In 2012, Professor of psychology Ian Robertson published The Winner effect: How Power Affects Your Brain.
His research found that the exercise of power increases levels of testosterone that spark an in increases dopamine levels – the pleasure hormone. Dopamine provides the short-term high that leaves cocaine and gambling addicts craving jolt – and politicians too.
It also leads to arrogance, impatience, egocentricity and lack of empathy – and could explain why successful but ultimately obstinate leaders such as Robert Mugabe, Mobutu, John Howard and Margaret Thatcher clung to office way past their use-by date.
Political power is like a brain injury
Dr Keltner found that people too long in power act as if they have suffered a traumatic brain injury –punch drunk, if you will – becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view. What made them successful on their rise to power is lost once that power is exercised. Even when their time is finished, they have failed, they still cling to ruinous idea that the fallen leader – and anyone with a dream – can, and in fact must, keep going.
Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, put the heads of powerful people under a transcranial-magnetic-
He, too, found that power impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring”, that may be a cornerstone of empathy
This might go some way to explaining why most presidents become deaf and blind to reality– especially when considered in tandem with the cruel, pointless encouragement they receive from scavenger and them and government media commentators.
If the researchers are right, supporters have been playing havoc with a damaged person – just like those hangers-on at ringside, urging their man to take one more punch to the head.
“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts,” so said Albert Einstein who should have known better.
Leaders, take time to reflect. You won the championship. You knocked down all-opponents. You were a contender.
But when your days in the ring are over, Go and find yourself some new and better friends.
Lets take a moment and reflect.