The mass psychosis is changing your neural architecture
I’ve been persuaded by the constructionist camp that our phenomenological reality is a construct - in other words what we experience as reality is uniquely re-presented to us, constructed, if you like, by our brains (our whole body actually). Underpinned by genetics and sculptured by our environment, our neural architecture defines our reality. (Now I also believe that there is an objective reality external to my perception of reality. I’m not on some philosophical trip believing there is no reality beyond my experience. I don’t believe I’m in the matrix. I believe there are absolutes and no matter how much I think I’m like birdman, jumping out that window isn’t going to end well.)
As we grow our brains are very impressionable, in psychology we say plastic, and this plasticity is influenced by both the environment and genetics. There is an interesting relationship between environmental factors and epigenetics that shape the way our nervous system, hormonal system, actually our entire being develops. It’s a nascent and fascinating field but the point I want to make here is about the deliberate manipulation of our collective development. Especially for the young, but also for the adult - carefully curated environments (and that’s everything you are exposed to from toxins to ideologies) can change your brain. It’s an adaptive function but can lead to some rather maladaptive outcomes.
Here’s the rub - If you control the environment, you can essentially be the chief architect of many brains within that environment.
OK so that may be a bit overstated - you can’t completely redesign brains - but if you control the environment - the input to the brain - then you can alter the neural architecture, and thus the person, in some fundamentally powerful ways.
I don’t mean to suggest you can change core attributes of a personality necessarily, although totalitarian regimes have demonstrated this in the past. But I do suggest that you can change perceptions of the world that encourage a certain bias, allegiances, hatreds and loves, on a mass scale, that would not normally be the case for any one individual. As we have seen over the past few years, fear is the essential ingredient in creating a potent environment for change. Fear, not just on an individual basis but on the herd, whereby the fear of one is communicated, both consciously and unconsciously, to neighbours as they all flee in the same direction. Or similarly the object of fear is turned upon by the herd in a passioned frenzy.
Effective control of the environment means controlling the narrative through total propaganda. It’s controlling what we see and hear in the streets and in the virtual world through carefully curated content, censoring some and amplifying others. Our way of perceiving and conceptualizing the world is slowly shaped, on a neural level, by the consistent and persistent environment in which we live. The longer the propagandists can keep a population suspended in the myth, the more likely it will become the default “reality”. Simply because there will be enough, and strong enough, neural synaptic connections in the brains neural architecture to make the “reality” real to the beholder - by default.
The Hebbian principle that “neurons that fire together wire together” resonate here, as well as more complex, higher order adaptive responses around social cohesion and tribal belonging. The default neural activity accepts the new “reality”, has eliminated previously felt inconsistencies or incongruences, and now flows easily and effortlessly in harmony with the world that has been created for it. In lay terms this is brainwashing.
Such a transformation in ones neural architecture has, in past tyrannies, caused well-meaning people to become avid segregationists, bigots, haters and even murderers, without an ounce of guilty conscience - but rather pride in their “pure” motives and “upstanding” behavior. From their constructed reality, their previously (and consistently) manipulated environment, the re-presentation of the world in their minds is reality. Their motivations and subsequent actions are consistent and reasonable, even morally sound and upstanding, within that reality - even if that action is murder.
By now most of us will have listened to Dr Mattias Desmet describe what he calls “mass formation” (what I’m calling mass psychosis) whereby social cohesion and solidarity is created along certain lines of propaganda. Desmet has basically gleaned from the best 20th Century commentators on totalitarianism to come up with this shortlist of characteristics that set the scene for mass psychosis:
A lot of people to have a lack of social bonds, little social connection.
A lot of people to also have a lack of “meaning making” in their current state.
Then those people to have a lot of free floating anxiety (that is, anxiety without a mental representation, or an object that is obviously creating the anxiety).
And those people to also have a lot of free floating frustration and aggression (that is, frustration without a tangible source so it can’t be resolved easily).
Then with the scene set, the propagandist introduces an object (of the anxiety) and a solution. This is the final stage of controlling the environment, and if done well, as in total propaganda, the mind of the masses is set to flow in just a single direction - the people can see the single cause of their fear and frustrations and have a single solution. New social bonds are forged within the new reality; New meaning making emerges from this shared reality, along with a strong sense of solidarity (the social/tribal imperative in operation); There’s a mental intoxication with the new level of connectedness and meaning making. - literally a dompaminergic response akin to drug taking. People will continue to buy into the narrative, the new reality, regardless of how absurd it becomes (ritualistic/cultish) because there is consistency in the patterns of neural flow in the minds of the masses. Once there is such consistency of brainwaves it is difficult to change your mind, and much easier and energy efficient to go with the flow.
Is it then possible to escape such a mass psychosis? Yes I believe it is.
For those of us not completely brainwashed, think about what’s happened… We’ve been consciously aware of the continual propaganda through mass media, looked for alternative sources of information, we’ve been curious, taking nothing at face value, researched, questioned, and have known our history. And in regards to what Desmet is saying, we’ve probably resolved anxieties and frustrations to some degree, forged strong social bonds, and live a coherent life outside of the propaganda narrative. You could say we’ve got a healthy propaganda immune system.
For those who’s minds are fully captured by the propaganda there are opportunities for breaking into the trance and disturbing the neural paths of least resistance. When the propagandist pushes the envelope too far, when the flipping from one truth to an alternative truth is a little too outside acceptable parameters, when ‘safe and effective’ end up being fatal to a loved one, then there’s a ‘red pill’ moment. And this is why it is important for us to maintain an opposing voice of reason in opposition to the propaganda trance - because when those red pill moments happen for someone in the matrix it needs to be followed up with a wealth of validating information. Once eyes are open there needs to be a complete vista before them, lest they be sucked back into the myth.
We can all play a role in shaping the collective neural architecture of society by being vocal, questioning the narrative, and being in the environment in a way that speaks the truth. Let’s not let the propagandist be the only architect of our collective brain - we’ve got some blueprints to bring to the table too!
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The danger during a red pill moment is that, if the moment passes without the red pill being ingested, the captured mind will become even more strongly attached to the lie. It will manufacture a way to explain away the cognitive dissonance, thereby avoiding the need to rewrite neural pathways; and then, the moment having come and gone, the offending incident will simply be erased from memory.
I look forward to hearing more solutions. You are offering much appreciated hope.