OMG! Power Alters Brain Function Similar to Head Trauma

Power Alters Brain Function Similar to Head Trauma
Power Alters Brain Function Similar to Head Trauma

Power affects our brains to the same extent as a head trauma


Sensitivity to others, compassion, empathy, and camaraderie, can win people over. In the rise to power, an individual who climbs and manages to reach the summit can ultimately find themselves with irreversible changes. As the old idiom goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This isn’t just a figurative statement. To that end, its application to what happens in the brain after power has changed the neural pathways is absolute. The ability to connect with other people can become compromised. Reading others body language and facial expressions in addition to, the ability to empathize with others are damaged.

Frequently, carelessness can result, guiding the powerful towards isolation. The possibility exists for them to remain unaware of their predicament. It’s not uncommon for these types of people to be unable to identify flaws within themselves.



Scientist, Sukhivinder Obhi from Ontario Canada McMaster University, is testing his theory about the effects power has on the brain. Conduction of this test includes wrapping the heads of powerful individuals with a cranial-magnetic-stimulation machine.

The cranial-magnetic-stimulation machine measures motor resonance. It also measures activation of brain networks. During the study, powerful people observed others in a specific task or action. These same people were documented doing an action independently from others. The equipment also measures neural activity while exhibiting empathy or rather lack of empathy.

Moreover, researchers prepared two groups. One was made up of very powerful individuals. The second group was clearly without power and influence. Results showed the group of powerful people severely lacked people skills. In fact, they were morally bankrupt.


Forty-five volunteers were primed for the experiment. First calculated were feelings of powerlessness, neutral or powerful. Afterward, a hand squeezing a ball video was viewed by the volunteers. The equipment highlighted areas in the brain that generate empathy.

These powerful people’s brain scans revealed a significant drop in empathy. When powerful people disconnect from reality, it’s as if their brains have been re-wired. A sense of grandeur, delusions and complete disconnection of reality ensues.

Also, other personality disorders tied in with similar symptoms noted from the study. In brief, some of the disorders are a Narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.


Power Alters Brain Function Similar to Head Trauma
Power Alters Brain Function Similar to Head Trauma

The brain

The brain is the organ that controls the nervous system. Whether voluntary or involuntary, the brain sends messages through pathways called neurons. These neurons communicate with each other through chemical impulses.

The possibility of altering these pathways exists. When we all were young, we developed patterns of behavior, and our relationships developed. Perhaps, some of the patterns were positive, and some were negative. By the time a person is an adult, many of these patterns become subconscious. The neural pathways become ingrained. Much like digging a road, chemical impulses will follow the same path.

Only through the introduction of other chemicals or a conscious willingness to change patterns of behavior will revamp the pathways already established. It could explain how a person could be empathetic and compassionate. However, with life changes, experiences will revert the neurons and their chemical impulses in a variant direction. Feasibly this could change an individual’s personality.


Drugs can do the same thing.

For instance, depression causes routes of neurons and their synapses to follow a certain course. Likewise, taking an anti-depressant drug will redirect the course and chemical impulses. It what happens with many drugs. Though, altering brain stimulation can change our lives and create new life experiences. It could even change our subconscious neural patterns.


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