Mattias Desmet; a great psychologist explains why we are so passive in front of COVID19

Translated to English BY: Costantino Ceoldo

Mattias Desmet; a great psychologist explains why we are so passive in front of COVID19

PEJOURNAL – Inside the Great Imposture, the thing that is really scary (it has already been said) is the passivity in the face of the general decline of freedom and civilization of the Western masses.

With their masks and their obedience to lockdowns increasingly similar to a state of imprisonment, the majority give the impression of fearing a substantially imaginary danger (death from COVID19 but in 99.8 percent of cases they do not risk) more than the real damage that has already fallen on them. From the tragic depressions that affect their young children and adolescents, the fact that they have already lost two school years, which will doom them fatally to poverty, to precariousness, to low-level employment like food delivery on bike to a long lasting unemployment.

They, the parents themselves, also seem to accept passively their own loss of wages, the destruction of the economic sectors that employed them, the degradation of their professional life. It seems that they expect to receive skimpy aids, that they content themselves with getting food, they willingly adapt to citizenship checks, looking for the future income of citizenship foreseen for them, the masses, by the Grand Reset. As themselves they were children again, irresponsible, eager to be taken care of by the State (even if it has a reptilian face), eager not to struggle anymore…

In this regard, I read an interview with Professor Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Ghent in Belgium, who makes an illuminating diagnosis of the COVIDiotic community.

Almost a year after the onset of the coronavirus crisis, what is the mental health of the population?

It is particularly important to place mental well-being in the coronavirus crisis in its historical continuity. Mental health had been on the decline 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 from work due to psychological suffering and burnout.

The year before the outbreak of the coronavirus, this malaise could be felt growing exponentially. There was the impression that society was heading towards a turning point where a psychological “reorganization” of the social system was imperative. This is happening with COVID19. Initially, we noticed that people with little knowledge of the virus evoked terrible fears – a real social panic reaction was manifested. This happens especially if there is already a strong latent fear in a person or in a population.

The psychological dimensions of the current coronavirus crisis are seriously underestimated. A crisis acts as a trauma that takes away the historical sense of an individual. Trauma is seen as an isolated event in itself, when in reality it is part of an ongoing process.

For example, we easily overlook the fact that a significant part of the population was strangely relieved during the initial block, feeling freed from stress and anxiety. I have regularly heard people say: “Yes, these measures are heavy, but at least I can relax a little”. As the routine of daily life stopped, a calm settled on society.

Lockdown has often freed people from a terrible psychological routine. This created an unconscious support for the block. If the population had not already been exhausted by their lives, and especially by their work, there would never have been any favor for closure.

I noticed something similar when the first lockdown ended. Statements such as “We will not start living the way we used to, we will be stuck in traffic again” and so on were heard regularly. People didn’t want to go back to pre-coronavirus normalcy.

If we do not take into account the dissatisfaction of the population with its existence, we will not understand this crisis and we will not be able to solve it. By the way, now I have the impression that the new normal has become a rut again and I wouldn’t be surprised if mental health really starts to deteriorate in the near future. Perhaps especially if it turns out that the vaccine does not provide the magic solution that is expected.

Desperate cries of young people appear regularly in the media. How seriously are they to be taken?

The experience of lockdowns and the associated measures are completely different for young people and adults. Unlike a middle-aged adult, the span of one year for a young person means a period in which they undergo enormous psychological development, much of which occurs in dialogue and relationships with peers. Today’s youth are experiencing this crucial period of mental and existential development in isolation, and it may be that it will have negative consequences for most of them. But everything is complex as far as young people are concerned. For example, those who previously experienced acute social anxiety or social isolation may now feel better because they are no longer the misfits. In general, young people are undoubtedly the hardest hit by this COVID19 crisis.

What about anxiety in adults?

In adults there is also fear, but the object of fear is different. Some are primarily afraid of the virus itself. There are people living on my street who hardly dare to leave their homes. Others fear the economic consequences of the measures. And still others fear the social changes caused by the coronavirus measures. They fear the emergence of a totalitarian society. Like me, for example (laughs).

Are coronavirus-associated mortality and morbidity rates commensurate with frightening responses?

