An excellent video of Aubrey Marcus interviewing Prof Mattias Desmet discussing mass formation, a form of psychological hypnosis, which is what we are seeing take place in our society today with the ridiculous Covid restrictions that people just continue to follow without a second thought.

About sixty minutes in, I do not agree with some of the thoughts given in this video as the solution to mass formation, as I am a Christian and the ultimate problem that we see in our world is because of sin, which everyone who is born inherits, and it separates us from a Holy God. It is pride that is one reason why people do not acknowledge this sin and seek the solution through the Saviour Jesus Christ, as it’s a sin to continue to reject the true light who is the Lord Jesus Christ, as it says in John 16:9.

All I can do is warn and plant seeds of the gospel and provide the only hope for the people of this world that is in the Lord Jesus. The Lord will grant mercy, but society is largely anti christ and pushes everything else other than God’s principles for a healthy sane society, and the fall of society is what we are seeing take place right now, and the LORD is allowing it. Look at the weakness of the Church of England who cannot even see the enemy in plain sight. Things can only get better IF more people put their trust in the LORD, as the LORD is using this suffering currently for people to turn to Him in faith. THE GOSPEL BOOKLET – HOW TO GO TO HEAVEN BY RON SHEA


Aubrey Marcus, Prof Mattias Desmet

Prof Mattias Desmet  00:00

If under these conditions, a narrative, a story 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 the following happens or might have

Aubrey Marcus  00:19

Mattias Desmet is a professor of psychology at Ghent University and also holds a master’s degree in statistics. And from his base of knowledge, he has a very interesting and important take on everything that’s happening in the world right now with the pandemic. So no matter what your beliefs, his psychological purview is very important to take into account so I can’t wait to share this podcast with Mattias Desmet. The truth is, is that we’re all the master we’re all the healer, we’re all the mystic. Give it up one time for Aubrey Marcus. Mattias, thanks for coming on the show.

Prof Mattias Desmet  01:05


Aubrey Marcus  01:07

So I’d love to start with a little explanation of your background and where you’re coming from and where you’ve gotten your education and some of your credentials to talk about what we’re about to talk about.

Prof Mattias Desmet  01:22

Oh, that’s great. Yes. So I actually I am a professor in clinical psychology and I lecture at Ghent University in Belgium. And I also have a double degree actually, I have a degree in psychology, but also, I also got a master in statistics, so meaning that I could take two different angles or two perspectives on this crisis, actually,

Aubrey Marcus  01:49

Yeah, and that’s kind of where things started for you, because with your background in statistics, you started noticing that there was models that were being projected out into the world, and then the models were not making sense, pretty quickly. So tell us how that got into, you know, your mind as far as taking a look at things and thinking hmm something’s not quite right here.

Prof Mattias Desmet  02:14

Yes, so in the beginning of the crisis, so around the end of February 2020, first I took the perspective of a statistician. I started to study some numbers and some figures and some mortality rates, the infection fatality rate, the case fatality rate, stuff like that, and I immediately got the impression that most statistical models overestimated the dangerousness of the virus. And by the end of 2020, in my opinion, by the end of May 2020, this was proven beyond doubt, I think, because the models that were used, or on which the corona measures were based worldwide predicted, so those were the models of Imperial College in London, these models predicted that in a country such as Sweden, about 80,000 people would die by the end of May 2020 if the country did not go into lockdown, and the country did not go into lockdown, and only 6000 people died, which means about 13 times less than was predicted. So the predictions of Imperial College were completely off actually. And the strangest thing was, for me that at that moment, like the corona measures or the people in charge always claimed that they relied on mathematical modelling and then science actually, but when it was proven beyond doubt that the initial models were completely wrong, the measures continued, the corona measures continued, as if nothing was wrong, as if the models were right. So for me, that was a strong sign that there were things going on at the psychological level that were really powerful, besides other things, of course, like something that also struck me in the beginning of the crisis was that political leaders never seem to have taken into account the collateral damage caused by the measures and so like in my opinion, if you take measures against the virus, the first thing that you would consider is whether the measures you take for instance, the lockdowns, will not claim more victims than the virus could claim. And that was exactly, so when like at the beginning of the crisis institutions such as the United Nations warned us immediately that there could be more people dying from hunger from starvation in developing countries, then there could possibly die from the virus if no measures were taken at all, so it showed us immediately that actually the remedy could be far worse than the disease, in this case. And also that in one way or another, nobody seemed really able to take into account both the victims that could be claimed by the virus on the one hand, and the collateral damage caused by the corona measures. Never during this crisis [did] we saw one mathematical model that calculated both the number of victims that could die from the virus and the collateral damage of the measures. Never and there never has been.

Aubrey Marcus  06:14

And that’s just it’s such a basic thing that you would do, you know, if you’re acting in good faith, and you want to do the best thing for the world, the best thing for the country, you look at all different options, and you assess risk and reward for all different options, and you make a logical decision, you know.  I mean, it’s just the most obvious thing to do. This is not like, wow, what an amazing idea Mattias, how did you come up with that? That’s incredible. It’s obvious that you knew that.

Prof Mattias Desmet  06:41

The basic consideration someone can do in this situation yes, and that never happened. So in one way or another, it showed how that the attention of the entire world was so narrow that it was focused so much on one risk or one danger, the Coronavirus itself, that to me it seemed as if I should, from then on from the end of May 2020, I really switched perspectives. I really had a feeling that I should try to understand what was happening at the psychological level. What made that the attention of people were so narrowly focused on the Coronavirus.

Aubrey Marcus  07:33

This was something that was very difficult for me, and, you know, this is a very complex situation, and it’s hard to know what exactly the right thing to do is but the fact that people weren’t considering all of these other tangential and secondary effects of all of the measures being taken. And not only that, but the opportunity cost of the money that was being spent to support the lockdowns and the closing of businesses. I mean, the US alone has produced trillions of dollars of excess capital. And if you look at statistics of estimates from, you know, different worldwide organisations, okay, what would it cost to create sustainable food supplies for the entire world and end world hunger, it’s like 300 billion, somewhere around there. What would it cost to get clean sanitary water for everybody who’s dying of parasites with the bloated belly? Okay, that’s maybe 150 billion, maybe it’s double that, doesn’t matter, it’s less than one stimulus check. And all of a sudden we ended world hunger, we ended, you know, we provided clean water for the world, and then we can start looking at other things. Okay, let’s improve education, let’s improve all of these other qualities that ultimately downstream lead to the degradation of society, poor education, poor support, poor nutrition, you know, lack of support for families in domestic abuse and all of these centres, there’s so much that could have been done with the money. So there’s like not only the direct cost, which is the suicidality that goes from lack of meaning, and lack of purpose of people taking their jobs and an increase in alcohol sales, which are through the roof, and increase in domestic violence and all of these other different things, and the people who are being starved, but then there’s opportunity cost, and that wasn’t in a model, either. So like, no one was deciding, like, okay, maybe this is the right thing. And I’m still open to that, I’m still open to that. But you have to show me, you have to show me that this is the right thing compared to all of the other things that we could do. I mean, I was the CEO of a big company, it’s basic, you know, like we got this opportunity, it’s gonna cost this, this is where it’s gonna go, you just figure it all out. Of course, you make the best choice and maybe you’re wrong, but at least you’ve considered it.

