The intoxication of power: From neurosciences to hubris in healthcare and public life


There is increasing interest in neurological examinations of leadership behaviours and pathologies. The Royal Society of Medicine examines current research ideas

On Tuesday 9 October 2012, The Royal Society of Medicine, in association with the Daedalus Trust set out to explore aspects of the pathology of leadership and decision making: how it may be understood and what may be done about it.

The meeting acknowledges the origins of the concept of the Hubris Syndrome as being postulated by Lord David Owen. Dr Owen who was listed as a participant on the day.

“Exciting developments in cognitive, affective and social neuroscience and constantly evolving systems of commissioning, business and governance in healthcare, together with relentlessly changing cultures in society make this a timely, even essential conference.

The aim of the conference will be to integrate emerging knowledge from neuroscience, social sciences and organisational governance to nourish benevolent leadership and create effective constraints to hubris and related conditions.

How can we contain hubris and nourish benevolent leadership?
How can we prevent collusion with hubris in groups and develop effective governance constraints?
How can we create cultures of cooperation, accountability, creativity and effectiveness in diverse institutions in society?”

Does social networking “rot the brain”?

An earlier LWD post [February 2009] asked whether social networking was causing neurological changes. The topic has prompted fierce debate about possible changes to neural connections through too much time spent on the computer.

The dark side of leadership

Leadership studies have increasingly identified a ‘dark side’ to the exercise of power. In particular, the charismatic leader stands accused of operating often through narcissistic personality characteristics. The new more clinical approach seems to offer more insights into this important avenue of research.

One Response to The intoxication of power: From neurosciences to hubris in healthcare and public life

  1. Harry Gray says:

    Thanks for raising this issue which has been rumbling along under the surface for a long time. i think there are various levels of dysfunctionality ranging from simple complexity through personal disorders consequent upon position to to deep psychological disorders. The pathology of organisations has been neglected for too long.. Quite a number (if not all) behaviours generally considered desirable in a leader have a downside and a pathology. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for instance, may be more common than imagined in administrative positions particulalry in high level support positons

    Harry Gray

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