Mattias Desmet is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ghent University in Belgium.

He focuses on mass crowd formation, totalitarianism, mass hypnosis, indoctrination and, basically, how the human mind works.

For the time being, there are few figures that show the evolution of possible indicators such as the intake of antidepressants and anxiolytics or the number of suicides.

But it is especially important to place mental well-being in the corona crisis in its historical continuity. Mental health had been declining for decades.

There has long been a steady increase in the number of depression and anxiety problems and the number of suicides. And in recent years there has been an enormous growth in absenteeism due to psychological suffering and burnouts.

The year before the corona outbreak, you could feel this malaise growing exponentially. This gave the impression that society was heading for a tipping point where a psychological ‘reorganization’ of the social system was imperative.

Mattias Desmet

For example, I’d like to know how it is that millions of people suddenly believe that permanently wearing a mask and fearing perfectly healthy people, is a good idea.

Mattias believes that this “pandemic” is less biological and more psychological.

Mass formation is a phenomenon that occurs when a large group of people develop irrational beliefs or engage in collective behaviour that defies logic or reason.

It’s like a contagious mindset that spreads within a community, leading individuals to adopt the same thoughts, behaviours, or beliefs.

One theory is the power of social influence.

Humans are social creatures and we often look to others for guidance, validation, and a sense of belonging. When a significant number of people around us start believing or doing something, we might feel compelled to follow suit even if it contradicts our own beliefs or logic. This social pressure can be so strong that it overrides our critical thinking and individual judgment.

Hence the “sheeple” label.

Another theory is that fear and uncertainty play a significant role in driving mass formation.

During times of crisis or uncertainty, people feel anxious, confused, or powerless and, in search of stability and security, they latch onto simplistic explanations or adopt extreme beliefs that promise certainty and control.

Human psychology is heavily influenced by cognitive biases which are mental shortcuts that shape our perceptions and ability to make decisions.

In a group setting, these biases can be amplified, leading to a phenomenon known as groupthink. Groupthink occurs when a desire for harmony or conformity within the group overrides individual dissenting opinions.

This can suppress critical thinking and lead to the adoption of collective beliefs or behaviours.

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