Prof Mattias Desmet  09:43

Of course, yes, and that was what didn’t happen and what was really striking. And then, like, you know, I started to really think about what psychological dynamic processes could be responsible for this lack of openness of mind in a situation, and it took me several months, actually, it took me until August 2020, to really, in my opinion, hit the nail, and then to suddenly see that what we were dealing with was a large scale phenomenon of mass formation of what is called mass formation. And looking backward it seems really surprising to me that it took me so long because I had been lecturing for three or four years about the psychological process, which showed actually that also I, as a psychologist, was very much under the spell of this process, or at least that also for me, it was really difficult to see what was going on. And I believe that’s the same for my colleagues in psychology. Most of them are really not aware of what is going on at this moment. I mean, 99%.

Aubrey Marcus  11:01

Yeah, so I want to really get into this mass formation and understand it. Is it possible that just like you, you know, first of all, I want to make it so that it doesn’t seem like we’re saying, this is some conspiracy and it has to be that, it seems like it’s possible that even the politicians themselves, even the policymakers themselves, everybody was falling victim to this kind of mass psychosis.

Prof Mattias Desmet  11:29


Aubrey Marcus  11:29

And what was happening in mass formation, you know, this was just a psychological process that was universal, that doesn’t necessitate, it doesn’t necessitate some evil intent, or some, you know, powerful cabal that’s trying to do something to harm people, it’s just a psychological process that’s –

Prof Mattias Desmet  11:46

of course –

Aubrey Marcus  11:47

difficult to resist unless you become aware of it.

Prof Mattias Desmet  11:51

Yes yes, it’s a psychological process that is for 95%, an unconscious process, both at the level of the masses, and at the level of the leaders of the masses. So that’s one very important thing that the leaders of the masses usually are also grasped in the process of mass formation. But maybe we should go into detail a little bit and tell how it emerges in a society the process of mass.

Aubrey Marcus  12:15


Prof Mattias Desmet  12:16

Is that okay? So like mass formation is a specific kind of group formation and it emerges in a society when very specific conditions are met. And then the most central of these conditions, the most important of these conditions, is that there should be a lot of people who experience a lack of social bonds, a lot of people who feel socially isolated. And then the second condition immediately follows –

Aubrey Marcus  12:44

well, let me stop you there cos I have some statistics.

Prof Mattias Desmet  12:47


Aubrey Marcus  12:47

So lack of social bond, we’re talking about ripe conditions for this psychological phenomenon called mass formation, which is a kind of group hypnosis.

Aubrey Marcus  12:56

So number one, lack of social bond. This is a condition that’s important. Here’s some statistics. According to the national survey published in the American Sociological Review, 25% of people reported that they didn’t have a single close friend, not one, right? That’s a crazy thing. (Inaudible) out of four people didn’t have a single close friend. And then the 75 million adults aged 18 to 27, comprising the millennials and generation Z, were lonelier than any other US demographic, which is wild to think. We think of like older generations being lonely, but it was actually the younger generations reporting even more loneliness. Some psychologists say it’s a social media paradox. People are interacting online with their avatars, which isn’t their true self, so they’re not creating the intimacy of vulnerability that comes from shared experience. So as far as condition number one for mass formation, it’s inarguable that we are suffering a crisis of lack of community and lack of (inaudible)

Prof Mattias Desmet  12:56


Prof Mattias Desmet  13:57

We do, yes. And from this first condition follows the second one, which means that a lot of people experience life as meaningless or senseless. And, for instance, think about the phenomenon of the bullshit jobs. Now I don’t know if you’re familiar with this phenomenon, Professor Graeber in Great Britain wrote a book about it, which was titled Bullshit Jobs. And he describes how research shows that when you ask people whether they think their job is meaningful, 50% of the people answered not at all. 50% feels that their job is not meaningful at all and doesn’t mean anything to anyone. So it’s also a very nice example, I think of how (inaudible)

Aubrey Marcus  14:48

That’s a very strong condition. I also have another study that I was able to find. It’s a Gallup poll from 2012 polled people in 142 countries, 63% of respondents admitted to being so disengaged at work that they were sleepwalking through their work day putting time, but not passion into their work. 63% of people, right.

Prof Mattias Desmet  15:11


Aubrey Marcus  15:11

So, okay condition number two conditions we’ve established that there’s a lack of social bond, there’s a lack of meaning and purpose in what people are doing.

Prof Mattias Desmet  15:20

Absolutely. And the third condition follows actually from the first two conditions, and the third condition is that in order for mass formation to emerge, there should be a lot of what psychologists call free floating anxiety, and free floating psychological discontent. Meaning that, you know, if you’re anxious of a lion, you know what you’re anxious for, so the anxiety is connected to the mental representation or the mental image of a lion. But if people feel socially isolated, and if they feel that their life has no meaning, then they’re confronted with the kind of anxiety that is free floating, that means that it is not connected to a mental representation, and with a lot of psychological discontent that is not connected with a mental representation, and also at that level we see very striking things namely that, for instance, in a country such as Belgium, each year 300 million doses of antidepressants are used in a population of about 11 million, and then we are talking only about antidepressants, there are also antipsychotics and sleeping pills and all this stuff

Aubrey Marcus  16:38

Anti anxiety medications, yeah.

Prof Mattias Desmet  16:41

Yeah. So and then the fourth condition is that they should be a lot of

Aubrey Marcus  16:45

Let me just give one more study. So the World Health Organisation says that one in five people actually have anxiety disorders. So they actually not only have anxiety, but they qualify as having anxiety disorders, which is over 300 million people. And that’s something that’s, you know, in the manual, like an anxiety is not just like a little bit of anxiety, which a lot of us have, like, one in five people have anxiety disorder. So this free floating anxiety is also incredibly pervasive.

Prof Mattias Desmet  17:17

Well, yes, of course. It is, yes. And then the fourth condition is that there should be a lot of free floating frustration and aggression, meaning like people should feel, and that actually follows from from the other conditions as well. So the people should feel frustrated and feeling aggressive, without also really knowing what the cause of their frustration and aggression is. And then if these four conditions are fulfilled, in society, then the population is in a mental state, in which something very specific can happen. Meaning that even under these conditions, a narrative, a story is distributed through the mass media, indicating an object of anxiety, and at the same time, providing a strategy to deal with the subject of anxiety, then the following happens, or might happen. All the free floating anxiety, which is extremely painful, because it always threatens to turn into panic, so all this free floating anxiety is attached to, connected to the object of anxiety indicated in the narrative. And there is a huge willingness to participate in the strategy to deal with this object of anxiety, because in this way, people feel that they can control their anxiety and their psychological discontent better. So all this anxiety connects to this object of anxiety, and there is a huge willingness to participate in the strateg, and that leads up to something very specific. People suddenly feel connected again, in a heroic struggle with the object of anxiety. So a new kind of solidarity, a new kind of social bond, and a new kind of meaning making sense making emerges in society. And that’s the reason why people follow the narrative, why people buy into the narrative, and why they are willing to participate in the strategy, even if it is utterly absurd. Because the reason why they follow it has nothing to do with the fact that it is correct or accurate or scientific. Not at all. The reason why they buy into the narrative is because it leads to this new social bond. This new solidarity. People are social beings, and being socially isolated is really painful, and through the process of mass formation, they switch from the very negative state of social isolation or isolation to the opposite state of maximal connectedness, of the maximum connectedness that exists in a crowd or a mass. And that in itself leads up to kind of mental intoxication, which is the real reason why people stick to the narrative, why people are willing to go along with a narrative, even as we said, if it is utterly wrong, and even more important, even if they lose everything that is important to them personally, because mass formation is a kind of hypnosis. And just like in hypnosis, the attention is focused on this very small part of reality that is indicated by the story. And just like in hypnosis, people are not aware of everything that happens mentally, outside of this small focus of attention. That’s something very striking like in hypnosis, what you see is that a simple hypnotic procedure is sufficient to focus the attention of someone so much on one aspect of reality, that the person will never feel that someone cuts into his flesh. It’s a procedure that is used in some hospitals, when someone is allergic to a chemical anaesthesia, sometimes a simple hypnotic procedure is used, which focuses the attention on the positive thing and then the surgeon can cut straight from through the breastbone, the patient will not feel it. So that’s exactly what happens in mass formation. The attention is focused on the virus, for instance, in this case, and then people are not aware that they lose their psychological health or their physical health, or that they lose their wealth, their material well being and so on. That’s one of the most problematic aspects of the phenomenon of mass formation.

