The energetic mechanism behind the mob

I believe this quote by Atkinson, even though it was written in 1900s is very relevant for our modern times:

“One of the most striking instances of the power of the radioactivity of thought, and of the inductive action of thought, is found in that class of phenomena which has been called “thought-contagion” or “mental epidemics.”

As these terms indicate, in this class of phenomena there is a “spreading” of thought-influence and a liability to “catch” the spirit of the general thought-wave which is spreading itself over a group of people, a community, a nation, or even over the civilized world as a whole.

In its simplest form, thought-contagion is found in cases in which groups or congregations of individuals are moved by a common impulse, the latter being originally imparted by some individuals of strong emotional tendencies in the crowd, and then rapidly spreading from one to another of the crowd until nearly everyone in the group or crowd has “caught” the feeling and its accompanying impulse.

This class of phenomena, in its simplest phases, is illustrated by the rapid spread of emotional excitement among an audience or congregation under the influence of a magnetic orator, preacher, actor, or other “spellbinder” as the colloquial term well expresses it.

You have seen large audiences swayed by a common emotion under such circumstances; and, perhaps, have yourself come under the influence of the epidemic thought-currents. One is often roused to the stage of intense emotion, and experiences the impulse to act thereupon, by words which when seen in cold print seem devoid of any exciting power. In such cases, the orator, actor, or preacher possesses sufficient magnetic force to “set things going,” and after that the contagion spreads rapidly until finally nearly every one in the audience is more or less affected. In cases of “revival meetings” the influence of thought-contagion is quite strongly manifested.

The same principle governs what are known as “mobs,” creating what is known as “the mob spirit.” The mob, at the beginning, may be made up of the average persons of the community, brought together by curiosity or general interest, and free from vicious intention.

Before long some turbulent spirits in the crowd begin to manifest emotional excitement, and start to arouse a similar feeling in their neighbors. If the conditions are favorable, before long the contagion has spread and the epidemic has assumed alarming proportions. If the impulse and influence be sufficiently strong, the crowd veritably becomes a “mob,” and in some cases proceeds to commit acts of violence and destruction of which the majority had no thought in the beginning, and of which but few of its members would have been capable under ordinary circumstances. When the influence has passed, most of the individuals are aghast at the acts which they have helped to perpetrate.

Cases are of record in which individuals who plunged into the midst of an excited mob with the full purpose of counteracting its purposes, were themselves overcome by the contagion and fell in with the actions of the mob, although the latter were directly opposed to their normal feelings, convictions and interests.”

As you can observe, the power of thought, magnetism and energy is a real phenomenon that can be seen everywhere. It’s not just something that existed in the 1900s when Atkinson was alive. It’s present as much now as it were before.

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