Anamnesis of Three Powers: Translated from German, This Essay Is the Winner of a Student Competition Run by the University of St. Gallen (a CEMS Member School)

Article excerpt

If we want to reduce the complex phenomenon of power to a single equation, 'money equals power' presents itself as a possibility. However, upon more intensive examination, money appears to be more of a purely external measure of the dimensions of a particular form of power. If we define power as the level of possible influence on other people's behaviour; the forming of the environment according to one's own ideas and the superiority achieved over one's peers, then we take into account the relativity of power. After all, power needs obedient people for it to arise, subordinates for it to survive and it will fail because of courageous independent thinking. Power's ability to survive is linked to its subject, which also causes its weakening and its downfall. The search for the case histories of three powers led us into the practice of morbus potentiae, where the following three sets of medical notes can be found on the 20th century desk:

Medical notes 1 for economic forces: patriarchy

Dear colleague,

We are reporting on the examination of our mutual patient Potentia Patris et Viri from 1950 to 2001.

Reason for referral: chronic power atrophy.

Examination: analysis of the historic and current social structure.

Temporary therapy: moving domicile to countries with a stronger Roman Catholic influence.

Long-term therapy: change of habits, self-treatment and aiming for a harmonious symbiosis with female power.

Anamnesis: report on previous history

Social anamnesis: nourished by various intellectual trends, such as Aristotle's flowerpot philosophy and institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church, the power of fathers and men enjoyed perfect health for centuries. Roles were fixed; the pater familias was responsible for the well-being of his family and also kept all the decision-making power for himself. In the world outside the family, men possessed the power to mould economic processes and the institutional framework. The first direct subjects of this power to change were the supposed partners of the family fathers, that is to say housewives and mothers.


Previous illnesses: in a constant process of separation, they found their independence and therefore took the basis of the patriarchs' power away from them. The patient was never able to fully recover from this permanent weakening of its immune system and remained more susceptible to germs from its environment, for example voting rights for women first of all and then, later, the equal rights article in the German constitution.

Family anamnesis: parallel to the decrease in the power of the father and the entry of women into the workplace, the form of relationship represented by the family under one roof has developed into multiple forms of living, stretching from single mothers to childless career-oriented relationships to homosexual families. Institutions, which could be classed as members of the patient's family, and which supported the male-female role images for centuries, are also fighting against power atrophy. The priests, as spokesmen of the Church, are facing empty pews.

Current complaints: women and men have almost total equality in terms of educational opportunities and the chance for self-fulfilment. Chronic infection has also been inflicted on the patient by today's infrastructure, which has allowed many of the previous indispensable tasks of the mother to be separated from her actual person. Creches and day nurseries, microwaves and cable television divide these tasks among themselves and give mothers the time and freedom to enter the world of work. It is not only the subject of power that has changed: the pillars of this power in the environment are also collapsing and allowing new power relationships to emerge.


Laboratory results: endurance test with ECG (ergometrics)

When the power of men and fathers is put on the ergometer, its stamina points to quite considerable endurance up to a relatively high pulse frequency. …