Aubrey Marcus  22:09

And it can be productive, right? Like the human beings don’t develop things that are entirely unproductive, those things typically get weeded out. So you take a look at, like Sebastian Junger’s work in his book Tribe, and he talks about how in interviewing and serving the people who survived the Blitzkrieg in London, where bombs were falling from Nazi bombs were falling and the air raid sirens were going off. They report that that was the happiest time of their life. They were happiest when the bombs were falling. Can you imagine the atrocity of bombs –

Prof Mattias Desmet  22:42

yes –

Aubrey Marcus  22:42

people, people dying, exploding, things happening, but they felt such a deep social bond. And all of their focus of attention was on the Nazis, on the bombs that brought everybody together, no one was lonely, actually, the mental hospitals, they all emptied out to a certain degree, like everybody was like, oh, we have a deep meaning we have a clear purpose, we’re all in this together. And they felt better than they ever have. So and it allowed them to make it through a very challenging situation. So in a situation like that, it’s a very healthy process that can happen.

Prof Mattias Desmet  23:14

Yes. For the same reason people do not commit suicide under very severe conditions, for instance, in the concentration camps and the Gulag, people did not commit suicide and it was because there was a clear external danger they were focused on and which made their psychological system very coherent, very coherently focused on one point. Usually people commit suicide because they feel internally divided, because they feel that they lack unity, they lack coherence. And when there is a strong external danger people usually will feel fairly coherent, and they will, for instance, not commit suicide, that’s something very striking. And the example you give is actually a wonderful example indeed of people who are under attack and who feel that they experienced the happiest times of their lives. I’ve never heard that example, but it’s a wonderful example.

Aubrey Marcus  24:11

Yeah Sebastian Junger’s book, Tribe is phenomenal, I recommend it. There’s very toxic examples of that as well. So you take a look at the witch hunts, for example, that happened throughout Europe and in America. And there’s a quote from Francis Hill, and he was saying during the witch hunts in some Swiss villages, there were hardly any women left alive once the fever burned out, it got to such a fever. So basically, everybody had this free floating anxiety, lack of social bond, lack of purpose, all of the conditions presuming led up to this, and then all of a sudden, someone came with a narrative that oh, you know what the problem is, it’s the witches, it’s the witches, it’s the women who are the witches, and that’s the problem. So they became the scapegoat, they became the reason everybody became myopically focused narrowed their field of attention on that external threat, and in that fever they just burned women alive, until in some places there were no women left.

Prof Mattias Desmet  25:08

No, I believe. Yes, so when something very important, I think, is that, for one reason or another, which can be explained, I’m writing a book in which I go into detail about this, but I don’t think we can do it now, because it will lead us too far. But for one reason or another, the process of mass formation became stronger throughout the 19th century. And, for instance, Gustave Libeau, who is one of the major scholars on the phenomenon of mass formation, warned us that in 1895 already, that if the process would continue to become stronger the process of mass formation, we would soon end up in a state in which the masters of the crowd would take over control in society, and that we would, according to Gustave Libeau, experience the emergence of a new kind of state, a new kind of political apparatus. And that was exactly what happened in the beginning of the 20th century, and the Soviet Union and the Nazi Germany. We saw these immense these large scale process of mass formation there, and there the objects of anxiety were the aristocracy in the Soviet Union and the Jews in Nazi Germany. And we saw how the masses emerged and how the masses were grasped in this specific narrative, and then how suddenly a totalitarian regime took advantage of this mass formation and started one of the most cruel episodes in modern history, with something with certain characteristics, like a totalitarian state is radically different from a classical dictatorship. And that’s very important. And the difference is this psychological process. Classical dictatorship is not based on mass formation, not at all. A classical dictatorship is based on a very primitive process of fear that the human being has, for someone who is stronger who is in power, but in a dictatorship

Aubrey Marcus  27:20

like any warlord, you know, like a warlord in a tribal situation. I have the most guns, I have the people on my side, and if you don’t comply, I’ll shoot you. And that’s what we see in a lot of movies, actually, you know, like a lot of the villains in the fantasy novels or whatever, they’re just, they have the biggest army, and that’s how they keep everybody in control. But we don’t see the process, and I think a lot of times we project that on someone like Stalin, like, oh, yeah, he just did this in or, you know, it was all him, you know, but no, he just took advantage of a deep psychological process that was supported. People were cheering, cheering him on all the way up to the point where he killed millions and millions of people. And then they were like, oh, shit, what did we do? But that was like, a little bit late.

Prof Mattias Desmet  28:01

Of course, of course. And then that’s exactly that’s the difference between a classical dictatorship and a totalitarian state and it shows that it makes that actually the structure and the process totalitarian states go through is really different from the process of classical dictatorships. For instance, if in a classical dictatorship the opposition stops to speak out, like if the opposition, the dissident voices are silenced, then usually the dictator will become milder, he will become less aggressive because he realises that he has to try to mix the population sympathic against him to, to make them feel that he will be a good leader and stuff. So it’s important for him that that moment he becomes milder and less aggressive because he is in power he doesn’t need to be aggressive anymore. But in totalitarianism a totalitarian state exactly the opposite happens. When the opposition is silent when the opposition stops to speak out, at that moment exactly, a totalitarian state commits its most cruel atrocities, it starts to commit its most cruel atrocities and that was what happened in 1930. And in the Soviet Union, when Stalin started his large “scale” purifications which led to about 80 million people dying in less than 10 years according to (inaudible), and then so in Nazi Germany, the same happened around 1935, the opposition was silenced and then the real problem started in a totalitarian state. So totalitarianism is something really different from classical dictatorships, and it’s the process of mass formation that is important there. The process of mass formation, which became increasingly strong throughout the 19th century, and throughout the 20th century, like the witch hunts you refer to, very important these witch hunts, indeed, were perfect examples of mass formation, but it didn’t last too long. And they were very.

Aubrey Marcus  30:25

(Inaudible) women.

Prof Mattias Desmet  30:28

Yes, but that’s something that often happens like, the larger the population, the worse the processes of mass formation, or, and for the reason you mentioned, because mass formation needs always new victims, mass formation arises around an object of anxiety, and that object always has to be destroyed. And so if the population is too small, the mass formation will take less long than in a large population, and that was exactly the reason according to Hannah Arendt a Jewish German philosopher, why totalitarian states totalitarianism was only “successful” or emerged only in countries where there were a very large population, such as the Soviet Union.

