Mass psychosis

A psychosis is basically “temporary schizophrenia”. A psychosis can either be dangerous or harmless, depending upon the paranoia level in the individual’s belief system. If the individual believes he or she is under attack, and needs to defend himself, a psychosis can be dangerous to society. A mass psychosis is the equivalent for a group of people, where the entire group believes in something that cannot possible be true, and their belief system is often strengthened by lack of “voices of concern”, and the inability to see for themselves that what they believe is not true. Hence, superstition always plays a critical role in building up the mass psychosis to a “dangerous level”. If the group builds its belief upon paranoia, it becomes dangerous. If there is no paranoia in the group’s belief system, the psychosis has little or no negative effect on its surroundings. Famous examples of mass psychosis that resulted in devastating effects are (obviously) fascism in Europe during the 1930s to 1945. Other examples are more “localised” in effect, and often results in lynchings, such as the Bible clearly depicts in its stories of the Golgotha – If you choose to believe in that the Bible conveys at least some truth.

Such psychosis almost always originates from inflated self confidence, combined with “echo chambers”, where diverging voices are rarely if ever heard. The prototype example here is when Jim Jones took 965 people out into the jungle, isolated them from all alternative voices, resulting in 965 mass suicides, and/or murders. Jim Jones was arguably perceived as “God in the flesh” by his followers, and none of his followers could hear alternative opinions, because they were physically isolated from the rest of society. So both societies at large, and smaller fractions within societies can obviously suffer a mass psychosis.

The fix for mass psychosis though is also hence arguably easily explained, by realising you can fight it, by simply allowing for alternative voices to be heard. Basically, the “seeds of doubt”, often reduces the cognitive resonance, that a truly dangerous mass psychosis depends upon.

If you’re a member of a group, any group, in fact which groups doesn’t really matter. Do me a favour, invite your “enemies” to explain their (alternative) world view – Without debating it, or asking questions that creates cognitive dissonance, resulting in furthering the distance between “your group” and the “alternative group”. The exercise is more about realising that the other group are also humans, to avoid demonisation of the “enemy”. And its purpose is neither to convert individuals of your groups, nor individuals of the other group. It’s not about “winning a debate”, since this only results in furthering the stronghold your group’s psychosis and the other group’s psychosis has on its individuals. Nope, the idea with the exercise is to simply humanise the other group’s individuals, to such create resistance towards the most dangerous side effects of echo chambers. Because regardless of what group you’re a member of, including the local atheist group or chess club for that matter, the mechanisms that holds your group together, is basically mass psychosis.

In fact, all groups, ranging from your local police officers, to the national UFO club and soccer team, can suffer from mass psychosis. However, it’s not dangerous unless they’re also struck by paranoia …


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