Personality disorders and mass formations

In Cultural Commentary, Integral Master Therapist Blog, Integral Perspectives by Dr. Keith Witt

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Personality disorders are characterized by people being distressed by the consequences of their problems—social disapproval, depression, anxiety, frustration with others, or chronic failure—rather than the cause of their problems—pervasive and enduring aspects of their personalities where they only have one way to be, and that way produces drama instead of solving problems. Examples are:

  • Feeding your grandiose self-image at the expense of your true self and objectifying “inferior” others for gratification—narcissism.
  • Chronic suspicion—paranoia.
  • Erratic and unstable love/hate cycling with little sense of proportionality—borderline personality disorder.
  • Refusal to honor agreements plus constant manipulation—anti-social personality disorder.

Mass formations are collective delusions that can arise when a large group of people feel isolated, meaningless, anxious, and frustrated. An ideology identifying a source of problems and an enemy to attack, articulated by a committed leader, can unite the mass in bonding with each other to purge the groups “causing” their problems.

Mass formations create collective states similar to some personality disorders (paranoia, aggression, distorted thinking) supported by cultures that continually reinforce the ideology and the one way of being (like “Owning the libs,” or supporting the leader right or wrong). Mass formations are similar to hypnosis where the voice of the hypnotist has executive control of the subject. The voice of the leader in mass formations has a similar effect. Unlike most personality disorders, people can occasionally wake up to the collective distortion of mass formations.

In both cases, respectful and non-violent speaking up seem to be the most effective remedies in the long run, but it can be a very long run.

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