Aubrey Marcus  31:20

So what, let me get this, I don’t understand Soviet history that well, but I think initially the scapegoat was the wealthy right, it was like the wealthy bourgeoisie, and they were the ones that were destroying the country. But ultimately somehow, Stalin then switched because he ran out of those, there’s not that many wealthy people, right, so he ran out of killing them and using them as a scapegoat. and then he switched it, he switched it to something else that gave him the reasoning to kill all of the 80 million people that he killed.

Prof Mattias Desmet  31:54

Yes indeed, he switched it to the kulaks the farmers actually and then to the goldsmith’s, then to the jews, then to one group after the other, until finally he also killed 50% of his Communist Party members, who usually didn’t do anything wrong, or were not disloyal to him, not at all but he killed them, and the strangest thing about this was that these party members actually, in a very strange way, which was also very nicely described by George Orwell in Animal Farm, for instance, but also by Solzhenitsyn in the Gulag Archipelago and Hannah Arendt also describes it, these party members who were killed, who were condemned, they all admitted that they had been disloyal that they had been traitors and so on, which was very strange. Like people, observers from abroad international observers were baffled and they said, like what is happening there, we can’t believe our eyes, these people didn’t do anything wrong, they did not go against the rules of Stalin and then now they admit that they have done things wrong and that they deserve to die, which was extremely strange, and that’s exactly what happens in a process of mass formation. Someone has grabbed so much in the narrative that he accepts the most absurd consequences of the narrative, even if it goes to him or her, his own life and so that’s one of the most strangest things

Aubrey Marcus  33:31

What would you call that, I’ve heard the word menticide,  would you call that you know, at what happens, the menticide is the killing of the mind, you know.

Prof Mattias Desmet  33:38

Yes yes.

Aubrey Marcus  33:39

At a certain point, the totalitarian process it kills the mind, it degrades logical thinking, it degrades all of the faculties of sense making and meaning making –

Prof Mattias Desmet  33:49

absolutely –

Aubrey Marcus  33:49

to the point where the mind is dead, and at that point you’re so gullible to suggestion. You know and it’s something that you can see in a small scale, you know, where if you have a really belligerent interrogator in somebody, and someone with a weaker mind, after enough time they’ll admit to a crime that they didn’t do. And there’s many examples of this in the justice system of, you know, a very aggressive and psychologically keen interrogator that’s convinced somebody that they actually committed a murder that they didn’t do –

Prof Mattias Desmet  34:21


Aubrey Marcus  34:21

and then they’ll find with DNA results they didn’t do it, and they’re like, why did you admit to it? I don’t know.

Prof Mattias Desmet  34:26

And that’s exactly what happens. And approaches of mass formation, the individual disappears and the collective becomes absolutely predominant, and erases all individual characteristics. And then it doesn’t make a difference whether the individual involved are very intelligent or not, or not intelligent, it doesn’t make any difference. Always the same happens. Everybody becomes equally “stupid” in a mass and it doesn’t matter how smart or how intelligent they were before, they lose all capacity for critical thinking, they lose all individual characteristics because they are really absorbed in this process of mass formation.

Aubrey Marcus  35:13

So there is a, you know, so I’ve heard you talk about there is a spectrum of people who go along with the narrative and are very susceptible to this mass formation phenomenon. There’s a people in the middle that are kind of like, I’m not really sure, and then there’s the people who are in opposition of this. And that’s the initial condition for mass formation, then it seems like once we get to totalitarianism, the degradation of people’s mind starts to actually make those numbers even increase. But let’s talk about the first part, which is, you know, how this spectrum kind of plays out, and whether you think that you know, what’s happening now is kind of what you’re seeing in the spectrum. And of course we have to establish that what we’re seeing now has some of the characteristics of mass formation. But let’s talk about the spectrum first, and then let’s talk about our current situation.

Prof Mattias Desmet  36:05

Yes indeed. So in the approach, only usually when a process of mass formation emerges in a society in a population, only 30% of the people is really hypnotised so it’s something very important, because it seems there are much more but it’s not the case there is only 30% of the people who are really hypnotised. And then there is an additional 40% of the people who goes along with this first group, because they never go against the current and they feel that they don’t want to go against the current, that it is too difficult and too dangerous to go against the crowd. So and then there is an additional 20 or 30%, or something, who is not hypnotised and who wants to speak out, who wants to do something. And so, but it can be surprising, like even in totalitarian states, states such as Germany or the Soviet Union, usually not more than about 30% of the people is really totalitarian. And that’s something that is observed time and time again, I don’t know if you’re familiar with experiments of Solomon Asch. Solomon Asch was a psychologist who did some experiments shortly after the Second World War, in which he showed two small groups of about eight people on the one line, who was about 30 centimetres long, and then three other lines, and the first of these three lines was about 10 centimetres long, the second was 120 centimetres long, and then the third one was about 60 centimetres long, so it was clear in one lens of an eye, it was clear that the third line was the line that was equally that had the same length as the first one. And that was what Solomon Asch asked to the small groups of participants, eight participants, he asked, what do you think? Which lines have the same length, and the first seven of the participants actually were collaborators of Solomon Asch, and they were all instructed to give the wrong answer. They were all instructed to say that line one and that the two lines were equally wrong, who were absolutely not equally long. So, and upon hearing that, upon hearing that the first seven participants all gave the wrong answer of which a blind man could see that this was wrong, the eighth participant in 75% of the cases gave the same wrong answer. So it was really amazing to see, and –

Aubrey Marcus  38:56

there was, when I studied that, and it’s a really powerful video as well, and maybe we’ll be able to edit that into this so people can see it, the psychologist and Solomon gave two hypotheses. One was that in some cases, people actually convinced themselves that they were wrong, that their eyes were deceiving them and they were just wrong, and so they actually believed what everybody else was saying was true. And then another group was just so shy about saying something different from everybody else, because they were so worried that the other people would, you know, make them an outcast, so they were just going along with it even though they knew they were wrong, they were giving the wrong answer, so there was two reasons why the participants were giving the wrong answer.

Prof Mattias Desmet  39:41

Yes, indeed so and there were these three groups as well, the three groups. The first group who really believe or who are really hypnotised by the group and who are really convinced that the wrong answer was the right answer. Then that second group who knew that it was the wrong answer, but who didn’t dare to speak out? And then the third group who who saw that who gave the right answer and who dared to speak out. So in this you see these three groups time and time again and you see them in each process of mass formation. A group who is really hypnotised, and in a totalitarian state who becomes really totalitarian, then a second group who just only goes along with the first group, and then a third group who does not want to buy into the story and who wants to speak out. So meaning that in this situation, if the people who want to speak out the dissident voices, in one way or another they could unify and form one group, then it’s very, probably the second group of about 40% of the people might switch direction and join them, and that would mean that the mass formation is over. Yes. So that’s one of the solutions to the problem, if all the people who want to speak out and who want to go again, who are not hypnotised and who want to do something against the crowd, or against the mainstream narrative, if they will unify and become one group that would be powerful enough to change the direction of the middle group, which would mean that the majority of the people would go in a different direction than the people who are really hypnotised.

Aubrey Marcus  41:33

One of the challenges now let’s bring this to the modern context. And, you know, we’ve explained, you know, the theory and the philosophy behind mass formation. What do you see in the current system that we’re seeing, you know, who is becoming the scapegoats? Where is this pointed to, and what makes you, you know, what do you feel like is dangerous about the current situation that we’re in, and as it pertains to the pandemic.

