Mass hysteria is a contagious dissociative state that takes place in groups of people.
Groupthink: This happens when group loyalty and adherence are more important than making the right decisions. The group usually doesn’t question their own competency or morality, they believe firmly in their ideologies and find it difficult to express their individuality, since conforming is more important than anything else.
In learning all of these terms, we can surmise what Dr. Malone meant by “mass formation psychosis.” I believe it’s the idea that a large group of people has lost touch with reality due to a traumatic experience or extreme stress – in this case, we can say that maybe Covid-19 or the lockdowns caused it. During the pandemic, conflicting information rose from both sides: the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of masks, vaccines, lockdowns, and more, causing the “free-floating anxiety” in the population that Dr. Malone talked about. This, coupled with isolation and quarantining, broke down enough people to the point of losing their will, thus lacking the ability to make their own decisions and instead leaving it all to the “trusted leaders” of science.
How Totalitarians Control a Population through Loneliness
In the book The Origins of Totalitarianism by philosopher Hannah Arendt, she notes that individuals who were alone and separated from each other were more susceptible to mass delusions and psychosis. In a totalitarian society, she referred to a specific group of people as the “masses,” apathetic and easily swayed individuals who are a result of indoctrination, manipulation, and programming. They become obedient and make the perfect pawns for authoritarian regimes. And the best way to shape the “masses,” Arendt states, is through isolation.
In an article discussing how totalitarianism control is rooted in isolation, the following quote summarizes the phenomenon: “Totalitarianism uses isolation to deprive people of human companionship, making action in the world impossible, while destroying the space of solitude. The iron-band of totalitarianism, as Arendt calls it, destroys man’s ability to move, to act, and to think, while turning each individual in his lonely isolation against all others, and himself. The world becomes a wilderness, where neither experience nor thinking are possible.”
“Totalitarianism uses isolation to deprive people of human companionship, making action in the world impossible.”
Is it possible that lockdown mandates at the start of the pandemic caused people to turn against each other and even themselves like Arendt suggests? Studies have proven that lockdown participants reported higher rates of moderate to severe depression. So while many people stayed in the comfort of their own home to avoid the virus per government orders, the social isolation came with consequences, and depression and anxiety rose in those quarantining as well as the general population. Arendt paints loneliness caused by isolation as a damaging weapon used by extreme political regimes. And it seems she’s right.
Are People Really Hypnotized?
Lastly, let’s go over Dr. Malone’s claim that these individuals are basically hypnotized after their attention is placed on a specific leader (Hmm, like Fauci?) or event (vaccine mandates). And I get it, the idea of society being under some sort of spell seems absolutely crazy to some people – but hypothetically speaking, if society really was under hypnosis, well, they wouldn’t even realize it. But then again, is it really that crazy of an idea when it’s documented that the CIA intended to hypnotize Americans into becoming loyal to the point of causing split personalities during the Cold War? Personally, I think that dismissing the possibility of mass indoctrination and programming is even more asinine.
So now that we’re done theorizing Dr. Malone’s explanation, let’s look at some of the terms we discussed that are valid. Again, the mainstream argument is that “mass formation psychosis” is an unrecognizable term – but so what? (PTSD wasn’t acknowledged as a real condition until 1980 and look how commonly accepted it is now.) It doesn’t take a psychologist to see that millions of Americans are exhibiting the signs of groupthink, as described by the “eight symptoms of groupthink, including illusions of invulnerability, unquestioned beliefs, rationalizing, stereotyping, self-censorship, ‘mind guards,’ illusions of unanimity, and direct to pressure.”
The unquestioned beliefs, rationalizing, stereotyping, and “mind guarding” can be seen on both sides today. So sure, Dr. Malone may have used a term that isn't recognized in psychiatric circles, but his intended message isn’t wrong – the people showing such strong adherence to certain ideologies, and even criticizing or demonizing those who disagree, are all exhibiting signs of delusions of grandeur, a form of psychosis, all caused by loneliness, uncertainty, and confusion imposed by government control.
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