The Neurochemistry of Power: Implications for Political Change - QUOTES


"Power, especially absolute and unchecked power, is intoxicating. Its effects occur at the cellular and neurochemical level. They are manifested behaviourally in a variety of ways, ranging from heightened cognitive functions to lack of inhibition, poor judgment, extreme narcissism, perverted behaviour, and gruesome cruelty."

"The primary neurochemical involved in the reward of power that is known today is dopamine, the same chemical transmitter responsible for producing a sense of pleasure."

"Power activates the very same reward circuitry in the brain and creates an addictive ‘high’ in much the same way as drug addiction. Like addicts, most people in positions of power will seek to maintain the high they get from power, sometimes at all costs."

"In accountable societies, checks and balances exist to avoid the inevitable consequences of power. Yet, in cases where leaders possess absolute and unchecked power, changes in leadership and transitions to more consensus-based rule are unlikely to be smooth."

"The brain is neurochemically pre-programmed to seek pleasure, regardless of its social acceptability or how it is derived. We are therefore, all addicts, of one sort or another, to the extent that we are all engaged in pursuits that ensure dopamine and other neurochemicals flow."

"Much like addictive drugs, power uses these ready-made reward circuitries, producing extreme pleasure."

"The neurochemistry of power has implications for politics and for political change. Since sudden withdrawal of power, like the abrupt withdrawal from drugs, produces uncontrollable cravings, those who possess power, especially absolute power, are highly unlikely to give it up willingly, smoothly and without human and material loss."