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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