Politics, an Auction

All living beings are still here because very soon, from their early stages as unicellular had to learn to distinguish the good from the bad. In human beings this biological archaism is also transferred to their mind and if education, training and other characteristics that make it human are not developed it does not discriminate, qualify and decide good or bad by distorting what it perceives. It is an explanation of why we take drugs, a subject that prompted me to write a book some time ago. It was a vital necessity, but given its origin as survival is usually taken from the largely unconscious primitive emotions, from the dissociation of the personality with which you preach a thing and do the opposite. We value the virtuous, but we lift up the predator. We preach, but we do not get to the point.

All this makes sense to a psychopath who attacks, but first creates divides to weaken civil society, to take away power, to question the institutions that hinder their demolition projects: the monarchy, teaching, religion, national reconciliation that gave rise to the Constitution that we have. The silly democracies, as Fidel Castro defined them and Chaves and the rest that remain alive. Attacking democracy by speaking its language. They condemn the extreme right and settle with the extreme left, and with all those who attack our unity. “Now Spain” but now pact with the anti-Spain.

“The discredit of the leaders has also brought back into public view the current political class’s weak agenda. A good part of the representatives and senators have never worked outside politics. That is to say, they are neither socially nor laborally representative of Spanish society”, says Joaquín Leguina.

Antipathy and Division

Psychiatrists can know what a manipulative, contradictory, non-empathic psychopath or narcissist is. Even though he fakes it, he uses hatred because it unites many resentful people for different reasons. But such a character is interested in power, money and uses the collective soul to awaken hatred. He uses social division as a weapon to conquer and perpetuate it. They are already divided, and those who are against me have already lost strength. Here and in all the nations, characters with these characteristics are activating the wild, unconscious power of the human animal giving free expression in incendiary protests in different parts of our world.

In this way, they manipulate social groups by provoking antipathy, division instead of belonging to a Nation for all, breaking the continuity in which we were living. The same or similar can be said of almost all Western regimes. In the elections and in Spain they have also used war techniques pointing out, slandering the ” enemy “, provocation, transgression, seeking clashes with those within the cordon sanitaire through incoherent struggles. It is not that they say, publish and assert something and the next day the opposite is that it is a matter of creating instability and impotence in the citizen, it is their political tactic here and in other nations.

Their word is worthless because behind what they say is another hidden intention, a characteristic of psychopaths; we have lost confidence in politics, in politicians, and incidentally we doubt the institutions. “Leaders of the parties as authentic satraps who have made the exchange of positions and the discrepancy disappear.”

With its populist agendas, which in no case are the fruit of empathy, if not a tactic to replace what religions have already offered for centuries, helping the underprivileged. In wanting to eliminate them, they keep that role, but as a niche of voters professing the faith of the coal miner and communion with mill wheels. It is like saying that they are breaking the distinction between the true and the false, as Cervantes demonstrated to us eternally in Don Quixote, that ideologue of the laws of chivalry. Capital had not yet been written, nor had Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, his Gospel. Ideologues have a problematic relationship with reality when they look at it, be it political, economic or social. They demonstrate it by creating distrust and uncertainty because their word lacks value, their speech, their promise, is replaced by another one overnight attacking the intelligence of the citizens they despise.

The Mind of Schizoids

I believe that in many nations immature people are being chosen as leaders, as managers, who, as I have said, are narcissists, arrogant, with almost all the traits of a psychopath, who has no other values than their own progress. With their immature, insane personality, their schizophrenic mind between the good ones and the cordon sanitaire; they activate our brain that in itself is already beginning to look for culprits on the outside, with basic categories and thick strokes needed to locate the evil. And they come out victorious because they have teams that transform them into something that coincides with the primitive mind stimulated by their marketing knowledge and unscrupulous advisors like them. These subjects manipulate, reactivate this whole schizoid mind of ours. We would say that the political struggle they sustain is a toxic of great power for the mind. Intoxicated minds vote with their noses covered and blindfolded. Because their political struggle, their behavior and their way of entangling, distorting, lying, is undermining health, thought, reflection and the freedom to think at the plantarian level. We are giving power, or they are taking it, to people capable of destabilizing collective mental health. Their ultimate aim is absolute power without opposition and democracy hinders them with its separation of powers, the institutions, the army as it is, which must also be an assembly, private property and those who have made a fortune with their work. Envy is an engine of great power to activate predatory instincts of these characters who want everything.

