The most significant obstacle to our developing the necessary capacity to fight back against what is engulfing us is an imaginative block preventing us conceiving of the possibility that what seems to be happening could actually be happening. These things could not be happening here, now, for the very simple reason that they are the kind of thing that used to happen far away, in different times, to people who were not as ‘intelligent’ or ‘educated’ or ‘advanced’ as we are.
Dr. Mattias Desmet begs to differ with such perilous smugness. He is a professor of Clinical Psychology at Ghent University in Belgium. He lectures on Individual psycho-analytics psychotherapy, and the psychology of the crowd. He holds a master’s degree and PhD in clinical psychology, and a master’s in statistics.
As the Covid subterfuge shifts from the manufacture of mass terror concerning a dubious virus — and a related indoctrination with spurious medical data — to the mass mobilisation of mesmerised populations in silencing voices threatening to expose these crimes, Dr Desmet has emerged as the clearest and most meticulous voice describing the dangers and intimating what we need to do to offset them. A selection of his remarkable video interviews can be found at the end of this article, which I have written by way of an introduction to his thoughts and interpretations, which I believe are among the most crucial things we might hear at this precise moment.
Dr. Desmet’s observations over the past 18 months have led him to conclude that the overwhelming majority of the world’s population has indeed fallen under a kind of spell. It is not literally a spell, he stresses, but a ‘mass formation’, a term first used by Gustave Le Bon, the French philosopher who 126 years ago in The Psychology of Crowds, was the first thinker systematically to outline how herd psychology differs from that of the individual. Le Bon it was who observed that the consciousness bestowed by membership of a crowd can be transformative, possessing individual members with ‘a sort of collective mind which makes them feel, think and act in a manner quite differently from that in which each individual would feel, think and act were that person in a state of isolation.’ In such a ‘psychological crowd’, individual personality disappears, brain activity is replaced by reflex activity: a lowering of intelligence, provoking a complete transformation of sentiments, which collectively may manifest as better and worse than those of the crowd’s constituent members. A crowd may just as easily become heroic or criminal, but is generally disposed towards destruction.
‘The ascendancy of crowds,’ wrote Le Bon, ‘indicates the death throes of a civilisation.’ The upward climb to civilisation is an intellectual process driven by individuals; the descent is a herd in stampede. ‘Crowds are only useful for destruction.’
These symptoms are manifesting now, perhaps as never before, in our once free Western world, in a process substantively resembling mass hypnosis, as a collective psychological response to the unrelenting, single-focus campaign of fear to which we have all been subjected for a year and a half. Indeed, we may now have reached a stage in this process that even Le Bon did not anticipate, for now the mesmerisers have available to them tech and techniques he could scarcely have envisaged. Using electronic means, it is infinitely easier to convert the individual to the collective mindset than if he were a member of an actual physical crowd. The advent of social media has made the present situation not merely possible, but possibly inevitable.
In his own time, approaching the end of the nineteenth century, Le Bon perceived a shifting in the nature of human reflection and attention. In an odd way, his words read to us now as quasi-contemporaneous: They might have been uttered just a handful of years ago.
‘The present epoch is one of these critical moments in which the thought of mankind is undergoing a process of transformation. Two fundamental factors are at the base of this transformation. The first is the destruction of those religious, political, and social beliefs in which all the elements of our civilisation are rooted. The second is the creation of entirely new conditions of existence and thought as the result of modern scientific and industrial discoveries.’
What is called progress comes at a cost, sometimes a great cost, and that cost is rarely visible until considerably after the fact of its causation, which then becomes prone to the phenomena of historical disconnectedness and plausible deniability.
‘Nature has recourse at times to radical measures, but never after our fashion, which explains how it is that nothing is more fatal to a people than the mania for great reforms, however excellent these reforms may appear theoretically. They would only be useful were it possible to change instantaneously the genius of nations.’
The effects of such changes, mediated via the psyches of human beings, may in time provoke consequences that not only were unforeseen to begin with but may perhaps undo and outweigh any beneficial aspects. Societies craving change for its own sake are especially vulnerable. A society in tumult is ripe for destruction. But the crowd always seek to justify that which it has been told is good, and demonise that which it has been warned to eschew.
‘The masses have never thirsted after truth,’ wrote Le Bon. ‘They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim. An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will.’
Facts are as nothing to crowds, which function via a kind of collectivised imagination, operating off images and the slogans which evoke them.
‘A crowd,’ Le Bon elaborates, ‘thinks in images, and the image itself calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first. . . . A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images invoked in its mind, though they most often have only a very distant relation with the observed facts.’
Le Bon’s is one of the names most frequently dropped by Dr Mattias Desmet in the course of the interviews he has been giving in recent months, having spent some time reflecting on the situation facing the world in the light of what history and its sages has to tell it, and what he himself knows of the modern world. His interviews can be mixed in quality, but this is usually to do with the quality and interventions of interviewers, some of whom do not play to his remarkable strengths, which reside in exploring the granular nature of psychological processes as they play out in reality, and especially in collective reality. He is excellent on the way people’s projection of their own free-floating personal anxieties, frustration and aggression on to the Covid/lockdown sagas enables the ‘mass formation’ process.
Mass formation, he explains, is a form of hypnosis imposed on a crowd, a factor which we have explored in previous articles here. He is in no doubt that we speak of a literal hypnosis, with all the potential effects and symptoms of same.