Why Do We Follow Authoritarian Leaders? - Deepstash

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The Allure Of Authority

The Allure Of Authority

Many people are susceptible to follow and be ruled by an authority figure and obey commands that defy logic, reasoning and are also unfair or dangerous to others.

Fear is a powerful tool deployed by authoritarians, who make use of how a person’s brain processes information and handles emotions.

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Reasons How Authoritarians Control People

  1. Most people blindly follow a figure of authority due to an inbuilt culture of obedience, where positional power eclipses any sound judgement.
  2. Authoritarians ensure most of the information never reaches people, by discrediting or cutting off the information sources.
  3. They use incremental action by gradually increasing the demands that are made on others.
  4. They ensure that people don’t have any personal responsibility for their actions. Example: Managers hiding behind company policy to justify unfairness at the workplace.
  5. They use the power of fear by discrediting facts, scapegoating, polarization, and divide and rule tactics.

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The Two Roads Of Our Brain

Normally, we utilize the ‘high road’, the main regions of the brain (thoughtfulness and reasoning) before any information reaches the amygdala (region of emotional response).

When a brain reacts due to any kind of threat, the main brain regions are skipped as the ‘low road’ is taken, sending the information directly to the emotional processing region, activating stress, anxiety and fear-based reactions.

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How to Resist Authoritative Manipulation

  1. The practice of mindfulness enhances our emotional stability and cognitive ability, shielding us from the manipulations of authoritarians. The practice requires one to recognize and label our emotions, avoid the ‘low road’ of fear-based reaction.
  2. By being aware of and focused in the world around us, we can develop existential courage that is also called ‘hardiness’, increasing our ability to challenge, control and commit to our surroundings and events. It provides us with a greater sense of presence, enabling us to grow and learn.

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