That is why they have turned politics into an auction, in which Spain is sold in portions and those who want to destroy it brazenly bid. A bid for money and perks sold as progress, as a progressive union. At last we have “The first progressive government of democracy”. There is no need for a platform, no need to explain anything, no need to understand what that statement means, it is silly, it is exposed to the gullible. Questioning it may be fascist. But the pure and hard truth is that these people who vote or who install themselves in power given our democratic ingenuity, are representatives of citizens who, like them, have their own instincts, their own ideological values, their vision of everything for themselves and things must be very basic because it is what is best digested mentally. You and I vote with the one we identify with, who looks like us. Tell me who you’re hanging out with and I’ll tell you who you really are!

There’s no point in criticizing politicians or their voters. For the rest, what can be expected of citizens suckled by television, addicted to telephones, with a History fabricated to perpetuate division, leaving aside culture, art, science and values. But with football, influencers and social networks. With the Spanish language spoken by male chauvinists in Catalonia and Andalusia without being able to climb a podium with the Spanish flag. It’ s like having no leader.

José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena 
Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis

Repetition (II): Side B

Another article about electoral debates on television? Another article about the six debates broadcast, two from RTVE, two from La Sexta, one from TVE-3 and one, the first to be held, from Barcelona Tribuna-La Vanguardia? I prefer to read them, some may say, rather than seeing them (as a diet for a single week is a gravelly digestion).

But, an article about those television debates after the elections themselves, after a tough campaign and a bitter election night for almost everyone? There is a serious risk that the attention has gone irretrievably to another chapter of the endless political series, no less dramatic, but more peaceful, just because of exhaustion. Or that the ravaged taste for so much post-analysis does not want to know more about candidates and parties for some time.

However, for the benefit of inventory, and with the advantage of looking back in perspective at an object still close, the imprint of several practical lessons, of some small progress, of certain possibilities worth exploiting, appears more clearly. There are already journalists, it is fair to say, television professionals, who have drawn conclusions about it.

A matter of formats

I would say that if one thing has become clear, it is that the format of the debate must guarantee good behavior, a presentable behavior, not irreproachable, on the part of the politicians involved. What does this mean and how is it achieved?

These television spaces do not work as correctional facilities or are childcare centers, but they cannot respond to the populist model (for using the word for once with propriety) that induces conflict as an inexhaustible, inextinguishable form of spectacle, which is the case for much of the programming of Tele 5 (where you can see things like “Big Brother 7: the Debate”, don’t forget).

In reality, the format of debate is generally split, so journalists pick up on it, between the desire for a lively and close dialectical exchange, which can border on acrimony and demagogy, and the requirement of rigor in what is said . And the common thing is that one thing is detrimental to the other. Not losing faith that both extremes are compatible and that the best debates occur when the two are combined must be the guiding key.

All this comes to mind this week: the contrast between supposedly more “loose” debates that ran, and fell, at the risk of deteriorating, of becoming monothematic (about Catalonia) and rude, and debates in which one stricter format, more “guarded” forced the participants not to carve their own way for fear of ending up in a ditch and not to drive in opposite lane and run over the one that coming straight ahead respecting the rules. This was the case of the women’s only debate on La Sexta on Thursday, November 7, and at the subsequent round table led by Antonio García Ferreras, journalists were well aware of that advantage.

The difference may seem superficial to an unthinking spectator, but it can also be considerable. Consider the first debate of TVE, where the obsession of the moderator (and moderated) Xabier Fuertes for “favoring the debate.” He let it flow spontaneously and it was overshadowed at times when instead of opinions intersecting, voices overlaped , nullifying the speakers in the legitimate usage of their words.

