• The Psychology of Totalitarianism

  • By: Mattias Desmet
  • Narrated by: Dan Crue
  • Length: 7 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (195 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

We bear witness to loneliness, free-floating anxiety, and fear giving way to censorship, loss of privacy, and surrendered freedoms. It is all spurred by a singular, focused crisis narrative that forbids dissident views and relies on destructive groupthink. 

Totalitarianism is not a coincidence and does not form in a vacuum. It arises from a collective psychosis that has followed a predictable script throughout history, its formation gaining strength and speed with each generation—from the Jacobins to the Nazis and Stalinists—as technology advances. Governments, mass media, and other mechanized forces use fear, loneliness, and isolation to demoralize populations and exert control, persuading large groups of people to act against their own interests, always with destructive results. 

In The Psychology of Totalitarianism, world-renowned Professor of Clinical Psychology Mattias Desmet deconstructs the societal conditions that allow this collective psychosis to take hold. By looking at our current situation and identifying the phenomenon of “mass formation”—a type of collective hypnosis—he clearly illustrates how close we are to surrendering to totalitarian regimes.

©2022 Mattias Desmet (P)2022 Dreamscape Media, LLC

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A much needed 21st-c update to Hannah Arendt

According to experts quoted by Reuters fact checkers in January 2022, “mass formation” is not in the DSM, nor is it an academic term. Therefore, there is no such thing as “mass formation”.

Nevertheless, here is a book all about “mass formation” and how statistics and seemingly objective data undergirds highly subjective narratives.

Interestingly, Dismet, by training a clinical psychologist and biostatistician, draws upon the work of Hannah Arendt, Asch’s conformity experiments, and the founders of quantum physics and chaos theory to make his case for 21st-C version of totalitarianism and “the banality of evil”.

Significantly, Dismet argues that the mass formation of the majority has its ideological minority flip-side in conspiracy theories. The antidote to this slippery slope slide into totalitarianism is non-violence and to carefully and rationally speak out (ie free speech) while we still can.

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Fire

If you are a individual who wants to really get a better understanding of human relations, then get this book. The author spoke about how easily we can be deceived with “numbers and statistics” , or simply putting the word “expert” in the front of a statement . How if majority believe then it rules , even when given prove of situation we still put our blinders on and go with the majority. SMH 🤦🏽‍♂️

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Pleasantly Surprised

I didn't expect the philosophical and scientific refutation of the technocratic perspective. I assumed this would be more mechanistic in its diagnosis and prescription. The later chapters I think are worth reading twice.

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Wondering What Is Going On And Why?

How did large numbers of people swallow, in succession, BLM, masks, experimental jabs and now Ukraine? Mass Formation explains it and explaining Mass Formation is what the author does. The breadth of topics iincluded in this explanation is staggering. Finally, there is a very positive way forward for society other than the march toward totalitarianism.

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Book of the Decade

I have read thousands of books in the last 10 years. This ranks amongst the best. Close your eyes and get it and while your at it, get some copies for friends and loved ones. This is a masterpiece.

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Is this the best book every written?

Matthias Desmet embarks on a journey to describe the two great mysteries of the last century. Why have dozens of countries descended into totalitarian rules murder millions? Why did those murderers think they were doing GOOD as they slaughtered the unwanted, gypsies, Jews, children, farmers? On the contrary, why do some systems produce fully functional, rational creative individuals immune to the effects of the totalitarian leaders.

These questions have been unanswered until now. Desmet is well versed in all aspects of the psychology of thought. He is well-read citing scores of the most important works of scientific genius. His description of the four causes by Aristotle is both concise yet complex enough to educated the reader.

The final three chapters are a tour de force of logic and erudition. He describes the origin of a child’s thought and how it can take two paths. One is a four part creative process which expands a child’s brain and capability into a functional adult. This is the path all humans should take. It is logical, rational and leads to expertise.

The other path a child takes is based in anxiety of self and one’s acceptance. This is a simple two part system of thought that is dominated by force. It takes from others and does not create anything. It is the power of the totalitarian state and its fuel is fear and blind trust in rulers/experts.

This content of this book should be consumed by all humans. Good people need not be driven to destroy themselves and our society and lose our diversity and potential in lieu of the collective ruled by the absurd totalitarian.

Please read this, again and again until you understand its content. Desmet has written a beautiful written work and the translators are amazing. It achieves its mission on many levels.

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A clear view of past and present

This book is highly edifying. The author buttresses his diagnosis of current events with historical ones. When you think he's maybe going too far afield into speech or quantum physics he's actually expanding your understanding and tying it in gracefully with his thesis. The reader was also top notch. Because of the superiority of this work I will also buy the physical book.

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Seminal work that will mark history

Desmet touches upon some of the most important aspects of existence, and opens key insights on how to better think of them.
The delivery is impressive, both enjoyable and easy to understand and follow along, which was no given on such difficult topics.

One of my best reads ever, possibly because I had come to the same conclusions myself and it feels comforting intellectually and humanly to know we’re many out there.

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Man is not machine nor a cog.

A very relatable and refreshing look at the precursor elements that lead to man's disconnection from what is essential to totalitarianism. Historically based and presently relevant.

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Unnderstanding our madness, and finding a way out

I heard of Mass Formation “Psychosis” by Dr. Desmet from Dr. Robert Malone.

