Recently, I had some thoughts that are really a continuations of thoughts from this article: Thoughts on on my reaction to social hysteria, with remarks about the self and other things.
A PROBLEM IS FELT . . .
In the early 1990’s I began to feel that something seemed wrong. I felt that something was amiss or out of place. I said that I felt controlled in some way or that something was controlling me. I also seemed dissociated with myself as if I was removed from myself. I also felt as if I was lost in life. It had a weird quality about it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
I began to question it and some thoughts began to came out of it . . .
THE VIETNAM WAR PROTESTS AND HIPPIE MOVEMENT
I said that what I was feeling were the effects of the Vietnam War protests and Hippie movement on me. I was brought up after these events and was naturally influenced by them. In fact, I always thought that I was “hippie-like” in the 1980’s and took many hippie views. As a result of this, I adopted a lot of its mentality and ways.
As I looked at it closer it became clear that the Vietnam War protests and Hippie movement were a form of mass hysteria that was greatly aggravated by the media. It is here that I first began to use the term “media-induced mass hysteria”. I was feeling the effects of the mass hysteria of these events.
This started my inquiry into the phenomena of mass hysteria and what it did to people.
MASS HYSTERIA, MASS MENTALITY, AND THE “MASS MIND”
Mass hysteria is really a condition of mass mentality which are a result of what I call the “mass mind”. This is a a condition where one abandons ones mind to a social awareness which views the social situation in ways such as these:
- It is perceived as a single “whole” or single entity
- It is perceived as a separate living thing
- It is perceived as an extension of ones self
These create an awareness where the social condition develops a quality of a separate and independent mind. The “mass mind” creates several conditions:
- Mass hysteria. This is when an emotion, or idea, has control over a population of people. It tends to be specific, appears in a dramatic way, and tends to be transitory. In extreme cases, mass hysteria can be like a bunch of people acting like chickens with their heads chopped off. Oftentimes, it appears more like a controlled “over-reactibility” (that is, people are overly and easily reactive).
- Mass mentality. This is when the “mass mind” affects a person in an overall sense, being somewhat subtle, and tends to last a long time. This mentality can be so prevalent in a society that we could speak of a “mass mentality culture”.
In mass mentality, and mass hysteria, the “mass mind”, takes on the qualities of a mind and replaces a persons mind. In this way a person “loses their mind”, so to speak, to the “mass mind”. One becomes subservient and a slave to it as a result.
THE EFFECTS OF THE “MASS MIND”
The feelings, that I described above, describe the power of the “mass mind” over me. In short, I was not controlled by my mind but by this other mind and these feelings are its effects. In this way, I was feeling what could be described as a “forced splitting of the mind”. My mind was as if split into two parts and, what’s worse, one of those minds isn’t even my own.
The effects of this “splitting of the mind” include these feelings:
- Feeling controlled – I felt controlled and wanted to not be controlled
- Feeling disconnected – I felt that I wasn’t myself and was not in control of myself and who I am
- Feeling desirous of change – I felt that I did not want to be in control or be disconnected
Overall, these caused a number of effects:
- I felt as if something was depriving me
- I felt deprived of being my own self
- I felt deprived of not being able to live
- I felt a sense of emptiness
- I felt disconnected
- I felt an unhappiness
- I felt a desire to change this situation
- I do not know how to change it
Being controlled by them I was as if stuck in these feelings unable to get free from them. This caused something like a dilemma, a problem has been created which I could not solve. For me, it started an inquiry into it. As I looked I found historical origins in this phenomena . . .
THE “ERA OF MASS HYSTERIA”
It seems, to me, that much of the events since the late 1700’s are really mass hysteria related. This includes all the wars, social upheavals, conflicts, etc. since then. I felt that mass hysteria has far more impact than people think and may actually be dictating things in the past 200 years. In this way, we could say that, since the late 1700’s, we are living in the “era of mass hysteria”. Typically, in Western mentality, we say that these things are caused by things like economy, politics, and such. I tended to disagree with this.