In these cases, the worst, the most reductionist and obsessive are imposed on the most courteous, who seem to appear without support, (see the difference between Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo and Inés Arrimadas against Irene Montero and Adriana Lastra in that same RTVE debate).

Here we run into a big problem in Spanish public life. Namely, the usual: the rules are one hand and, on the other, the way to ignore them. If the usual way of driving is more for breaking them than for respecting them, the end result is that everything degrades and those who take advantage have their heyday. Ergo, what is penalized, in the end, is respecting the rules.

That is why we must guarantee equal opportunities. There is no point in getting caught up with the technical excellence that time is controlled by professional sports referees (as highlighted in the first debate on RTVE along with the one on Sexta Noche conducted by Iñaki López) if there is no guarantee that you can play fair without fear of unregulated attacks on the contrary.

It would not hurt, it should be added, and with irony, that journalists were the first to lead by example. Before it began, the debate on Sexta Noche seemed more civilized precisely by comparison with what it had seemed, the usual Saturday night, with its confrontations, and little uplitfing between “hacks” of the opposing sides (more exclamation than admiration.) Which brings us to the melancholic questioning of whether the public space will be polluted by even more bad blood that runs in the media than by the bile of politicians.

Side effects

But there is an added effect that should not be forgotten. When the debates focus on campaign obsessions, the rest (of the issues, of the interests, of the programmatic points) is relegated in such a way that it is only cited as a recipe book or shopping list, as an addition. Politicians must learn that everything is important, and journalists should not only remind them, but urge them to discuss it. And that is easier in a block format.

It could be said that they all follow a block format, but a nominally thematic debate is not the same as another in which the moderator obliges to stick to the subject and interrogates with precision.

Thus, it is obliged (I emphasize this) to focus on specific issues, so politicians can offer feasible proposals. An example would be Ana Pastor (the journalist) asking for precise measures to combat climate change. Since Vox does not seem to believe in the phenomenon, Rocío Monasterio was exposed.

Know how to be and be without knowing

With caution as a rule, but not as a limit, candidates must know clearly what they want to get out of a debate and how to achieve it. Communicate directly with your constituents, beat the adversary, lead the debate. For better or worse?

Being the leader of the debate does not mean winning it, this means what it means, especially if more rejection is generated than connection.

This is still Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo’s problem, he has not given the impression of being even more arrogant than aggressive. Rather, it is said that his rhetoric is basically one of opposition, rather than propositive, of aspiring government, as if he were in an intense debate in Parliament. But it is also a competition problem. If the PSOE is attacked, it cannot be done with only strong words, these must be backed up with data and names and dates and cases.

It is remarkable that Iván Espinosa de los Monteros gave a much more “professional” impression for that precision when offering data and percentages (raising expressively, though curious, only the right hand). In general, Vox speakers adapted to the various formats to get the most out of them. They did not run the risk of their colleagues on the right, and rehearsed other behaviors, so that they appeared earlier as aggrieved offenders than as aggressive offenders (except, perhaps, in the case of Ortega Smith). I speak of the forms, not of the background.

I cannot fail to cite the most virtuous example in its way of explaining itself, of making the measures of a program tangible, of accepting general faults instead of throwing them on others, of pursuing a constructive rhetoric and a governance objective (in name, oh paradox, of a party that only appears in three provinces).

It’s Aitor Esteban, from the PNV. Aitor for President, Esteban to La Moncloa! There will be those who say that with age comes wisdom, that their concern is only that of the “Basque agenda,” but their technique of “sharing” with the viewer and maintaining the flow without ever disregarding the forcefulness (such as in his grabs with the representatives of Vox), he deserves to be studied carefully.

Ideology as rhetoric

It would be a joke to affirm that there has been something like “ideological” debate or true confrontation of ideas, like Ignacio Urquizu usually claims. But “ideological” rhetoric, even if conceptually misplaced, could not be absent.

