There are different minds and different confusions, and perhaps each is unlike every other. That possibility is not excluded by the assertion that "There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind." All we know is that we are looking at the specific confusion that is the confusion of a simple mind, the unavoidable inference that Tom has a simple mind, and that the manifestation of this specific form of confusion feels like hot whips of panic.
This is our Gatsby sentence today. Do you identify with Tom? Do you panic when confused? Do you experience panic as hot whips? I think it's more likely that you don't identify with Tom. He's driving away from whatever is confusing him. (How about figuring things out, loser?) He's too simple to do anything but run and panic. And he's flogged absurdly by his own flaring inability to deal with anything at all challenging.
Yes, drive away, Tom, you pathetic little man.