Unfounded theory used to dismiss COVID measures

by Angelo Fichera and Josh Cletti | The Associated Press

An unfounded theory that has taken root online suggests that millions of people have been “hyped” into believing mainstream ideas about COVID-19, including steps to combat it such as testing and vaccination.

In a widely shared social media post this week, efforts to combat the disease have been dismissed with just three words: “Mass Formation Psychosis.”

“I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure that as healthy people spend hours in line for virus testing, the collective formation in action is psychosis,” reads a tweet that was liked more than 22,000 times.

The term gained attention after Dr. Robert Malone released “The Joe Rogan Experience” on the December 31 podcast. Malone is a scientist who once researched mRNA technology, but is now vocal about COVID-19 vaccines using it.

But psychology experts say the hypothesis described by Malone is not supported by evidence, and is similar to theories that have long been discredited. Here’s a look at the facts.

Claim: The concept of “mass formation psychosis” explains why millions of people believe in the mainstream COVID-19 “narrative” and trust the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

Fact: Malone shed light on the unfounded theory on a podcast hosted by comedian and commentator Joe Rogan. During the episode, Malone cast doubts on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, claiming that “a third of the population has basically been hyped” to believe the widespread psychosis has resulted in the nation’s top infectious disease expert. , and mainstream news outlet Dr. Who is Anthony Fauci? Say.

Malone further stated that the incident explained Nazi Germany.

“When you have a society that’s alienated from each other and there’s free-floating anxiety in the sense that things don’t make sense, we can’t understand it, and then their focus is on a leader or a leader.” The series is centered by. Events at a small point, like hypnosis, they literally become hypnotized and can be taken anywhere,” Malone said. He claimed that such people do not question the “narrative”. Will let you lift

Credited to a professor in Belgium, Malone also said in a December blog post that this “mass hypnosis” explains the millions of people fascinated by the “dominant narrative concerning the safety and effectiveness of genetic vaccines”.

Psychology experts say there is no support for the “psychosis” theory described by Malone.

“To my knowledge, there is no evidence for this concept,” said Jay Van Bavel, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at New York University who recently co-authored a book on group identity. Van Bavel said that he had never encountered the phrase “mass formation psychosis” in his years of research, nor could he find it in any peer-reviewed literature.

“This concept has no academic credibility,” wrote Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews in the UK, in an email to the Associated Press.

The term does not even appear in the American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology.

“Psychosis” is a term that refers to conditions that involve detachment from reality. According to estimates from the National Institutes of Health, about 3% of people experience some form of psychosis in their lives.

Richard McNeely, a professor of clinical psychology at Harvard University, wrote in an email that those who support COVID-19 vaccines and public health guidance are not under delusions. Instead, they are “fully responsible for the arguments and evidence given by relevant scientific experts.”

Health officials have found COVID-19 vaccines to be safe and effective – particularly in terms of protecting against serious illness.

According to John Drury, a social psychologist at the University of Sussex in the UK who studies collective behaviour, Malone’s description of “mass formation psychosis” resembles discredited concepts such as “mob mentality” and “group mind”. The ideas suggest that “when people become part of a psychotic crowd they lose their identity and their self-control; they become suggestive, and primitive instinctive impulses prevail,” he said in an email.

Drury said that notion has been discredited by decades of research on crowd behavior. “No respected psychologist now agrees with these views,” he said.

Several experts told the AP that although there is evidence that groups can shape or influence one’s behavior — and that people can and do believe the lies put forth by the group leader — those The concepts do not include people experiencing “psychosis” or “hypnosis.”

Steven Jay Lynn, professor of psychology at Binghamton University in New York, said Malone’s argument that a group “can literally be hypnotized and taken anywhere” is based on a myth about hypnosis.

“His claim represents a serious misunderstanding of hypnosis and doubles down on the popular misconception that hypnosis somehow turns people into mindless robots who think what the hypnotist wants them to think and do the hypnotist’s bidding, Lin said in an email. “The scientifically established fact is that people can easily protest and even oppose suggestions.”

Before the concept of “mass formation psychosis” was introduced in recent times, it had spread online in recent months.