It is even symptomatic that the word shines by its absence, the favorite of recent years, was “populist”, and instead the term “communist” has returned vigorously. Perhaps this is because, if it had been “populist”, it would have had to be used to refer to Vox.

We are already referring to the Anglo-American conservative variety for some Vox proposals. Along with this, we saw Monasterio paraphrase Margaret Thatcher’s famous address at her entrance on Downing Street in 1979, based on a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi.

Men and women

The insistence on the necessary parity in the composition of the electoral lists and the search for equality between men and women so that they cannot be absent from any political space made, by default, the main debate on Monday, 4 November at the Academy of Television, seem intolerablely male. It is a sign both of progress, because we cannot stop feeling it that way, and of regression.

The photo of the five men, much younger than canditates of the past (according to statements today in vogue), costume dolls, jackets without ties or ties without jackets, well planted and aggressive, bordered on shocking or ridiculous. The image replicated in the viaral Team “E ” video caricatured online.


And it added, by the way, a counterproductive “aesthetic” effect. All the leaders are less than fifty years old, there are no bald or large-bellied candidates. They all have a good facade and all are, seen together, more threatening than empathic. They are no “pack”, of course, but think of a debate in which the participants were, it is a guess, Rajoy, Iceta, Girauta, Lllamazares and Vidal Quadras. It would have also seemed to us unbearably masculine, but perhaps not so toxic.

Hence the initiative of La Sexta, to counteract, since it does not counterprogram, with a debate of women only. This debate is more successful, especially since it was more orderly and clear.

It is something that society and politics have to fix, something for which television has no choice, only relief. But as long as there remain, by default, debates of only men, they will have to be compensated with all-female debates, although both are, in the end, ultimately rare.

Check, contrast, deny

If we also believe that the last word is that of the voter, it is imperative that the politicians be examined by a reliable body after the electoral debates. It is good news that the work of checking, contrasting and refusing the claims, fallacies or hyperbolts with what is known as “fact-checking” has become a result of debates. Initiatives like or Newtral – Journalism, fact-cheking, technology and data could not be more welcome.

Only, as there is already an Ombudsman on many channels, these departments should exist in all of them, starting with those of public ownership.

And Lastly…

What genre do television debates belong to? Nowhere is it written that they have to be entertaining and, much less, fun (although it is convenient to serve them with a huge sense of humor). Unlike its cousin, the election night, more dynamic and exciting (although potentially more frustrating), the demands made on the electoral debate do not always depend on what the television media asks.

But do not resign yourself to everything being scorched earth. It can be sown waiting for something to grow. Since discussions are necessary, they must be clear and instructive, and educational by the speakers. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that they have become more frequent, more plural and perhaps more robust. They are improvable, that is, not as an expression of good wishes but as a possibility technically, journalistically, and politically feasible. And those who do not improve them will be evident.

Related Article: Repetition (I): Side A

Pablo Carbajosa

Head of Public Speaking at Proa Comunicación

Arsonists and Rapists

We are surprised that a crocodile is so tender as to transport the eggs, from one place to another until their children are born, or that a panther is loving and takes great care of its children. In another scene we will see both with unusual ferocity. That is the functioning of all brains and ours. It goes from empathy to fierce attack.

What happens, however, is that all other animals do not project their mental, biographical contents, their envy, their revenge; they have no inhabitants in their mind, no personal stories, no nefarious characters to attack by projecting them outside. For animals’ attacks need no explanation because they are a part of their livelihood.

Humans are inhabited by biographical stories, by group pressures and other incentives to break down the norms that prevent us from being the panther that attacks. Beings with weak defenses to control their instincts of death in this case are credited as limited development as human. A rapist wants to kill the essence of a person. And an arsonist hates life, wants revenge. I treated one, the attack was against his father, projected in a pine forest. A person with an emotional blockage and weak intelligence.

Crowd of humans living and imitating. Influencers have been created for them. Until it becomes a way of life. And at the bottom of this are the rapists, of the arsonists.

The fact that the visual media puts the image of a fire in detail but never a detailed description, made by biologists, environmentalists and other experts that describes the terrible damage that it causes in everyone’s lives, makes people see only what it is to them. In many cases, they see the fire sexually. This human crocodile has gone on a fierce rampage, and the day before yesterday, it was a kind being. And let it be known that the catastrophe of the Canary Islands was produced by a man who was on the street with charges. It indicates that society, all of us, the judges and the politicians who legislate, have a vague, diffuse feeling of what fires mean for the planet and climate change. I accuse them and my neighbors who let the trees on their sidewalks dry from the cold indifference of their gaze, the same that can be seen in the eyes of the cat before an attack. It is the lack of sensitivity to feel the living.

The rapists, apart from moving to a brain function with structures of the predatory animals that we have deep inside, also imitate. But there is something else, they do not know human sexuality, they are frustrated because the organ only works if there is violence, not discussion with their partner. They don’t know love-sex. And another thing is that they do it in a group to show friends that they are manly men, that the whole pack is, because like all imitative beings they don’t know, nor are they sure if they are man enough or not. That is why we get up every morning fearing the appearance of another pack. Or another imitative behavior, the last one resulting in falling off a cliff taking a selfie, another imitation behavior to belong to the group of “self-expression,” to feed a slight exhibitionism from belonging to a group.

Finally, the media must be accused of ignoring the fundamentals of being human, actually, in part, they live on it, of addressing that elementary part with their garbage televisions and their headlines of the most eccentric, violent or villaneous. I think they are activating imitative personalities, personalities “as if” they are presenting them a situation to imitate.

Already politicians who do not perceive nature, or science, or culture instead manifest themselves in their programs and behavior, rather than human improvement.

José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena 
Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis

Let’s Talk About Politics

All living creatures, and even some viruses, live, like us humans, in groups. We are able to refer to you by your individual identity and we can think. But we all have experiences that according to the group in which we exist, aspects, resources, qualities and even defects that are set in motion, which individually or in pairs do not appear. The politicians of these inauguration sessions, if we think about it, I think it is clear that they have been subjected to group dynamics, large groups or couples, with clear and latent dynamics.

When we are in a group we can enter into regression, for example, groups with messianic or righteous expectations, resorting to excite simple emotions without doubts, with saving certainty. Or we can be in groups who live in a moral superiority, which is like being healthy in a leprosarium, or formerly in a tuberculosis sanatorium, hygiene must be a priority in the danger of obvious contagion. And they launch the cordon sanitaire. I become stubborn, I defend myself with the maximum ferocity, even if I do not know very well who I am and my place is not well defined, I fear losing what little I know, I need not one but many barriers. The left must be aware that it does not have much space to be recognized with ideological presuppositions of the last century, especially now with the globalization of nonsense, of the news, of the economy, of the way of dressing. They should have talked about how our future is going to be fixed as we grow in complexity and yet they continued with their rattle, with their short vision of left and right, as insults: The rights, the right wing! The image of a degraded mother projected to her working language of demolition and activation of archaic emotions of the jungle.

Attack group is one of the definitions of this type of group. Attack group, dependent group, faithful group. These dynamics have something in common, their members are trapped by simple, archaic, survival emotions, attacked solely for what they project to those on the outside. Attacked by the power of others, which destroys anyone’s desire for it, with the sole purpose to impose their ideological superiority. Well, in that aspect the beloved group functions like a herds of animals, fighting for territory, imposing an alpha male etc. To summarize: it does not fit in their minds that we all have partial truths, truths limited by our beliefs or specialties, so to know, analyze and solve complex issues, we need the partial visions of everything and that would be what we call task groups, or working: democratic groups. And for this task few human beings can lead this group.

