🔮 Are you under a spell?

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Could you be stuck in a process called ‘Mass Formation’? Understand how to spot it in yourself and others, but also learn how to break the spell.

Would you recognize it if you’re under a spell called ‘Mass Formation’? Or would you, just like a lecturing Professor in Clinical Psychology with a Master’s degree in Statistics, have trouble realizing it?

I made this checklist, based on a strong interview with Professor Mattias Desmet by Chris Martenson. Scroll through this 2-minute read, but only if you consider yourself brave enough to ask yourself a few critical questions.

This post was originally written on Linkedin, with a (very) limited character count. It’s therefore nice and short, but a bit less storytelling.


In order for ‘Mass Formation’ to occur, you need to a society that suffers from:

1. A lack of social connectedness
2. A lack of meaning making
3. High levels of free-floating (unspecified) anxiety & psychological discontent
4. High levels of free-floating aggression & frustration

“20% of the people received the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, but of course much more people were confronted with anxiety and even much more where confronted with psychological discontent in general.

Professor Mattias Desmet

According to Professor Desmet, our society checks all 4 boxes.


1. The ‘object’ of their anxiety is delivered to this group
2. This group receives a strategy (a ‘narrative’) to deal with it

The media and government can play a critical role here.


1. The anxiety and frustration are connected to this object
2. A new kind of ‘social bond’ emerges that makes people in this group feel connected again
3. Even if the strategy or narrative is “utterly absurd” (!), this group focuses on it, because it leads to (and strengthens) their new ‘social bond’.
4. All the frustration & aggression can (finally) be directed at an object.

The object of frustration and aggression:
→ The people who don’t want to participate in this mass formation.

Social bond

1. You conduct (by definition) ineffective rituals to show your allegiance to this group
2. The more intense (and ineffective) the rituals, the bigger your display of allegiance
3. Your field of attention narrows, so you’re only aware of that part of reality, both cognitively and emotionally, that is indicated by the ‘narrative’.
4. (Collateral) damage (i.e. to the object of your aggression) has no cognitive or emotional impact on you.
5. Even if everything is taken away from you, you will not notice it (‘mass formation’ is similar to hypnosis).

“That’s why (..) people ‘know’ somewhere there is collateral damage of the measures, but it has no cognitive and emotional impact. That’s the problem.”

Professor Mattias Desmet

Wake-up call

1. You can wake people who are in ‘mass formation’ up by sharing important (& easy to digest) information to lessen the grip of their hypnosis.
2. As a coach I recommend doing this with a technique I call the ‘breadcrumb method’, where you drop small pieces of information to intrigue others to find out more on their own.
3. If you feel that you might be stuck in this process yourself, the 1st step might be to realize what is happening & actively broaden your scope to allow for new perspectives. Remind yourself that it’s difficult to say you were wrong, however, in my opinion it’s always better than doubling down.

Curious to learn if my take-aways helped you. Let’s all stay friendly towards each other & make this world a better place.

Link to full interview:

Roderick de Leeuw

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