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I always knew powerful people had blind spots – now neuroscience has proved it | Suzanne Alleyne



The thing that people with power don’t know is what it’s like to have little or no power. Minute by minute, you are reminded of your place in the world: how it’s difficult to get out of bed if you have mental health conditions, impossible to laugh or charm if you are worried about what you will eat, and how not being seen can grind away at your sense of self.

I am often in rooms with people who do not understand this, people more educated than me, more privileged than me – people who are so accustomed to having power that they don’t even know it’s there. I am a black woman in my fifties, I am neurodiverse, and I have multiple mental health diagnoses. Part of my job as a researcher and cultural thinker involves working with leaders in the arts, business and politics, supporting them to see the one thing they can’t: the effects of the power that they wield.

But just pointing out this disparity can leave people feeling defensive. It can get you labelled an “angry black woman”. In the past, when I started to tell people about what it felt like to have no power, and how hard it was to understand, they didn’t listen. So I turned to science, to understand the effects of power in your body, in order to bring evidence to what I already knew, and make people listen.

I call this research the neurology of power. It involves looking at the sociological explanations of power as well as the neuroscientific underpinnings. Being in a state of powerlessness leads to perpetual stress. That stress trains our bodies to be on the alert for it, compromising our productivity and happiness in situations where others – those who have never experienced that sense of powerlessness – are left to thrive.

Anyone who’s ever taken a few deep breaths, forced themselves to lower their shoulders or closed their eyes to regain their composure is aware that the brain and the body are in a constant feedback loop. We feel our thoughts and we think our feelings.

Researching these ideas brought me into conversations with leading scientists around the world. Prof Lisa Feldman Barrett, at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts general hospital, told me about a process known as “body budgeting”, or allostasis. She argues that, like a financial budget, our brains keep track of when we spend resources (eg going for a run) and when resources are deposited (eg eating). It is a predictive process, by which the brain maintains energy regulation by anticipating the body’s needs and preparing to satisfy those needs before they arise.

Feldman argues that this process is so fundamental to the architecture of the brain that it extends to our mental states. Our emotions arise from our brain’s calculations of the physical, metabolic needs of our bodies. Predicting a dangerous situation requiring us to flee results in physical changes and discomfort we register as anxiety.

This body budgeting has social effects. For instance, our ability to empathise with another person is dependent on our body budgeting. When people are more familiar to us, our brain can more efficiently predict what their inner state and struggles may be and feel like. This process is harder for those less familiar to us, so our brains may be less inclined to use up precious resources in making difficult predictions.

Sukhvinder Obhi, a professor of social neuroscience at McMaster University in Canada, told me more about how people with power often struggle to empathise with others. Because the brain makes predictions based on past experiences, these patterns are self-reinforcing. Often, powerful people learn to behave as if they have power. Powerless people learn to behave as if they have none.

This research legitimised what I always knew. Power wires the powerful for power; but it can also wire them against people without power. You can lose your empathy. And power is critical for wellbeing.

This empathy deficit has historically been a celebrated attribute among leaders – ruthlessness that allows people to make hard decisions without fear of the consequences. You can see it in political leaders of every political persuasion, from time immemorial. Today it feels particularly stark. It has left society divided, trust in powerful institutions eroded and policymaking driven by ideology rather than human experience.

We need a new kind of policymaking that puts people at the heart of the process. Policymakers need to start by listening, by sharing power with the people who really understand the nature of powerlessness and the effect of the policies they are writing. We can’t stay in this perpetual loop of those with power deciding everything. They are handicapped by their own privilege.

Many find this evidence about power uncomfortable to confront. I’ve spoken on panels, presented my arguments and had them disputed in public by senior academics, who later apologised privately, once they’d checked my references in full.

I shouldn’t need to lean on science to be heard and justify what I already know: that power is a limiting factor for our leaders and we need to make policy differently to counterbalance the power gap. This is a call to action: we can do things differently. Let’s try.

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Young U.S. squad ready for biggest test yet vs. Netherlands



A color clash of the ages: Red, White and Blue vs. Brilliant Orange.

A rising New World side brimming with young talent and hope against the greatest national team without a World Cup trophy on its résumé looking to recapture its glory.

It seems forever and three days ago that Christian Pulisic sacrificed a blow to his nether region to give the U.S. a 1-0 victory over Iran to put the Americans through to this knockout-round match with the Dutch.

And the 24-year-old face of the team, who is dealing with a “pelvic contusion,” has been cleared to play on Saturday after Friday’s training session.

“What I think is, it looks pretty good,” American coach Gregg Berhalter had said of Pulisic’s chances of playing before the U.S.’s final training session on Friday.

