Collective Hypnosis: When Fear Takes on a Life of Its Own


Hannah Arendt

EDITOR’S SUMMARY: Moving through life in a collective trance equates to a dumbed-down society. Cast under the spell of group think, especially in isolation, we may search outside ourselves to be rescued. To rise above the mass hysteria, we must speak our truths regardless of popular opinion.


By Nicki Steinberger, Ph.D.


For the past two and a half years, we’ve been engulfed in a landslide evolution of fright surrounding the pandemic.


From a sociological perspective, fear is encouraged by egocentrism, groupthink, bias, intolerance, peer pressure, and social conditioning.


Dr. Mark McDonald, board-certified psychiatrist, believes “The real crisis is not medical in nature,” but rather, psychologically based in “widespread fear.”


Fear and Its Impact on Immunity


Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., long time pioneer of the unification of body, mind, and emotions, believes a continued state of fear can damage your health.


“Fear shuts down your gut: When you experience fear, your body releases stress hormones that slow, or shut down, bodily functions that you do not immediately need for survival. This includes your gut where most of your immune system resides.”


“Fear can lead to chronic health problems: Living in a constant state of fear can cause gastrointestinal issues, including ulcers and Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It can increase your risk of cardiovascular damage. And fear has been associated with decreased fertility, depression, fatigue, and accelerated aging. Fear has even been associated with an increased risk of death—you’ve heard sayings such as “She worried herself to death,” haven’t you?”


Chronic Fear Has Us Believing We Need To Be “Saved” by an Outside Force

Motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, views the world from a post-pandemic perspective. He talks about regaining momentum and moving past fear. He understands the depth of people struggling with persistent fear; understandably more difficult to overcome. He exclaims: 


“Unlike acute fear, chronic fear can lower our natural life-saving response and cause us to believe we need to be “saved” by an outside force.”


“With chronic fear, you’re not experiencing anxiety – you’re living in it. The fear response becomes a maladaptive lifestyle, influencing everything you think, feel and do.”


Humanity longs to be “saved.” Historically this concept has been evident in those that seek salvation in the world’s religions. The Christian faith describes this as salvation and is embedded in much of the teachings commonly referred to as deliverance or redemption. The “saving” in this case is from sin and its consequences.


Over the past two years, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as an outside force, has been seen as a secular figure that people feel they need to be saved by in the name of science. In Fauci We Trust consumer products include tee-shirts, stickers, flags, coffee mugs, video games, and candles, etc. There’s even a takeout cocktail called the Fauci Pouchy.


David Sedaca, professor of Homiletics and Old Testament and leader of the messianic Jewish movement worldwide for the last 40 years writes, “Based on God’s unique relationship with the people of Israel as presented in the Tanach (Old Testament), salvation is almost always understood as collective and national, not personal and individual.”


Fear Can’t Live in a State of Positive Emotions


Since both religion and science can accentuate fear, can being thankful vs. faithful make a person more resilient?


Renowned motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins states:


“Fear cannot coexist with positive emotions. You cannot feel both scared and joyful, or afraid and peaceful. You can’t feel fear and gratitude at the same time, either – but you can replace one with the other.


When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears. You shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Where focus goes energy flows. So when you change your mindset in this way, you find that you naturally bring more positivity – and less fear – into your life.”


Since March 2020, there has been a bewildering lack of certainty, which many of us need in order to feel grounded. This lack of assuredness has fueled the fire of fear.


Tony Robbins continues:


“For many of us, certainty is our most powerful need: We want to know what is coming next. And while we do need some certainty in our lives, we also need uncertainty and variety. A fear of uncertainty prevents us from getting out of our comfort zones.”

A Spell Is Cast Upon Us

Critical thinking, “objective analysis and evaluation,” is the opposite of mass hypnotic formation—ritualized behaviors embarked upon with “blind obedience.”


Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, Mattias Desmet wrote extensively on his experiences with the public:


“His reading of the writings of Gustave Le Bon on the psychology of crowds, and those of Hannah Arendt on twentieth-century totalitarianism, as well as his expertise in statistics, led him to take a deeper interest in what was emerging, and rapidly he came to the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of the world had fallen under a kind of spell.”


“In his new book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism, he elaborates on these instincts in light of what he witnessed during COVID, including the strange phenomenon of people’s apparent indifference to their own deprivations, hurts, and incurred damage from the lockdowns: loss of freedoms, work, income, education, human contact, leisure, etc.”


This California M.D. Bravely Made a Mass Diagnosis


Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mark McDonald, M.D. graduated from UC Berkeley before attending medical school in Wisconsin. Trained in psychiatry from pediatric to geriatric at UCLA, he works with children in private practice in L.A. Dr. McDonald has experienced various cultures living in Central America, Asia, and Europe.


In his book, United States of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusional Psychosis, Dr. McDonald writes on the effects of ongoing COVID-19 protocols as catastrophic. He believes the never-ending pandemic is one of irrational fear, and that everyone in the U.S. has been a victim to the profound psychological damage that health officers and governments imposed on its people.


Dr. McDonald believes we are a nation in mass psychosis, and the solution to regaining wellness calls for a national recovery from fear. We must act bravely, think critically, and reopen America.


Hannah Arendt Warned Us About the Dangers of Mass Fear in Her 1951 Masterpiece


Are there any differences between the mass fear and isolation in the COVID-19 regime now, some seventy years later? The similarities are striking because the same ideological narrative was disseminated in 1951 and many other times in history.


Loneliness as described in The Origins of Totalitarianism:


“What prepares men for totalitarian domination in the non-totalitarian world is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience of the ever-growing masses of our century.”


“Totalitarianism in power found a way to crystallize the occasional experience of loneliness into a permanent state of being. Through the use of isolation and terror, totalitarian regimes created the conditions for loneliness, and then appealed to people’s loneliness with ideological propaganda.”


One Final Warning


George Orwell, author of 1984, shared a compelling message in his last interview. He said, “Something like 1984 could actually happen.” He believed, “In our world there will be no emotions but fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement.” And the “intoxication of power” will always exist.


He painted a grizzly picture when addressing our future: “Imagine a boot stamping on a human’s face forever,” he said. Clearly Orwell’s cautionary tale finally arrived. Remarkably though, in 1949, he had the keen foresight to imagine a way out of the horror.


“The moral,” he exclaimed, “to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one—don’t let it happen. It depends on you.”


The Road Home


There are effective solutions to chronic collective fear. Tara Brach’s evidence-based meditative teachings is one of them. Tara earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a dissertation exploring meditation as a therapeutic modality. In Homecoming to Your True Nature: Awakening Beyond the Separate, Fearful Self she says:


“Most of us unconsciously identify as a separate, threatened, deficient self. This talk shines a light on this conditioning and explores the ways that mindfulness, compassion, and self-inquiry reveal the freedom of our true nature”


Straddling both psychotherapist and meditation teacher, she found herself naturally blending these two powerful traditions—introducing meditation to her therapy clients and sharing western psychological insights which has had excellent outcomes for fear-based anxiety. 


This synthesis has evolved, in more recent years, into Tara’s groundbreaking work with body/mind therapists to integrate mindfulness strategies as an alternative and/or integrative model.


Final Thoughts by Dr. Christiane Northrup:


“I urge you to continually seek out new sources of information and question the veracity of what they are saying. Dig deep and trust your inner guidance. And remember, if a source is saying exclusively that there is only one right way, or only one answer to a problem, it’s a narrative, not the truth.”




Published on August 13, 2022


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