When Power goes to people’s heads

I often wondered why some people go truly out of control when success, money, and power go to their heads until one day I read this: “Money doesn’t make you an asshole. Money just makes you care less if people know you’re an asshole”… How true.

So why does this happen?

Is it because the feeling of power has been found to have a similar effect on the brain to cocaine by increasing the levels of testosterone and its by-product 3-androstanediol which in turn leads to raised levels of dopamine, the brain’s reward system, which is very addictive?

One theory suggests indeed it’s the same way we behave when we are on drugs or craving for drugs. We have tricked our brains long back in the history of our evolution to seek excess of dopamine rewards (the pleasure chemical). Naturally, sex releases the highest amount of dopamine, followed by food. But when we’re on drugs, the levels increase far more and over time our brains alter the neural circuitry to get dopamine levels back to normal. But in the process food, sex and so many beautiful things lose their ability to give us pleasure. Hence, to escape withdrawal, we need more drugs.

As apes we needed power to score more sex and security. Now we need power to get more power. We need more money for more power. We need more fame for more peer approval. Food, sex, love, security, self esteem, some peer approval are among Maslow’s basic needs that motivate humans and keep them happy in nature’s balance. Gluttony, excessive power and security, excessive fame are not basic needs, but are showcased as the big motivations for the society by already addicted brains. Somewhere down the lane they got addicted and now they’re high.

Or is it because money and power are merely magnifying glasses. Neither can provide a human being with character, dignity or meaning and neither can take away a human being’s innate flaws?

Whatever the case is, I believe such individuals behave this way because they were treated badly by those who were rich, powerful or had some other advantage. When such badly-treated people get power, in any form (money, political advantage, a secret that can be used to blackmail), they want to take revenge. This revenge could be directed towards a person or towards the whole world and society in general. The person that can rise above such situation-based power, is the one who behaves normally.

I think the most successful people on earth, are those who kept their feet firmly on earth, even after getting fame, money or power.

What do you say? Share your thoughts…

Written by

Ziad K Abdelnour, Wall Street financier, trader and author is currently President and CEO of Blackhawk Partners Inc., a private equity and physical commodities trading firm based out of New York City, Founder & President of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon (USCFL), Founder & Chairman of the Financial Policy Council, Member of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Forum and Former President of the Arab Bankers Association of North America.