Pulisic told ESPN: “I’m going to do everything in my power, with this staff and medical team, to make sure that however long I can be out on that field, I’ll be out there giving my 110 percent no matter what. Because I owe it to this game, I owe it to this team, I owe it to the country back home. I’m going to do everything I can.”

The Americans will need to sprinkle that chutzpah Pulisic demonstrated with a combination of what made them successful during an unbeaten run in the group stage.

The task facing the U.S. is nearly as daunting as their game against England in the group stage. We could expect to see large stretches of the match using the deliberate shape they used against England which will allow the Dutch to see more possession. Like in the England match, it will be mixed with the direction and defensive midfield dominance of captain Tyler Adams that frustrated the English in a scoreless draw. The U.S. has not allowed a goal from the run of play in three matches.

But we likely will see a greater effort to impose the high-pressing style that was effective early against Wales (a 1-1 draw) and Iran.

The odds for the Americans to win are much closer, according to sportsbooks, than they were in the U.S.-England match.

The questions surrounding whether creative midfielder Gio Reyna will contribute were answered in part by Berhalter on Friday. Reyna’s only minutes thus far came in the last moments of the England game when the U.S. “needed a goal.” That indicates Reyna could see action in the second half of a tied match or if the Americans were to fall behind.

Like the Americans, the Dutch failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the national team had to reassess moving forward from a talented, aging generation that reached the 2010 World Cup final and finished third at the 2014 edition.

Americans like to compare the Netherlands to the Buffalo Bills in that Holland has reached the final three times and lost each one. Being that two of those final losses came in the 1970s (1974 to host West Germany; 1978 to host Argentina), the comparison may be more apropos to the Minnesota Vikings.

Those ‘70s Dutch teams revolutionized world soccer, using their “total football” approach of positionless players, exemplified by the legendary Johan Cruyff.

The current group is different, but imposing in its own way.

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Like a solid baseball team, the Dutch are strong up the middle with one of the best center backs in the world in captain Virgil Van Dijk and the deft-passing Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong. They also have seen the emergence of 23-year-old winger-attacker Cody Gakpo, whose transfer stock is rising after scoring a goal in each of the three group-stage matches for the Netherlands. Barcelona forward Memphis Depay also provides a threat the U.S. back line will need to monitor closely.

The Dutch are coached by 71-year-old Louis Van Gaal, who led the 2014 third-place side and has seen success in stints managing across top European clubs such as Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Much is also being made on the American-Dutch connections here as Berhalter spent several early professional years playing in the Dutch Eredivisie. Berhalter quipped about his Sparta Rotterdam side beating Van Gaal’s European champion from Ajax.

Right back Sergino Dest, whose brilliant header served up Pulisic’s goal against Iran, is a Dutch-American multinational. The 22-year-old is on loan from Barcelona to AC Milan after coming up through the Ajax system.

The history between the U.S. and the Netherlands is limited to just five friendlies and no meetings in international competitions. The Dutch lead the series 4W-1L-0D, but that American victory came in the last matchup in 2015 when the U.S. exploited the pace of left back/outside mid Daley Blind to rally for a 4-3 win. Blind, 32 and a favorite of Van Gaal, is still the starting left outside mid.

Fun storylines to be sure, but one of these sides will come out with a winning result on Saturday. Why not the U.S.?

“I truly believe that we can play anybody and we can beat anybody,” Pulisic told ESPN on Friday. “We got out of the group, which we can be extremely proud of. But now that we’re here, we’re not just OK with doing that.”

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Strep A: what are the symptoms and how can infection be treated? | Health



Six children in the UK have died after contracting strep A infection and health officials are warning parents and school staff to look out for its signs and symptoms.

While most people who get it will not become extremely sick, the highly contagious bacteria that cause the infection can, in some cases, cause serious illnesses, health complications and death.

What is strep A?

Strep A bacteria can cause many different infections. The bacterium is commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and lots of people have it without even knowing and do not come to any harm.

However, they can spread it to others who might become ill. People can catch it through close contact and from coughs and sneezes. Outbreaks can sometimes happen in places such as schools.

Most health issues caused by strep A are mild, but can range from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases. They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

What are the symptoms?

Strep throat is different from a regular sore throat and the pain can come on very quickly. Symptoms include pain when swallowing, fever and red and swollen tonsils – sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus.

The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands.

A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later that starts on the chest and stomach, then spreads. A white coating also appears on the tongue that peels, leaving the tongue red, swollen and covered in little bumps, which is often called “strawberry tongue”.

Impetigo is a skin infection which starts with red sores or blisters that then burst, leaving crusty, golden patches.

Very rarely, strep A can cause severe illness when the bacteria get into parts of the body that are usually free from bacteria. This is called invasive group A streptococcal disease.

