Mattias Desmet Quotes

Who is Mattias Desmet?

Mattias Desmet is a Belgian psychology professor at Ghent University.

He is best known for his theory on Mass Formation Psychosis which was explained in the Joe Rogan Experience podcast episodes with Dr. Robert Malone and Dr. Peter McCullough.

Desmet also appeared on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast and many other podcasts to explain this phenomenon.

In 2022 Professor Desmet published his new book 'The Psychology of Totalitarianism'.

Books by Mattias Desmet


Best 84 Quotes by Mattias Desmet | Page 1 of 3

“All people who have been describing, who have been studying, mass formation, such as Gustave Le Bon, for instance William McDougall, Elias Canetti have remarked that mass formation is not similar to hypnosis but that mass formation is exactly equal to hypnosis. Mass formation is a sort of hypnosis.”

Mattias Desmet

“Another consequence, that is very typical for totalitarian states, is that people become radically intolerant for dissonant voices. Because if someone tells another story, if someone claims that the official story is wrong, then this person threatens to wake the people up and they will get angry because they’re confronted with the initial anxiety and the initial psychological discontent.

So they direct all that aggression at these dissonant voices, at the other voices. And at the same time, they are radically tolerant for their leaders, for the people who pronounce the mainstream narrative. These people can actually cheat and lie and manipulate and do everything they want, but they will always be forgiven by the crowd because the crowd seems to think that they do it for their own sake. That’s also part of the mechanism of mass formation.”

Mattias Desmet

“As a consequence of mass formation, people do not get egoistic at all. But rather, on the contrary, mass formation focuses your attention so much on one point that you can take everything away of people — their psychological and physical wellbeing, their material wellbeing — you can take it away and they will not even notice it.”

Mattias Desmet

“At the beginning of the Covid crisis, the UN warned that there would most likely be more deaths from hunger in third world countries as a result of the lockdowns than people would die from the virus.

At no time has the policy used a mathematical model, in which, in addition to the victims who could fall due to the virus, the victims of the measures were also represented. While several scientists did draw up such models. But they had no influence.

Then I wondered: what is happening here? How does the remedy relate to the ailment? These elements showed that a curious psychological process was taking place in society. I immediately recognized strong similarities with the early stages of totalitarianism.”

Mattias Desmet

“Don't let freedom – especially the right to speak freely – be subordinated to the fear of any virus. Generations and generations have fought and given their lives to realize a certain freedom. Show that you are worthy of that freedom. If you want a life worth living, you have to be able to accept a certain amount of risk. Don't give up everything for a sense of security that may eventually turn out to be false.”

Mattias Desmet

“Equally subjective is the 'appreciation' of the number of fatalities. When are there many victims?

According to The Lancet, the flu kills between 290,000 and 640,000 each year. Another nice point of comparison: according to a scientific publication Roussel, published this year, viral lung diseases make almost 3 million victims every year. The viruses that make the victims differ slightly every year, but the total number of victims normally does not.

It remains to be seen if this year will be different. If we compare the current number of victims with that, it all seems less bad. Of course, no one knows how bad it will eventually get.

The point I want to make is the following: numbers ultimately provide little guidance and are absolutely open to subjective interpretation, and that is certainly the case during the corona crisis.”

Mattias Desmet

“Even if we would succeed in waking up the masses now, they would fall prey to a different story in a few years. And they would be hypnotized again if we do not succeed in solving the real problem of this crisis.”

Mattias Desmet

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“Fear comes and goes among the population. You see that most major calamities such as war are preceded by periods of great fear and upheaval. I am not directly aware of literature that argues that epidemics are preceded by strong fear. But there is a lot of research that shows fear can drastically lower immunity and even kill you in a few hours in the most direct way. This has been demonstrated in both animals and humans.”

Mattias Desmet

“Fear has immense consequences on several levels. Politically, the government for example, strong fear almost always leads to more radical leaders and ultimately to dictatorships and totalitarian state systems. But there will no doubt be consequences in other areas as well, including the physical area that should not be lost sight of. Anxiety leads to a weakening of immunity and as a result, people become more susceptible to all kinds of infections, heart ailments, etc.”

