I don’t know why I do this. I just posted something thoughtful on Facebook to be ignored, snarked at or bufoonated upon.
From years of reading about mass misbehaviors (aka history) and living through a couple myself, I’ve come to the belief that whatever can go wrong in the mind of an individual can also go even more horribly wrong in the culture of a collectivity.
I enjoy the exercise of imagining every variety of mental disorder on a mass scale. I start with speculating what it would look like as a mass phenomenon from the outside, because that is easier. You can look for pattern matches using stuff you’ve picked up from History Channel or best seller historical fiction. That’s the warmup.
Then I try to imagine the same phenomenon from the inside as an unsuspecting participant, fully bought into the version of truth generated by the totalizing interpretive scheme and its logic. I’ve learned this in school as fact, see it reinforced wherever I look, and everyone around me agrees with it (or at least all decent people do). What is the world like from this standpoint, ordered within this perspective?
A few examples: What would mass delusion be like, experienced from the inside? What about mass narcissism? Mass OCD? Mass sociopathy? Would there be any hints of what was going on? How could I know? I’m guessing every hint would be handily explained away by the logic of the disorder, so how would would I and those around me logically neutralize every clue that we’d lost our collective mind?
I have a copy of the DSM on my shelf, and people sometimes ask why we we have it. I usually answer “bad taste in friends” or something along the lines of needing to diagnose my book hoarding problem — but I think I’m going to take it off my shelf and put it on my coffee table, so I can open it to a random place and play the Collective Mental Disorder game with visitors.
I recommend declining any invitations to my home until this whim blows over.