Powerlessness Corrupts by Rollo May

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Human, Psychology Pages: 1 (310 words) Published: September 20, 2001
Rollo May, in his essay "Powerlessness Corrupts", makes the assertion that a prolonged period of powerlessness corrupts kind, innocent people. He makes this connection based on his profound knowledge of psychology. He states that individuals need a sense of belonging to the human race. People that do not develop this belonging, this human attribute of society, tend to develop a timid personality that renders them powerlessness to face the challenges each new day brings forth.

Unfortunately, as Edgar D. Friedenberg stated, "All weaknesses tend to corrupt, and impotence corrupts absolutely." According to Freud, " The ego may control or repress and instinctual wish (in this case belonging to a society), but this does not eliminate the wish. Although the act of repression demonstrates the strength of the ego, in one particular it reveals the ego's powerlessness and how impervious to influence are the separate instinctual impulses of the id." When people are timid and passive, they are often exploited, thus agreeing with Freud's theory. And also according to Freud, "if a substitute or alternative expression of an instinctual need is not available, then a neurotic symptom is likely to result." May also agrees with Freud's theory, and restates it for his purposes as ‘powerlessness corrupts'. These often innocent, timid people reach their breaking point, the onset of a neurotic symptom. Often these patients become exact opposites of their old, passive selves, and take on a rage of uncontrollable violent aggression.

Unfortunately, May's theory can also be applied to American society. Adolescents, when discriminated against and persecuted by their fellow peers sometimes reach a breaking point, which recently has been in the form of mass murders. These types of incidents are very tragic, but they only further emphasize the point that if these people had just one person to talk to, they would not do these acts.
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