Its biological nature and human elaborations

  • Maxine Sheets-Johnstone University of Oregon
Keywords: alpha males, war crimes, transformation of ‘the law of battle’, pan-animate territoriality, self-addicted leaders, Wotan


This article focuses on the evolutionary reality of power-driven competitive humans. It documents how evolutionary biologists describe successful power-driven males as ‘alpha males’ and later references Darwin’s extensively documented account of ‘the law of battle’ that drives male–male competition for females on behalf of reproduction. The article proceeds to show how male–male competition across species has been exapted by humans in their harming and killing of other humans in wars of all kinds: ethnic, religious, territorial, racial, and so on. The article questions whether war is an inevitable practice of humans. It continues by exemplifying wars in today’s global world; wars activated by power-driven autocratic leaders and their power-driven followers. The closest psychotherapy comes to recognizing the sickness of such power-driven humans is via diagnoses of narcissism that take addictions into account. Self-addiction, however, is not among the addictions taken into account. In effect, no matter the cost to other humans, power-driven self-addicted humans are not recognized as psychologically deficient but remain free to perpetuate their own glory.


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How to Cite
Sheets-Johnstone, M. (2022). Power: Its biological nature and human elaborations. Psychotherapy & Politics International, 20(4), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.24135/ppi.v20i4.10