The Biology of Power
The author of the well-known Biologie des passions, which revealed the mysteries of the brain, and of many other books, Jean-Didier Vincent, professor at the Institut universitaire de France and in the medical school of Paris-Sud, is a member of the Académie des sciences.
Following many experiments carried out on humans and animals, biologists and specialists in the neurosciences agree on the universality of the domination carried out by an individual, or a group, on others. At a very yearly age, our brain grapples with notions of imitation, empathy, and charisma, a desire for justice and humiliation, of violence and appeasement, managed by the flow of a few crucial molecules – hormones called oxytocin and vasopressin – controlled by the famous testosterone.
It is quite possible that Planet Earth is experiencing the beginning of a historic upset: the transition from an age-old form of governance founded on fear and violence – dictators and terrorism proliferating – to the much more subtle, and apparently democratic, digital power, which is seen increasingly every day. And yet, though in new forms, the same power is being perpetuated. This is why Jean-Didier Vincent here raises the question of the biological bases of power.
Fascinating, and disturbing, because Dr. Vincent’s strange molecular mix can also be applied to the wiring of romantic desire and to those that lead to the creation of political monsters.