A massive rock formation? A Massachusetts psychosis? No, a “mass formation psychosis” is the term that Robert Malone, MD, used on The Joe Rogan Experience to describe what’s been happening in the U.S. in recent years. Malone appeared on Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast shortly after being permanently booted from Twitter last week for “repeated violations” of their Covid-19 misinformation policy. And if you look at some of the outrageous, unscientific things that are said on social media in general, it typically takes a fair amount of “pseudosciencing” to get booted in this manner. So was there any merit to Malone’s use of this “mass” term on the Rogan show? In a way, perhaps some. But maybe not in the way that Malone had intended.
Who is Malone? Well, he’s listed himself as the “Inventor of mRNA vaccines and DNA vaccines” on his LinkedIn account. Of course, you could probably list yourself as “The King of All Dinosaurs” on such a social media profile if you wanted. Others have questioned Malone’s “inventor” claim. But more on that later.
On Rogan’s podcast, Malone began talking about his background and then Covid-19 vaccines before segueing to Nazi Germany. Because who doesn’t talk about Nazi Germany when talking about Covid-19 these days, right? Some politicians and TV personalities have been putting the two topics together like cereal and water or forks and power outlets.
Malone began this part of the conversation by asking Rogan, “What the heck happened to Germany in the 20s and 30s? Very intelligent, highly educated population, and they went barking mad. And how did that happen?”
Since this wasn’t an episode of the TV show Jeopardy, Malone quickly answered his own question with, “The answer is mass formation psychosis.”
Malone continued with “When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other and has free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don’t make sense, we can’t understand it, and then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point just like hypnosis, they literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere.”
Hmm, by “can be lead anywhere,” did Malone mean like believing conspiracy theories such as those claiming that Covid-19 vaccines can make keys stick to your forehead or have other side effects that aren’t being revealed?
Malone then described how “leaders” can exploit this situation: “And one of the aspects of that phenomenon is that the people that they identify as their leaders, the ones typically that come in and say you have this pain and I can solve it for you. I and I alone.” Malone further explained, “Then they will follow that person. It doesn’t matter whether they lied to them or whatever. The data is irrelevant.”
Let’s see. A leader lying to followers and making data irrelevant? Has that ever happened in the U.S.? Gee, have political leaders ever actually lied?
Where’s that look of shock emoji?
Speaking of the U.S., Malone next connected all of this with America, asserting that “We had all those conditions. If you remember back before 2019 everyone was complaining, the world doesn’t make sense and we are all isolated from each other.”
So Malone seemed to be painting a not-so-happy picture of the U.S. circa 2019. Indeed, on March 22, 2019, Christopher Ingraham wrote for The Washington Post an article entitled, “Americans are getting more miserable, and there’s data to prove it,” citing data from the World Happiness Report and the General Social Survey.
But back to 2021 and Malone’s interview. “Then this thing happened, and everyone focused on it,” stated Malone without specifying what exactly “this thing” or “it” was. “That is how mass formation psychosis happens and that is what has happened here.”
OK, chances are you don’t use “mass formation psychosis” in your everyday life. You probably haven’t told your significant other, “your cooking is a product of mass formation psychosis” or your boss “you are the product of mass formation psychosis. By the way, can I have a promotion?” It’s not clear whether “mass formation psychosis” has been an established scientific term or is a new/recent amalgamation of two existing terms. A search on PubMed for “mass formation psychosis” returns “Quoted phrase not found” and thus no real scientific studies on the topic.