The deleterious effects of the government response are disproportionate to the health risk of the virus. Professionally, I am involved in two COVID19 research projects. As a result, I have been working quite intensively with the data. Clearly, the viral death rate is quite low. The numbers the media are announcing are based on, say, an overly generous tally. Regardless of any pre-existing medical problems, nearly all elderly deaths were added to the deaths from COVID19. I personally know a person who has been registered as a coronavirus death. He was a terminal cancer patient who died with rather than coronavirus. Adding these types of deaths to COVID19 deaths increases the number and increases anxiety in the population.

Several emergency doctors called me during the second wave. Some have told me that their ward was absolutely not overrun with corona patients. Others told me that more than half of ICU patients had no COVID19 or had symptoms so mild that they would have been sent home if they had been diagnosed with the flu but, given the prevailing panic, this became impossible. Unfortunately, these doctors wanted to remain anonymous, so their message did not reach the media and public opinion.

We are struck by the disappearance of the ability to criticize consensus and coronavirus measures, even within the academic world where the practice of science requires critical thinking. How do you explain it?

To tell the truth, there are many in university and in the world of medicine who are amazed at what is happening. I have several friends in the medical field who do not accept conventional fiction. They say “let’s open our eyes, can’t you see that this virus is not the plague?” But too often they don’t take the step to say it publicly. Furthermore, for each critical voice, thirty more follow the story, even if that means they have to abandon their standards of scientific criticism.

Is this a sign of cowardice?

In some cases it is. In fact, you can distinguish three groups everywhere. The first group does not believe the story and says it publicly. The second group does not believe the story either, but they publicly share it anyway, because, given the social pressure, they do not dare to do otherwise. And the third group really believes in the dominant narrative and has a real fear of the virus. The latter group is certainly also found in universities.

It is striking how scientific studies, even in this COVID19 crisis, reveal very different results. Based on these results, scientists can defend almost diametrically opposed theories as the only truth. How is it possible?

In fact, there are many contradictory positions in research, for example, regarding the effectiveness of facial masks or hydroxychloroquine, the success of the Swedish approach or the effectiveness of the PCR test.

Even more curiously, the scientific studies that contain a huge number of unlikely mistakes, which one would not expect a normally sane person to make.

This is the case of determining the absolute number of infections, while a competent person knows that this means nothing until the number of infections detected is compared with the number of tests performed: obviously, the more tests you perform, the more likely your infection rate is to increase. Is it so difficult? In addition, it should be borne in mind that the PCR test can produce a large number of false positives, since the technique is widely used improperly for diagnosis.

But how can this happen? Scientists who rant?

Once again, to understand this phenomenon it is appropriate to place it in the historical perspective, because the questionable quality of scientific research is not a new question.

In 2005, the so-called “crisis of reproducibility” [of certain scientific experiments] broke out in the sciences. Several committees set up to investigate cases of scientific fraud have found that scientific research is teeming with errors. Stated conclusions are often of very dubious value. In the wake of the crisis, various titles have appeared in the journals of the sector that leave little to the imagination. In 2005, John Ioannidis, a professor of medical statistics at Stanford, published “Why most published research results are fake”. In 2016, a different research group wrote on the same topic, in “Reproducibility: a tragedy of errors” published in the medical journal Nature. These are just two examples of the extensive literature describing this problem. I myself am well aware of the shaky scientific foundations of many research findings. In addition to my master’s in clinical psychology, I also earned a master’s in statistics. My PhD dealt with measurement problems in the field of psychology.

How has criticism been received in the scientific world?

An attempt was made to resolve the crisis by asking for greater transparency and objectivity. Nevertheless, that did not solve much. Rather, the cause of the problem lies in a specific type of science that emerged during the Enlightenment. This science is based on an absolute faith in objectivity.

According to the followers of this vision, the world is totally objectified, measurable, predictable and verifiable. But science itself has shown that this idea is unsustainable.

There are limits to objectivity and, depending on the scientific domain, these limits are very likely to be encountered. Physics and chemistry are still relatively suitable for measurement. But this is far less successful in other research areas such as economics, biomedical science or psychology, where a researcher is more likely to discover that a researcher’s subjectivity had a direct influence on his observations. And it is precisely this subjective core that scientists have tried to eliminate from the scientific debate.

Paradoxically – but not by chance – this core leads to the exact opposite of the desired result. That is to say, to a radical lack of objectivity and a proliferation of subjectivity. This problem persisted even after the Reproducibility Crisis, it was not solved despite the efforts of critics. As a result, now, 15 years later, in the throes of the coronavirus crisis, we continue to face exactly the same problems.

So current politicians base the decisions they take for the pandemic on incorrectly established scientific principles?

