Some of you may know who I am but not really know much about me. I do not often share about my background. I do not like to brag because what I have been given in terms of my education and knowledge has been given to me by the grace of God. However, I do want to share important information that I think people should know and not just from a layperson’s perspective. For this reason, I am giving you my credentials so that you know I am coming from a professional background. To that end, I have a PhD in Psychology, a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Clinical/Experimental Psychology. I have been in the mental health field as a clinician, researcher, and academician for over 23 years. With that laid out before you and out of the way, I want to extend a brief primer related to the topic of crowd and mass behavior which I simply request you think about in light of what is going on in society today. I am not going to tell you what to believe. I simply what you to think for yourself.
- Masses are thought to be incapable of thinking on their own, thus require the intervention of those more powerful and wiser than they.
- People who have been incited by fear and panic can lose their individual thinking capabilities, following ideologies they might not have once considered. For a prime example, study the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party.
- Collective behavior is structured and predictable, and even when appearing to be irrational, can be incited by agents of social control who often have a very different end goal in mind than what the collective believe to be true.
- Crowds by their very nature can take on a contagious, frenzied mindset which can stir up otherwise sane people into irrational behavior. This stems from the comfort that comes from belonging to the group or thinking you are part of something. In other words, there is a sort of “strength in numbers” even if the numbers are behaving like lunatics.
- Mass hysteria results when people are frightened by an assumed or contrived event. People can even begin to imagine the symptoms they have been told to fear.
- In a panic, people become afraid of something that will impact the general well-being of society. This type of panic generally purposefully occurs because a certain group of people have decided they want to redirect society’s moral values.
- The media is a powerful influencer in society and can impact social order, transforming the thinking of average citizens to conform to what they want it to be. To understand this better, examine the use of media by Hitler in how he got people to do what he wanted them to do and how media is used to control people in communist governments.
I close with some wisdom from Scripture:
“The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps” (Proverbs 14:15 ESV).
“…so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16b ESV).
“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7 ESV).
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).