Do Conspiracy Theories help to Alleviate Depression?
I’m writing this super-brief piece to point out an interesting relationship between the adoption of a conspiracy theory as fact with how the brain is when it functions well.
Working as a body-based therapist, I don’t get so involved in neuroscience and all that stuff. But I do like to keep my eye on new ideas from that field, especially those that relate to the fields I myself work in - emotional processing, depression, anxiety, success, failure and chronic fatigue, amongst others.
Modern theories of depression, I note, are nowadays replete with references to neurogenesis and synaptogenesis. These terms relate to the speed at which our brain creates new neurons and new connections between neurons. When these factors are low, depression is more likely.
There are several distinct types of conspiracy theory. But the ones that tend to garner the most attention are the “overarching theories.” Giants in the conspiracy field, such as David Icke or Alex Jones, specialise in this type of theory. They create a “meta-narrative” where apparently unrelated current and historical events are tied together as the work of a secret “elite” or “cult.”
Whatever one believes to be the truth of this, I find it intriguing that conspiracy theories are clearly analogous to synaptogenesis. Inside the brain of the believer, new connections are being formed where previously there were none. This will no doubt explain why conspiracy theorists are rarely depressed. Their brains are “on fire” with new connections between phenomena previously categorised as unrelated.
Indeed, deep in the world of the brain, the conspiracy theory may serve to dredge up huge levels of repressed emotion, to be projected upon the world.
I hope to delve more deeply into the transpersonal possibilities of this last statement in a future piece.
Thank you for reading.