Group Think – the Submersion of Identity

Submersion of Identity

“Submersion of Identity”, Leo Plaw, 40 x 30cm, oil on canvas

Losing one’s identity in that of the group has consequences for the individual and that of the society in which the individual lives. The danger is that of becoming possessed by an idea and thus a mere clone of the group think.

It is easy for us to fall prey to this, because we are a group animal by nature. Without our group nature, we would have never survived as long as we did and then to ultimately dominate the planet (for better or worse).

Those that protest the loudest that they are not one of the herd, belittling the “average” person, are they who are most likely to succumb to the greatest evils of group think. Being self-assured in their assumed superiority, they are blind to their hubris, because of their denial of their only all too human nature. “I am more virtuous than thou!”

These are the people to be most wary of. They are the zealots, the jihadi, who perform any and all actions necessary to achieve the aims of group think with no moral or ethical inhibitions, because the ends justify the means.

The phenomenon is a mass psychosis, whereby individuals become literally possessed by the ideas of the group, and as such, ideologues. You will not be able to reason with them, because you are no longer talking to person, but rather an idea. All manner of cognitive dissonance and irrational reactions will ensue should you be foolish enough to attempt debating them.

If one does choose to engage with such people, or even critique them, one must be forever vigilant and self-questioning. “Am I becoming just as polarized as they? Am I also becoming possessed by ideas counter to theirs?” A thorough emotional and mental hygiene must be practiced, lest one become infected and subsumed in other equally possessing ideas. Equally if one finds themselves being convinced, converted and swept up in the fervor of others, this is also a call to pause, reflect and question yourself… if you can.

The people found in the revolutionary vanguards of both political movements and religions are possessed. For such people there is no middle ground, you are either for or against them.

The person who does not subscribe to their ideology, and oh the horror, even dares question and debate, is an even greater threat than those who vehemently stand opposed to them as a self-acknowledged enemy. For the enemy is definable, a flip-side of the very same thing, group think, just waving a different flag. But the other, they are an existential threat. Their very existence challenges their own, because they are not playing by the rules of the group think game.

Self-aware thinkers must be eliminated, even before the enemy, lest they make the madness known to others and start a chain reaction that deflates the possessing idea. As such, humor is forbidden, because it is the antidote.

When humor is censored, it is the canary in the coal mine.

Posted in: Essays, Psychology

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