I think so. Here too we see a kind of naive belief in objectivity that turns into its opposite: a serious lack of objectivity with masses of errors and carelessness.

But worse: there is a sinister connection between the emergence of this type of absolutist science and the process of manipulation and totalitarianization of society.

In her book “The origins of totalitarianism”, Hannah Arendt brilliantly describes how this process took place in Nazi Germany, or the USSR. The nascent totalitarian regimes typically resort to a “scientific” discourse.

They show a great preference for figures and statistics, which quickly degenerate into pure propaganda, characterized by a radical “contempt for facts”.

For example, Nazism based its ideology on the superiority of the Aryan race. A whole series of so-called scientific data have validated their theory. Today we know that this theory had no scientific validity, but the scientists of the time used the media to defend the positions of the regime.

Or let’s take Stalin’s favorite “scientist”, Trofim Lysenko, who rejected “bourgeois” genetics and believed that hereditary traits could be modified by the environment…

Hannah Arendt describes how these scientists proclaimed questionable scientific credentials. She also describe how the rising of this type of science and its industrial applications has been accompanied by an inevitable social change. Classes disappeared and normal social ties deteriorated, with much fear, anxiety, frustration and indefinable lack of meaning. It is in such circumstances that the masses develop very specific psychological qualities. All fears that haunt society bind themselves to an “object” – for example: Jews – so that the masses enter into a kind of energetic struggle with this object.

Today a similar phenomenon is perceived. In society there is widespread psychological suffering, lack of meaning and reduced social bonds. Then comes a narrative that points to an object of fear, the virus, after which the population strongly ties their fear and discomfort to this feared object. Meanwhile, there is a constant call in all media to collectively fight the murderous enemy.

The scientists who bring the narrative to the population are rewarded, in return, with enormous social power. Their psychological power is so great that, at their suggestion, the whole society abruptly renounces a series of social mores and reorganizes itself in ways that no one at the beginning of 2020 thought possible.

What do you think will happen now?

The coronavirus’s current policy temporarily restores some social solidarity and meaning to society. Working together against the virus creates a kind of intoxication, which translates into a huge narrowing of attention, so that other issues, such as concern for collateral damage, vanish into the background. Even the United Nations and several scientists have warned from the beginning that global collateral damage could generate far more deaths than the virus, for example due to misery, hunger and delayed treatment of real diseases.

The social conditioning of the masses has another curious effect: it induces individuals to psychologically put aside selfish and individual motivations. In this way one can tolerate a government that takes away some personal pleasures. To give just one example: catering establishments where people have worked all their lives can be closed without much protest. Or also: the population is devoid of shows, festivals and other cultural pleasures.

Totalitarian leaders intuitively understand that harassing the population in a perverse way strengthens social conditioning even more. I can’t fully explain it now, but the social conditioning process is inherently self-destructive. A population affected by this process is capable of enormous atrocities towards others, but also towards itself. It has absolutely no hesitation in sacrificing itself. This explains why, unlike simple dictatorships, a totalitarian state cannot survive. Eventually it devours itself completely, so to speak. But the process usually takes many human lives.

Do you recognize the totalitarian features of the current crisis and the government’s response to it?

Definitely. When we move away from the narrative of the virus, we discover a totalitarian process par excellence. For example, according to Arendt, a pre-totalitarian state cuts off all social ties of the population. Simple dictatorships do it on a political level – they ensure that the opposition cannot unite – but totalitarian states do it among the population, in the private sphere.

Totalitarianism is so focused on total control that it automatically creates suspicion among the population, causing people to spy on each other and report each other. People no longer dare to speak out against the majority and are less able to organize themselves due to restrictions.

It is not difficult to recognize such phenomena in today’s situation, as well as many other characteristics of emerging totalitarianism.

What does he ultimately want to achieve from this totalitarian state?

Its emergence is an automatic process accompanied on the one hand by a great anxiety on the part of the population and, on the other, by a scientific thought that considers total knowledge possible. Today there are those who believe that society should no longer be based on political narratives but on scientific facts and numbers, thus favoring the government of technocracy. Their ideal image is what the Dutch philosopher Ad Verbrugge calls “intensive human farming”.