Prof Mattias Desmet  42:06

Well yes the risk, of course, is that the people who don’t want to do to buy into the narrative that they become the scapegoat, and the anti vaxxers, for instance, the people who don’t want to take the vaccine might become public enemy number one, and they might become the object of this forged condition that we mentioned at the beginning of all this free floating frustration and aggression, because that’s also something typical for mass formation. All the free floating frustration and aggression that existed before the mass formation is projected and channelled onto the people who are not into the process of mass formation. So that’s one major risk. And then also, of course, if the masses would succeed in silencing these people, then the masses will start to commit atrocities also towards the members of the masses themselves. So that’s strange, Hannah Arendt says, the masses are totalitarianism in mass formation always is a monster that divorce its own children, there’s something very strange. As always, in the end, it starts to kill among its own members. So the most important thing actually, the most important thing we can do in this situation is to continue to speak out. I repeat this time and time again, mass formation is one kind of hypnosis. It’s an example of hypnosis and hypnosis works through the voice. If people have to, in one way or another people are grasped in the resonance of a voice, that’s what totalitarian leaders know. They start each day with 30 minutes of propaganda, for instance, just to keep people into the narrative, and to make sure that they continue to resonate with the voice of the leader with the narrative that led up to the mass formation. So, and the opposite is also true, like if there are dissident voices, if there are dissonant voices that continue to speak out, then the hypnosis will become less deep. Mustafa Labon in the 19th century said, usually dissonant voices will not have the power to wake up the masses, but they will make the hypnosis less deep, and they will prevent that the masses start to commit atrocities. So that’s what we all have to realise. We all have to realise, in my opinion, that it is not an option to stop speaking. We should continue to speak out. That’s one of the most important things we can do.

Aubrey Marcus  44:47

So we see some conditions, you know, when you talk about atrocities, people might think right, this will never happen, you know, this will never exist. But all of this begins with some form of dehumanisation in some form of really making some other the enemy right? And we’ve already heard in the mainstream narrative people who don’t want to take the vaccine it’s become the pandemic of the vaccine.

Prof Mattias Desmet  45:10


Aubrey Marcus  45:10

And then they’ve they’re, they’re killers, they’re domestic terrorists. That’s actually a word that mainstream media has been using. And it seems like the advantage of the state in this case is that they control the mainstream narrative. There’s a clip that I saw recently of every, you know, dozens and dozens of newscasters from different all you know, Fox News and ABC and CBS and CNN, they were all reading the exact same script. So there’s a centralization of the narrative and –

Prof Mattias Desmet  45:43

production of the narrative is centralised, yes.

Aubrey Marcus  45:44

Yeah. And then with that then there’s also the silencing of the contrary narrative, which is coming through social media, and people say, oh, well, you know, Instagram can censor whoever they want, it’s a private company, but nonetheless, the pressure that’s being applied, you know, seems to be, or they are just in the mass formation themselves, and they’re just deciding to do it. Who knows, I’m not trying to propose a conspiracy, I don’t know what’s happening, I think it’s very likely that people are just caught in their own mass formation. But what we’re seeing is we’re seeing censorship of dissident voices, and we’re seeing the collaboration of this on the single narrative that’s being pushed out to the mainstream. And that’s the challenge that I think in all of these cases and all of these societies you face is that the more centralised communication is, and the more they’re able to silence dissident narratives, burn books, it used to be, you know, but now it’s now censoring and deplatforming and banning different, it starts to allow them to be able to be in easier control of the masses. And I think that’s what we need to look at is, you know, when doctors are being censored from giving their opinion, why, when in history has that ever happened? That’s not science. That’s not the scientific method. You come up with a theory, and you have a bunch of people challenge it. I mean, you’re an academic, you propose a theory, you expect all of your colleagues to be like Mateus. I don’t agree with you. This is why and you say thank you, I appreciate your critique.

Prof Mattias Desmet  45:48

Of course.

Aubrey Marcus  46:12

Now let me explain why I’m right. But it’s not really what we’re seeing right now. So this is also leading to, you know, an opinion that alright, this is dangerous. These conditions are appearing like they’re following a pattern, and it’s a pattern that we’ve seen, and it’s a pattern that leads to a disastrous, dystopian catastrophic result in many other cases. I’m not saying that’s where we’re going necessarily, but there’s indications that cause worry.

Prof Mattias Desmet  47:42

Yes, sure sure sure. Yes. And you know, the large scale mass formation that we have seen in from the 20th century on, it can never exist without mass media. So that’s clear, you need mass media who distribute the same narrative time and time again to make this large scale and long term mass formation happen. And usually, I think it’s a mixture, and it’s for 90%, an unconscious process, but there is also for 10%, about or maybe, I say 10%, now could be more could be less, but intentional manipulation of the masses, that also happens, and usually the people who do it are convinced that they will bring paradise to society, like Stalin was, he was convinced that his historical materialistic ideal society would be realised, and that in order to do that it was justified to manipulate the population to move them in the direction he wanted. And exactly the same was the case for Hitler, who felt that his race theory would turn society into a kind of a paradise. And that’s exactly for that reason, it was justified to provoke some collateral damage. And I think it’s the same now. Of course, there are some powerful institutions who have this ideal image of society, and who want to use the crisis to move the society in the direction they think is optimal. And they use all their power that is at their means, I think, to make people go in a direction they want, that’s true. But I think for 95%, what is happening is not a process of large scale manipulation. But for 95% we are in a process of large scale unconscious mass formation, in which almost everybody has grasped. We shouldn’t be naive. There has always been intentional manipulations that are always institutions who want to benefit from all kinds of circumstances. But all institutions have their own idea about how the future society should look like and they always will use their power to move in that direction. So that’s definitely happening. But that doesn’t take away, I think, that for 95% its a phenomenon of mass formation that happens.

Aubrey Marcus  50:14

And so, you know, for certain people, their fatal flaw is not that they hate the world or hate society. It’s not the Batman villain, Bane, you know, that just wants to watch the world burn, they actually are more like the Bond villains that are like, ah, well, you know, or Thanos, for example –

Prof Mattias Desmet  50:30

yes yes –

Aubrey Marcus  50:31

except for an ordered universe, we need to kill half, we need to blink half of the people out of existence, –

Prof Mattias Desmet  50:36

yes –

Aubrey Marcus  50:36

and then the universe will be fine, and then I’ll retire. The motivation was pure. In a way it’s just the delusion, the delusioin and the hubris to say, I can be God and I exact the knowledge and I can decide. So it’s very interesting because the actions themselves are evil, but the intentions are often not evil, so when we project these like demonic reptilian things upon them, it’s not that they’re just a little overconfident.

Prof Mattias Desmet  51:06

Yes yes.

Aubrey Marcus  51:06

And they just think they’re doing something good, but they’re actually not.

Prof Mattias Desmet  51:09

Yes, we are dealing with megalomaniac plans here, that’s the right word, I think. Not so much with psychopaths. That’s not true. People often say that we are dealing with psychopaths, I think we are dealing with megalomania plans, people who believe that they will solve all the problems in the world by imposing a new social system, which is I think the basic ideology of the system is transhumanist in nature, people who believe that problems can only be solved through technological control. I truly believe that this is what drives these people. This is their view on men in the world, and this is their ID on how the problems of humanity can be solved, which is delusional, I think, it’s not true at all, that this exactly this mechanistic ideal, this mechanistic thinking and this transhumanist thinking is the cause of the problems, because if we wonder why we ended up before the corona crisis in this terrible mental state in which people felt socially disconnected, they experienced this lack of meaning making in which there is all this free floating attention, all this frustration, then you can clearly see that all this free floating anxiety in this restoration that it started to increase once the world became industrialised and mechanised. So this is very typical, while the mechanistic view of men in the world started to become predominant, at the same pace, the free floating, free floating anxiety and also the social disconnectedness started to increase. And that’s why Hannah Arendt says that’s why the phenomenon of mass formation became increasingly strong throughout the last centuries, because more and more people ended up in an isolated state. More and more people dealt with this free floating anxiety. So I believe that the people who, the large institutions who are in charge now and who actually try to shape the future according to their own ideal image, well I think that these people propose a solution, exactly this kind of discourse, exactly this kind of things that caused the problem. And Einstein said something very nice about that, you can never solve a problem by the same kind of thinking that caused it. And that’s exactly that’s exactly what people try to do now, I think.

Aubrey Marcus  53:28

Yeah, it’s like in the myth of control, Charles Eisenstein talks about this in the myth of control it’s always an increasing amount of contro that’s the solution. And it never ends, oh, if the control didn’t work, more control will work, off technology, more technology will work –

Prof Mattias Desmet  53:42

more technology yes

Aubrey Marcus  53:43

it’s just this endless process. They don’t want to reevaluate their thinking probably because their identity is attached to this solution that they believe is going to work, and by whatever mechanism, I want to switch gears here real quick and talk about, you know, one of the things that I see happening is this is not just a singular narrative that’s creating mass formation, because there’s small pockets of mass formation that are existing, as well, because on the other side, in opposition to the mainstream pandemic narrative, there’s a counter mass formation of people who are in this deep conspiracy thinking all liberals are evil –

Prof Mattias Desmet  54:20


Aubrey Marcus  54:20

That’s also not the right way, right? Like that’s not it’s also a scary thing as well, because if that side wins, it’s just gonna be the same problem. It was a different scapegoat and a different victim of the atrocity. So that doesn’t work. So what needs to emerge is a third way of just loving, compassionate, rational thinking. And that’s really what I’ve been trying to dedicate my efforts towards is like, it’s not about picking sides here. It’s about sensemaking in general and universal compassion.

Aubrey Marcus  54:20

yes –

Aubrey Marcus  54:20

and so they’re scapegoating liberals, or they’re scapegoating certain politicians, or Bill Gates or whoever, whoever becomes the object of the external, the external threat that their free floating anxiety their anxiety is then attached to. So it’s a very interesting time where all right we have one side where it’s the dominant narrative that’s causing a mass formation, and then on the other side, we have a counter mass formation, which is much smaller.

Prof Mattias Desmet  55:20

Now, I agree. On the other side, there is there is a very similar process in which people are confronted with a lot of anxiety because they feel threatened by the process of the mass formation. They also deal with a lot of the free floating anxiety and they connect it to a different object to the elite or to the Illuminati, or a small elite that would threaten them, they dehumanise this small group of people. So they have a different enemy, while the masses have an enemy in people who refuse to conform to the masses. The other side also creates an enemy, an object of anxiety. And in a similar way, they want to destroy this enemy. They believe that if we destroy the elite, the problem will be solved which of course is not true.

Aubrey Marcus  56:07

I know. It’s humanization on both sides, one side, there’s domestic terrorists. On the other side, there’s reptilian elites and sheep. I mean, talk about dehumanisation, like, no, they’re literally making them non human, you know. And so we’re dealing with this on both sides. And so fundamentally, like neither way is going to work.

Prof Mattias Desmet  56:31


Aubrey Marcus  56:32

and it’s a very interesting predicament, because I was looking out at the world, I was like well I can’t join that team, you know, because that team is following the same principles, they’re on the same mechanism as the other team, and I certainly can’t join that team. So what’s the third team? And that’s, you know, I came up with this sentiment I call it united polarity, which is like, taking both sides with absolute reverence and reminding people that underneath all of the opinions and ideologies, there’s a human and it’s a human that scared, it’s a human that’s lonely. It’s a human that wants the best for themselves and other people at the fundamental level. Let’s remind ourselves of that, let’s actually instead of dehumanising let’s super humanise them, let’s see our self in them, let’s see our self in every single other person and unite the polarities, not by trying to change them, and saying, like, look, what is the common ground by which we all stand? And that’s really through this whole process, that’s the only thing that’s really made sense to me. And when I speak about it, it seems like people, maybe it’s that group that 40% In the middle, but that group in the middle is like, ah, I like that, I can stand behind that. And so I’m hoping that that, you know, in some small way, in whatever way I’m able to contribute that can help become part of this, you know, part of this force that mitigates some of the damage of the mass formation leading to totalitarianism.

Prof Mattias Desmet  58:02

Yes. I hope I am part of the same force. I really hope –

Aubrey Marcus  58:06

I believe you are

Prof Mattias Desmet  58:08

Because I agree, there is a strong tendency to dehumanise on both sides, and that’s exactly what we should avoid. We should try to identify with being someone who tries to speak as sincere as possible, and who gives everybody the right to speak out his own opinion. That’s being human. What makes us human is that we have the right to speak in our own way and the way we prefer, and that’s if people could unify, if people could form a group because they all identify with disposition, that would be the solution to the problem we are facing. Yes.

Aubrey Marcus  58:48

Yeah. The one of the other things that, you know, is concerning. So when you look at some of the the mechanism of totalitarianism, there’s some thinkers who talk about and have analyzed that there’s waves of terror, and this is how it kind of works in the waves of terror. So something becomes really scary, there’s a retraction where it’s not so scary, and then something else really scary happens. And it’s just kind of like battering down, like imagine a big big log trying to batter down a door. And so this is something that I think we should be mindful of that if this process is happening, you know, we should be aware that if there’s a second wave, this is part of the, you know, part of the playbook for actually weakening people’s defences and having them desire to reach for some powerful, despotic tyrannical totalitarian leader who can save the day, you know, because they just get more and more scared.

Prof Mattias Desmet  59:55

Yes, it’s something quite strange I think that the masses always long for a severe and cruel leader Mustafa Lebon said, which is something very strange something in the process of mass formation, like if you look we come from a very individualistic age in which people try to find meaning in their own lives and in their own way, but actually in a strange way, now we see how the opposite emerges. It is as if people want to lose themselves in the masses in the crowd. And as if they are looking for a leader who tells them what to do. And that’s one of the most specific aspects of mass formation, I think that it makes people long for a harsh leader, Mustafa Lebon describes this already. And if the leaders of the masses understand this, they understand that they can be as absurd as they want that they can be as harsh as they want, that they can impose the most absurd limitations to individual’s lives, it will only make a mass formation stronger, and it will only make the leaders more popular.

Aubrey Marcus  1:01:03

Cos it’s like it’s imposing sacrifice.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:01:07


Aubrey Marcus  1:01:08

which is a deep part of ritual, and I’ve heard you talk about this,

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:01:11


Aubrey Marcus  1:01:11

like the sacrifice itself, in any initiation process, it’s difficult. It’s hard. We’ve had to do this together, we gave up Thanksgiving, and we gave up Christmas. And we gave up we never left our house. And we put masks on our three year old children and we sacrifice we sacrificed and that ritual, then it actually increases this sense of social bond.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:01:32

Of course, exactly. you nail it down now, I think, that’s exactly what happens like the corona measures, the lockdowns, the social distancing, the mask wearing and so on, actually have the function unconsciously of a ritual. A ritual meaning a kind of behaviour that as the only function has to create a social bond, and the less practical, practically meaningful such a behaviour is, the better it serves its function as a ritual, the more absurd it is, the better it serves a function as a ritual, and the more sacrifices it demands, the better it functions as a ritual, because in this way, the individual that sacrifices something shows that the collective, that the group, the cohesion among the group members, it is more important than its individual than what is important to the individual. So that’s exactly how rituals functions. Rituals have to be pragmatically meaningless, useless, and they have to demand sacrifices of the individual. And that’s exactly what the corona measures do, they are absurd without practical relevance, most of them, and then also they imply huge losses for the individuals, which makes them very useful, very suitable as rituals for the new cohesion, the new collective, the new solidarity,

Aubrey Marcus  1:03:02

and, you know, people who hear that, you know, will vehemently deny that the rituals are meaningless. And it’s, and you know, of course, I have enough epistemic humility to say like, all right, maybe there is some purpose to these rituals. But you also have to acknowledge the nature, the psychological nature, like you have to look at both, like, even if there is meaning to these rituals of mask wearing, and even if there is meaning to the social isolation, you have to look at what it actually is happening psychologically, as well. Just like we were mentioning before, you have to look at the damage of the virus, and you have to look at the social damage, you have to look at all right, what is the actual possibility of prevention, you know, based on all of these different procedures, and then what is the psychological cost, and there should be just a whole group of top psychologists and sociologists who are saying, oh right this is the damage that’s being done to children having to wear masks when they’re in school? And this is the risk of children actually contracting COVID, right, like this is the, let’s take a look at this from a really holistic perspective.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:04:06

Of course.

Aubrey Marcus  1:04:07

But that’s certainly not happening. So whether you think these rituals are meaningless, or whether you think these rituals are essential, that’s fine, but also please look at the total picture, you know, regardless of what’s happening on a psychological level, and I hope no matter what everybody thinks, as you know, they’re listening to this podcast like to become aware of the psychological processes to make the unconscious conscious is extremely important.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:04:35

Yes and maybe some of the measures had a certain practical effect that’s possible, but at a psychological function what I tell only shows, I think, that we should not expect that because the measures are absurd in certain respect, people will stop to follow them. Not at all. The more absurd they are the more the 30% of people who are under hypnosis will be willing to cling to them and to follow them. That’s just –

Aubrey Marcus  1:05:07

Yeah it deepens their vigour, for these. So when we’re talking about alright the ways to stand in resistance, you know, I think identifying, as I said, you know, the united polarity movement that you know, that I’ve really started to put out there into the world. The idea of recognising the shared humanity amongst all people and drawing people together for that cause, I think that’s, you know, that’s something that I, of course, want to mention. But there’s Vaclav Havel, who was the president of Czechoslovakia went through periods of Russian communism. He talks about the importance of parallel structures, and these are like enclaves, havens of where different ideologies and philosophies operate, and how important they are even in totalitarian, even if it goes all the way to totalitarian. These, you know, what Charles Eisenstein would call islands of sanity, these parallel structures, these places where, you know, people can recognise each other’s sovereignty and humanity, and this is really important. And it’s important for people to understand that, even if you’re not out publicly speaking, which, as you said, it’s important, a lot of the hypnosis comes verbally, so definitely speak, but another big part of the resistance is just become part of the parallel structure. Become part of something that is a living, breathing example that does something different?

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:06:30

Yes, yes, I entirely agree, yes, those parallel structures are extremely important. And it doesn’t matter so much where you speak out, I think, if it is in a small group it if it is in front of a camera, on television, or in a podcast, or if it is around the kitchen table, or in a small shop, or on the street, I think that if you look at I think that something like this, this process of mass formation can really be compared to a complex dynamical system and in complex and dynamical systems, even the smallest action in the smallest spot of the system can make the system change, that’s something very, very, very specific characteristic of complex dynamical systems. So it doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter how large your audience is, but continue to speak out, continue to speak out, yes.

Aubrey Marcus  1:07:23

In this specific case, there’s two factors that I think are interesting that are perhaps different than other periods of mass formation. One is that social isolation has been part of the policy, which is removing people from other people. The other one is, if you’re around people, you’re wearing a mask, which is limiting the amount of nonverbal communication that you can have and the actual connection you have with people. This is either, you know, a happy accident, and an actual logical way to stop the spread of disease, which certainly, you know, being around people less, I think COVID is a real virus and not being around someone who has a virus is certainly helpful. The mask debate it certainly has evidence on both sides, but in either case, these two conditions seem like they’re actually exacerbating and actually creating more conditions where this mass formation is possible, because people are isolated, and because if they are around each other, they’re literally masked. Do you see that as like something that’s actually, you know, accelerating the process of mass formation, these different things,

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:08:35

Yeah, you know, you can consider mass formation as a kind of a psychological symptom of a society and as all symptoms do, they always create more of the conditions that made them emerge. So that’s always at the individual level, you see the same. Like if someone drinks too much alcohol, something in the system will change which makes him even long more after after alcohol and that’s exactly the same with all symptoms. Symptoms always recreate and reinforce the things they need to exist, and this thing with mass formation is the same. Mass formation in one way or another, will make that after a while, people feel even more socially isolated. That was exactly what happened in Nazi Germany and then the Soviet Union as well, after a while, but people didn’t dare to come together anymore with more than two or three people because they were always scared of being accused, that they were conspiring against the state. So and then that way, they become even more socially isolated than they were in the beginning, and that in itself made them more susceptible more vulnerable to mass formation. So the phenomenon of mass formation indeed, in one way or another makes that society end up in a vicious spiral. It always goes down and it always goes down faster, and in the end it always leads up to its own destruction, that’s something very important. Totalitarianism. Classical dictatorships can exist for 1000s of years, such as in Egypt, where the pharaohs for instance, but totalitarian systems usually destroy themselves and quite quickly usually. And I think that this kind of totalitarianism we are in now, like Hannah Arendt warned us already in 1953, she said, we’ve seen the decline and fall of Nazism, and we see the decline of the Soviet Union of Stalinism now, but she wonders that that does not mean that it trends towards totalitarianism will stop. Very soon, she said, a new totalitarian state will emerge, and it will be a worldwide system, she said, and it will be a system that is no longer met by “mob” leaders such as Stalin and Hitler, but by dull technocrats and bureaucrats, and I think that’s what, yes, I think that’s what we are about to see now. And such as, just like the totalitarian systems of the first half of the 20th century, this system will destroy itself, and it probably will destroy itself much quicker than the systems of the 20th century. It will be more intrinsically self destructive, because totalitarianism and mass formation are always always self destructive. You can explain this very, very well from a psychological point of view. But it’s quite complicated, but they are always self destructive, and once you realise that, you know that the only thing you have to do is, in one way or another, you have to try to survive outside of the system in a parallel structure, and just wait until the system destroys itself.

