How conspiracy theories impact people

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — There are many conspiracy theories throughout history. Many have come up in the current political arena.

Hanna Cespedes — a clinical mental health Specialist with All Counseling Solutions — says most people who believe them feel neglected by society.

“They start believing and attributing hey I need something to hold onto and so when we connect those ideas together then it makes a bit of sense as to why people would behave this way,” said Cespedes.

She says conspiracy theories are very attractive. They trigger an evolutionary response. She explained the concept of in-group bias and out-group prejudice.

“We begin to attribute all positive things to the group we belong to it can be athletic groups, political party you name it,” said Cespedes. “and we attribute all the negative aspects and consequences towards the out-group.”

Cespedes said it could be easy to fall into the cycle of conspiracy theories during the pandemic.

“It does not take too long I would even argue after a few months of being exposed to just one way of thinking consistently over and over and over again it’s going to have an effect on you and your perspective,” said Cespedes.

Cespedes says if someone believes a conspiracy theory, you must validate their feelings and thoughts. It becomes dangerous when they start to believe their feelings are fact. She deems early intervention “key.”

“Be patient, and have kindness to be consistent in your conversation, never shut the door,” said Cespedes, “I think that can really help individuals that feel like they have been neglected and ostracized.”

It’s important to step away from your device if you notice the news cycle or social media is affecting you. She said you should practice self-care.

“Find a therapist, call someone that you love and trust but always prioritize your own mental health too,” said Cespedes.

How to find a therapist

  • You can go to the Psychology Today website and use the ‘Find Therapist’ tool.
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