One of the most satisfying things that has happened since the inception of Ye Olde Blogge, other than thinking of the term, Ye Olde Blogge, because, amirite? Ye Olde Blogge. That’s pure genius. Okay, it has been very satisfying to see other people better versed in psychology than me coming to the same or similar conclusions as I am. Seriously, for a couple of years there, I was going crazy because I could find no references to groupthink, social identity, or cognitive dissonance in any of the analyses of the Trump years, but now, they are popping up on occasion by those names or similar concepts.
Here’s one that I’m particularly pleased with because I put a lot of time, effort, and blogging into it. These folks are calling it mass psychosis, but we’ve talked about how people maintain obviously false beliefs through cognitive dissonance and social support for them. These folks are saying about the same thing, but, but they are using some legacy psychology to do it with.
Watch the video — I wish I had the time and technical skills to produce video like this — take notes because you’re a nerd like me, and we’ll discuss it for a bit and have fun in the comments! It’s by Academy of Ideas and After Skool.
It kicks off pretty old school with a cool quote from the famous French 19th century polymath, Gustave Le Bon, who is best known for his trieste on the psychology of crowds or mobs — it was written in French, so who knows, because they just make it up as they go along, amirite? — who noted that people want to believe what they want to believe and not necessarily what is factual and, therefore, easily fooled. Man, sounds like what I’ve been writing about for the past year or so.
They go on to quote Carl Jung — #FullDisclosure: personal favorite; although, no longer very influential — who noted that the biggest threat to humankind is our own psyche. Like I’ve been saying the things that evolved to help us dominate the planet are now killing us. All those cognitive tendencies can quickly turn into Tom fuckery and fuck us up and they have.
Jung also talks about a society in which madness becomes the norm, which he called psychic epidemics, or mass psychosis. Mass psychosis is the social phenomenon in which an entire population begins to believe in delusional ideas that are no longer based in reality. There are those who believe that mass psychosis is a form of groupthink. See? Amirite or amirite? I’m right, right?
Jung lists the behaviors of people who suffer from mass psychosis as being less intellectual and more emotional, irrational, erratic, irresponsible, and unreliable. Who the hell does that sound like? Groupthink, especially as he notes, decisions become more destructive and immoral. It also sounds like freaking MAGA Nation. Seriously taking horse dewormer instead of the #COVID19 vaccine? This is mass psychosis.
Next, they discuss the causes of mass psychosis and note that it stems from psychogenic elements, especially constant exposure to fear and anxiety — Who’s strategy is this sounding like? If you said the fear mongering of the GQP, then you’d be right — which causes people to find a way of calming themselves like telling those folks flogging horse dewormer and outlawing mask mandates to fuck right off, but the MAGAs have decided to “blend truth and fiction” to create a delusional world.
Look over Silvano Arieti’s steps to psychotic break and tell me it doesn’t read like what we’re witnessing MAGA Nation going through right now:
- The Phase of Panic. The individual begins to perceive the world is not as they think it should be, so they react with increasing panic because they cannot explain why the world just ain’t working right no more. You know, like a black man being elected president, the USA becoming a minority-majority country, and Black folks having their votes cast as easily as whites and counted, too!
- The Phase of Psychotic Insight. The individual engages in some next level cognitive dissonance to make the world make sense again. Somehow, they have to interpret what they are seeing so that it jibes with what they’re thinking. If you’re not willing to alter your thinking, you’ve got to alter your interpretation. Your anxiety is gone, but so is your grip on reality.
- The Phase of Multiplying Symptoms. This phase is not mentioned in the film because it is less pertinent to mass psychosis. It describes the way that the problems schizophrenics experience tend to snowball. I guess, something like that is happening now in the US, we’re just growing more and more dysfunctional and unable to cope with reality, witness overwhelmed hospital systems with not only unvaccinated #COVID19 patients, their regular patients, but the deluded souls who’ve actually taken horse dewormer.
The end result of the mass psychosis that we are seeing among MAGA Nation is totalitarianism. A totalitarian society divides into a god-like ruling class and regressed child-like helpless dependent masses. Both are deluded into believing that the arrangement can work and lead to anything other than mass suffering.
Mass psychosis begins with the ruling class who deludes themselves that they alone an fix it that they alone can and should rule society completely. That sounds a lot like Gingrich’s permanent majority and Cruz’s and McConnell’s just never compromise approach to governance. It sounds a lot like the Koch Bros and ALEC who are trying to write all of the state laws that the GQP legislatures are passing.
This ruling class usually runs some kind a game plan based on Hitler’s playbook. They literally destroy the minds of their followers by using the firehose of lies approach and hyping threats to the society. In other words, lying so much and so often that no one knows what is real any more. The term the film uses, which I’m unfamiliar with is, menticide, the killing of the mind by systematically undermining the values and norms of a society and replacing them with radically different ones. Sounds like gaslighting to me. And, now we’re convincing MAGA Nation that democracy is not really something we want or need.
The use of fear is key here. We know that fearful people will vote more conservatively and are more vulnerable to the authoritarian appeal. For the authoritarian move to succeed the populace must be convinced that they are being attacked and are under grave threat, whether they really are or not. Diseased immigrant caravans allowing ISIS to infiltrate the country and cut all our heads off, replacement theory, rioting felonious Black people running wild in our streets, even #COVID19. These are all things that they’ve used to convince rural conservative Christian white Americans that the sky is falling and they need to vote conservative whether they like it or not… and they do.
Madness is living so disconnected to reality that you do the same things over and over again expecting different results… except where computers are concerned. You can do the same things over and over again, and one time, it does do something different. Mass psychosis is a population living a deluded existence untethered from reality.
To counter the forces of the menicidal authoritarians then means to bring reality back into the picture.
- Develop your own mind. Order your thoughts by engaging with the world. Exercise logic and critical thinking and develop healthy habits of mind and body.
- Spread the truth that counters the propaganda. We have two interesting situations in the #COVID19 pandemic and the withdrawal from Afghanistan. There is massive disinformation out there about both, but there are people who are trying to get the truth to people. With #COVID19, we can see the truth if we are not deluded. The unvaccinated are the ones getting sick and dying. Everyday we see new information about Afghanistan and how the withdrawal and saving the interpreters were sabotaged by Trump and Miller. Both are complex truths difficult to communicate, but both can pierce the bubble of disinformation propagated by the GQP.
- Humor, Satire, and Ridicule. Demagogues don’t have a sense of humor. It’s a rule or something. Did the Ol’ Pussy Grabber have a sense of humor? Could he make fun of himself? It’s why SNL’s Trump skits got to him so badly. So, keep pumping out the memes that take the ridiculous crap that Tuckems, Ingraham, and Hanity put out to task. Keep mercilessly ridiculing Maddog Greene and Loaded Boebert and Looney Gohmert and all the other useful idiots that they trot out to peddle their dogma and propaganda.
- Create Parallel Structures. Organizations, businesses, and activities that exist outside of the structure created by the authoritarian government. Luckily, we are not quite there, yet. But one to keep in mind because we ain’t out of the woods yet, baby!
- Resist. People opposed to the authoritarian movement must also be organized and resist their grab for power. The sooner in the process we get started, the greater the chances of success.
That’s most of the film. It parallels many of the things that we’ve posted over the years here at Ye Olde Blogge proving once again that people with the same goals using similar resources will come up with similar results without collusion or conspiracy being present. Unfortunately, all roads lead to the same conclusion. The GQP is making an authoritarian power grab and it is up to us to defy them.
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