Ep. 206 Mattias Desmet on the Psychology of Totalitarianism

Our guest is Mattias Desmet, Professor of Psychology at the University and Ghent and author of The Psychology of Totalitarianism. He discusses with us the phenomenon of “mass formation” and its emergence from a background of a mechanistic ideology that has gripped the developed world over the last 300 years,


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  1. Paul Slobodian on 06/25/2022 at 8:56 PM

    Very interesting and provocative. I especially like the idea that a few dissenting voices can suppress/prevent the worst excesses of a group transfixed by a mass group ideology.

  2. barun on 08/13/2022 at 7:25 AM

    Thanks for this session. Particularly ending with the link between the social and political psychology with real life experiences of people like Solzhenitsyn and Viiktor Frankl, who understood the process of survival in extremely difficult situations.
    I would also like to include others who responded by finding new ways to craft political stories that reviewed facts, reinterpreted the truths and creating new meanings in challenging situations. Stories that inspired their generations to seek values that helped usher in social and political changes in a desirable direction in their own societies at different moments in the 20th century. Among such leaders were Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in the US, and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

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