This video explores the most dangerous of all psychic epidemics: mass psychosis. Mass psychosis is an epidemic of madness and it occurs when a large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions. Such a phenomenon is not a thing of fiction. Two examples of mass psychoses are the American and European witch hunts 16th and 17th centuries and the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century.
This video aims to answer questions surrounding mass psychosis: What is it? How does it start? Has it happened before? Are we experiencing one right now? And if so, how can the stages of mass psychosis be reversed?
Dance and Movement Therapy Holds Promise For Treating Anxiety and Depression, as well as Deeper Psychological Wounds
A few years ago, framed by the skyline of Detroit, a group of about 15 children resettled as refugees from the Middle East and Africa leapt and twirled around, waving blue, pink and white streamers through the air.
The captivating scene was powerfully symbolic. Each streamer held a negative thought, feeling or memory that the children had written down on the streamers. On cue and in unison, the children released their streamers into the air, then sat down nearby. Then they gathered up the fallen streamers, which carried their collective struggles and hardships, threw them in a trash can and waved goodbye.
The children were participating in a dance therapy activity as part of our team’s research program exploring body-based approaches to mental health treatment in people resettled as refugees.
As a dancer myself, I always found the nonverbal emotional expression offered through movement to be incredibly therapeutic – especially when I was experiencing significant anxiety and depression in high school and college. Now, through my neuroscience research, I am joining a growing number of scholars working to bolster the evidence base supporting movement-based interventions.
Interventions that offer physical activity and creativity components at a time when children and people of all ages are likely to be sedentary and with reduced environmental enrichment can be beneficial during the pandemic and beyond. Creative arts and movement-based interventions may be well-suited to address not just the emotional but also the physical aspects of mental illness, such as pain and fatigue. These factors often contribute to the significant distress and dysfunction that drive individuals to seek care.
Dance and movement therapy sessions place an emphasis on fostering creativity and adaptability in order to help people develop greater cognitive flexibility, self-regulation and self-direction. This is especially important because research shows that early-life experiences and how children learn to cope with them can have a lasting impact on their health into adulthood.
According to the Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report, 80% of children with anxiety disorders are not receiving the treatment they require. This might be due to barriers such as clinician availability and cultural literacy, cost and accessibility, and stigma surrounding mental health conditions and treatment.
We are finding that dance and movement therapy and other group behavioral health programs can help fill important gaps. For instance, these strategies can be used in combination with services people are already receiving. And they can provide an accessible and affordable option in school and community settings. Dance and movement therapy can also instill coping skills and relaxation techniques that, once learned, can last a lifetime.
Much like yoga and meditation, dance and movement therapy has, at the root of its practice, a focus on deep breathing through the diaphragm. This intentional breathing movement physically pushes on and activates the vagus nerve, which is a large nerve that coordinates a number of biological processes in the body. When I work with kids, I call this form of breathing and nerve activation their “superpower.” Whenever they need to calm down, they can take a deep breath, and by engaging their vagus nerve, they can bring their bodies to a more restful and less reactive state.
An analysis of 23 clinical research studies indicated that dance and movement therapy may be an effective and appropriate method for child, adult, and elderly patients experiencing a wide array of symptoms – including psychiatric patients and those with developmental disorders. And for both healthy individuals and patients, the authors concluded that dance and movement therapy was most effective for reducing the severity of anxiety compared with other symptoms. Research from our team has also shown promise for the benefits of dance and movement therapy in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety in youth who resettle as refugees.
We have scaled up these programs and brought them into the virtual classroom for six schools throughout the metro Detroit region during the pandemic.
Perhaps the most promising evidence for dance and movement therapy isn’t, as the saying goes, what the eyes cannot see. In this case, it is what the eyes can see: children releasing their streamers, their negative emotions and memories, waving goodbye to them and looking ahead to a new day.
Mass psychosis is defined as an epidemic of madness that occurs when a large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions
The witch hunts that occurred in the Americas and Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, when tens of thousands of people, mostly women, were burned at the stake is a classic example of mass psychosis. The rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century is another
When a society descends into madness, the results are always devastating. Individuals who make up the affected society become morally and spiritually inferior, unreasonable, irresponsible, emotional, erratic, and unreliable. Worst of all, a psychotic mob will engage in atrocities that any solitary individual within the group would normally never consider
The psychogenic steps that lead to madness include a panic phase, where the individual is frightened and confused by events they cannot explain, and a phase of psychotic insight, where the individual explains their abnormal experience of the world by inventing an illogical but magical way of seeing a reality that eases the panic and gives meaning to the experience
Menticide is a term that means “killing of the mind.” It’s a way of controlling the masses by systematically killing the human spirit and free thought. It’s a system through which the ruling elite imprints their own delusional worldview onto society. A society is primed for menticide by the intentional sowing of fear and social isolation
The 20-minute video above, “Mass Psychosis — How an Entire Population Becomes Mentally Ill,” created by After Skool and Academy of Ideas,1 is a fascinating illustration of how mass psychosis can be induced.
Mass psychosis is defined as “an epidemic of madness” that occurs when a “large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions.”
One classic historical example of mass psychosis is the witch hunts that occurred in the Americas and Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, when tens of thousands of people, mostly women, were tortured, drowned, and burned alive at the stake. The rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century is a more recent example of mass psychosis.
Man’s Worst Enemy
As noted in the video:
“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.”
That’s a quote attributed to Gustave Le Bon, a French social psychologist renowned for his study of crowds. His book, “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind,”2 takes a deep dive into the characteristics of human crowds and how, when gathered in groups, people tend to relinquish conscious deliberation in favor of unconscious crowd action. Similarly, psychologist Carl Jung once stated that:
“It is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer, but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.”
When a society descends into madness, the results are always devastating. Jung, who studied mass psychoses, wrote that the individuals who make up the affected society “become morally and spiritually inferior.” They become “unreasonable, irresponsible, emotional, erratic and unreliable.”
Worst of all, a psychotic mob will engage in atrocities that any solitary individual within the group would normally never consider. Yet through it all, those affected remain unaware of their condition and cannot recognize the error in their ways.
What Causes Mass Psychosis?
To understand how an entire society can be driven to madness, you must first understand what drives any given individual to insanity. Barring drug or alcohol abuse, or a brain injury, psychosis is typically triggered by psychogenic factors, i.e., influences that originate in the mind.
One of the most common psychogenic factors that can trigger psychosis is a flood of negative emotions such as fear or anxiety that drive the person into a state of panic. When in a panic, the natural inclination is to seek relief. A psychologically resilient individual may adapt by facing their fear and ultimately defeating it.
Another coping mechanism is a psychotic break. As explained in the video, a psychotic break is not the descent into chaos, but rather a reordering of one’s an experiential world in a way that blends fact and fiction, reality and illusions, in such a way that a sense of control is restored and panic ends. The psychogenic steps that lead to madness can be summarized as follows:
A phase of panic — Here, the individual begins to perceive the world around him or her in a different way and is frightened on account of it. There’s a perceived threat, whether it be real, fabricated, or imagined. Confusion grows as they can’t find a way to rationally explain the strange occurrences taking place around them.
A phase of psychotic insight — Here, the individual manages to explain his abnormal experience of the world by inventing an illogical but magical way of seeing reality. The term “insight” is used because magical thinking allows the individual to escape from the panic and find meaning again. However, the insight is psychotic, because it’s based on delusions.
Just as a psychologically weak and vulnerable individual can be driven to madness, so can large groups of weak and vulnerable people descend into madness and magical thinking.
Totalitarianism Is a Society Built on Delusions
In the 20th century, we’ve seen a rise in totalitarianism, defined by professor and religious studies scholar Arthur Versluis as:
“The modern phenomenn of total centralized state power coupled with the obliteration of individual human rights: In the totalized state, there are those in power and there are the objectified masses, the victims.”
In a totalitarian society, there are two classes: the rulers and the ruled, and both groups undergo a pathological transformation. Rulers are raised to a god-like status where they can do no wrong — a view that easily leads to corruption and unethical behavior — while the ruled are transformed into dependent subjects, which leads to psychological regression.
Joost Meerloo, author of “Rape of the Mind,” compares the reactions of citizens living in totalitarian states to that of schizophrenics. Both rulers and the ruled are ill. Both live in a delusional fog, as the entire society and its rules are sustained by delusional thinking.
As noted in the video, only deluded people regress to a child-like state of total submissiveness, and only a deluded ruling class will believe they possess the knowledge and wisdom to control society in a top-down manner. And, only a deluded person will believe that a power-hungry elite ruling a mentally regressed society will result in anything but mass suffering and financial ruin.
The mass psychosis that is totalitarianism begins within the ruling class, as the individuals within this class are easily enamored with delusions that augment their power. And no delusion is greater than the delusion that they can, and should — indeed are destined to — control and dominate all others.
Whether the totalitarian mindset takes the form of communism, fascism or technocracy, a ruling elite that has succumbed to their own delusions of grandeur then sets about to indoctrinate the masses into their own twisted worldview. All that’s needed to accomplish that reorganization of society is the manipulation of collective feelings.
The killing of the Mind
Menticide is a term that means “killing of the mind,” and it’s an ancient way of controlling the masses by systematically killing the human spirit and free thought. It’s a system through which the ruling elite imprints their own delusional worldview onto society.
A society is primed for menticide by the intentional sowing of fear. A particularly effective way to induce fear and panic that results in psychosis is the unleashing of waves of terror, and it doesn’t matter if the “terror” in question is real or fictitious. The waves of terror technique can be graphed out as an escalating wave pattern where each round of fear is followed by a round of calm.
After a short period of calm, the threat level is elevated again, with each round of fearmongering being more intense than the one before. Propaganda — fake and misleading news — is used to break down the minds of the masses, and over time, it becomes easier and easier to control everyone as confusion and anxiety give way to the magical thinking and psychotic insight presented as solutions through the media.
Contradictory reports, nonsensical recommendations, and blatant lies are deployed intentionally, as it heightens confusion. The more confused a population is, the greater the state of anxiety, which reduces society’s ability to cope with the crisis. As the ability to cope withers, the greater the chances a mass psychosis will develop.
As noted in the video, “Confusion heightens the susceptibility of a descent into the delusions of totalitarianism.” Or, as Meerloo noted in his book:
“Logic can be met with logic, while illogic cannot. It confuses those who think straight. The big lie and monotonously repeated nonsense have more of an emotional appeal … than logic and reason. While the people are still searching for a reasonable counterargument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault them with another.”
The Rise of Technocracy
What sets modern-day totalitarianism apart from previous totalitarian states is technology. The means to incite fear and manipulate people’s thinking has never been more efficient or effective. TV, the internet, smartphones, and social media are all sources of information these days, and it’s easier than ever to control the flow of that information.
Algorithms automatically filter out the voices of reason and rational thinking, supplanting them with fear narratives instead. Modern technologies also have addictive qualities, so many voluntarily expose themselves to brainwashing. Commenting on man’s reliance on technology, Meerloo notes:
“No rest, no meditation, no reflection, no conversation. The senses are continually overloaded with stimuli. Man doesn’t learn to question his world anymore. The screen offers him answers already made.”
Isolation — A Mass Psychosis-Inducing Tool
Aside from the onslaught of fearmongering and false propaganda, the ultimate tool to induce psychosis is in isolation. When you are deprived of regular social interactions and discussions, you become more susceptible to delusions for a number of reasons:
1. You lose contact with corrective forces of positive examples, role models of rational thinking, and behavior. Not everyone is tricked by the brainwashing attempts of the ruling elite, and these people can help free others from their delusions. When you’re in isolation, the power of these individuals greatly diminishes.
2. Like animals, human behavior is significantly easier to manipulate when the individual is kept in isolation. As animal research has discovered, conditioned reflexes are most easily developed in a quiet, secluded laboratory with a minimum of stimuli to detract from the indoctrination.
When you want to tame a wild animal, you must isolate the animal and patiently repeat a particular stimulus until the desired response is obtained. Humans can be conditioned in the same manner. Alone, confused, and battered by waves of terror, a society kept in isolation from each other descends into madness as rational thought is obliterated and replaced with magical thinking.
Once a society is firmly in the grip of mass psychosis, totalitarians are free to take the last, decisive step: They can offer a way out; a return to order. The price is your freedom. You must cede control of all aspects of your life to the rulers because unless they are granted total control, they won’t be able to create the order everyone craves.
This order, however, is a pathological one, devoid of all humanity. It eliminates the spontaneity that brings joy and creativity to one’s life by demanding strict conformity and blind obedience.
And despite the promise of safety, totalitarian society is inherently fearful. It was built on fear and is maintained by it too. So, giving up your freedom for safety and a sense of order will only lead to more of the same fear and anxiety that allowed the totalitarians to gain control in the first place.
How Can Mass Psychosis Be Reversed?
Can totalitarianism be prevented? And can the effects of mass psychosis be reversed? Yes, but just as the menticidal approach is multipronged, so must the solution be. To help return sanity to an insane world, first you need to center yourself and live in such a way as to provide inspiration for others to follow. As noted by Jung:
“It is not for nothing that our age cries out for the redeemer personality, for the one who can emancipate himself from the grip of the collective psychosis and save at least his own soul, who lights a beacon of hope for others, proclaiming that here is at least one man who has succeeded in extricating himself from the fatal identity with the group psyche.”
Next, you need to share and spread the truth — the counternarrative to the propaganda — as far and wide as possible. Because the truth is always more potent than lies, the success of propaganda relies on the censoring of truth. Another tactic is to use humor and ridicule to delegitimize the ruling elite.
A strategy proposed by Vaclav Havel, a political dissident who became the president of Czechoslovakia, is called “parallel structures.” A parallel structure is any kind of business, organization, technology, movement, or creative pursuit that fits within a totalitarian society while being morally outside of it.
Once enough parallel structures are created, a parallel culture is born that functions as a sanctuary of sanity within the totalitarian world. Havel explains this strategy in his book, “The Power of the Powerless.”
Last but not least, to prevent the descent into totalitarian madness, sane and rational action must be taken by as many people as possible. The totalitarian elite does not sit around twiddling their thumbs, hoping and wishing to increase their power and control. No. They are actively taking steps to augment their position. To defend against them, the would-be-ruled must be just as active and resolute in their counter-push toward freedom.
All of this can be extremely challenging as people around you succumb to collective psychosis. But as Thomas Paine once said:
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Teens with more secure family relationships get a head start on developing empathy, according to my colleagues’ and my new study tracking adolescents into adulthood.
In contrast to popular myths about self-obsessed teens, existing research shows that adolescence is a key stage of development for the growth of empathy: the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes, to understand and resonate with their emotions and to care about their well-being. Empathy is a skill that develops over time, and it has major consequences for teens’ social interactions, friendships and adult relationships.
So how do teens learn this critical skill?
Our team’s new findings, published on July 15, 2021, in the journal Child Development, suggest that teens who have secure, supportive family relationships provide more empathetic support to their friends.
Imagine yourself as a teenager with someone in your life who understands your struggles, offers help and makes you feel supported and connected – that’s what empathetic support is all about.
Our study, led by professor of psychology Joseph P. Allen, followed 184 adolescents from their early teens into adulthood. When teens were 14 years old, we interviewed them about their family experiences and their relationships with their parents.
The interviews were designed to measure attachment security – teens’ confidence that they can explore and build autonomy while trusting others to provide connection, safety and support when they need it. Past research shows that experiences of receiving sensitive care from adult caregivers, especially in times of stress, build secure attachment. In each interview, we rated teens as secure if they expressed that they valued their family relationships and described them in a balanced, clear way.
Then we videotaped the teens at ages 16, 17 and 18, while they helped their closest friend talk through problems they were facing. From these videos, we quantified how much support friends sought from the teens we interviewed – for example, by asking for their opinion on a situation. To measure how much empathetic support the teens provided, we looked for four types of behaviors: showing understanding, helping friends solve their problems, providing emotional validation and actively engaging in conversations.
We found that teens who were more secure in their family relationships at age 14 provided more empathetic support to their friends in early adolescence and showed consistently high empathy over time. Teens who were less secure showed lower levels of empathy at first but improved this skill over time and nearly caught up to more secure teens by age 18.
This finding suggests that teens naturally gain empathetic skills as they get older, but those with more secure family relationships may get there faster.
What is especially interesting is that teens’ friends were more likely to seek out support from secure teens, and friends who sought more help were more likely to receive it. Thus, friendships provide a key context for adolescents to practice giving and receiving empathetic support.
Our research suggests that empathy starts with feeling safe and connected. Building secure relationships, characterized by trust, emotional safety and responsiveness, can give teens a firsthand experience of empathy. With this foundation in place, they can then share that empathy with others.
There’s still plenty we don’t know about teens’ empathy. For instance, what equips teens to empathize with individuals from marginalized groups, with new peers or dating partners, or with their own future children?
Learning how to nurture empathy in adolescence is vital for building a more compassionate society.
Anxiety is one of the most common childhood mental disorders. About 7% of children suffer from it at any given time, with nearly 1 in 3 adolescents experiencing it sometime during their teen years.
For an anxious child, seemingly normal activities can be hard. Worried kids have trouble adjusting to school, making friends, and learning. They can feel inhibited, avoiding challenges by running away or retreating into themselves. While parents may feel desperate to help, their approaches can backfire. For example, trying to talk kids out of their feelings or keep them away from anxiety-producing situations may inadvertently make the anxiety worse.
To help anxious kids, clinicians have developed science-based treatments, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, to alleviate symptoms. But the treatments can be cumbersome and expensive, and they don’t always work. Anxiety in kids as young as preschool-aged can be a sign of future trouble—a precursor to later disorders, like social anxiety, phobias, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. But less is known about how to stop anxiety in its tracks at very young ages, when kids may not even have the cognitive capacity to benefit from the treatment.
What if very young kids could be inoculated against anxiety somehow, sparing them from a future of worry and inhibition? A new line of research conducted by Kate Fitzgerald, professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics at the University of Michigan, suggests this may be possible.
Fitzgerald has been studying very young children with anxiety symptoms and making important discoveries about the brain markers for childhood anxiety. Building on this work, she and her team have created a training program for young children aimed at increasing their cognitive capacities, helping to lessen their anxiety—both immediately and, possibly, in the future.
“We hope our work will show that childhood anxiety is not inevitable, but might be prevented with the right intervention,” says Fitzgerald. “So far, it’s looking promising.”
The neuroscience of anxiety
When we face challenging or scary situations in life, our brains naturally go into action. The amygdala sends out neurochemicals (like adrenaline) to make our hearts pound and prepare our bodies to “fight-flight, or freeze” in case of danger. At the same time, the frontal lobes engage our cognition to assess the situation, draw from past experience, and problem-solve to come up with an appropriate response. In healthy people, these dual systems work in tandem—one putting on the gas and the other applying the brakes—depending on what’s needed.
In the context of this process, a little bit of anxiety can have a positive side—like when it motivates us to practice hard to master a piano piece or study for a test. But, in anxious people, that gas pedal goes to the metal every time, making them want to run or flee challenge. It can be debilitating and exhausting, too, as they often have to exert a lot of effortful control just to get through. Facing stressful situations while tamping down that fear response is key to overcoming anxiety—in adults as well as older kids.
But in young kids, Fitzgerald and her team are discovering, the brain may respond a little differently. For example, four to seven-year-olds have a higher-than-normal startle response in “neutral situations”—where nothing threatening is happening—but have a normal startle response in scary situations that any child might react to. That suggests that they have more to overcome when facing everyday challenges, like going to school or meeting new people.
Her team has also discovered that a part of the brain that responds when people make a mistake—the error-related negativity (or ERN)—is weaker in anxious five to seven-year-olds than in worried older children and adults. That’s likely because young kids don’t have well-developed cognitive capacities that could help them understand that errors happen, aren’t scary, and can often be fixed. Without more cognitive control, their startle response wins out, making them anxious, says Fitzgerald.
A young child with low cognitive control is also more likely to develop anxiety later on in childhood, while one with a higher capacity will be more resilient to stress. Raising cognitive control (which can be measured by the ERN) could both treat anxiety in young children and potentially prevent it from becoming worse over time.
“If we could just help kids gain some cognitive control when they are anxious, it could really make a difference in how they deal with stressful situations,” says Fitzgerald. “We just need to empower them.”
Preventing harmful anxiety
To test this idea, Fitzgerald and her colleagues conducted a pilot study (as yet unpublished) with anxious four to seven-year-olds. The children came to a “camp” the researchers designed called Kid Power for four half-day sessions over two weeks. At the camp, children played fun, ordinary childhood games, like “Simon Says” and “Red Light/Green Light,” that help strengthen cognitive control.
Counselors at the camp gradually increased the challenge within the games to help kids master the skills needed to do well—like being flexible, using their working memory, and inhibiting undesirable responses (like moving when they’re supposed to freeze). They also enjoyed the company of other kids, with whom they brainstormed ways to improve their performance. And parents participated at the end of each session, learning the games from their kids so they could practice playing together at home.
To see the effects this training had on the kids’ brains and behavior, Fitzgerald and her colleagues measured their startle response and ERN before they attended the Kid Power camp and four to six weeks after. To do that, they had kids play computer games that required cognitive control while wearing special monitors that could capture their startle and ERN responses when they made mistakes. Additionally, the researchers gathered information from the parents and the kids themselves about anxiety symptoms before and after the camp.
After analyzing the data, the team found that the children’s ERNs increased (signifying greater cognitive control), while their startle responses went down—a pattern associated with less anxiety at that age.
“The brain signal that related to detecting an error actually increased, but in a good way,” said Fitzgerald. “Kids were getting better at doing hard things, stopping instinctual responding, including the fear response.”
This mirrored the children’s (and their parents’) own assessments. They reported fewer anxiety symptoms, including fear and avoiding challenging situations, after the training—something Fitzgerald found particularly rewarding.
“It’s exciting to link the brain to behavior, but what’s even more rewarding is the individual children we’ve seen go through the program who are experiencing fewer anxiety symptoms,” she says.
For example, one parent reported that her daughter, who’d had symptoms of the obsessive-compulsive disorder prior to attending the Kid Power camp, had made a noticeable improvement, even while the camp was still going on.
“She didn’t want to leave while she was here, and she was in a better mood during the week in between—a little less rigid and able to experience more joy,” the parent wrote in an evaluation.
Fitzgerald recalls another five-year-old camper who’d been very afraid of making mistakes in his kindergarten class, which led to bouts of crying and other disruptive behaviors, requiring daily calls home. After attending the camp, though, and learning how to calm anxiety, everything changed.
“After a week of playing those games that were part of the intervention, those calls from home stopped,” says Fitzgerald. “His mom was impressed because earlier counseling with a trained therapist had not led to improvement. Only after Kid Power did he successfully adjust to kindergarten and begin to enjoy it.”
With encouraging results from this pilot study, Fitzgerald applied for and received a $3 million National Institutes of Health grant to expand the Kid Power program and conduct further research. She hopes future studies will help her nail down the key ingredient in the program that led to reduced anxiety and, potentially, find a way to tailor treatment to individual children—some of whom may need a stronger dose of the training or slightly different activities to improve, she says.
If her initial findings hold, her work could have broad implications, providing a template that others can follow for treating and preventing childhood anxiety disorders in the future.
“Interventions are within reach,” she says. “As we work to understand the science behind anxiety in young minds, we can use that science to develop treatments that are more effective.”
This article was originally published by AIM Youth Mental Health, a non-profit dedicated to finding and funding promising youth mental health research that can identify solutions to make a difference in young people’s lives today, which contributed to funding Kate Fitzgerald’s research. Read the original article.
Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good.
The Empire Depends on Psychological Compartmentalization
Britain’s High Court has granted the US government limited permission to appeal its extradition case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, meaning that the acclaimed journalist will continue to languish in prison for exposing US war crimes while the appeals process plays out.
If the western media were what it purports to be, every member of the public will be acutely aware of the fact that a journalist is being imprisoned by the most powerful government on earth for exposing inconvenient facts about its war machine. Because the western media are propaganda institutions designed to protect the powerful, this fact is far from the forefront of public attention. Most people are more aware of the smears about Assange being a Russian agent or a rapist than they are of his victimization by a tyrannical assault on world press freedoms.
There is a whole other world happening just below the surface of mainstream public attention. The membrane of celebrities and entertainment and partisan bickering overlays public perception of the world almost the entire time, only occasionally being disrupted by short-lived blasts of dissonance piercing through the fog.
You’ll be reading about what Ronnie Republican said to Debbie Democrat, and it will feel so real and normal, then all of a sudden you’re getting blasted in the face with talk of Jeffrey Epstein getting suicided in prison amid reported ties to government-run sexual blackmail operations using minors for the purpose of controlling society’s leading influencers. Then it gets quickly memory-holed, the membrane returns, and it’s back to Ronnie and Debbie once again.
But before the fog returns there’s always a short-lived moment of “What?? Huh??” as you try to re-orient yourself to reality in light of the new information you just received. What you just saw is completely irreconcilable with your current view of the world, the one you’ve been fed piece-by-piece by school and mass media and internet algorithms. The clash between your comfortable existing worldview and the new information you just received causes a kind of psychological discomfort known as cognitive dissonance, which makes it hard to hold them both at the same time.
From there, psychological compartmentalization takes over. Compartmentalizing is when we mentally separate information or experience from our existing understanding of ourselves and our world and kind of sweep it under the carpet so we don’t experience cognitive dissonance anymore. We don’t delete it; the information is still there to be accessed if we want to, but it’s placed in a separate file and treated as though it exists in a parallel alternate reality.
Compartmentalization sometimes comes into play when a wife discovers that her husband has been sexually molesting their child; she files the information away into a separate container because the way that information would shatter her world if she held onto it is too frightening and the cognitive dissonance of holding both worlds at the same time too uncomfortable.
Compartmentalization comes in when we’re scrolling through our news feed and see something about the horrors that are being unleashed upon Yemen with the help of our government; it doesn’t square with the model of the world we’ve been trained to hold in our minds, so we dissociate it from our model.
It comes in when we remember that we were lied to about Iraq. It comes in when we think about what humankind’s way of living on this planet is doing to our ecosystem. It comes in when we think about the fact that nuclear weapons are a thing and that cold war tensions are escalating. It comes in when we are reminded that our government is participating in the torture and imprisonment of a journalist whose only crime was trying to bring the truth out from the locked files it’s been hidden away in so we can make it a part of our worldview.
Compartmentalization is a weapon of the propagandists. It’s a glitch in our cognitive processing which means they don’t have to work as hard to keep us living in a lie-based reality tunnel; all they have to do is construct our perception of reality for us, and from there our own psychological defense systems will do the work for them.
The oligarchic empire which rules our world is not truly hidden from view; we see signs of it all the time, it’s just too uncomfortable for most of us to look at. The monster isn’t hiding under the bed, it’s staring us right in the face and we’re looking all over the room except where it’s standing because to meet its gaze would obliterate our world.
But obliterate it we must. Lie-based worldviews are what hold the empire together; the powerful spend so much energy propagandizing us because they need to in order to retain power. Without it, we could realize that they are unleashing immense evils upon our world and that there are a whole lot more of us than there are of them.
And this is what we must do if our species is to survive in the future. We must find a way to move past the cognitive dissonance from a lie-based way of living into a truth-based way of living, and become a truth-based species with a truth-based relationship with each other and with our ecosystem. If we keep hiding from reality, we’ll compartmentalize ourselves right out of existence.
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The Benefits and Risks of LSD: Everything You Need to Know Available on Psychable
LSD is a potent psychedelic that has been around for a long time, but what exactly is it? Why do people take it? What are the risks and benefits of LSD use? Psychable is an online community connecting those interested in psychedelic therapy with professionals that can support them. We have gone through Psychable’s content library on LSD to gather information for you on the benefits and risks of LSD.
What is LSD?
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a psychedelic substance derived from the ergot fungus that is found in rye and other grains. Ergot was once called “common spirit” and was used medicinally by midwives to help ease labor pains as early as the 1500s.
LSD was discovered in 1938 by Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, who experienced its mind-altering effects firsthand when he accidentally ingested it while studying ergot in a lab. It wasn’t until 1943, however, that he intentionally ingested LSD to study its hallucinogenic effects. It was studied by other scientists in the 1950s and 1960s, and gained popularity among members of the counterculture movement during the 1960s and 1970s, but it still retains an aura of a mystery today.
In recent decades, research on LSD has been conducted by private institutions in Europe and North America. The substance remains illegal worldwide under UN conventions on narcotics and is considered a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act and is illegal for use in the United States.
How does it work?
“LSD interacts with chemical messengers (serotonin) within your cells to produce an altered state of consciousness and change how you experience things; for example, music may sound better or colors may look more vivid than usual”, explains Matt Zemon, Psychable Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder.
Matt Zemon, Psychable Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder
LSD is typically taken by placing a tab underneath the tongue, but can also be administered in liquid form or in gelatin or sugar cubes. By placing a blotter paper or tab of LSD underneath the tongue, the chemicals dissolve into mucous membranes and enter into circulation quickly without being metabolized by stomach acids first. The onset of effects usually begins in the first 30-60 minutes and has an average duration of about 12 hours depending on the dose and how it was ingested.
The Importance of Set & Setting
There are two fundamental factors that go into the experience of taking LSD; set and setting. Set refers to both the short-term mindset one is in as well as one’s overall outlook on life, including any past traumas that may affect the psychedelic experience. Setting refers to the physical surroundings where one takes LSD, as well as the people involved in the experience. These two elements combined will determine how an individual will react to the drug. It is also important to note that set and setting may be different each time a person experiences a psychedelic trip, meaning that the same person can react differently each time.
If someone has a positive outlook on life, they may have a better time with their trip than if they were feeling anxiety or fear about it beforehand. If somebody takes LSD at home alone or with a sober guide, rather than out in public, it is less likely that they will experience an adverse reaction.
Is there a safe dose for taking LSD?
Although lethal doses have been determined from experiments in several animal models, there has never been a recorded case of death exclusively attributed to LSD in humans. The appropriate amount of LSD to take will depend on the desired outcome.
Dosage can vary depending on the type of LSD as well as where it is sourced from but generally falls into one of two categories: a full dose, or a microdose. A full dose (100-200 micrograms) is typically used for spiritual purposes and will produce mind-altering effects. A microdose, which is a sub-perceptual amount of LSD (usually 20-30 micrograms) is often used to increase creativity and can be taken while going about one’s daily activities. While a full dose of LSD can last for up to 12 hours, a sub-perceptual amount can last up to six or eight hours.
What are the benefits of taking LSD?
“LSD has been shown to help people have meaningful experiences, giving way for insightful new ideas,” says Jemie Sae Koo, Psychable CEO and Co-Founder. “Some people report that LSD helped them gain insight into themselves, their lives, and the nature of the universe. In one study, healthy subjects who were given a single 200 μg dose of LSD reported positive mood changes, positive social effects, and positive attitudes about life”.
The benefits of taking LSD in sub-perceptual dosages (microdosing) may include feeling happier, increased self-awareness or insight into oneself, heightened sensory perception and increased creativity and productivity.
There has been clinical research conducted on the use of LSD as a therapeutic tool to treat alcoholism and addiction to drugs such as heroin, morphine, or methadone. While more research is needed, clinical trials have shown promising results so far. The studies have shown that LSD may be able to help an individual break the cycle of dependency by effectively altering their mental state and their self-perception, which is a huge factor in the success of curing alcohol dependency.
What are the risks of taking LSD?
Studies have shown that no severe acute adverse effects have been observed when administering LSD to healthy subjects in double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies. Mild adverse effects in some people included psychological reactions such as:
paranoia and feelings of confusion
and physical reactions such as:
increased heart rate
numbness or tingling sensations around the mouth or extremities (hands/feet)
In those who experienced them, these effects were shown to have completely subsided within 72 hours of dosage.
People who have a personal or family history of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia should not take LSD. In such individuals, there is an increased risk of prolonged psychosis or chronic depression.
Probably the most common psychological risk of LSD is the fear of having a “bad trip” or what the psychedelic therapy world refers to as a challenging trip, so as to not label the experience good or bad, as many insights that are beneficial can come from difficult journeys. Psychedelics have a way of bringing up memories and emotions from the past. Though this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can sometimes lead to intense bouts of anxiety or depression. Additionally, altered perceptions of time and reality can lead to paranoia. Taking time to properly prepare for a psychedelic experience can help reduce the chances of experiencing a bad trip.
How to Minimize the Risk of a Challenging Trip
If you’re looking to have a psychedelic experience, it is recommended that you find a trained guide who is not under the influence of LSD as well. The role of this guide is to prevent you from engaging in dangerous activities and to help bring you back to a state of calm if you begin to feel scared or anxious.
A trained guide or “sitter” can help you ground your mind in the present moment by doing things like helping you focusing on an object or listening closely for familiar sounds around yourself like the sounds of birds singing or of soft music. The guide should also help you address physical needs, like staying hydrated.
If you begin to feel like you’re having a challenging trip, there are a few things you can do (with the help of your guide).
Try to keep calm and focus on your breathing. You can do this by sitting down, closing the curtains or blinds or turning off the light, and turning off any music that might be playing loudly nearby.
You can also try to remember that hallucinogenic drugs can make you see, feel, and even hear things that are distorted or have no basis in reality. This is why it’s important to be in a safe space and with people you trust. Your sitter or guide can help remind you of this.
Knowing that time will return to its normal state of consciousness is also important. Those who understand this are less likely to experience anxiety or bad trips, making it an easier and more enjoyable journey overall.
Are there any long-term effects of taking LSD?
Research subjects given a single dose of LSD reported some long-lasting positive effects. These positive effects include increased optimism about the future and a sense of increased well-being and self-esteem as long-lasting changes.
Physically, LSD is considered to be one of the least toxic drugs. This is because it does not have any addictive properties and can be used in small doses. There are no documented deaths from an LSD overdose. LSD does not cause users to commit violent crimes or act recklessly without regard for their own safety.
It is important to note that scientific research on the use of LSD is ongoing, but survey data indicates that LSD is one of the least dangerous recreational drugs, along with psilocybin mushrooms and cannabis. Even so, if you are considering using LSD you should be sure to weigh the potential risks and benefits for your unique situation and make an informed, educated decision.
Governments are using fear to control and manipulate their citizens. That has now been admitted by members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior (SPI-B), a subcommittee that advises the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in the U.K. And they should know, because they advocated for it, and now say it was a regrettable mistake. As reported by The Telegraph, May 14, 2021:1
“Scientists on a committee that encouraged the use of fear to control people’s behavior during the COVID pandemic have admitted its work was ‘unethical’ and ‘totalitarian.’ Members of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior (SPI-B) expressed regret about the tactics in a new book about the role of psychology in the Government’s COVID-19 response.
SPI-B warned in March last year that ministers needed to increase ‘the perceived level of personal threat’ from COVID-19 because ‘a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened.’
Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the team, said: ‘Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government. By nature I am an optimistic person, but all this has given me a more pessimistic view of people.’”
Psychological Warfare Is Real
The Telegraph quotes several of the SPI-B members, all of whom are also quoted in the newly released book, “A State of Fear: How the UK Government Weaponised Fear During the Covid-19 Pandemic,” written by Laura Dodsworth:2
“One SPI-B scientist told Ms Dodsworth: ‘In March  the Government was very worried about compliance and they thought people wouldn’t want to be locked down. There were discussions about fear being needed to encourage compliance, and decisions were made about how to ramp up the fear. The way we have used fear is dystopian.
The use of fear has definitely been ethically questionable. It’s been like a weird experiment. Ultimately, it backfired because people became too scared’ …
One warned that ‘people use the pandemic to grab power and drive through things that wouldn’t happen otherwise … We have to be very careful about the authoritarianism that is creeping in’ …
Another member of SPI-B said they were ‘stunned by the weaponization of behavioral psychology’ during the pandemic, and that ‘psychologists didn’t seem to notice when it stopped being altruistic and became manipulative. They have too much power and it intoxicates them.’
Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said: ‘If it is true that the state took the decision to terrify the public to get compliance with rules, that raises extremely serious questions about the type of society we want to become. If we’re being really honest, do I fear that government policy today is playing into the roots of totalitarianism? Yes, of course it is.’”
The Manufacture of Fear
For nearly a year and a half, governments around the world, with few exceptions, have fed their citizens a steady diet of frightening news. For months on end, you couldn’t turn on the television without facing a ticker-tape detailing the number of hospitalizations and deaths.
Even when it became clear that people weren’t really dying in excessive numbers, the mainstream media fed us continuous updates on the growing number of “cases,” without ever putting such figures into context or explaining that the vast majority were false positives.
Information that would have balanced out the bad news — such as recovery rates and just how many so-called “cases” actually weren’t, because they never had a single symptom — were censored and suppressed.
They also refused to put any of the data into context, such as reviewing whether the death toll actually differed significantly from previous years. Instead, each new case was treated as an emergency and a sign of catastrophic doom.
Don’t Be Confused — Contradiction Is a Warfare Tactic
Aside from the barrage of bad-news-only data — which, by the way, was heavily manipulated in a variety of ways — fear and anxiety are also generated by keeping you confused. According to Dodsworth, giving out contradictory recommendations and vague instructions is being done intentionally, to keep you psychologically vulnerable.
“When you create a state of confusion, people become ever more reliant on the messaging. Instead of feeling confident about making decisions, they end up waiting for instructions from the Government,” she said in a May 20, 2021, interview on the Planet Normal podcast.3
An example provided by Dodsworth is the pandemic measures implemented over Christmas 2020:
“Family Christmases were on, then off, then back on, then off again. You have got someone tightening the screw, then loosening the screw, then tightening it again. It’s like a torture scenario.”
But that’s not all. As explained by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin, by layering confusion and uncertainty on top of fear, you can bring an individual to a state in which they can no longer think rationally. Once driven into an illogical state, they are easily manipulated. I have no doubt driving people into a state where logic and reason no longer registers is the whole point behind much of the conflicting information we’re given.
The Fear Factory
In her book, Dodsworth details a number of branches of the British government that are using psychological warfare methods in their interaction with the public. In addition to the SPI-B, there’s the:4
•Behavioral Insights team, the so-called “nudge unit,” a semi-independent government body that applies “behavioral insights to inform policy, improve public services and deliver positive results for people and communities.”5 This team also advises foreign nations.
•Home Office’s Research, Information, and Communications Unit (RICU), which is part of the U.K.’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, advises front groups disguised as public “grassroots” organizations on how to “covertly engineer the thoughts of people.”
•Rapid Response Unit, launched in 2018, operates across the British Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s office (colloquially known as “Number 10” as in the physical address, 10 Downing Street in London) to “counter misinformation and disinformation.” They also work with the National Security Communications Team during crises to ensure “official information” gets maximum visibility.6
•Counter Disinformation Cell, which is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Both monitor social media and combat “fake news” about science in general and COVID-19 in particular, with “fake news” being anything that contradicts the World Health Organization’s guidance.7
•Government Communications Headquarters (QCHQ), an intelligence and security organization that provides information to the U.K. government and the armed forces. According to Dodsworth, QCHQ personnel, and even members of the 77th Brigade, have been enlisted as so-called sockpuppets and trolls to combat anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown messaging on social media.
According to Dodsworth, there are many others. In her book, she claims at least 10 different government departments in the U.K. are working with “behavioral insights teams” to manipulate the public.
We’re Just Seeing It Now
Importantly, the government’s reliance on behavioral psychology didn’t just happen as a result of the pandemic. These tactics have been used for years, for myriad PR purposes, and while the pandemic may be winding down, Dodsworth warns that more and more behavioral scientists are being hired:8
“It’s growing and growing. Right now, I feel we are in a maelstrom of nudge,” she says. “In the past, there have been calls to consult the public on the use of behavioral psychology, and those calls have come from the behavioral scientists themselves. And yet it hasn’t happened. We haven’t yet been consulted on the use of subconscious techniques which effectively strip away our choices …
I fervently hope this book [‘The State of Fear’] is actually going to inspire a much-needed conversation about the use of fear, not just in the epidemic, but the way we use behavioral psychology overall.
It’s not just a genie that has been let out the bottle. It’s like we’ve unleashed a Hydra and you can keep chopping its head off, but they keep employing more of these behavioral scientists throughout different government departments. It’s very much how the Government now does business. It’s the business of fear …
I think ultimately people don’t want to be manipulated. People don’t enjoy being hoodwinked and they don’t want to live in a state of fear. We maybe need to be a bit bolder about standing up more quickly when something is not right.”
Fear Is Contagious
Fear has long been the tool of tyrants. It’s profoundly effective, in part because it spreads from person to person, just like a virus. The contagion of fear is the topic of the Nova “Gross Science” video above, originally aired in mid-February 2017. Among animals, emotional distress responses are telegraphed through pheromones emitted through various bodily secretions such as sweat and saliva.
As explained in the video, when encountering what is perceived as a serious threat, animals with strong social structures, such as bees and ants, will release alarm pheromone. The scent attracts other members of the hive or colony to collectively address the threat.
Humans appear to have a very similar capability. When scared or stressed, humans produce chemosignals, and while you may not consciously recognize the smell of fear or stress, it can have a subconscious impact, making you feel afraid or stressed too.
Humans also tend to mimic the feelings of those around us, and this is yet another way through which emotion can spread like wildfire through a community or an entire nation — for better or worse. Behavioral psychologists refer to this as “emotional contagion,” and it works both positive and negative emotions.
For example, if you’re greeted by a smile when meeting someone, you’re likely to smile back, mimicking their facial expression and behavior. If someone looks at you with an angry scowl, you’re likely to suddenly feel angry too, even if you weren’t before and have no subjective reason to — other than that someone looked at you the “wrong” way.
However, while both positive and negative emotions are contagious, certain emotions spread faster and easier than others. Research cited in the Nova report found that “high arousal” emotions such as awe (high-arousal positive emotion) and anger or anxiety (high-arousal negative emotion) are more “viral” than low-arousal emotions such as happiness or sadness.
The Nova report also points out that researchers have been mining Twitter and other social media data to better understand how emotions are spread, and the types of messages that spread the fastest. However, they ignored the primary culprits, Google and Facebook both of which steal your private data and use it to manipulate your behavior.
At the time, in 2017, they said this information was being harvested and used to develop ways to avoid public messaging that might incite mass panic. But the COVID-19 pandemic suggests the complete opposite. Clearly, behavioral experts have been busy developing ways to generate maximum fear, anxiety, and panic.
How to Inoculate Yourself Against Negative Contagion
At the end of the report, Nova cites research detailing three effective ways to “immunize” yourself against negative emotional contagions.
Distract yourself from the source of the negative contagion — In the case of pandemic fearporn, that might entail not reading or listening to mainstream media news that for the past year have proven themselves incapable of levelheadedness.
Project your own positive emotions back at the source of the negative contagion — If talking to someone who is fearful, they might end up “catching” your optimism rather than the other way around.
Speak up — If someone is unwittingly spreading “negative vibes,” telling them so might help them realize what they’re doing. (This won’t work if the source is knowingly and purposely spreading fear or anxiety though.)
Pandemic of Panic
In a recent Tweet,9 Ivor Cummins, a biochemical engineer who researches the root causes of chronic disease, shared a short video detailing the root cause of the panic pandemic. Why has the whole world seemingly gone mad from fear?
As explained by Cummins, the outsized level of public fear is the result of a catastrophic feedback loop system where political and mainstream media drivers are pushing fear onto the public, and public fears are then feeding the media (fear sells) and pushing politicians to take action, which generates more fear messages. And so, round and round it goes.
However, at a certain point, this engine of fear starts losing steam. To keep the pandemic pandemonium going, academics bearing doomsday predictions were brought in to scare politicians and provide more fearporn fodder for the media.
Aiding the academic drivers are unelected, undemocratic organizations such as the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Big Pharma (just to name a few), all of which support these academic doomsday prophets from behind the scenes or openly promote them.
All of the organizations Cummins mentions are part of a technocratic, unelected elite that are making decisions for the entire world. If we were to somehow shut down this secondary engine that feeds into the first, the global insanity would probably start to abate.
The question is, can that be done? Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has likened our current predicament to “an apocalyptical battle,”10 as we’re facing formidable undemocratic forces with seemingly unlimited financial resources, political influence, and the ability to control the global landscape of communications.
We’re facing a globalist agenda that ultimately seeks to gain total control by stripping away human rights and the rights of countries, and they’re using “biosecurity” as justification for it all.
Exposing the Grand Plan
As explained by journalist James Corbett in his October 16, 2020, Corbett Report,11 the Great Reset is a new “social contract” that ties every person to it through an electronic ID linked to your bank account and health records and a social credit ID that will end up dictating every facet of your life.
It’s about getting rid of capitalism and free enterprise and replacing them with “sustainable development” and “stakeholder capitalism” — terms that belie their nefarious, anti-humanity intents. As noted in the book, “Technocracy: The Hard Road to World Order”:12
“… Sustainable Development is Technocracy … The Sustainable Development movement has taken careful steps to conceal its true identity, strategy and purpose, but once the veil is lifted, you will never see it any other way. Once its strategy is unmasked, everything else will start to make sense.”
In her blog post “The Great Reset for Dummies,” journalist Tessa Lena summarizes the purpose behind the call for a global “reset”:13
“The mathematical reason for the Great Reset is that thanks to technology, the planet has gotten small, and the infinite expansion economic model is bust — but obviously, the super wealthy want to continue staying super wealthy, and so they need a miracle, another bubble, plus a surgically precise system for managing what they perceive as ‘their limited resources.’
Thus, they desperately want a bubble providing new growth out of thin air — literally — while simultaneously they seek to tighten the peasants’ belts, an effort that starts with ‘behavioral modification,’ a.k.a. resetting the western peasants’ sense of entitlement to high life standards and liberties … The practical aim of the Great Reset is to fundamentally restructure the world’s economy and geopolitical relations based on two assumptions:
One, that every element of nature and every life form is a part of the global inventory (managed by the allegedly benevolent state, which, in turn, is owned by several suddenly benevolent wealthy people, via technology).
And two, that all inventory needs to be strictly accounted for: be registered in a central database, be readable by a scanner and easily ID’ed, and be managed by AI, using the latest ‘science.’
The goal is to count and then efficiently manage and control all resources, including people, on an unprecedented scale, with unprecedented digital … precision — all while the masters keep indulging, enjoying vast patches of conserved nature, free of unnecessary sovereign peasants and their unpredictability.”
These new global “assets” can also be turned into brand-new financial instruments that can then be traded. For example, Zero-Budget Natural Farming is now being introduced in India. This is a brand-new concept of farming in which farmers must trade the carbon rate in their soil on the global market if they want to make a living. They’ll get no money at all for the crops they actually grow.
The Pandemic Has Been a Psychological Operation
There’s not a single area of life that is left out of this Great Reset plan. The planned reform will affect everything from government, energy, and finance to food, medicine, real estate, policing, and even how we interact with our fellow human beings in general.
It goes without saying that to radically transform every last part of society has its challenges. No person in their right mind would agree to it if aware of the details of the whole plan. So, to roll this out, they had to use psychological manipulation, and fear is the most effective tool for inducing compliance there is.
The following graphic illustrates the central role of fearmongering for the successful rollout of the Great Reset.
Social Engineering Is Central to Technocratic Rule
Technocracy is inherently a technological society run through social engineering. Fear is but one manipulation tool. The focus on “science” is another. Anytime someone dissents, they’re simply accused of being “anti-science,” and any science that conflicts with the status quo is declared “debunked science.”
The only science that matters is whatever the technocrats deem to be true, no matter how much evidence there is against it. We’ve seen this first-hand during this pandemic, as Big Tech has censored and banned anything going against the opinions of the WHO, which is just another cog in the technocratic machine.
If we allow this censorship to continue, the end result will be nothing short of devastating. So, we simply must keep pushing for transparency, truth, medical freedom, personal liberty, and the right to privacy.
Recognizing that the fear we feel has been carefully manufactured can help free us from its grip, and once we — en masse — no longer believe the lies being put before us, the engine driving the fear and panic will eventually run out of steam.
Repetitive Stupidity in Commercials is Programming the Hive Subconscious Mind
At the heart of the social insanity, mindless acquiescence to authority, and automatic compliance with any and every new government rule or regulation, is a deliberate effort to dumb down the population. It takes place in the halls of our educational institutions, and it comes home with us at night to our television screens.
“…over a thirty- to fifty-year period-what must surely amount to tons of materials containing irrefutable proof, in the education change agents’ own words, of deliberate, malicious intent to achieve behavioral changes in students/parents/society which have nothing to do with commonly understood educational objectives.”
We know the education system is designed to produce drones, but today I’d like to bring your attention to the role television commercials play in engineering our society toward entropy, division, conformity, and decay.
Consider at once this ridiculous advertisement from Australia, where a wine company is hoping you’ll drink more of their booze after watching a computer-generated kangaroo liven up the party while getting the attention of supermodels. They overtly twist their brand name, Yellowtail, into crude sexual innuendo, appealing to your most base desires.
Young children learn primarily by observation of what other people do. If adults do stupid things, kids do stupid things. So it is as well with the so-called mature adults among us, who imitate each other in order to fit with each other.
When the templates for acceptable social behavior are pounded into our heads from television, humans emulate the celebrities, actors, and beauties on the screen. And commercials are the worst, as their rapid, attention deficit generating format are repeated again and again so as to become implanted in our minds.
Couple this with the fact that we are technologically isolated (while highly connected) in today’s society, and as such, mass media serves as a kind of common language, a way of relating to one another, and of establishing the broadcast-level reality. Now you have a world of people who take cues from advertisers, which are adopted by others, eventually snowballing into a real-life Idiocracy.
Here, Devour frozen foods has altogether given up on subtlety, turning the experience of eating processed foods laden with preservatives, colorants, and other chemicals, into an orgasm.
And in this creepy version, again for Devour processed foods, a drone-like office employee is so dumb, and so sexually confused, that he talks dirty to his plastic dish of synthetic garbage.
The corporate-controlled consumer matrix, which now guides the development of our cities and social lives, became a cultural imperative with the help of the scientific development of product marketing. Also known as corporate propaganda, it was pioneered mid-twentieth century by the author of the book Propaganda, Edward Bernays, who himself best explains the engineered scheme at play in pop culture:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” ~Edward Bernays
He would know. His ideas were heavily influenced by the work of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, the so-called father of modern psychology, who developed theories that still govern much of our understanding of the human psyche. He’s most recognized for the idea that humans are motivated first and foremost by the drive to fornicate. Bernays’ contribution was linking products to sex, with marketing that jars the perception of reality.
In this classic piece of commercial art, Axe Body Spray does a splendid version of the time-honored marketing illusion that the purchase of a product will bring sex with beautiful women.
A major purpose of this type of marketing is to suspend disbelief, which is a visual procedure that leads to the acceptance of outlandish claims. Commercials are the perfect open format for messing with people’s heads, where superstar, perfect people present conflicting, senseless ideas.
For its incredibly stupid product, MiO Liquid Water Enhancer goes far beyond the pale in this commercial where grown men talk about ‘squirting’ chemicals like propylene glycol into the water to make it taste good.
“The second ingredient in these little bottles is propylene glycol, a preservative, thickening agent, and stabilizer, also used as antifreeze to de-ice airplanes, as a plasticizer to make polyester resins, and found in electronic cigarettes.” [Source]
Fifty-plus years of ridiculous advertising instructing our culture is bearing its intended fruit: a society of entitled, impatient, crass, unreasonable, and shallow people has emerged. In this climate, unity is impossible and the masses are more impressionable than ever, thus, the controllers are free to have their way with us.
Here, these two clowns in a Sonic fast-food restaurant commercial rattle on in a pointless stream-of-consciousness conversation that links chicken wings (the food) with hooking up with women, which have nothing at all to do with each other in real life.
It’s called television programming for a reason, and it is paid for by advertisers who tinker with society by bombarding us with absurdity and stupidity.
It could be entertainment.
And it could also be another mechanism of social control, urging your subconscious mind to buy the stuff you don’t need, to consume products and chemicals that are harmful to you, to behave immaturely and irrationally, to over-sexualize everything, to hold false expectations, and to participate in a manufactured reality that ensures self-destruction.
I recently had a conversation with Jason Christoff about this, and he explains in detail how television is being used to program your subconscious mind into seeking mediocrity. Check that out HERE.
In the end, though, it’s your mind and it’s your responsibility to curate the contents of your mind in order to create a life worth living. As a self-mastery coach, I help people find expression for their deepest truths in a world full of deceit and lies.
About the Author
Dylan Charles is a self-mastery coach, the editor of Waking Times, and host of the Battered Souls podcast. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong, and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.
How to Hear the Whisper of Wisdom Beneath the Ego’s Cries
Most of us have heard of the ego and Sigmund Freud’s work around it which tells us that it’s development is a necessary part of who we are. Without it, there is no “I” for us to identify with. Freud goes onto claim that without the ego, our minds would have no conscious way to comprehend where “we” end and the rest of the world “begins”.
I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Freud’s (more so around his less-popular theories on sexuality) and completely agree that without our egos, we would all be leaning toward completely unmotivated. The ego, if used properly as the tool is it meant to be, can show us areas within ourselves that still need healing. The trick, however, to working with the ego is to remember that it does WHATEVER it takes to prevent expansion, growth, change and pretty much anything outside of your comfort zone. It is an expert at convincing you that you are making good, productive choices for yourself when in actuality you literally could be setting lit matches to your proverbial treehouse.
So, the key here is to first study the ego and figure out exactly how it works and maneuvers. Guaranteed it is always sneaky, coercive, and slick in how it will make suggestions for your next move, word or action. But once we know how it works, we’ve pretty much disabled out ego’s best weapon (stealth). And now, we just need to keep playing the game and observing.
As we watch our ego in play we will begin to see patterns emerge which will make clear exactly how we are “still stuck” in life situations we swore to ourselves we would’ve had resolved weeks, months or even years ago. We will begin to see how our ego was the one whispering in our ear that “He’ll change and treat me with kindness if I just stick around long enough and prove how much I love him.” or “I deserve to eat this tub of ice cream because I had such a bad day today.”
There are ENDLESS examples that we could list here, but the point is, anything you can think of where you’re subconscious mind convinced you to do something that was not in your best interest, that was not serving your highest Self, was the workings of your EGO doing what it does best and keeping you in the same little box it has grown to love and adore to keep you living small!
So, how do we beat this little trickster at its’ own game? First, we need to find that place in our hearts to stop looking at the ego through eyes of judgment and see it through the eyes of love. Only then can we shift the energy around our ego from one of annoyance and avoidance to one of willingness to integrate what we can learn from it. And eventually, this process will allow us to grow past the blocks that the ego has previously succeeded with throwing onto our path.
When we know ahead of time the signature signs that certain thoughts, motivations, reactions, etc. are ego-driven, then we are empowered with the knowledge of how to take the next best step. And an uninformed person with a leading ego might end up writing a bunch of accusatory emails they later regret, or shout at their children for no reason, or sabotage a health regimen they’ve put in place for themselves. Why? Because their ego was successful in convincing them it was in their best interest in that particular moment, and because they were in “reactive” mode (letting the outer world determine their moods, thoughts, next move, etc.) they went with it.
This is the difference between living a life of struggle and living a life of true empowerment. As we learn to master the latter, of course, we may shift back and forth between the two as with anything it’s definitely a learning process. However, the more you take the time to observe yourself and your ego the more familiar you become with it all and the simpler it becomes to stay in PRO-active mode.
Once you get a taste of empowered living, there’s no giving that up, there’s no going back to sleep. It would be like locking away your most valuable tool and never using it again; because you have seen how when you move from a proactive, empowered place, the game is yours and YOU now make the rules. Do you feel the difference there? Between insecure, needy, fear-based ego and secured, empowered, healthy ego?
I truly believe the ego is meant to help humanity, not harm it. It is only when we as individuals allow our minds and actions to be ruled by ego does it negatively affect our lives and the lives of those around us. But the ego is best used as a compass of sorts, pointing the way to what areas within us need healing and integration so we can rise up energetically and show up in our lives as we were meant to; connected, yet unique slivers of cosmic Creator Consciousness.
If we listen closely, there is another voice underneath the egos’ loudness that speaks only Truth and has only our best interest in mind. This voice belongs to our intuition, our Higher Selves (Spirit) and if we wish to master the use of our egos, it is wise to let it be guided by Spirit. This is how we develop “healthy” egos that allow us to speak up for ourselves, say no to people with feeling guilty, say yes to people without feeling drained, speak our Truth, and stand authentically in our lives without feeling insecure or feeling the need to incessantly compare ourselves to others.
Another gauge of a healthy ego is that we are okay spending time with ourselves and doing things on our own. We really only feel the need to reach out for assistance when truly necessary and learn to truly value the time, energy and presence of others – because that is how much we now value our own time, energy and presence.
Much love and have a most excellent weekend! <3
Tamara Rant is a Co-Editor/Writer for CLN as well as a Licensed Reiki Master, heart-centered Graphic Designer and a progressive voice in social media activism & awareness. She is an avid lover of all things Quantum Physics and Spirituality. Connect with Tamara by visiting Prana Paws/Healing Hearts Reiki or go to RantDesignMedia.com
Tamara posts new original articles to CLN every Saturday.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of reading the same tips over and over about how to calm down and destress. I’m tired of trying to slow down my breathing when my chest feels heavy and question the worst-case scenarios running around my head.
That’s why psychiatrist Judson Brewer’s new book Unwinding Anxiety is so refreshing. Yes, it has some tips—but they don’t come until much later in the book. In fact, his whole point is that tips alone won’t help those of us who struggle with anxiety.
Brewer shows how anxiety exists inside the habits that make up our everyday lives, and habits are sticky. They won’t go away just because we tell ourselves to breathe— because, as crazy as it sounds when talking about anxiety, our brain is attracted to these habits because they create some sense of reward.
Implementing tips and tools skips an important step, Brewer argues. Before we can try to change anything, we have to spend some time observing our anxiety-related habits. Only then—by showing our brain viscerally how unrewarding these habits are—can we move to actually create new ones.
Unwinding Anxiety offers a three-step process to help you do exactly that, backed up by Brewer’s extensive habit research. While many well-being books can feel overwhelming, his approach is reassuring in its simplicity but different enough to feel like it just might work.
Step one: Map out anxiety habits
If you struggle with anxiety, it’s likely that anxiety has become a habit for you, writes Brewer. Many of our habits have developed to help us reduce stress or satisfy emotional needs, he explains, even if they don’t always benefit us long-term. Our habits exist in loops that consist of a trigger, a behavior, and a result. For example:
Trigger: Feel anxious Behavior: Eat something sweet Result: Be distracted from anxiety
Sometimes anxiety can trigger a habit loop, but it can also be the result in a habit loop:
Trigger: Feel unmotivated at work Behavior: Read news Result: Feel anxious about the state of the world
But the most pernicious anxiety-related habit is this basic pattern, which many of us fall into, where anxiety reinforces itself:
Trigger: Feel anxious Behavior: Worry (ruminate on what’s wrong, what could go wrong, etc.) Result: Feel more anxious
What reward could we possibly get out of a self-perpetuating anxiety cycle? Well, Brewer explains, the act of worrying can sometimes feel good—or at least better than just sitting with our anxiety. Worrying sometimes (rarely) allows us to come up with solutions, which makes it seem productive; we think we’re solving problems. Some of us are afraid we’ll be unprepared for the future if we don’t worry, and worry can give us a sense of control over the situation, even when all we do is go over and over the same fears.
In one of Brewer’s studies (currently under peer review), becoming aware of worry habit loops made people less anxious—and, for doctors, reduced their burnout and cynicism. But mapping out your habits is just the first step.
Step two: Work with your brain’s reward system
As Brewer explains, our brain stores a “reward value” for different people, places, and things we encounter. The more rewarding our brain thinks a behavior is, the stronger the habit around it will be.
But reward values can become skewed or outdated. For example, we might have developed a passion for cake as an anxious teen—but in adulthood, we now find ourselves in a queasy sugar coma after three slices.
“The only sustainable way to change a habit is to update its reward value,” writes Brewer. That means taking a fresh look at how a habit is affecting us now. And we need to do this over and over, each time we repeat the habit in our daily life until our brain updates its reward value and stops being drawn to the habit.
What does this mean in practice?
Once you’ve identified your habits that support anxiety, you need to be mindful when they occur. If you’re anxious and you start worrying about the future, make a mental note; observe the tightness in your chest, the lump in your throat, how little you get done at work that afternoon.
The good thing about this approach is that moments of anxiety become an opportunity to learn about yourself, not something to be afraid of, and not a failure in your quest for Zen. (Self-judgment, apparently, seems to go hand in hand with anxiety.)
If you have trouble being aware of habits in real-time, you can also look back on your day or your week to see the effects of a particular behavior. If your anxiety made you snap at your partner, how did that feel? Rather than analyzing it, just try to re-experience it in your body.
Over time, Brewer suggests, our brain will naturally become disenchanted with our anxiety habits without us having to use so much willpower, allowing more space for new habits to form.
Step three: Create new habits
This step is where most other advice begins: the healthy habits and behaviors that we want to engage in. But it makes sense that there isn’t much room for these new behaviors until our brains detach from the old ones.
Brewer suggests a variety of mindfulness-related behaviors that you could insert into your habit loops when a trigger arises, many of which may be familiar to you already:
Curiosity and mindfulness: Rather than judging yourself for being anxious, or getting obsessed about where your anxiety is coming from, just get curious. What does it feel like, and where? How does it change? Brewer even recommends saying “Hmmm!” out loud to yourself, to encourage that sense of curiosity.
Breathing: Tune in to the breathing sensations in your body. Breathe into places where anxiety shows up, and breathe out anxiety. See how things change.
RAIN: This is a mindfulness practice where you Recognize and relax into the present moment; Accept and allow it to be there; Investigate your bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts; and Note what is happening.
Noting: This is a practice of labeling what experiences are predominant in your mind from moment to moment, including any of your senses (hearing, touch, sight), thinking, or feeling.
Loving-kindness: The practice of sending kind, caring thoughts to people, including yourself, and feeling that sense of warmth in your body.
To reinforce these habits, Brewer explains, you can apply techniques from step two—but this time, instead of observing the detrimental effects, you observe how good it feels in your body to be curious or generate loving feelings.
Brewer is a habit expert—much of his research has focused on smoking and eating disorders—and although his book is about anxiety, the overall framework could apply to many habits in our lives. His insights reveal why so many of our good intentions to exercise, meditate, and otherwise, self-improve don’t translate into action. Brewer’s book gives us the tools to work with our brains, rather than constantly feeling like we’re fighting against ourselves.
Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good. Her work has been published in outlets including the Washington Post, Mindful magazine, Social Media Monthly, and Tech.co, and she is the co-editor of The Gratitude Project. Follow her on Twitter!
On a Thursday morning in mid-February, writer Donna Ashworth woke up in lockdown in Scotland, and something felt different. “You could feel the collective quiet,” she says.
At night, her neighborhood no longer came to life with raucous cheers and clapping for health care workers. Her phone was no longer buzzing with messages from group chats, friends checking in, or invitations to virtual game nights. When someone did reach out, Ashworth felt guilty about how long it took her to reply.
She sat down to write a short poem about her feeling and then posted it to her Facebook page, Ladies Pass It On. The poem went viral, garnering more than 7,500 comments as of this writing. People across the world reached out to thank her for putting into words what they were feeling:
We are spent.
We have nothing left to say.
We are tired of saying “I miss you” and “I cant wait for this to end.”
So we mostly say nothing, put our heads down and get through each day.
If the response to Ashworth’s poem is any indication, something happened early in the year—after the distraction of the holidays and before vaccinations really ramped up—where many of us withdrew into ourselves, cutting down on social interaction.
According to University of Essex social psychologist Gillian Sandstrom, the lockdown got harder as it went along, even for people who coped well last year. Over in the U.S., psychotherapist Lindsey Antin has seen her clients’ energy and social activity go up and down in waves, depending on how hopeful they feel at any given moment.
Why would we withdraw, even though we desperately need each other?
It’s not just an academic question for psychologists or historians to answer. Vaccines are rolling out fast, and more of us will soon be able to meet up with friends and family, including those whose messages we sometimes ignored.
Perhaps, if we understand the roots of our social behavior during the pandemic, we’ll be more likely to forgive ourselves and the people around us for withdrawing. This could help us come back together in a post-COVID world.
It’s not news that the pandemic has brought us extra stress, loneliness, and depression—but what perhaps went unappreciated is how much these mental states led us to avoid interacting with others.
Loneliness, rather than prompting us to connect, actually makes us withdraw, according to research. We start to feel unworthy of our relationships, worried that people are judging us or don’t enjoy being around us. Depression saps our energy and motivation and affects our sense of self-esteem. It makes it hard to do the things that would help alleviate the depression, including engaging with other people.
According to Antin, people with depression often feel like they don’t have much to bring to the table in conversations with others. Particularly if they’ve been isolated and inactive, they don’t always know what to talk about that would be interesting to another person.
The same is probably true for many of us during the pandemic, stuck at home and unable to eat out at restaurants, enjoy many of our hobbies, or take vacations that would make for good stories.
Sandstrom agrees, adding that many of us are probably sick of talking about COVID. Her own research focuses on people’s expectations and experiences around social interactions, and it suggests that we underestimate how enjoyable interacting with other people will be. At the prospect of talking to a stranger, we worry about whether they will like us and enjoy talking to us, and about our ability to sustain a conversation. And people probably worry about many of the same things around their friends, she says.
“We might think, ‘Oh, I could have told that story better than I did,’ or ‘Oh, why did I say that? What if they don’t understand me? What if they’re offended?’” she says. “We have this voice in our head judging ourselves the whole time, and it’s not very positive.”
In addition to feeling pressure to be interesting, some also feel pressure to be positive. Early in the pandemic, many people rallied together with optimism—the collective sense of “we can do this.” We reassured kids and elderly parents that things would be fine. But after a year, keeping up that positive spirit isn’t so easy anymore.
It’s exhausting to constantly act cheerful and hopeful when you don’t feel that way. But if all we have to share are complaints, pessimism, and sadness, we may worry about being a burden to others. This was certainly the case for Ashworth, who has always played the role of uplifting and encouraging the people around her.
“I think nobody had anything positive to add, so everybody just kind of shut up for a while,” she says.
By not sharing those heavy thoughts with others, she thinks, we also managed to avoid really examining them ourselves. The losses and uncertainty of the pandemic felt so monumental, from worries about whether our kids will be damaged to the inequities in who gets sick and who gets treatment; avoiding people meant we wouldn’t be forced to face them.
“Nobody really wants to dig too deep anymore because the answers are so disappointing,” says Ashworth.
Even for those of us who aren’t struggling as much, we are simply lacking in time and energy. We are overwhelmed.
It’s natural that our social worlds would contract right now, focusing on the people who live in our household, and maybe our closest friends and family. Last year, many adults were suddenly tasked with homeschooling their kids, supporting partners who lost their jobs, or constantly cajoling older relatives to stay home and take the pandemic seriously.
Indeed, around the world, in just one year, millions of people lost their lives to the pandemic, and millions more suffered severe cases of COVID-19, which affected an uncountable number of other people in ways that were incredibly stressful and even traumatic. We all knew that death and suffering lay outside the walls of our homes. Every apartment was like a tiny lifeboat.
“In some ways, our close relationships are the most positive but also the most taxing, because they’re the ones we have to be there for and deal with all their crap,” says Sandstrom. “It could be that with close relationships, we just feel like we really have to support right now and we don’t have any energy left over for other people.”
In a way, it’s similar to what happens with new parents: Having a baby—a novel experience that keeps us at home more and deprives us of sleep, not unlike the pandemic—increases our contact with neighbors and decreases our contact with friends.
With so many demands on our attention, when we do have a moment to ourselves, sometimes all we crave is a bit of peace and quiet. But we can’t always get it, especially when we’re stuck sharing space with other people in lockdown.
We need solitude, too
According to research, “aloneliness”—the opposite of loneliness, the lack of solitude—is a real problem. People who are lacking in solitude can “end up feeling irritable, overwhelmed, or drained,” writes psychologist Virginia Thomas. They are more stressed and less satisfied with their lives.
In an effort to avoid this fate, some of us may be clinging to any moments of solitude we can get, rather than responding to a text or joining in digital catchup.
Even Antin’s first-grade son was feeling it. One day recently, she went to check on him and found him alone upstairs, eating graham crackers and reading a book. So, she invited him to sit with her while she worked. “He’s like, ‘No, I need some time by myself,’” she recalls with a laugh.
When we do have enough energy to connect, the options are fraught and often unsatisfying. Spending time in person requires an elaborate risk-reward calculation based on the other person’s pandemic behaviors, and possibly an uncomfortable conversation about whether you’ll wear masks, physically distance, and meet outdoors.
Online social interaction was fun and novel for a while, as we discovered new platforms for watching movies, playing games, and even dancing together-but-apart. But now, many of us are just exhausted. According to researchers, Zoom fatigue is real, and it comes from the fact that most video calls involve unnatural levels of eye contact, the distraction of staring at our own reflection, the inability to move around, and difficulty interpreting people’s body language.
“Virtual hangouts tend to be less fulfilling than in-person ones and leave us longing for that physical connection,” writes Kelsey Borresen for the Huffington Post. And the opposite happens, too, when the hassle of getting all suited up to meet someone outdoors and then barely being able to hear them through masks and distance makes you wish you’d just had a phone call.
We’re tired of the options available to us, says Antin. No solution is perfect, so sometimes we opt for no solution at all.
Closing the distance
More than a month after Ashworth wrote her viral poem, she is seeing a shift in people’s moods. Thanks to vaccines, many are starting to feel excited about the future, even as we worry about being disappointed again as lockdowns get extended and timelines pushed back.
When all this is over, our relationships—digital or distanced—won’t be the same right away. Even being around other breathing humans may be anxiety-provoking at first. Our social skills may still need practice, because they are skills, after all, Sandstrom says. And the effects of pandemic-related trauma or depression won’t immediately go away once we get a shot in the arm.
There are a few things we can do to ease the transition. We’d do well to remember Sandstrom’s research on how surprisingly fun it is to interact with others. Even during the pandemic, when she paired up strangers online, they ended up talking longer than expected—40 minutes, on average, as opposed to 14—and found the conversation more enjoyable and easier to maintain than they thought it would be. We are built for this, even when the little voice in our head says otherwise.
Our relationships will bounce back better and stronger if we don’t take the past year’s unreturned messages or declined invitations personally. It will help to be patient and understanding of the people around us who are finally emerging from their homes, perhaps more slowly than we are, perhaps with more anxiety than they had before.
If we’re lucky, all the Zoom fatigue and loneliness and aloneliness will remind us of what it was like to lose each other—and what it was like to find each other again.
Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good. Her work has been published in outlets including the Washington Post, Mindful magazine, Social Media Monthly, and Tech.co, and she is the co-editor of The Gratitude Project. Follow her on Twitter!
In a rapidly changing world, it’s important to be able to adapt and change rather than stubbornly adhering to old ideas and opinions. This was one of the lessons of 2020, a year that forced us to question many of our assumptions about what behaviors are safe, how work and school can be conducted, and how we connect with others.
“In a changing world, you have to be willing and able to change your mind. Otherwise, your expertise can fail, your opinions get out of date, and your ideas fall flat,” says organizational psychologist Adam Grant, author of the new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.
In his book, Grant explains why it’s so important for people to be humbler about their knowledge and stay open to learning and changing their minds. The book is filled with fascinating research and guidance on becoming more flexible in our thinking, while helping others to be more open-minded, too. This skill is crucial not only for facing crises like the pandemic, but also for navigating complex social issues, making good business decisions, and more.
I spoke to Grant recently about his book and what we can take away from it. Here is an edited version of our conversation.
Jill Suttie: Your book focuses on the importance of people questioning what they think they know and being open to changing their minds. Why is it so hard to do that?
Adam Grant, Ph.D.
Adam Grant: It’s hard for a few reasons. One is what psychologists call “cognitive entrenchment,” which is when you have so much knowledge in an area that you start to take for granted assumptions that need to be questioned. There’s evidence, for example, that when you change the rules of the game for expert bridge players, they really struggle, because they don’t realize that the strategies they’ve used for years don’t apply. There’s also evidence that highly experienced accountants are slower to adapt to the new tax laws than novices because they’ve internalized a certain way of doing things.
A second barrier is a motivation: I don’t want to rethink; I’m comfortable with the way I’ve always done things. It makes me feel and look stupid if I admit that I was wrong. It’s easier to just stick to my guns (or my gun bans, depending on where I stand ideologically).
The third reason is social. We don’t form beliefs in a vacuum. We generally end up with opinions that are influenced by and pretty much similar to the people in our social circles. So, there’s a risk that if I let go of some of my views, I might be excluded from my tribe, and I don’t want to take that risk.
JS: In your book, you talk about the importance of the “scientific mindset.” What do you mean by a scientific mindset and how does it help us in rethinking?
AG: I think too many of us spend too much time thinking like preachers, prosecutors, and politicians. [Phillip] Tetlock made a very compelling case that when we’re in preacher mode, we’re convinced we’re right; when we’re in prosecutor mode, we’re trying to prove someone else wrong; and when we’re in politician mode, we’re trying to win the approval of our audience. Each of these mental modes can stand in the way of “thinking again,” because in preacher and prosecutor mode, I’m right and you’re wrong, and I don’t need to change my mind. In politician mode, I might tell you what you want to hear, but I’m probably not changing what I really think; I’m posturing as opposed to rethinking.
Thinking like a scientist does not mean you need to own a telescope or a microscope. It just means that you favor humility over pride and curiosity over conviction. You know what you don’t know, and you’re eager to discover new things. You don’t let your ideas become your identity. You look for reasons why you might be wrong, not just reasons why you must be right. You listen to ideas that make you think hard, not just the ones that make you feel good. And you surround yourself with people who can challenge your process, not just the ones who agree with your conclusion.
JS: Why would people ever want to look for reasons to be wrong?
AG: One of the reasons you want to is because if you don’t get good at rethinking, then you end up being wrong more often. I think it’s one of the great paradoxes of life: The quicker you are to recognize when you’re wrong, the less wrong you become.
There’s an experiment where entrepreneurs were being taught to think like scientists that’s such a good demonstration of something we can all practice. Italian startup founders went through a three- to a four-month crash course in how to start and run a business. But half of them were randomly assigned to think like scientists, where they’re told that your strategy is a theory. You can do customer interviews to develop specific hypotheses, and then when you launch your first product or service, think of that as an experiment and test your hypothesis.
Those entrepreneurs that we taught to think like scientists brought in more than 40 times the revenue of the control group. The reason for that is they were more than twice as likely to pivot when their first product or service launch didn’t work instead of getting their egos all wrapped up in proving that they were right. To me, that is some of the strongest evidence that being willing to admit you’re wrong can actually accelerate your progress toward being right.
JS: But shouldn’t we be able to embrace our expertise rather than always giving every idea equal weight?
AG: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have standards. The whole point of rethinking is to change your mind in the face of better logic or stronger evidence—not to just roll the dice and say, I’m going to pick a random new opinion today.
There’s a great way of capturing what I’m after here, which is something Bob Sutton has written about for years. He defines an attitude of wisdom as acting on the best information you have while doubting what you know. That’s what I’m saying here. You need humility.
I think people misunderstand what humility is. When I talk about humility in experts or in leaders, people say, “No, I don’t want to have no self-confidence. I don’t want to have a low opinion of myself.” But, I say, that’s not humility. The Latin root of humility translates to “from the earth.” It’s about being grounded, recognizing that, yes, we have strengths, but we also have weaknesses. You’re fallible. Confident humility is being able to say, “I don’t know and I might be wrong,” or “I haven’t figured it out yet,” which is essentially believing in yourself but doubting your current knowledge or skills.
JS: People often seem to not want to rethink, and they’ll use strategies to shut down the conversation, like saying, “I’m entitled to my opinion” or “I don’t care what you say, I’m not changing my mind.” How can you encourage somebody to be more open to rethinking if they’re unmotivated?
AG: Your options are not always going to work. But one option is to show your own openness and admit that you might be wrong or your knowledge might be incomplete. The reason people shut down is often that they’re afraid of being judged. So, they would rather disengage and avoid that. But if you say, “Hey, you know what? I’m not sure about my opinion here,” there’s a possibility they’ll realize that you’re both here to learn from each other.
A second option might be to ask questions that help to consider what would open their mind, which at least encourages them to contemplate situations where they might rethink. If they acknowledged evidence could change their mind, at least it’s a step toward progress.
A third possibility is to do something I’ve been doing since I wrote the book: to acknowledge my own stubbornness at the beginning of these kinds of conversations and admit that I have a bad habit of going into “logic bully mode.” I bombard people with facts and data, but that’s not who I want to be. I want to come into conversations with people who disagree with me in the hopes that I can learn something from them. I don’t want to be a prosecutor.
So, I invite people to catch me doing that and ask them to please let me know. A couple of things happen when I do that. One is sometimes people will call me out and it helps me. Just last week, I was in a debate by email with a colleague and he said, “You’re going into lawyer mode again.” It was a good prompt for me to think, “Uh oh, I’d better rethink the way that I’m having this fight.” The other thing that happens is when I put my cards on the table, often the other person will say, “Oh my gosh, I do that, too. I don’t want to be like that either.” It sets the terms for the conversation a little bit.
JS: At the end of your book, you have 30 practical takeaways for rethinking. Can you mention a few that are particularly important or easier to embrace?
AG: One of my favorites is being a “super-forecaster,” which means, when you form an opinion, you make a list of conditions that would change your mind. That keeps you honest because once you get attached to an opinion, it’s really hard to let go. But if you identify factors that would change your mind upfront, you keep yourself flexible.
By encouraging other people to think again, you can avoid argument dilution. Most of us try to convince people with as many reasons as possible because we think that giving people more reasons makes it easier for them to change their minds. But we forget that two things happen. (I’m tempted to give you many more, but I’m going to try to avoid diluting my own argument.) The more reasons we give, the more we trigger the other person’s awareness that we’re trying to persuade them, and they put their guard up. Also, if they’re resistant, giving them more reasons allows them to pick the least compelling reason and throw out the whole argument.
The lesson here is, if you have an audience who might be closed to your point of view, sometimes it’s more effective to give two reasons instead of five. Lead with your strongest argument.
“If you can embrace the joy of being wrong, then you get to anchor your identity more in being someone who’s eager to discover new things, than someone who already knows everything”
―Adam Grant, Ph.D.
On the collective side, I love the idea of doing a rethinking checkup. We all go to the doctor for regular checkups, even when nothing is wrong. We should do the same with the important decisions in our lives. I’ve encouraged my students for years to do annual career checkups where they just ask themselves once or twice a year, “Have I reached a learning plateau? Are the interests and values I had when I came in still important to me now?” We can do the same thing with our relationships or pretty much anything that’s important to us.
JS: You write that being wrong is tied to a more joyful life. Why is that?
AG: I had noticed Danny Kahneman [the Nobel prize–winning behavioral economist] just lights up with joy when he finds out that one of his hypotheses is false. So, I asked him, “Why do you look so excited when you find out that you’re wrong?” And he corrected me. He made clear to me that no one enjoys being wrong, but that he takes real joy in finding out that he was wrong because that means now he’s less wrong than he was before. All of a sudden, it clicked for me: Being wrong means I’ve learned something. If I find out that I was right, there’s no new knowledge or discovery.
In some ways, the joy of being wrong is the freedom to keep learning. If you can embrace the joy of being wrong, then you get to anchor your identity more in being someone who’s eager to discover new things, than someone who already knows everything or is expected to know everything.
JS: Do you have any hopes for people engaging in rethinking as a way of bridging our political divide?
AG: It depends on who’s doing the talking. So many of us fall into binary bias, and we only focus on the most extreme version of the other side, which is a caricature, where we say they’re either dumb or bad. If you let go of that, there’s a whole complex spectrum and many shades of gray between these two political extremes.
Peter Coleman’s research shows that, instead of introducing a complex topic like abortion or guns or climate change as representing two sides of the coin, if you can encourage people to think about it through the many lenses of a prism, they become more nuanced and less polarized, and they’re more likely to find common ground. Any time you see someone creating an “us versus them” dichotomy, you can ask, “What’s the third angle, what’s the fourth lens on that?” That gives people the chance to belong to multiple belief systems and to open their minds to multiple ideas, as opposed to sticking to one.
JS: What are your hopes for this book?
AG: I hope that it will encourage more people to be more flexible in their own thinking, to say they care more about learning and improving themselves than about proving themselves. Too many of us get trapped in mental prisons of our own making. But if we could be committed to rethinking, we might have a slightly more open-minded society.
Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good.
In a Coma, I Dreamed a Whole Other Life—I’m Still Dreaming It
Why am I still dreaming what I dreamed while in a coma?
After the birth of my son, I got sick, really sick, with a mysterious blood clotting disorder, and because the panicked doctors couldn’t figure out what to do, they put me into a medical coma, with memory blockers. They didn’t want me remembering the pain or any of the procedures.
But a coma is a mysterious thing. Nobody knows exactly what happens in a coma. Some scientists believe coma patients don’t see or feel or hear a thing. Others say something different. Some scientists believe that coma patients actually dream.
I don’t know if I dreamed. But I do remember something the memory blockers couldn’t stem. When I woke up, it felt like someone had pulled me violently from one world I knew to another as if I had stepped from one room to another. I began to talk to Jeff, my husband, to my friends Nancy and Lindy, who had sat by me every day, that I had been living in this imaginary town, and that it had been, well, incredible. It had all these stores, and my apartment was hard to get to, but it was big and beautiful and I knew the streets, the people, and I knew it was real.
They nodded supportively. They encouraged me to talk, but when I told the doctors, they just said, “Well, you’re on a lot of nasty medications.” They told me I was just adjusting now, that all those crazy thoughts and feelings would pass.
Except they didn’t. I kept dreaming about the town.
By the time I got home, the imaginary town kept coming back in my dreams, so real, so vivid, that I knew it was something different than a regular dream. It felt as if it were calling me and I didn’t know why, or what it wanted, or what I was supposed to do. I knew it wasn’t lucid dreaming, where you know in the dream you are dreaming even though everything looks and feels and seems like real life because I’ve had those dreams. This one felt different.
I just knew that it was real.
The dream kept coming back. Over and over. I was always surprised to see the imaginary town again, surprised that I knew which streets to go down, that I knew how to progress through it. At first, I was living in a house that had no way to get to anywhere at first. there were no subways, and the house had a moat and dangerous animals guarding it.
The next time I dreamed about the town, I heard that someone I had loved who had died shockingly had actually not died at all. He had faked his death and everyone had agreed to pretend about it, and now he was living in California. I bolted awake. But the dream wasn’t gone. Instead, I believed it was true as if I could hold two realities in my mind.
I’ve kept dreaming over the years, always the same town, the same people in it, but things change. I’ve moved out of the house with the moat and to a place close to the subway, now in the West Village, where I’ve always wanted to live. Do our dreams come out of our emotions? Maybe they do, but I can’t figure out the emotions of this dream, other than I have this complete sense of familiarity and wonder all at once.
I feel like I need to figure out these dreams. I talk to my therapist about them, and she points out, well, they started in the trauma of a coma. It makes sense that they still reappear. Maybe, she says, this is just like the way I immerse myself in another world writing fiction, that I live other lives through my characters in order to understand my own. After all, the worlds I write about in my novels feel just as real to me as the world I navigate. But then I talk to a quantum physicist friend of mine, who tells me about parallel worlds, different realities that can coexist. “Is that just theory or true?” I ask her, and she shrugs. “Who knows for sure?” she says. Maybe the coma did something to my brain to make my dreams appear like real life. Maybe I’m processing some cellular memory from an ancestor. “Who knows?” she tells me.
“But isn’t it exciting?”
The truth is, I don’t know whether to be scared or excited by these strange dreams. All I know is something is happening and I’m choosing to see it as an adventure, to stick around for what might come next. Or not come next. Remember that old song, Life is but a dream? Maybe, in this case, it’s the dreams that are real life.
Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times Bestselling author of 12 novels, including Pictures of You,Is This Tomorrow, Cruel Beautiful World, andWith or Without You from Algonquin Books, many of which were on the Best of the Year lists and Indie Next Picks. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, The Daily Beast, Modern Love in The New York Times, The Millions, Poets & Writers, and more. She teaches novel writing online at UCLA Writers Program Extension and Stanford and to private clients. She was a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellow in Fiction, and a Finalist in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab in pilot and feature film. Visit her at www.carolineleavitt.com or at @leavittnovelist on Twitter.
How Childhood Trauma Leads to Anxiety
Witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event as a child can have long-lasting effects that continue into adult life. Some adults suffer from the side effects of trauma without even recalling the incident that caused them. This shows just how far-reaching the effects of trauma can be.
This is why it is important to spot the signs of childhood trauma early so that they can be helped and treated early to avoid later problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.
What is childhood trauma?
Trauma is an event that causes the child to be overwhelmed emotionally and distressed which can lead to lasting mental and physical effects. These events can either happen to the child or be witnessed by them and examples of trauma can include but are not limited to, the following:
Car accidents or other accident
Conflicts or war
Physical, psychological, or sexual abuse
The sudden or violent loss of a parent or loved one
Witnessing a violent act
Living in a crime-ridden area
As children grow up they will experience difficult and unnerving situations. Normally children will learn from these experiences and be able to cope with them. However, sometimes there could be an occasion that makes the child fear for their safety and this is where trauma can stem from.
They may witness violence in their home or the surrounding neighborhood. A parent or carer may have substance abuse issues and this will lead to neglect and sometimes other forms of abuse. A child needs to feel safe and cared for and when they witness these types of behaviors as a one-off or as part of an ongoing cycle of events it can lead to childhood trauma.
What are the symptoms of childhood trauma?
Signs of trauma can differ between children and being able to spot child anxiety symptoms can help. Some children who witness a traumatic event may recover from it quickly in a matter of days and others may take months or even longer. There can be physical, psychological, and emotional effects from being part of or witnessing a distressing incident and the symptoms can be widespread. They may include some of the following:
Signs of depression or anxiety
Difficulty forming attachments with others
Difficulties concentrating and with attention spans
Difficulties at school
Easily upset or startled
Feelings of guilt or shame
There are many more signs that a child may be suffering from the effects of trauma. If your child has been part of a traumatic event then you need to make them feel safe like they did before the incident happened.
How can you help to alleviate the symptoms of childhood trauma?
Once a traumatic event has occurred and immediately in that aftermath, it is important to make your child feel reassured and safe. Life needs to continue as normally as possible but while being aware that your child may be disturbed by what has occurred.
The following are some key points to keep in mind:
Make your child feel safe
Stay calm and if you are anxious to keep it away from your child
Stick to normal routines
Listen to your child
Discuss what happened
Avoid any news reports or disturbing TV coverage
Distract them and have fun
The main thing your child will be wanting is to feel safe. If they have witnessed a violent incident such as a mugging then they need to know their home is safe and you are there. Hugs and cuddles will enforce a feeling of security. Even subtle childhood traumas can lead to problems later so it is important to try and reduce the effects as soon as possible.
Sticking to normal routines will reassure your child that life is normal and nothing has changed. Don’t let your child get away with anything they couldn’t before. Life should be kept along the same lines as before including meal times and playtimes. Playing with your child will help distract them from negative thoughts and over time make them reappear less and less.
If your child has questions then listen to them and discuss what happened. Do this in a natural way, don’t make time for a forced discussion, just chat naturally if and when the subject occurs.
Untreated childhood traumas can lead to adult attachment issues and problems with forming relationships. They can also cause a number of health problems later on. Someone who has suffered from childhood trauma will have an increased chance of the developing some of the following:
How does childhood trauma affect the daily lives of adults?
Childhood trauma can impact directly the quality of life that is enjoyed by that person as they grow older. It can be felt in the workplace and their personal life. At both work and in social situations they may have difficulty with trust and responsibilities. They may struggle to cope with adversity and struggle to be intimate with partners.
If a child suffered from physical or emotional abuse they may have difficulties in their personal and romantic relationships later on. They are more likely to enter into disastrous relationships and have low self-esteem and self-worth. Confidence will be a struggle and this will lead to poor quality of life.
Eating disorders from childhood trauma
Another problem that can arise from early trauma is binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia among other disorders. Just in the same way people use alcohol or narcotics to alter their mood, many people use food in the same way. It is generally cheap, available and it is legal so it is a convenient way to manage emotions. It is, however, deeply unhealthy and can lead to many health problems.
Therapy to improve the effects of childhood trauma
As you can see there are many effects that childhood trauma can cause such as eating disorders and addiction. Trauma resolution therapy is a way to assist the victim with these areas and more to help them improve the quality of their lives.
Trauma therapy is designed so that the person can identify a traumatic event that they may not consider to be the cause of their symptoms and then bring it to the surface. Through the use of controlled environments and professional therapists, that person can express their emotions through art, act out parts of the event and write about it. They can even write to the person who caused that event to express how they feel. This helps to let all the pent-up emotions and feelings come out and the person to start to think more positively and enjoy a healthier life.
Childhood trauma is incredibly damaging and left untreated it can cause misery and depression in adult life. Different treatments such as CBT or cognitive behavior therapy can help and through trained professionals, individuals can have happier and more fulfilling lives away from the shadow of their trauma.