Mattias Desmet

The Psychology of Totalitarianism

22:19 min
Philosophy, Politics, Psychology
256 pages, 2022

Psychologist Mattias Desmet reveals how modern societies drift toward totalitarianism through collective psychosis. Several factors set the stage, including loneliness, lack of community, unsatisfying jobs, anxiety and frustration-fueled aggression. Governments and media weaponize these feelings by providing a narrative that channels discontent. Step by step, isolated and fearful populations are demoralized as regimes exert control, persuading people to act against self-interest, always destructively. Desmet warns that although we may feel far from dictatorship, conditions enabling its rise are already present. By detailing the factors converging to enable totalitarianism, he shows how susceptible we are. But diagnosis enables prevention. In this short, learn to recognize mass formation, spot the drift toward totalitarianism, and resist the collective psychosis that fuels dictatorships.

Mattias Desmet

Mattias Desmet, a psychologist holding a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Ghent University, is recognized for his research on mass psychology and collective behavior, particularly highlighted in his work "The Psychology of Totalitarianism." This influential work explores the psychological mechanisms underlying totalitarian regimes and their impact on individual and group behavior. Desmet's background in clinical psychology informs his analyses of phenomena such as groupthink and societal unrest, providing valuable insights into power dynamics within society.


A new form of technocratic totalitarianism has emerged, fueled by ideological mass formation and a vicious cycle of fear and control, reflecting anxiety over the failure of the Enlightenment worldview.
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Cover of The Psychology of Totalitarianism