Prolonged feelings of power can damage the brain

How many times have you heard the quote?

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

19th century British politician Lord Acton.

During my schooling I was taught that people who have little or no ethical or moral compass, who are so ego driven they are not able to see other’s positions or have no empathy for others had a “personality problem”.   There’s new research that shows “personality” may not be the whole “problem”.

Researchers have found that Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and other leaders may suffer damage to their brain as a result of their rise to power.

“Brain activity of CEOs changes as they climb the career ladder, causes them to lose the ability to empathize.”

Meowie, Chief Executive Cat by Peggy

“The damage results in the loss of the ability to read other people’s emotions, which could explain why people who achieve great power lose their ability to feel empathy for the less powerful.”

“Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, made the finding using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – a technique that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in specific regions of the brain.  This showed that the areas of the brain that deal with empathy were significantly less responsive in people in power.”

“The results are down to the brain’s neuroplasticity – an ability that allows the mind to rewire itself in response to experiences.”

“The researchers, led by Dr. Sukhvinder Obhi, said: “Many people who have witnessed a colleague get promoted to an executive level have probably seen some changes in their behaviour, and not always for the better.  Our current work aims to integrate previous work from social psychology with the techniques and methods of cognitive neuroscience to gain a better understanding of exactly how power affects the brain and social functioning in a variety of environments.”

The good news is people who wield power, who want to avoid this brain damage, can take positive steps, according to experts.

Steps that include keeping people around who have the power to call you out on bad behaviour, rewarding honesty while discouraging flattery, and maintaining social connections.

Earmark this post for the next time you find yourself in a position of power.  Wouldn’t want your brain to be damaged!

Read the full article here:  https://guardian.ng/features/prolonged-feelings-of-power-corrupt-mind-say-neuroscientists/

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