Aubrey Marcus  1:11:58

Well, that seems like a pretty clear prerogative and to help mitigate, so it seems like mitigate the amount of damage and to hopefully prevent the level of atrocities where people are going around, because we saw that actually happen after, you know, after 9/11, where people were attacking mosques, and, you know, we’ve seen this where, you know, we feel threatened, and then people lash out, and there’s this vigilante thing. So do our best to mitigate, you know, the level of atrocity. Of course, I don’t think it’ll ever reach the level, it’s a different type it’s more of a psychological totalitarianism, unlike, you know, the way that it was in Germany or Russia, but who knows, you know, but it feels like it’s going to be a more of a psychological war that’s being waged. But still nonetheless, on the periphery, there can be atrocities that occur, so mitigating those as much as possible by standing for, you know, standing for the recognition of humanity and then also accelerating the awakening of people to all of the deep, unconscious psychological processes that exist, the seduction of the solution of mass formation, how you can externalise a problem that’s internal, how seductive that is. And then also the seduction of the ego to say, I’m helping the world more than you, so I’m better than you and how good that feels to be the one that really is sacrificing the most and helping people more because that makes you better than someone else. Hey, I’m a better person than Joe Rogan and Joe Rogan’s super powerful and super wealthy but I’m better than him cos I care more, and then how seductive that is psychologically, you know, just to be aware of all of these processes, like it’s okay, like, we’re all we’re all fallible, and we’re all vulnerable. We’re all subject to unconscious processes, any of us could walk on stage with a top hypnotist, like a world class hypnotist, we could walk on stage, and in 10 minutes, we could be clucking like a chicken in front of an audience. You know, like, it could happen to any of us. And then would our friends later, like two years later be like, you fucking chicken. You’re such a chicken like no, like, you would have been a chicken too. You know, it’s like our mind is vulnerable, and so to have that compassion for everybody I think is so important.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:14:15

But you know that usually people who are under hypnosis stick to the same ethical rules and ethical level as they do when they are not hypnotised.

Aubrey Marcus  1:14:24


Prof Mattias Desmet  1:14:25

that’s interesting I think, so being hypnotised is not an excuse to transgress ethical boundaries. That’s something important but it doesn’t matter. I agree with you, of course, that that’s what we should. I think that is maybe the deeper meaning of this crisis that it confronts us, or that it might lead to an analysis of who we are as a human being for someone else, that it might confront us with who we are and can make us think about how we can, what the right thing to do is in this situation, it will. I don’t know why I feel that in one way or another this crisis pushes me and brings me closer to myself and then by continuing to speak out, I learn to control my own anger for instance, if people react aggressively toward me, and so on I feel that in one way or another this process leads to an intense questioning of who I am and makes that I go through an evolution as a human being and I hope that the same is the case for many other people.

Aubrey Marcus  1:15:40

Yeah, yeah, no doubt. That brought something up because I have seen that where a hypnotist a top hypnotist will put someone under a deep hypnosis, give them a knife and say stab me, and they’ll do anything else, they’ll do anything else humiliating completely humiliating they would take their pants off or they would you know pretend to have sex or act like a chicken whatever, they’ll do all that stuff, but they won’t hurt somebody else under hypnosis. So this isn’t, mass formation isn’t exactly hypnosis it’s something a little bit different because it can lead to atrocities that are, so it’s almost like there’s, it’s almost more Manchurian Candidate, this kind of different psychological process, it’s similar to hypnosis, but also different because it seems like historically, at least, it’s led to people committing atrocities that they normally wouldn’t commit under normal conditions unless there’s just a percentage of people that are naturally homicidal anyways.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:16:39

Yes, I think there are, I think there are but yes, there are definitely, I think that mass formation is a kind of hypnosis, but there are differences with the classical hypnosis. For instance, in the process of mass formation, the hypnotist is hypnotised himself, that’s the most important difference. Like in a classical hypnosis, the hypnosist is awake, his field of attention is not narrower than normal, but the people the person who is hypnotised suffers from a narrow field of attention, but the hypnotist doesn’t. And in an approach of mass formation usually the opposite is true. The field of attention of the person who hypnotises is usually even narrower than that of the masses themselves. So that’s why the experts in this situation, they make mistakes that ordinary people wouldn’t make, and that was very clear to me from the beginning if you look at the statistics, and the numbers that are presented through the mass media, they often are so blatantly wrong, that even a child can see it. And still, it is as if many of the experts do not realise it. And that’s because in one way or another, they very often are hypnotised or their field of attention is even narrower. So, you know, we could talk for days about the leaders of the masses, it’s very complicated, because in one way or another, they are hypnotised, in another way they often manipulate and cheat and lie to the people. And that’s because so they do really believe in their ideology, and their ideals they are striving for, that’s something they are usually hypnotised by, but usually they do not believe in the narrative that they are presenting to the people. They feel that it is justified to lie to the people and to manipulate them. So we have to make a distinction there, they are hypnotised in this sense that they really believe in a megalomaniac way that their ideology will create a kind of a paradise for humanity. But that doesn’t mean that they believe everything they are telling because usually they know that they are manipulating the population. So it’s double I think.

Aubrey Marcus  1:19:13

Have you been threatened to lose your job as a professor for speaking out in this way? Has there been any consequences for you professionally?

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:19:24


Aubrey Marcus  1:19:24

Because we certainly hear that in other places.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:19:27

Not at this moment. So I’ve been under huge pressure. Some people at my university told me that I should watch out at what I was saying, and I felt that they implied that well, if I continued in the same way that I could get in trouble. But at the same time, well, I’ve never felt, up until now, I’ve never felt really threatened because in Belgium, a professor is a very well protected profession. But I think In the nearby future, it might become problematic actually. I think that, well, things are getting worse, of course, like, well, for instance, if you refuse the vaccine, I don’t know whether it will, if you will still be, if it will still be possible to teach the students for instance.

Aubrey Marcus  1:20:19

Yeah, yeah, we’re seeing that in with a lot of our healthcare workers. It’s very, very interesting times. Well, I want to end with something, a positive message that actually came from Carl Jung. And he says, and obviously he wasn’t pertaining to this time, but it’s almost very prescient for where we are now. He says it is not for nothing that our age cries out for the redeemer personality for the one who can emancipate himself from the grip of the collective psychosis, save at least his own soul, who lights a beacon of hope for others, proclaiming that here as at least one man who has succeeded in extricating himself from the fatal identity within the group psyche.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:21:07

Ah yeah wonderful.

Aubrey Marcus  1:21:09

And it’s just a beautiful message to say, look, even if you don’t say anything, even if you don’t go out there, like emancipate yourself –

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:21:18


Aubrey Marcus  1:21:19

this is crucial, like be the living example of someone who is free, and someone who can generate their own thoughts and have agency and, you know, be aware of your own biases, be aware of your own, you know, desire for confirmation, be aware of your own desire to be better than another, it’s all okay. We’re all human. But, you know, liberate yourself with that awareness. And that’s a great way to stand in this world, where people are really subject to, you know, phenomenon like mass formation.


Prof Mattias Desmet  1:21:49

It’s a very nice quote, yes, I agree.

Aubrey Marcus  1:21:53

Well thank you so much for joining, if people are interested in learning more from you, and I know you got a book coming out? But if you want to talk about that?

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:22:02

Yes well it will be published in Dutch first, but then it will be translated very quickly. The title is The Psychology of Totalitarianism. I really go into the phenomenon of totalitarianism and mass formation and its historical roots. I try to explain how it emerged in our society. And then also, I’ve also tried to show what the real solutions to the problem are. Yes, I think it will be available in Dutch somewhere in February next year. And then I hope a few months later, also in English and in American.

Aubrey Marcus  1:22:44

Well, if the world hasn’t dramatically changed by then then maybe we’ll do another podcast after that I can get my hands on the English version of that. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. Appreciate you coming on.

Prof Mattias Desmet  1:22:58

Yeah. Thank you for listening.

Aubrey Marcus  1:22:59

Thanks for tuning into this video. Make sure you hit subscribe. Follow me at Aubrey Marcus, check out the Aubrey Marcus podcast available everywhere and leave a comment. Let me know if this video resonated or what else you would like to hear from me in the future. Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *