The power-hungry need to be noticed

In his book “Evil” Roy Baumeister talks of a type of person who seeks power over others.  “Power refers to having an impact on other people, for better or worse. .. To be ignored, to be treated as irrelevant…frustrates people who have a high need for power… Rape, sexual harassment, and evil children’s teasing can be understood in terms of power motivation.  The Marquis De Sade, whose behavior inspired the word ‘sadism’ said that when he hurt people he got sincere and believable responses out of them. 
One French torturer said “When we’re dealing with those tough ones, the first thing we do is make them squeal; and sooner or later we manage it”.  He meant by ‘tough ones’ the victims that would not scream or cry or confess.  In a revealing comment, he added “That’s already a victory.”
To torturers, the victim’s tough resistance is a denial of their power.
Baumeister adds that a torturer benefits from “empathy”.  By understanding a victims vulnerabilities and feelings, he can hurt them more.  This doesn’t just apply to professional torturers; it also applies to anyone to tries to hurt anothers feelings.
I once talked to a Chinese man who said of his government – “They want all the people to believe one thing”.  You can see the kind of adoration some leaders cultivate in places like North Korea.   They want masses of people to adore them.  This is a kind of power-hunger as well.


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