According to the Telegraph, it seems to have a similar effect.
Democracy, the separation of judicial powers and the free press all evolved for essentially one purpose – to reduce the chance of leaders becoming power addicts. Power changes the brain triggering increased testosterone in both men and women. Testosterone and one of its by-products, called 3-androstanediol, are addictive, largely because they increase dopamine in a part of the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens. Cocaine has its effects through this system also, and by hijacking our brain’s reward system, it can give short-term extreme pleasure but leads to long-term addiction, with all that that entails.
Unfettered power has almost identical effects.
. . .
Submissiveness and dominance have their effects on the same reward circuits of the brain as power and cocaine. Baboons low down in the dominance hierarchy have lower levels of dopamine in key brain areas, but if they get ‘promoted’ to a higher position, then dopamine rises accordingly. This makes them more aggressive and sexually active, and in humans similar changes happen when people are given power. What’s more, power also makes people smarter, because dopamine improves the functioning of the brain’s frontal lobes. Conversely, demotion in a hierarchy decreases dopamine levels, increases stress and reduces cognitive function.
But too much power - and hence too much dopamine - can disrupt normal cognition and emotion, leading to gross errors of judgment and imperviousness to risk, not to mention huge egocentricity and lack of empathy for others.
There's more at the link.
If that's the case, I have two suggestions.
- Can we add political power to the list of forbidden items in the War On (Some) Drugs, and jail those trying to obtain the stuff?
- As a form of treatment, can we please wean politicians off power and onto crack or ecstasy instead? The latter drugs will kill them in the end, but in the meantime they'll be much less dangerous to the rest of us!