Within a biological-reductionist, virological, ideology, continuous biometric monitoring is indicated and people are subjected to continuous preventive medical interventions, such as vaccination campaigns. All this to presumably optimize public health. And a whole range of medical hygiene measures must be implemented. For supporters of this ideology, one can never do enough to achieve the ideal of maximum “health” possible. A newspaper article appeared in which it was stated that the population should be even more scared. Only then they would stick to the measures recommended by virologists. From their point of view, fomenting fear will work to do good.

But when they work out all these draconian measures, politicians forget that people cannot be healthy, either physically or mentally, without sufficient freedom, privacy and the right to self-determination, values ​​that this totalitarian technocratic vision totally ignores.

Although the government aspires to a huge improvement in the health of its society, its actions will ruin the health of the society. By the way, this is a fundamental characteristic of totalitarian thinking according to Hannah Arendt: it ends up in the exact opposite of what she originally pursued.

Will the vaccination campaign allay this fear and put an end to this totalitarian explosion?

A vaccine will not solve the current impasse. Because, in truth, this crisis is not a health crisis, it is a profound social and even cultural crisis. Moreover, the government has already announced that the measures will not disappear after vaccination. It is surprising that countries that are already very advanced with the vaccination campaign – such as Israel and Great Britain – are strangely tightening the measures even more seriously.

Rather, I foresee this scenario: despite all the promising studies, the vaccine will not lead to a solution. And the blindness that social conditioning and totalitarianization entail will put the blame on those who disagree with the narrative and / or refuse to be vaccinated. They will serve as scapegoats. There will be an attempt to silence them. And if this is successful, the feared turning point in the totalitarianization process will come: only after the opposition has been completely eliminated will the totalitarian state show its most aggressive form. It then becomes – to use the words of Hannah Arendt – a monster who eats its own children. In other words, perhaps the worst is yet to come.

What does it refer to?

Totalitarian systems in general all have the same tendency towards isolation as a method; to ensure the health of the population, the “sick” portions of the population will be further isolated and locked up in camps. That idea was actually suggested several times during the first COVID19 crisis, but dismissed as “not feasible” due to social resistance. But will that resistance persist if the fear continues to increase? Am I paranoid? But who would have thought at the beginning of 2020 that our society would be like this today? The totalitarianization process is based on the hypnotic effect of a narrative and can only be interrupted by another narrative. So, I hope more people will question the alleged danger of the virus and the need for current corona measures and dare to talk about it publicly.

Why doesn’t this fear response occur with the climate crisis?

The climate crisis may not be suitable as an object of fear. It may be too abstract and we cannot associate it with the instant death of a loved one or ourselves. And as an object of fear, it is even less directly related to our medical-biological view of man. Hence, a virus is a privileged object of fear.

What does the current crisis tell us about our relationship with death?

The dominant science perceives the world as a mechanistic interaction of atoms and other elementary particles that collide randomly and produce all kinds of phenomena, including humans. This science makes us desperate and helpless in the face of death.

At the same time, life is experienced as a totally meaningless and mechanistic thing, but we cling to it as if it were all we have and we want to eliminate any behavior that could risk losing it. And this is impossible. Paradoxically, trying radically to avoid risks, for example through anti-COVID19 measures, creates the greatest risk of all. Just look at the colossal collateral damage that is being caused.

You perceive the current social evolution as going in a negative direction. How do you see the future?

I am convinced that something beautiful will come out of all this. Materialistic science starts from the idea that the world is made up of material particles. Yet the very same science reveals that matter is a form of consciousness, that there is no certainty and that the human mind is unable to grasp the world. For example, Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr argued that elementary particles and atoms behave in radically irrational and illogical ways. According to him, they were better understood using poetry than using logic.

We will experience something similar on a political level. In the near future, perhaps historically we will make the broadest attempt to control everything technologically and rationally. Eventually, this system will prove not to work and it will show that we need a completely different society and policy. The new system will rely more on respect for what is ultimately elusive to the human mind and on respect for the art and intuition that were central to religions.

Are we close to a paradigm shift today?

No doubt. This crisis heralds the end of a historical cultural paradigm. Part of the transition has already been made in the sciences. The geniuses who laid the foundations of modern physics, of the theory of complex and dynamic systems, of chaos theory and of non-Euclidean geometry have already understood that there is not one but many different logics. That there is something inherently subjective in everything and that people live in a direct resonance with the world around them and with all the complexities of nature. Furthermore, Man is a being who depends on his fellow man in his energetic existence. Physicists have known this for a long time, now for the rest of us!

Original Interview with Mattias Desmet by Patrick Dewals: