Heresy, Hysteria and Madness

Written by Vladimir Moss


     The Holy Church is accustomed to dealing with false teachings of various kinds, which we call heresies. Heresy is usually considered to be the product of a sound mind which has gone wrong in some way, leading it to false conclusions, errors in logical thinking that may be caused by a moral defect or passion, or even demon-possession, but which cannot be classified as a mental illness. However, the false thinking we are witnessing in the world today is difficult to classify as heresy: it is more akin to madness.

     In order to understand how heresy, under some conditions, can pass over into a kind of mass psychosis, let us first consider an intermediate phenomenon: mass hysteria. In Wikipedia we read: “In sociology and psychology, mass hysteria (also known as mass psychogenic illnesscollective hysteriagroup hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior) is a phenomenon that transmits collective illusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumors and fear.[1] The article goes on to list a long series of cases of mass hysteria from the Salem witches trial of the seventeenth century to the mass reaction to the “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast of 1938 to several contemporary phenomena. 

     Now it could be argued that many of these phenomena have simple physical or biological explanations. Perhaps… But that is not the point here. The point is that, whatever the ultimate cause, false beliefs can acquire a degree of irrationality that is akin to madness. And this very often takes place in large groups of people, in what Douglas Murray calls “The Madness of Crowds”, as the quasi-virus of false belief spreads with amazing speed through a population.


     We find this particularly in times of religious or political revolution. Consider, for example, the French Revolution. In the first week of September 1792 there took place, according to John Julius Norwich, “the September Massacres – perhaps the ugliest chapter of the whole history of the Revolution… These were based on fears that the Duke of Brunswick, who was believed to be advancing on Paris at the head of the Prussian army, would on his arrival free all the inmates of the city’s prisons, who would at once rally to his support. The radicals, and particularly the extremist journalist Jean-Paul Marat, called for pre-emptive action, demanding that all the prisoners in the city should be slaughtered at once. Men of the National Guard, and others from the fédérés set to with a will; by 6 September half the prison population – 1,400 to 1,500 – had been killed. Well over two hundred of them were Catholic priests, whose only crime had been to submit to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Nor were these straight, clean killings; those responsible soon became no better than homicidal lunatics, torturing, amputating, eviscerating their victims in an orgy of bloodlust. Few of these unfortunates suffered more than the queen’s greatest friend, the Princesse de Lambelle. She was stripped, raped and savagely mutilated; her heart roasted and eaten, and her head, impaled on another pike, paraded beneath the queen’s window at the Temple.”[2]

     The Christian hardly needs convincing that such incidents are the product, not simply of psychological madness, but of demonic possession. In his novel The Demons, Dostoyevsky describes the collective madness of a whole provincial town caused by the advent of an antichrist-like figure, Stavrogin, and prefaces the novel with a quotation from the Gospel story of the Gadarene swine.

     It is not too much to suppose that a collective hysteria swept much of Nazi Germany in the 1930s whose cause was demonic possession. Thus “two British guests at a Hitler rally in Berlin in 1934, seated in a stadium just feet behind him, watched him captivate his listeners with the familiar rising passion and jarring voice. ‘Then an amazing thing happened,’ continued the account: ‘[we] both saw a blue flash of lightning come out of Hitler’s back… We were surprised that those of us close behind Hitler had not all been struck dead.’ The two men afterwards discussed whether Hitler was actually possessed at certain moments by the Devil: ‘We came to the conclusion that he was.’”[3]

     Freud’s former disciple Karl Jung declared in 1945 that the cause of the German people’s surrender to Nazism was demon-possession: “Germany has always been a country of psychological catastrophes: the Reformation, the peasant and religious [30-year] wars. Under the National Socialists the pressure of the demons increased to such an extent that human beings that fell under their power were turned into sleep-walking super-men, the first of whom was Hitler, who infected all the others with the same. All the Nazi leaders were possessed in the literal sense of the word... Ten percent of the German population today is hopelessly psychopathic…”[4]

     Already in the 1840s the poet Heinrich Heine saw this coming: “A drama will be enacted in Germany compared with which the French Revolution will seem like a harmless idyll. Christianity may have restrained the martial ardour of the Teutons for a time, but it did not destroy it. Now that the restraining talisman, the cross, has rotted away, the old frenzied madness will break out again.” 


     More alarming even than these cases of mass hysteria and mass possession is the spread of completely illogical ideas in a calm, seemingly rational way among large populations of rational, well-educated people. This also is madness – madness without the hysteria, the wildness.

     A clear example is the ecumenical movement. Although ecumenists can be found even in the early centuries of Christianity, ecumenism became a mass phenomenon only after the Second World War. Ecumenism is completely irrational because it maintains that obviously logically incompatible beliefs are nevertheless compatible. So Christians believe in Christ as the Son of God, but the Jews believe he is the son of a prostitute burning in hell. But they are one, assert the madmen! The Christians believe in the Holy Trinity, but the Muslims reject the Trinity. But they are one, assert the madmen! If the ecumenists said to each other: “We all believe different, incompatible things. But let us ignore this, and pretend it is not so, for the sake of peace,” they would at least be displaying some honesty, some consistency – albeit without that love of truth which alone brings salvation. But they are going far further than that in actual fact; in fact they are trying to build the one true religion, based on all the incompatibilities of all the existing world religions. And that is madness!

     Now let us turn to LGBT. A man who is biologically a man (a fact of nature which cannot be changed by any amount of surgery, since it is determined by his DNA) declares himself to be a woman, and anyone who disputes his claim is sued in the courts for slander and violation of human rights. Again: a man who is biologically a man but claims to be a woman “marries” a woman who is biologically a woman but claims to be a man. Madness! Or rather: that is what every generation of every civilization prior to our own would say. But in our generation even the cleverest of scientists bow down to this madness as if it were the highest wisdom. For we have reached the time foretold by St. Anthony the Great when the whole world would go mad through drinking “loony water”, while the sane people remaining would be considered the mad ones. That prophecy has been fulfilled. 

     Or let us take perhaps a less serious but even more contemporary case: COVID-19. The conventional wisdom is that saving lives are the highest concern, so lockdown must take place, basic freedoms must be violated and economies and livelihoods (especially lf the most poor and vulnerable) must be destroyed. The results are paradoxical: more people are dying than before. Thus in Romania three times more people have died of cancer at this time (30,000 more) than the same time last year, almost certainly because so many resources have been devoted to COVID-19 cases instead. Was such a result difficult to predict? Not at all! And yet the vast majority of educated commentary has gone along with this madness, to the extent of censoring and punishing those who think more soberly. 


     We know that a wound, if not healed, becomes gangrenous and may spread its poison around the whole body, leading to death. The same happens in the spiritual life, and in the life of whole nations and civilizations. In the mid-eleventh century, the West fell into the abyss of the heresy of papism, which places the opinion of a mortal man above that of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Although there were martyrs and confessors of the truth in every subsequent age, this heresy was not treated, but spread and mutated into many new kinds of heresy, such as Protestantism and Liberalism, that we may collectively call westernism. 

     Orthodox Christians like to think that Eastern Orthodoxy escaped this miasma. But in truth the infection spread very rapidly eastwards, and by the early twentieth century westernism had conquered most of the Orthodox East, especially the educated classes. In the period 1917-1945 God punished the Orthodox peoples mightily – unfortunately, with little revivifying effect except in the glorious band of new martyrs and confessors. There was no national or collective repentance. Collective hysterias every bit as bad as anything taking place in the West took place in the East – for example, the worship of Stalin. Speaking of the MP’s idolatrous address to Stalin on the occasion of his seventieth birthday in 1949, Fr. Gleb Yakunin and a group of Orthodox Christians wrote with complete justification: “Without the slightest hesitation, we can call this address the most shameful document ever composed in the name of the Church in the whole history of the existence of Christianity and still more in the thousand-year history of Christianity in Rus’.” Even to this day, long after the supposed fall of communism, Putin defends Stalin, and has pushed through legislation imprisoning anyone who dares to criticize the shameful Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939. Madness!

     Again, Orthodox Christians – especially Putin and his pocket-patriarch Cyril Gundiaev – like to boast that they protect “Christian values” better than the West. It is true and important that, by contrast with the West, LGBT is rejected in the East. But it is equally true and important to recognize this parade of righteousness is spoiled by two things. First, most of the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate, the nation’s spiritual leaders, are homosexual – which makes them a fine bunch of hypocrites! And secondly, Russia’s “Christian values”, according to Putin and Gundiaev, are identical with those of Islam – which would mean that they are not Christian at all!.. The sad truth is that in our global, ecumenical world the Orthodox East is hardly less prone to heresies and hysteria than the West. Rare, very rare, is the spiritual leader who is not either heretical, flagrantly immoral or a slave to whatever is the current secular ideology. About even the best of these “scribes and Pharisees who sit in Moses’s seat” the warning applies: “whatever they tell you to observe, do, but do not according to their works” (Matthew 23.3).


     How are we to remain sane in the surrounding madness? Are we to take up arms against this sea of troubles? No, we must hunker down, keep quiet as far as we can without betraying the truth, and wait for the storm to pass. At the same time, however, we must clearly understand  and firmly believe three things:

1.     The origin of all the contemporary madnesses is the Russian Revolution. For it was the revolution that removed “him that restraineth” the coming of the Antichrist, the Orthodox tsar, paving the way for the onset of the present universal madness; this was the event that marked the beginning of the end days, the age of the Apocalypse. Therefore nobody and nothing that justifies or in any way supports the revolution, directly or indirectly, openly or in a hidden manner, should be believed or trusted.

2.     The revolution, in its original aim as formulated by Lenin and Trotsky, was global in scope; Lenin believed that it would not succeed even in Russia if it did not become global. Therefore the present-day successors of Lenin and Trotsky and Stalin – Putin and his kleptocratic clique, -together with their allies, the Chinese and the Shiite Muslims, and the Neo- and Cultural Marxists throughout the world, will never rest until they have undermined every remnant of lawful power in the West. It follows that almost all the madnesses of the West will be found to have neo-Soviet human agents or bots stirring them up and pushing them on. The final end of the revolution will therefore be the subjugation of America, in accordance with the prophecy of Elder Ignaty of Harbin: “What began in Russia will end in America”.

3.     While we must remain sane amidst the madnesses that are destroying our civilization, we should not be despondent over its final destruction. Rather, we should rejoice; for do not the apostles and saints rejoice over the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18? For then, as read in the following chapter, Christ will come in triumph to cast the Antichristian beast into the lake of fire…


May 31 / June 13, 2020.

Apodosis of Pentecost.





[2] Norwich, France. From Gaul to DeGaulle, London: John Murray, 2019, p. 210.

[3] Overy, The Dictators, pp. 13-14.

[4] Jung, “The Post-War Psychological Problems of Germany”,

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