Have you ever wondered how some conspiracy theorists view the world? I got the chance to get the inside look at why it can be so addicting to believe in an alternate reality recently.
The first thing to realize is that many people suffer from mental illness that goes untreated for years. Mental health is arguably one of the worst understood fields in modern healthcare. After receiving proper treatment, many mentally ill people can assimilate back into society and live fulfilling lives free of paranoid beliefs. Generally, the ones that are not being treated are the ones that fall into to the trap of self-delusion. It is important to state that not every conspiracy theorist has a mental illness and not everyone with a mental illness believes in conspiracy theories.
Many conspiracy theorists will reach a point that is often called “waking up.” This moment is a type of epiphany where all of the parts of their life that didn’t make sense suddenly become crystal clear. This is usually after seeing a particularly compelling piece of evidence that strikes a particular chord with the viewer. Some would describe it as “seeing the world as it truly is.” In the aforementioned case of schizophrenics, this can feel like an addictive high. In many cases, it becomes an actual addiction. Conspiracy theorists often say that this moment was when everything clicked and they could see a suddenly vast web of intrigue that no one else was privy to.
Once you “wake up,” everything is different. You have to relearn everything about the world. Imagine that you have just “woken up” to the fact that the world is controlled by a secret organization. You have to readjust everything you’ve ever learned to account for that. Are your friends or family involved? Which politicians are under the sway of the shadow government that you just discovered? Some have described it as a similar feeling to a religious conversion. Others describe it as being able to perceive patterns that no one else can. Many say that it injects a permanent feeling of anxiety into their daily life.
After this conversion happens, previous mysteries can be easily explained. It becomes possible to file things you don’t understand into neat mental folders to be tucked away as being caused by the conspirators that you’ve personally uncovered. Individuals that previously felt powerless in life now feel that they’re one of the elite few that understand the actual way the world works. This realization also means that you’ve seen the truth. You’re smarter than the rest. You’ve risen above your cultural brainwashing. It becomes possible to create your own mental narrative for major events. Typically conspiracy theorists will meet up on online message boards so that their narratives can match and reinforce one another in a type of echo chamber. Eventually, social reinforcement combined with the addictive high of knowing more than the rest of the “sheeple” of the world, people become hopelessly trapped in a spiral of self-delusion.
Sadly, many will never escape.