The Prefrontal Brain 

It is followed in hospitals, when two Siamese twins are being separated for eight hours, in which doctors and other staff take turns, each one focused and contributing their knowledge. That is the work group, all in a similar state of mind aware of their identity and working for those who pay them their salaries, the citizen, the citizens in this case. This is how you work in hospitals, in high science groups, because they live in the reality that without the task group, nothing complex can be undertaken. A nation is in the highest degree, and this one, ours, where politicians, like all citizens, are unable to agree to form macro-cooperatives, to understand what is happening in the countryside, which one of our diseases will afflict us, the lack of science, research, role models for youth, in short, hundreds of issues that should have been put on the table and discussed with the partial vision of each group to coordinate a global response.

Politicians may be not be conscious of these strategies, and of course I do not even think they have been trained in group work techniques, and the consequence is what we have seen in the Chamber, subgroups, each with its dynamics and in turn in a group dynamic big. It was a situation of mutual barriers that occur when our mind has been tied to a particular group dynamic, which can only see what happens here and now. What endangers my narcissistic belief, my personal and collective ego. Emotions slow the functioning of what we have in the brain, they are exclusively human, the rest, the prefrontal brain, is equal to all the bugs that fly or walk.

Those of us who have been doing group therapy for fifty years, large groups in companies, group dynamics of whole families and couples therapy perceive, feel, understand and see how intricate it is to lead one of these groups and the enormous amount of detail that escapes us. One brain alone, even as a trained therapist, I don’t think I can see too much what is happening in a group. That is why we resort to observer help with members of the group itself when there are no colleagues on hand to do co-therapy. In this case, we are the citizens, the media, which we observe the situation, in this case, to be quite desolate.

When you are in a group your vision shrinks, you stop seeing the contour and everything you feel, see and act shows that your mind is intoxicated and that you see very little of what happens outside your group. We see it every day when a reporter tells us, microphone in hand, about the terrible hail storm, but we do not see that field, in this case thousands of hectares of shattered Rioja vineyards. A new concert opens in town and the reporter, talks to a neighbor who gives his impressions of this new orchestra, but we are left wanting to listen to it, flooded in a talk in which the reporter must justify his presence at the event. We don’t want to hear from him but rather the music of this new band. The machinery fair: another reporter with the same routine, and we want to see the exhibition. These examples mean that we are very limited when we see things from our ideology, group, belonging and affiliation, from our formation, our party or our professional specialty, and the television network broadcasting.

That has to do with the debate of some gentlemen who, when sitting in the Chamber, have forgotten what they are there for, have won their position by the delegated vote of citizens and have forgotten it. Now he devotes himself to his dynamics. They no longer see what happens outside, in the villages, to the laborious civilian, in Europe, in the world, the threats of an arthritic and bureaucratic Europe, which will be surrounded by research, science, commerce, planning long term from China, India and some others. All of that disappeared from the voters when deciding their vote and now, in the seats of the Chamber that are there because we have worried for months until we limited our minds into functions that do not go beyond three years of age. For the infant, the future does not exist, and parents are still as idealized and holy gods. As the voters of those gentlemen who are dogmatically clear that society needs a deployment of social engineers, people to people, brain to brain, where they have to erase any idea or belief that competes with their messianic and dogmatic proposal.

The Emotion Factory and Other Components

Every living being has a genetic program: survive and repopulate. But as humans it is complicated, because development is usually not as perfect and more complicated than other species, we are half finished in many aspects, and we have to complete, plug, rebuild, repair and finish off our vital infrastructure that, in general, is not finished

Here comes what we choose. Many choose a profession that has to do with these deficiencies. Many politicians, I believe that always the dogmatists, extremists and messianic, have chosen this profession as a means of repairing, rebuilding these deficiencies and deficits of education in the very first years. Well, to the extent that someone has not finished their development, they need to join a group that ends it, or at least sustains their weaknesses, plug their doubts. If you have many, you need dogmas, wholeness. They are the membership groups that need to project and even attack those outside sets of aspects that their structural weaknesses cannot support and create attack groups for what has been externalized.