It helped me to understand people accepting the madness, soft and hard tyranny of the last few years. It can happen again as it has in the past. It can go global again, simultaneously, since we are so connected. Dr. Desmet lays out not only what happened, what to watch out for, but also how to stop and reverse it. I’d recommend this book to anyone who cares about freedom and humanity.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-26-22

The eclectic perception that everyone needs

I’m not a fan of rules. I’m a believer in managing the self to my own ethical standards. I am often both amused and bemused by the rules of modern society. After listening to this book I feel inspired to be myself more. For me it important to be able to recognise all the diverse deceptions and traits of totalitarianism so that I can avoid them. This book helps so much. A rich vein of observational information that can boost a person’s understanding that life is what you make it based on the moments you choose to engage with. Utterly brilliant.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-15-22

Scary but offering hope

Very grateful to the author for the understanding he brings to a mad, mad world. Yet we are still faced with surviving the wrath of the sheep and the collapse they are driving.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Gaz McKenna
  • 07-13-22

Shocking and Surprising

Mattias Desmet challenges narratives of our thinking and our times.

Wholeheartedly, I thank him for an awesome book. Full of intelligence and encouraging explanations.

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  • Susan H
  • 08-10-22

Better understand our fragile society

This book is well-argued and clearly points out the dangers of where we are today in most of the world.
I docked one star for the performance because at times it comes across as unedited and stilted, almost as if read by AI - oh, the irony!

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  • S. P. M
  • 07-20-22

Desmet delivers... big time.

This will be remembered as one of the most important non-fiction books of the 21st century. The reader is excellent too.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-06-22

Nailed it.

awesome listen will be buying book next to further grasp this fascinating way people act in crowds.

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  • Dave
  • 06-23-22

A Rossetta stone for the decryption of reality.

If you noticed cult like behaviours during "the pandemic", this book will help you understand what has taken place and what you can do about it!
A beautifully structured work that takes you on a tour of the consequences of the contemporary manifestations of our materialistic lens of perception.
Well written. Brilliantly translated. Nicely read.
This deserves to become a best seller for all the best reasons... Illuminating. Emancipating. Inspiring. Uplifting. An invitation to explore a more nutritious grand narrative.

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  • Rosemary J.
  • 06-21-22

Disappointing.

I have no doubt about the importance of some of the psychological (both individual and group) dynamics and psychology expressed in this book. But it eventually concludes that mysticism (and a belief in the fact that the universe is itself a conscious entity) that will be our salvation from the totalitarian state.
Really! I think not.
Nothing about changing social structures and putting mechanisms in place to prevent states sliding into a totalitarian nightmare.
As someone that spends a long time informing us that so call ‘science’ is often really the outcome of individual beliefs and values, he then proceeds to cherry pick from scientific papers that he believes will support his own thesis. But the author also treats human psychology as though we are all exactly the same. If you just take the individual capacity for empathy as an example-this is just not correct. Psychopaths and personality disordered people abound at the higher echelons of power are at least part of the problem but those differences in the range of human psychology are not really mentioned.
Like the curate’s egg, good in parts. But in my opinion the sum is far less than what i hoped would be the totality of the book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jon taylor
  • 06-20-22

A must read/listen.

Fascinating insight on the psychology of Totalitarianism, mass formation psychosis the influence of terrorism, climate change, covid on our behaviour and ultimately what it is to be human.

1 person found this helpful

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  • duncan s.
  • 08-15-22

Deep stuff indeed.

We should be teaching children this at school instead of CRT and how to be a good little Marxist.

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  • Frank Paul
  • 07-03-22

A Classic.

Having listened to Desmet in several long form discussions on Mass Formation, I thought this book was the written form of that thesis. I was wrong. Desmet has laid out an overarching thesis, that includes Mass Formation but includes much, much more than that. I finally understand what Totalitarianism means, and what gives rise to it. It is a must read to understand this new world that global covid policy has given us.

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  • Robyn
  • 06-21-22

Thought-provoking

This is not a book for a quick read: it contains a lot of information from many disparate fields of enquiry, all of which leads to Desmet's hypothesis to explain what got the world to where we are now. There is more here than has been discussed in Desmet's various interviews so anyone interested in his research and analysis will benefit from reading this book. Fine narration by Dan Crue.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-01-22

Broad, interesting, incisive

Loved it. Not sure that the people who should read it will, but if they do, they will be given the opportunity to scratch the surface of modern human society. Thoroughly interesting. Perhaps my favourite Audible book. Will definitely look for more by the same author.

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  • Terrence O'Brien
  • 07-25-22

Means or meaning.

Brilliant explanation of why we think we know better than we do about humanity, and why that state of mind puts us on a degenerative path.

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  • Keith Cullen
  • 07-11-22

Essential Reading (listening)

Paradoxically enough a brilliantly rational assassination of obsessive rationalism - one that is quite rightly grounded in emotion and common sense

Very well narrated - I found 1.3x best pace for this book but I’m sure it could withstand slightly faster

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-22

a strange, but overall fascinating insight

This book starts off a little rough, especially when the wording of the first chapter makes the author sound like a climate change denier (which he isn't). But throughout this book, the author thoroughly looks at how totalitarianism starts and how it can be stopped. Even if you don't agree with some of the author's points (such as his disdain for specific traffic laws or the enforcement of mask-wearing) his main points shouldn't be ignored these are:
That humanity is more focused on treating the symptom of suffering rather than the cause and that an ideological worldview will only ever provide a reductionist understanding of the universe and that the only way to be at peace is to acknowledge and accept one's own ignorance instead then pretending that one particular worldview can provide all the answers.

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  • Sean
  • 07-03-22

explains the insanity of the last two years

I would recommend this book to anyone who was deeply troubled by the past two years of the Covid madness!

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  • Lunagirl
  • 06-29-22

Simply Brillant

The author writes with such exquisite clarity about the dangers of scientific reductionism and the technocratic world view, and the remedy, which is right in front of our faces with every interaction we have with each other. I loved and saw the infinite potential in his concept of the Art of Full Speech with regard to truth telling and real engagement with the mystery of the creative process of life itself.. Please read... this is one if those books that can truly change the world.