Several important things has appeared during the “era of mass hysteria”:
- The growth of media
- The fall of culture, belief, and social identity
These tend to promote mass hysteria. They have grown a great deal since the late 1700’s and have continued to grow ever since. They may be responsible for why it has become an era of mass hysteria.
As I looked at it closer I began to see that this condition was associated with several themes in Western thinking during this time . . .
THEMES IN THE “ERA OF MASS HYSTERIA”
Several themes dominate in the “era of mass hysteria”:
- Ideas of freedom – this is usually looked at from a political viewpoint
- Alienation – this is usually looked at as being a result of technology and the modern world
- Rebellion – this is usually a rebellion against society, morality, etc.
These themes are very prevalent during the “era of mass hysteria” and, in a way, dominate much of what has happened during that time, in one way or another.
If one looks closer one can see that they are reactions to the conflicts created by mass hysteria and the “mass mind”, as described above:
- Being controlled >>> freedom
- Being disconnected >>> alienation
- Being desirous of change >>> rebellion
What all this shows is that what these themes describe are actually the effects of mass hysteria and the power of the “mass mind” over us. In other words, they are describing a whole other origin than is what is normally supposed.
REVEALING A NEW ANGLE
What all this means is a number of things:
- Freedom is not about politics
- Alienation is not a result of technology and the modern world
- Rebellion is not rebelling against society, morality, etc.
This places a whole new angle on these themes.
What these themes are referring to is a fight against the effects of the “mass mind” and what it does to us. They are actually attempts at trying to remedy its effects. In short, in the “era of mass hysteria” there is a great conflict, a prevalence of the effects of the “mass mind” and attempts at trying to destroy its effects.
This fact shows a couple of things:
- The “mass mind” has a control over us which we are powerless to fight
- That the effects of the “mass mind” are unconscious and no one is overtly aware of it causing us to ascribe its effects to other things
- Because the effects are unconscious the attempts to solve it are haphazard and tend to not work that well (so far, none of the attempts have worked)
In short, the “mass mind” has control of us without our knowing. This is, as I said, because we “lose our mind” to it . . . how could we possibly be aware of it? I am the only person, as far as I know, who has acknowledged that we are controlled by another social “mind”.
Since the “mass mind” is so prevalent we could say that the “era of mass hysteria” could be better described as the “era of the mass mind”.
BEING CONTROLLED BY THE “MASS MIND”
The “mass mind” has a great control over us and can literally replace our mind. It does things such as:
- It makes our decisions
- It thinks for us
- It dictates what we do
- It determines who we are
- It becomes identified with us
In these ways, it can have great impact on us. There is like a spectrum to this impact:
- It influences us
- It dictates what we do
- It becomes us
- We lose our selves to it – A loss of self
This spectrum is much dictated by the strength of our self. For the stronger self it only influences us. For the weakest self there is a completely loss of self. In this way, we see that there is a close association between the “mass mind” and the strength of the self. In general, the stronger the “mass mind” the weaker the self. In this way, people who are brought with the “mass mind” tend to have weaker self’s. This may be why modern people are more weak minded than non modern people.
THE COLLECTIVE SELF
I do not feel that society is a product of the “mass mind”, though it can resemble it at times. Normal society reflects the “collective self”. It has qualities such as:
- Its based in a specific way of life
- Its a unifying of people as a result of a condition, such as primitive people living in the middle of nature
The “mass mind”, on the other hand, tends to be a product of things like:
- Being in a mass of people where there is no real sense of unity
- Where its the media that unifies
- There is no real reason for unity . . . any unity is based in the fact that people just happen to be living near each other
What this shows is that the “mass mind” is based in a unique situation and, as a result, cannot be considered a normal phenomena of society.
“AN INDIVIDUAL PERSONS FORCED UNIFICATION WITH SOCIETY”
The above brings up several unique and important points about a society:
- A means of unification – the importance of a way of life
- A reason for unity- the importance of some condition holding everyone together
These seem to be necessary to make a healthy society.
