Subjects under the influence of power, [Keltner] found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
#340 / Democracy And The Brain
If a recent article in The Atlantic is right, "Power Causes Brain Damage." Jerry Useem is a writer who covers business and economics for The New York Times, Fortune, and other publications. He is a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic.
Useem's article in the July/August 2017 issue of The Atlantic reports on years of lab and field experiments by Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley. Useem sums up Keltner's findings this way:
These findings about the impact of the possession of power on the brain not only explain the behavior or our current president, but also suggest that "democracy," a political system in which power is widely disseminated, not concentrated, is a prescription for social and political good health.
Let's not forget, as I always like to remind myself (and others), genuine democracy and self-government require that we get involved in politics ourselves. Ceding political power to the "leaders" who are so willing to accept its benefits (and burdens) will result in a system of government that reflects (as we now understand it) an organic psychopathology!