Power destroys the brain

If power was the cure, attached would be a large list of side effects. It can be intoxicating. She can seduce. It may even force Henry Kissinger to consider himself attractive to women. However, can it damage the brain?

When Congress struck John Stumpe (John Stumpf) at the last month before the hearing, each of them managed to defeat the now former head of Wells Fargo for the fact that he did not keep track of five thousand subordinates, created false invoices on behalf of clients. However, what was most surprising was the behavior of Stumpy. The man, who managed to lead one of the largest banks in the world, was completely unable to capture the mood of people around. Even though he apologized, he didn’t look repentant or depressed. Opinionated, inflexible or even false, he also didn’t look. He looked lost, like a sleepy traveler, barely arrived from the planet Stump, where the respect for him is enshrined in law, but 5000 is ridiculous. Even outright rudeness — “You must be kidding me” (Sean Duffy — Sean Duffy is a Congressman from Wisconsin); “I can’t believe your ears” (Gregory Meeks — Gregory Meeks is a Congressman from new York) — not awakened him from his slumber.

What was going through Stompa in the head? A new study poses the question — why this never happened?

When the historian Henry Adams (Henry Adams) described power as “a kind of tumor, leading to the death of the patient’s ability to sympathy”, it was meant figuratively. However, this conclusion is not far from the one that came after years of laboratory and field tests Daher Keltner (Dacher Keltner), Professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. Powerful people have installed it during twenty years of research, acted as if he suffered from a brain injury — they became more impulsive, less estimated risks, and, most importantly, lose their ability to understanding what is happening with someone else’s point of view.

Not so long ago something similar was described by Sukhwinder Obi (Sukhvinder Obhi), a neuroscientist at McMaster University. In contrast to Keltner that studies human behavior, Obi studying the human brain. And when he held transcranial magnetic stimulation goals of those in power and ordinary people, he found that the government actually violates the particular process in the brain, “mirroring”, is probably responsible for the capacity for empathy. It gives a neurobiological explanation keltera described a “paradox of power”: when we gain power, we lose the talent we need to achieve it.

This loss was demonstrated in various and ingenious ways. The study, conducted in 2006, participants were asked to draw on the forehead with the letter E so that it was visible to others — a task that requires you to look at yourself from someone else’s point of view. Those who considered themselves his superiors, with three times the probability of drawing E is properly rotated in relation to itself, and mirrored to all the others (reminiscent of George Bush holding the American flag inside out during the Olympic games in 2008). Other experiments showed that, with the power of the people worse identified emotions on pictures shown them and worse to anticipate the reaction of colleagues to certain comments.

The fact that people tend to mimic the expressions and mannerisms of his superiors, only exacerbates the problem: the staff did not give the parent the desired characters. But more important, according to Keltner, is that the powers that be cease to imitate everyone else. Laughter in a time when everyone else laughing, or voltage, when the other tense — all of this just evokes sympathy from others, but also provokes the same feelings that they experience, allowing them better to understand. Invested with power people to “cease to pretend other people’s emotions,” says Keltner that leads to “empathy deficit”.

Mirroring — a mild form of mimicry, occurring without our knowledge. When we observe someone’s action, the area of our brain responsible for such actions, awakens in response. This can be called a mediated experience. This reaction was trying to provoke Obi and his collaborators, by showing subjects a video in which a human hand squeezing a rubber ball.

Have been deprived of the power of the people the mirroring was as follows: areas of the brain responsible for clenching his hands on the ball, worked well with the desired force. It has the power, however, is treated in a much lesser degree.

If they lost this reaction at all? Rather, it was muted. None of the participants in the experiment were not constant power. They were all College students, which made her feel powerful, Recalling situations in which they have someone in charge. Presumably, the dullness was gone, together with the sense of power — the brains of test subjects has not been physically damaged in the laboratory in the evening. However, whether the effect of long term — for example, if they are from quarter to quarter would whisper of their greatness analysts of wall Street, the Board of Directors offered them additional salary, and Forbes was praised for “reasonable actions in the period of stability” that could lead to what in medicine is called “functional” changes in the brain.

I suggested that with power, people just don’t try to see the world through someone else’s eyes, and still could do if I wanted to. At that time the Ob conducted the study, designed to answer exactly this question. This time subjects were informed about the nature of mirroring and asked them deliberately to cause a desired reaction. “Our results — he wrote and his co-author, Katrin Nash (Katherine Naish), has not changed”. Conscious efforts came to no avail.

This discovery is very sad. It would seem that knowledge gives power. But what’s the point of knowing that the government deprives us of knowledge?