When the means and reason are lacking a “mass mind” tends to develop. In some respects, the development of the “mass mind” seems to suggest that it is an attempt at a unification with society when there is no means or reason for unity. It is as if trying to force a unity to take place when it is not taking place naturally. Since the “mass mind” is a reflection of an individual person it reveals that the person is trying to force this unity of society. In this way, the “mass mind” can be described as “an individual persons forced unification with society”. Its almost as if the person is trying to create what is not there. This seems to suggest that the “mass mind” is a product of a failure of the social condition.
DEALING WITH THE “MASS VOID”
In some respects, the “mass mind” shows that too much burden has been placed on the individual person and that society has taken a “back seat” in our lives. To put it another way, we are expecting society to take much of the weight of life but its all on our shoulders. This shows a number of interesting points:
- We feel inadequate to deal with life
- We look up to society to help us with this inadequacy
- This is naturally appearing, as if an instinctual need
In short, there is an innate need for an individual person to feel a unification with society because our self is naturally weak. More importantly, it shows that society creates something like a “greater collective self” to help us deal with life, as if an extension of our self. This “greater collective self” has qualities such as:
- It originates from a healthy society where there is a means and reason for unity
- It satisfies a need
- It is supportive of us
- We participate with it
The “mass mind”, on the other hand, has qualities such as:
- It originates from a society where there is no means and reason for unity
- A need is left unsatisfied
- It doesn’t support us
- There’s nothing to participate with
The society, that we are expecting to be there, isn’t really “there”, so to speak, but is as if absent. In this way, we are looking at a society that “is there but isn’t there”. This the quality of “mass society”. I also speak of this as the “absent society”, as it isn’t really there.
The “absent society”, and the innate need for unification with society, creates a dilemma . . . one looks to something that isn’t there but which we want to be there. In this way, we start to look at the void of the “absent society” as if there is actually something there when there is actually nothing. I call this phenomena the “mass void”. One then does things like:
- We continue to look to this void as a source of unification with society . . . it becomes our focus
- We fill the “mass void” with a projection of ones self to make it seem real and alive
These qualities creates these effects of the “mass mind”:
- We follow whatever it says as, deep down, we are seeking a unification with society
- We see “mass society” as a part of our self, as if we and it are the same
The effect of these is that we “lose our self” in the void of “mass society” . . . the “mass mind” is created. In this way, the “mass mind” is created to deal with the void of “mass society”. In this way, its like an illusion or deception . . . it creates something when there’s nothing there.
The result of all this are the qualities stated at the beginning of this article:
- Feeling controlled
- Feeling disconnected
- Feeling desirous of change
In some respects, these describe a conflict of the perception of self . . . when we project our self into a void we can no longer tell where our self begins or ends. As a result, we see these effects:
- Our sense of feeling controlled is actually our desire for unification with society but, because its directed to a void, its origin is unclear and we don’t know what’s controlling us . . . this means that whats actually controlling us is our own desire for unification with society
- The self-in-the-void makes us feel disconnected
- The problems created by the self-in-the-void makes us desirous of change
These are the origin of freedom, alienation, and rebellion. What this suggests is that these problems are actually describing conflicts created by the “mass mind”.
CULTURE, CULTURAL LONELINESS, AND TRIBALISM
Interestingly, as I look back on it I find that one of my responses to the effects of the “mass mind” was the emphasis on what I called Culture. This refers to an aspect of society with these qualities:
- A defined quality or way of being
- A reason or cause that makes us feel a “united people”
- A participation with it
- A feeling a part of it, as if it is an extension of me
- An authority that is Divine-like
Culture made society more than a society, a group of people, but created what I often called a “people”. I used to say, “I yearn for a people”.
My observation is that the modern world has basically destroyed Culture. This caused me great problems and I began to speak of Cultural Loneliness. This refers to a desire for the qualities of a culture – a “people” – but in which conditions don’t or won’t allow it to take place. Realizing this fact only furthered my sense of alienation.