Mattias Desmet

“Fear is caused only to a very limited extent by real problems, but it justifies itself by creating real problems.”

Mattias Desmet

“Four things need to exist or need to be in place if you want a large scale mass phenomenon to emerge. The first thing is that there needs to be a lot of socially isolated people, people who experience a lack of social bonds. The second one is that there needs to be a lot of people who experience a lack of sense-making in life. And the third and the fourth conditions are that there needs to be a lot of free-floating anxiety and a lot of free-floating psychological discontent. So: meaning, anxiety, and discontent that is not connected to a specific representation.

So it needs to be in the mind without the people being able to connect it to something. If you have these four things—lack of social bonds, lack of sense-making, free-floating anxiety, and free-floating psychological discontent—then society is highly at risk for the emergence of mass phenomenon.”

Mattias Desmet

“Free-floating anxiety is the most painful psychological phenomenon someone can experience. It’s extremely painful. It leads up to panic attacks, to all kinds of extremely painful psychological experiences. What people want in this situation is something to connect their anxiety to. They’re looking for an explanation for the anxiety.

And now, if this free-floating anxiety is highly present in a population, and the media provide a narrative, which indicates an object of anxiety, and at the same time, describe a strategy to deal with this object of anxiety, then all the anxiety connects to this object and people are willing to follow the strategy to deal with this object, no matter what the cost is. That is what happens in the beginning of mass formation.”

Mattias Desmet

“I also saw that some basic healthcare principles were thrown overboard quite quickly. Like the medical principle 'In dubio abstine' – when in doubt, do not act. If you're not sure what's going on, there's a good chance that your procedure itself will do more harm than good.

In the crisis, that principle went overboard. They did the opposite: We don't know what virus it is, so we're going to shut down the entire society and take huge measures, which are guaranteed to wreak havoc in themselves, both through psychological and economic suffering and through delayed treatments.”

Mattias Desmet

“I immediately saw that the mortality was miscalculated, those counts were meaningless. The number of deaths from one specific cause is not easy to express in numbers. A person dies of a thousand things at once. When do you count someone as covid dead? We saw that the covid death counts could easily vary by 2000% according to the counting method. More than 90% of people registered as having corona deaths had various other medical conditions. The average age was also around 83 years. Although there are deaths, the counts were done very enthusiastically, and that causes a lot of unnecessary fear.”

Mattias Desmet

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“If you look at the use of psychopharmaceuticals, it was huge. This shows how much discontent there was in our society. For instance, in Belgium every year 11 million people use over 300 million doses of antidepressants alone. Over 300 million doses. That’s huge.”

Mattias Desmet

“In the beginning of the Covid crisis I had been studying the statistics and the numbers and actually I noticed that they were often blatantly wrong and at the same time people continue to believe in it and to go along with the mainstream narrative. That was why I started to study it rather from the perspective of mass psychology. Because I knew that mass formation has a huge, huge impact on individual’s intelligence and cognitive functioning. I had the feeling that this was the only thing that could explain why highly intelligent people started to believe the narrative and the numbers that were in many respects utterly absurd.”

Mattias Desmet

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“In the first place there shouldn't be built a material barrier against a virus, but a symbolic barrier against fear.”

Mattias Desmet

“It will be impossible to determine exactly who died of Covid and who didn't. If someone at a blessed age with shaky health gets the coronavirus and dies, does he die from the virus? Is the last straw more the cause than the first? We can thus artificially or meaninglessly increase the number of deaths.

And we should mention that the reverse also applies: there may also be many more deaths than are counted. In Italy, people who died outside the hospital were buried without a test. They are not included in the statistics.”

Mattias Desmet

“Man is reduced to a biological organism. Any treatment of any epidemic based on this view of humanity will only make the problem worse eventually.”