On the other hand, family and school education has ignored the need for everyone to recognize within themselves what drives them, motivates them and keeps them tied to an addiction, to an affiliation, why they have chosen a certain vital destiny. We conduct ourselves as if there is not a whole enormity of structures under the modern cortices of our brain, which, in all types of brains, are the factory of emotions, instincts, pleasure, aggression, and other components necessary for organisms to live . This could be summed up by saying that 80% of the brain is made up of processes below consciousness. This says anatomy and neuroscience, and we, as a collective culture, deny it, we do not believe that the unconscious exists. Although as seen in the inauguration debate, almost everyone tried to excite us and put us in an emotional state that tends to remain closed and decide our votes against someone. This is how we want our team to score goals, and we are “del Betis manque pierda,” the saying of the Andalusian football club, Betis, meaning we are “with Betis despite the loss.”

All the groups that have been created for something are enrolled in intra-group dynamics and have often forgotten what they were founded for. In this case, we did not appear as a nation, but as a project, there was no talk but “policies” that can excite our emotions as spectators. By the way, the Sixth closed emission to Abascal’s first sentence, a magnificent definition of his ideology.

Our representatives do not know, I believe, of the scientific existence of the unconscious, but their intuition guides them correctly to do, stop doing, say or show what fragments us, divides and festers. Very accurate to, as it is disturbing, our mental health!


José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena 
Specialist in Psychology and Psychoanalysis

The Drug of Power

Our political leaders are repeating the same news. The mediated dramatism keeping us hostage daily to tighten their negotiations makes the last weeks since the elections seem years. But what happens to these figures when they come into contact with power?

This week Antonio Garrigues released his new poetry book, “Living Loves, Dead Loves.” It was an intimate and meaningful event in which several of his poems were recited. Carlos Rodríguez Brown read the last one, addressed to our political leaders, and as he read it, without realizing it, two tears slid down my cheeks. We all were shocked.

Juan Fernández-Aceytuno, director of the Appraisal Society, asked Mario Alonso Puig and me, “But what happens to these people?” And as if it was a cocktail party in which they were going to interrupt us at any time, the three of us agreed to sum it up: “they lose their way when they come to power.”

The question is why. None of us think that we will lose our way if we are suddenly given the maximum position of responsibility in our organizations, and yet it can happen to anyone. We only realize it “a posteriori,” when we look back and reflect on our own excesses.

I think the easiest way to understand the effect of power is to imagine it as an ocean current of oceanic proportions over which we must flow or surf in some direction. Those who have not had power cannot understand what it feels like to have it. It is like a boy thinking from the sand on the beach about what world surfing champions, who risk their lives at every moment on waves tens meters high, are doing badly. The rush of adrenaline and the physical effort they use are literally life or death.

Directing a country or rubbing shoulders with the global elite of the G20 generates the same effect. On one hand, so much force under our feet dislodges us physically and mentally. Our emotional reactions are so intense that they overflow, and our minds escape to some pleasant place of fantasy. The pressure of the phone, the enormous opportunities that open before us and the terrible blackmails that come to look for us like hungry sharks, burn our skin and take away so much sleep, that our minds escape to a state of self-inflated drunkenness. Same as a line of cocaine (I imagine).

That is why power is a drug, because as it saturates us or drowns us quickly, our minds create a scenario in which we are all-powerful and invincible. It makes us supermen and superwomen who can see from the heavens what is happening down there among mortals. And this, you will find very curious, is basically what victims of violent trauma do when their minds do not know how to face the sensory reality of what is happening to them. They separate from their body and watch the scene from the ceiling.

Power, therefore, pushes us to our maximum limit every moment of every day. It intoxicates us with self-elevating pleasure and enslaves us with its pressure and unpredictable movements, thus discovering, in light of everything, any defect in the form or substance of our personalities.

Learn to surf

So, for example, we have seen how Nicolás Sarkozy strives to appear taller than his super model wife in this week’s Paris Match photos. How can a man with the success and charisma he has still feel self-conscious about his height? Marrying a queen of beauty and Parisian sophistication has raised his status socially, but in doing so he subjected himself to the scrutiny of his own self-conscious gaze. Nobody cares about Sarkozy’s height more than Sarkozy.

The more power, the stronger the wave we must surf. And it is easier to dislodge ourselves, lose out footing, or even fall suddenly from our brand-new Buzz Lightyear presidents table: “To infinity and beyond!” aviator glasses, Falcon pose and everything.

The challenge is, therefore, in learning to surf the wave of power without fading out, without saturating ourselves, and without letting ourselves be drowned by the intensity of the emotions from a position of maximum influence. The years of experience with all their troubles, deceptions and failures help a lot. If you do crazy things for love, you also end up doing them to stay in power.

Like a crush that is too intense, there is no bigger disappointment than to suddenly recover sobriety and realize all the stupid and/or terrible things that you have done in order to win the duel of guns at any cost. And if you suffer several disappointments, each time you lose less in your fantasies, learning over the years to accept the reality.

Giving advice to the oceanic surfers of the G20, here from the disembodied beach of executive coaching in a country very resistant to self-questioning, I can only say one thing: everything that you invest in personal growth will prepare you to surf big and complex waves. Coaching-the thing that questions us and makes us see new things; not that of praise and promise of solving the problem – practicing meditation and mindfulness to better manage our own reactions and emotions, returning regularly to spaces of reflection, are the tools that work.

Surfing is learned by surfing. If you analyze how you failed every time you get off the board, you will improve your way of catching the waves. Without miracles or magic, but with effort and time. The one who always knows how to look in the mirror and find points to improve on ends up flowing with authentic tsunamis of power without clinging or hanging onto them. And these influential surfing champions are those leaders who impact with their vision and serve their hearts.


Pino Bethencourt 
Coach and founder of Club Comprometidos

Dick Cheney, the last politician in the shadows

A few days ago, in the pre-release screening of Vice in Spain organized by the journalism forum Conversaciones con, Pablo Pardo, correspondent of the newspaper El Mundo in the United States, characterized the almighty Vice President Dick Cheney´s relationship with the press, noting how “Cheney decided to elude the press, did not talk to the media, spent years without giving interviews and was proud of it.”

In this magnificent biopic directed by Adam McKay, one of the favorites to win in the race for the Oscars, this ignorance of the politician towards the media is quite well portrayed. It´s a contempt that’s also well explained on film. When one wants to accumulate power, more specifically grow powerful in the shadows, the means to achieve it clearly become a serious problem. If you can´t handle them (sometimes quite apparently so) it´s better to avoid them. Cheney’s strategy, in essence, was none other than flying under the radar.

However, it is interesting to see how in a few years, circumventing the media has become mission impossible for politicians. Perhaps it is still viable to avoid the interest of some important media, to look the other way when journalists ask at a press conference, to turn to the four rules of the corporate manual -the bad sort- in an intervention (“I’ve come to talk about my book and don´t ask me about anything else “) or even pull a television press conference just to be present … without being so at all. But what is not feasible is to pull the strings and accumulate power unnoticed by the magnifying glass of public opinion. Public opinion previously blew its horn on bedheads, through television networks or radio stations,  now boasting millions of speakers tweeting and posting on social networks. Information has ceased to be a coveted and rare treasure in the hands of the powerful, instead becoming a whirlwind of news where the broadcaster and receiver share roles and where many times the true role of the journalist is to separate the news from the fake.

Some people think that in companies, institutions, and therefore in politics, transparency is a decision. You can bet on being so or not. You can talk to the media or decide not to. You can generate discourse on the networks or simply not exist. The trend, however, leads many to consider transparency as non-negotiable. In fact, even politicians as reluctant to face the media as Donald Trump have had to surrender to the evidence that what you do in the shadows ends up coming to light, sooner or later. More and more, much sooner than later. For that reason, even those who reject the media have ended up turning to them, even if only to sow misinformation.

Today Dick Cheney´s position would be imposible. In fact most probably, the vice president will go down in history for – among other things – being the last politician who could operate with his back to the spotlight. Politics in the shadows is already history.

Ana Sánchez de la Nieta
Editor of Conversaciones con