CLAIM: The concept of “mass formation psychosis” explains why millions of people believe in a mainstream COVID-19 “narrative” and trust the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

THE FACTS: Dr. Robert Malone highlighted the theory on a podcast hosted by commentator Joe Rogan. During the episode, Dr. Malone cast doubt on COVID-19 vaccine safety and claimed the mass psychosis has resulted in a “third of the population basically being hypnotized” into believing what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and mainstream news outlets say.

“When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other and has free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don’t make sense, we can’t understand it, and then their attention gets focused by a leader or a series of events on one small point, just like hypnosis, they literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere,” Dr. Malone said. He claimed such people will not allow the “narrative” to be questioned.

Crediting a professor in Belgium, Dr. Malone also said in a December blog post that this “mass hypnosis” explains millions of people becoming captivated by the “dominant narrative concerning the safety and effectiveness of the genetic vaccines.”

ACCORDING TO AP FACT CHECK: The description of “mass formation psychosis” offered by Dr. Malone resembles concepts, such as “mob mentality” and “group mind,” according to John Drury, a social psychologist at the University of Sussex in the U.K. who studies collective behavior. The ideas suggest that “when people form part of a psychological crowd they lose their identities and their self-control; they become suggestible, and primitive instinctive impulses predominate,” he said in an email.

Multiple experts told the AP Fact Check that there is evidence that groups can shape or influence one’s behaviors — and that people can and do believe falsehoods that are put forward by the leader of a group.

AP Fact Check also admitted that before the concept of “mass formation psychosis” took off following Dr. Malones interview with Joe Rogan, it had percolated online in recent months.

Mattias Desmet, the professor in Belgium who Dr. Malone cited for formulating the idea, did not return AP requests for comment. Malone also did not return a request for comment.

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