The plethora of commentary about the so-called abuse of power manifested by overt sexual harassment and assault apropos Harvey Weinstein among others, misses the point that these men, and many women too, who abuse their supposed power in the workplace and behind closed doors in suburban homes, are actually not abusing power but compensating for feeling psychologically powerless. With malevolent and malicious, even sadistic behaviour they exert only an assumed power bequeathed by a belief in their superior status, prestige and wealth. This behaviour subverts a real truth, albeit unconscionable, that they must exert power by oppressing others to feel powerful. It is not an abuse of power per se, but a pretentious disguise at being powerful hiding an innate sense of powerlessness. These people are more likely psychologically crippled by a sense of inferiority, impotency and inadequacy in their psyche, however invisible and unconscious.

When one genuinely feels a power of self it does not need expression by abuse of others; physically or psychologically. Eliciting cooperation and collaboration and achieving congenial relationships is not about playing power games, but regarding others with respect and dignity as individual human beings with integrity and fairness. This perspective is not about a presumed power accorded by title.

Sadly, the political landscapes of many countries is dominated by such abuse and leaders of yesteryear such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Franco are reincarnated as Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Xi Jinping and even some of the American, Australian and European politicians who denigrate and disparage their opponents to destroy them. The media and entertainment environs as has been revealed now for several months is replete with these people, gender irrelevant; so too many other workplaces and homes.

However, all the commentators I’ve read and heard seem ignorant and without insight by erroneously perceiving perpetrators of abuse as powerful, with no understanding that abusing a position of trust reflects powerlessness not an abuse of power. Certainly, these people might consider their roles as powerful, but that’s merely a façade of delusion denying internal and personal weakness. If you have to hit, sexually assault or harass someone to feel powerful or psychologically oppress another by put downs to inspire control, these behaviours embody a far more profound disturbance than an abuse of power. These people are sadists whose only means of feeling powerful is to oppress others with violence and ipso facto illustrating they actually have no psychological power over themselves. They derive a distorted pleasure by oppression, convinced they are acting out of selfless interest and care of another; be it to advance a career or maintain their selves as boss on the home front.

Reality indicates they are motivated by a sense of feeling powerless unable to achieve their aspirations any other way. By oppressing others, physically or psychologically, they can feel good about themselves, covering up their weaknesses and impotency with violence. As several commentators have also written, it is men who are abusing power without any cognisance that women are also just as reprehensible at work, at home and at play. It is not a gender, heterosexual, race or creed issue but permeates internationally across the socio-economic spectrum.