The reason for optimism is that these changes are not always harmful. Studies show that power, makes our brain to filter perefiriynogo information. In most cases, this increases the efficiency of its work. In relations with other people, this leads to the unfortunate reduction of our susceptibility. But even this is not necessarily bad for empowered and led by their communities. As convincingly argued Susan Fiske (Susan Fiske), Professor of psychology at Princeton University, the government reduces the need for a deep understanding of the people around us, giving us resources that we were forced to beg from them earlier. However, in modern organizations, the maintenance of power over these resources depends on the support from the rest of the staff. And the number of news the error caused by the arrogance of the leadership of various enterprises, evidenced by the fact that many of his numbers have crossed the line and hit recklessness.

Having lost the ability to understand the personal qualities of others, they are forced to rely on stereotypes. And the less they are around, the more they rely on their own “vision” in decision-making. Everything I saw John Stump — Wells Fargo, in which each client were eight bills (as he had often said to the staff, “eight” — eight — rhymes with “success” — great). “Cross-selling, he said Congress is the key to deepening customer relationships”.

Could this have something to do?

Yes and no. It is difficult to prevent the influence of power on the brain. Much easier to stop feeling powerful, at least from time to time.

In terms of its influence on our thinking, power is not a position or title, but a state of mind, reminded me of Keltner. Recall a situation in which you have been deprived of power, and your brain reconnects with reality.

Some help memories of a long experience of powerlessness — rather painful experience can provide permanent protection. A surprising study published last February, The Journal of Finance, found that the CEO, a survivor of childhood disaster with many of the victims were less risk averse than the CEO, do not collide with such developments (and on the contrary, as noted by study co-author and Professor of Cambridge University Raghavendra Rau [Raghavendra Rau], CEO, survivors of disasters with a small number of victims were inclined to risk more than others).

However, hurricanes, volcanoes and tsunamis are not the only force, able to restrain pride. CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi (Indra Nooyi) sometimes talks about the day she found out about his appointment to the Board of Directors of the company in 2001. On the way home she bathed in the feeling of success and importance, until her mother sent her out for milk, leaving the “good news” for later. When irritated Nooyi came back from the store, her mother advised her to “leave the crown in the garage”.

The essence of this story is that it says Nooyi. It serves as a useful reminder of the daily responsibilities and helps to descend from heaven to earth. In this case, the mother Nooyi serves as “grounding” is a term used by Louis Howe (Louis Howe) to describe his relationship with Franklin Roosevelt, who ruled for four terms of President, to which Howe was always addressed by name.

For Winston Churchill this person was his wife, Clementine, which had the confidence to write one day: “My dear Winston, I have to admit that he had noticed a deterioration in your behavior, you’re not as good as you were before.” Written on the day when Hitler marched into Paris, torn, but still sent the letter was not a complaint but a warning: someone whispered to her, she wrote that Churchill met the minds of his subordinates “with such contempt” that they “had sworn never to Express them, whether they are good or bad” — which could result in the inability to achieve “best results”.

Lord David Owen (David Owen), a British neuroscientist, who became a member of Parliament and worked as the Minister of foreign Affairs, until he received the title of Baron, recalls how on Howe’s and Clementine Churchill written in 2008 the book “In sickness and in power”, dedicated to all sorts of diseases that influenced the work of British Prime Ministers and American presidents since 1900. Although many of them suffered from stroke (Woodrow Wilson), substance abuse (Anthony Eden), and, possibly, bipolar disorders (Lyndon Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt), at least four of them acquired disorders that are not recognized by medicine, however deserving, in the opinion of Owen, of such recognition.

“Syndrome of arrogance” as he and his co-author, Jonathan Davidson (Jonathan Davidson), called this phenomenon in a 2009 article published in the journal Brain, “is a disorder caused by the possession of power, particularly the power associated with incredible successes, is stored for a long time, and imposes on the owner a minimum of limitations.” 14 clinical signs include: a marked contempt for others, the loss of contact with reality, recklessness, loss of legal capacity. In may the Royal medical society held a joint conference with the Daedalus trust (Daedalus Trust) — founded by the Owen organisation, studying and struggling with pride.

I asked Owen, recognizing a healthy propensity for pride, if he has something holding it in the real world, something than could use other powers. He shared several strategies: think about embarrassing moments from the past; to watch documentaries about ordinary people; to enter into the habit of reading letters from their constituents.

However, I assumed that best restrains the pride of Owen and his research work. Business organizations, he complained to me, has not shown significant interest in the study of pride. Business schools, too, are far from gone. A shadow of irritation in his voice betrayed some degree of impotence. Whatever its positive impact on the Owen, it indicates that soon spread among the superiors of the illness is unlikely to be cured.