As I looked at it closer I could see that what I called Culture was really a form of Tribalism. In other words, what I yearned for was to be part of a “tribe”. To be part of a tribe means more than belonging or associating ones self with it. I found that what I called the “tribe” had this mystical quality about it, as if I somehow was transformed by it and made into a new person. It seemed as if primal-like in quality, as if it originated from the very beginnings of time. Interestingly, many primitive societies have rituals that transform a person when they become part of a tribe.
As time went on I found that a “tribe”, or a culture, was never going to appear. I then found that I became more mystical-like and developed an emphasis on transforming the self. This transformation of self refers to a desire to become a new person.
There is something like a progression in my reaction to the “mass mind”:
- A sense of alienation and feeling disconnected
- The discovery of the “mass mind” and its effects
- The yearning for a culture
- The yearning for a tribe
- The realizing that a culture or tribe is not going to appear
- A tendency to become mystical and seek a transform self and become a new person
So we see that the progression begins with an alienated and disconnected self and ends with a seeking to transform the self and become a new person. In the process of this I sought help from society which seemed to reflect an innate need and tendency. But, because of societies impaired state, it ended up hindering me. In the end I had to rely on myself.
This, I think, shows that the “mass mind” creates a bunch of people who are actually very “alone” and in different ways, such as:
- Alone in alienation
- Alone in feeling controlled
- Loneliness in belonging
- Alone in the reliance on self
This “aloneness” is very unique. The “mass mind” makes it so that it doesn’t feel like loneliness. In the “mass mind” people tend to blindly obey “mass society”. This blind obeying gives the illusion that they are not alone. Perhaps we could speak of this as “mass loneliness”?
I do feel that people are alone in “mass society”, though they don’t seem that way and that there are people all around them. I often have said, “never have I been so alone than in mass society”.
PROTESTANT CHRISTIANITY AND THE “MASS MIND”
I tend to feel that Protestant Christianity has had great impact on the development of the “mass mind”. Its very likely that Protestant Christianity laid the foundations for the development of the “mass mind” in the past 200 years. Several qualities found in Protestant Christianity seem to of helped promote the “mass mind”:
- The emphasis on the person alone
- The idea that everyone is “one”, the body of Christ
- The attack of authority
- The abstract way of looking at things
These had the effect of shifting the emphasis from society to the individual person and the undermining of society, culture, and the tribe . . . the individual person was now looking at a void society. This seems like a basis for the “mass mind” that would develop later.
DEMOCRACY AND THE “MASS MIND”
It seems, to me, that democracy also tends to have an impact on the development of the “mass mind” in ways similar to what’s described above in Protestant Christianity. In some respects, democracy is just a continuation of the effects of Protestant Christianity but in political form.
LIBERALISM AND THE “MASS MIND”
It seems, to me, that what has become liberalism, recently, is a manifestation of the “mass mind”. In short, liberals are generally people who have made the “mass mind” a way of life. One could say that liberalism is basically saying, “lets give up our selves to mass society and let it run everything”. In this way, we see several qualities:
- There is the “loss of mind” that is a trait of the “mass mind”
- They see the “mass society” as an entity
- They feel that blindly following “mass society” will be a source of unification with society
In many ways, liberalism is making a whole life out of the “mass mind”.
INSECURITY AND ITS EFFECTS
As I said above, the “mass mind” makes people “lose their minds”. In this way, people don’t feel “in control” of their lives. One result of this is a particular quality is an insecurity which can cause other emotions such as:
In short, the “mass mind” tends to predispose people to these emotions. These, in turn, can cause other problems to happen, such as:
- Low self-esteem
- A sense of being threatened in some way
This means, more or less, that the “mass mind” often tends to weaken a person psychologically and predispose them to problems. Its no surprise that these feelings play a big role in the themes of freedom, alienation, and rebellion.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen