MATTIAS Desmet is a lecturer in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at Ghent University. He has come to public attention with his explanation of that most curious of phenomena that we have witnessed this year: why people have given up their freedoms so willingly; and what the conditions are in any society that will cause a people to sacrifice them?
It’s a question Kate Dunlop raised in these pages last Friday. Wondering about people’s gullibility, she asked: ‘Is their willingness to be experimented on a question of trust, fear, or a resigned acceptance of the inevitable?’
Daniel Miller offered a brief explanation last Thursday in his article Time to bring this madness to end. He observed that ‘people have come to enjoy being humiliated and humiliating’ which, as an addiction, ‘overrides ethical and intellectual considerations’.
Compliance and active cooperation are part of an overriding theory articulated by Desmet in a number of interviews and podcasts he has given this year which you can find on YouTube. I have selected just one of these, an excellently presented interview conducted by Dr Chris Martensen which explores Desmet’s theory of ‘mass formation’, psychological distress and hypnosis. It is compelling.
You can watch it here.