Mattias Desmet

“Mass formation is actually a symptomatic solution for a real psychological problem. In my opinion, this crisis in the first place is a large societal and psychological crisis much more than a biological crisis. From this state of mental intoxication you can explain all the rest of the phenomenon of totalitarianism. The mental intoxication leads to a narrowing of the field of attention. It makes people only see what is indicated by the narrative.”

Mattias Desmet

“Numbers have a unique psychological effect: they create an illusion of objectivity, which is enhanced when numbers are represented through graphs. When you see numbers, you think you see facts.”

Mattias Desmet

“People see the victims of the Corona virus, but they don’t seem to see at the cognitive level, the collateral damage of the lockdowns and all the victims that are claimed by the lockdowns. They are also not able, at an emotional level, to really feel empathy for the victims of the lockdowns.”

Mattias Desmet

“Realize that anxiety is a problem in itself.”

Mattias Desmet

“The number of coronavirus infections, for example, can never be accurately determined even with scientific tests. Contrary to popular belief, these tests also have a large margin of error. That doesn't mean that testing is pointless, of course.”

Mattias Desmet

“The number of covid deaths is represented as a number. That is precisely why the population is convinced that it is an objective fact, while that figure is constructed from a subjective point of view. This also applies to determining the number of infections.”

Mattias Desmet

“The real number of infections is probably ten times higher than the number of diagnosed infections. This means, among other things, that the estimate of the mortality rate, or the dangerousness of the virus, varies enormously: 100 infected persons with 4 deaths gives a mortality of 4 percent; 1,000 infected persons with 4 deaths gives a mortality of 0.4 percent. If one starts from that last number, the coronavirus suddenly looks much less dangerous.”

Mattias Desmet

“The word 'flu' could never have the capacity to link fear in the same way as a new 'mysterious' viral illness. Our grandmother already had the flu, and she had her remedies for it. 'Flu' is a word associated with 'an ailment'. A virus is the ultimate, unstoppable and invisible killer. As such, from a psychological point of view, it is perfect to provoke massive fear.”

Mattias Desmet

“This covid crisis is primarily a psychological crisis, a massive breakthrough of fear in society. Fear is caused only to a very limited extent by real problems, but it justifies itself by creating real problems. We are already feeling these problems through the measures: politically, the rise of the dictatorial state; economically, the recession and bankruptcy of numerous companies and the self-employed; on a social level, a permanent impairment of the (physical) bond between people; psychologically even more anxiety and depression; and yes, physically, in the wake of psychological and social stress, a collapse of immunity and physical health.”

Mattias Desmet

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“What determines our response to the virus is not the facts themselves, but the story that is constructed around the facts. That context is constructed by health care workers who genuinely do their best, by people who do not want to see their fellowmen suffer, by politicians who want to make the right decisions, by academics who want to provide information as objectively as possible.

But this is also being constructed by politicians who are under pressure from public opinion and feel compelled to act decisively, by leaders who have lost control of society and are now able to regain control because of the virus, by experts who have to hide their ignorance and choose the flight ahead, by academics who see an opportunity to assert themselves, by the inherent tendency in man for hysteria and drama, by pharmaceutical companies that sense a golden opportunity, by media that thrive on sensational stories, through testimonials of unique cases in which the course of the disease was exceptionally difficult.

Mattias Desmet

“When a hypnosis is used as a kind of an anesthesia during a surgical operation, a rather simple hypnotic procedure is sufficient to make people completely insensitive to pain. You can, without any problem, cut in their flesh. Even under some circumstances you can perform an open heart operation in which the surgeon cuts straight through the breastbone and the patient will not notice this. That shows us that the focusing of attention is so strong, both in mass formation or in hypnosis, that people are really insensitive to all the personal losses they experience as a consequence.”

Mattias Desmet

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“If you want to stay in for the long haul, and lead a life that is free from illusions either propagated by you or embraced by you, then I suggest you learn to recognize and avoid the symptoms of the zealot and the person who knows he is right. For the dissenter, the skeptical mentality is at least as important as any armor of principle.”

Letters to a Young Contrarian


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