What is invasive group A streptococcal disease?

Invasive group A strep disease can become a life-threatening infection in which the bacteria have invaded parts of the body such as the lungs, blood or muscles.

Two of the most severe but rare forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the “flesh-eating disease” and can occur if a wound gets infected. Signs of necrotising fasciitis include fever – a high temperature above 38C – severe pain and swelling, and redness at the wound site.

Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a rapidly progressing infection causing low blood pressure or shock, and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver and lungs. Early signs and symptoms of toxic shock may include fever, dizziness, confusion, rash and abdominal pain.

How can strep A be treated?

Strep A infections such as scarlet fever and impetigo are treated with antibiotics. After a full 24 hours of treatment, people are generally thought to no longer be contagious.

Anyone thought to have invasive group A streptococcal disease should seek medical help immediately. Antibiotics, other drugs and intensive medical attention are likely to be needed.

Why is strep A an issue now?

Public health officials told the Guardian there was currently no evidence that a new strain was circulating. The rise in cases and deaths is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria and increased social mixing after two years of Covid restrictions in the UK.

“We are seeing a higher number of cases of group A strep this year than usual,” Dr Colin Brown, the deputy director of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said in a statement released on Friday evening.

“The bacteria usually causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics. In very rare circumstances, this bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious illness – called invasive group A strep (iGAS).

“This is still uncommon, however it is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so that their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious. Make sure you talk to a health professional if your child is showing signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.”

Microbiologists believe that reduced mixing among children over the last two years may have caused a drop in population-wide immunity that may result in the UK experiencing an increase in transmission, particularly among school-age children.

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Bad Bunny es el más escuchado de Spotify tres años seguidos



CIUDAD DE MÉXICO — Bad Bunny extendió por tercer año su reinado como el más escuchado a nivel mundial de Spotify colocándose en el primer puesto de la lista de artistas y de álbumes del año con “Un verano sin ti”. Bad Bunny también alcanzó el cuarto y quinto puesto de las canciones más reproducidas a nivel mundial.

El astro puertorriqueño es el primer artista en encabezar tres años consecutivos la lista de favoritos en Spotify. En 2022 tuvo más de 18.500 millones de reproducciones en el servicio de música por streaming.

Al igual que en 2021, la segunda artista más escuchada a nivel mundial fue la estadounidense Taylor Swift, seguida por los canadienses Drake y The Weeknd así como la banda sudcoreana BTS. Swift es la más reproducida también como artista femenina.

“El hat trick (triplete) que hace Bad Bunny con tres años consecutivos siendo el artista más escuchado en todo el planeta no es poca cosa”, dijo el jueves Uriel Waizel, editor en jefe para música de Spotify México.

“Hay que celebrarlo, es un artista latino y está por encima de todos los monstruos y superestrellas del entretenimiento global”, subrayó, durante la inauguración de la Casa Spotify, un espacio en el centro de la Ciudad de México donde se presentarán de manera temporal experiencias inmersivas para que los fans vivan lo más escuchado del año.

“México y la Ciudad de México tienen muchísimo que ver en esto”, agregó Waizel sobre el logro de Bad Bunny. “Somos el principal país que consume reggaetón en el mundo. México también es una plataforma para que Latinoamérica salga al mundo y también el mundo entra a Latinoamérica a través de México”.

La canción más popular de 2022 es el éxito Harry Styles “As It Was”, con más de 1.600 millones de streams en todo el mundo. En el segundo puesto fue para “Heat Waves” de Glass Animals y por segundo año consecutivo “STAY” de The Kid LAROI con Justin Bieber. El cuarto y quinto puesto son de Bad Bunny, con “Me porto bonito” y “Tití Me Preguntó”.

Tras “Un verano sin ti” de Bad Bunny, el segundo álbum más escuchado del año fue “Harry’s House” de Harry Styles. La lista no cambió su tercer, cuarto y quinto puesto extendiendo el dominio de álbumes de 2021: “SOUR” de Olivia Rodrigo (3), “=” de Ed Sheeran (4) y “Planet Her” de Doja Cat (5), se aferraron a sus posiciones.

Los artistas más virales de 2022, cuya música se comparte con más frecuencia desde Spotify a las redes sociales, son: Taylor Swift en el primer puesto, The Weeknd en el segundo puesto, Bad Bunny en el tecero, BTS en el cuarto y Lana Del Rey en el quinto.

La letra más compartida a nivel global fue “Heat Waves” de Glass Animals, seguida de “Heather” de Conan Gray, “I Love You So” de The Walters, “Summertime Sadness” de Lana Del Rey y “Somewhere Only We Know” de Keane.

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