Editorial Writing Related to EI - File 1
Commentary on the articles "Emotional Intelligence Meets Traditional Standards of Intelligence" and "Models of Emotional Intelligence."
What is the right way to feel?
On effective regulation and management of emotions
On personality psychology and profiting from patients
On the Ciarrochi et al book, leadership in EI, the United States and my own mission
At times I think we have been living in the emotional dark ages. Thus sometimes I think what is truly needed, even more than emotional intelligence, is emotional enlightenment. Certainly, I was living in the emotional dark for most of my life, having learned from self-destructive models in my family and culture. It seems enlightenment is a fair word to use when an individual or a society gains a fundamental new understanding, and then incorporates this new understanding into a new way of life, one which is healthier for both the individual and the species.
So, though I have not yet defined the term to even my own satisfaction, as a start it seems emotional enlightenment would include realization of the importance of emotions and include giving them increased value in our lives. In their own ways, both Goleman and Mayer and Salovey have contributed to a more enlightened world in this respect. It seems it would also include understanding how emotions connect all humans and perhaps all life on a fundamental level, and how emotions have the potential to contribute to the advancement of humanity. I would also say that emotional enlightenment would include an elevation of human individuality. It would transcend any myth of sameness and equality and it would honor individual differences in a way which has never yet been done in human civilization. On these points, I would say Dan Goleman has fallen short of emotional enlightenment and Mayer and Salovey are headed in the right direction. Another facet of emotional enlightenment would seem to be a healthy balance between one's own feelings and the feelings of others.
I believe there is a connection between emotional intelligence and concept such as emotional enlightenment, but I don't believe they are the same thing.
To me emotional enlightenment implies something larger and more important, but something which would be much more difficult for the scientists to measure.
Commentary in response to my reading of "Emotional Intelligence Meets Traditional Standards of Intelligence" and "Models of Emotional Intelligence."
I can understand the author's concern about the integrity of the term emotional intelligence and the importance of a precise definition. The authors state that since their original work in 1990 they have tightened up their definitions of emotional intelligence while most others have widened the popular definition. Looking back, I see that I was one of those authors who projected my own beliefs, ideas and ideals into the term emotional intelligence, as so many others did. Since I am now a bit more "enlightened" I will be more careful in my use of terms.
Certain aspects of the article troubles me, however. I may address these at another time in more detail, but for now I will simply share a few concerns:
First, I am generally not a fan of tests. I believe we are already too obsessed with numbers and measuring things and that, increasingly, we are creating a world of test-givers and test-takers. I personally wish people would stop sending me emails about EQ tests and would spend more time trying to help the world become more "emotionally enlightened," as I have presented the concept throughout my site. It doesn't take an expensive test to see the consequences emotional sickness in the world.
On the other hand, a valid EQ test might help bring us a bit back into balance by adding status, influence and decision-making power to people who score highly on such a test. In other words, assuming EI is established as a legitimate form of intelligence, the value of people who were previously thought to be too sensitive, too emotional will rise, as John Mayer has conjectured, and such people will be taken more seriously. Also, children's emotional development may be taken more seriously. Perhaps also, this might help decrease what I believe is rampant emotional abuse of children. At any rate, the important questions are: who will be tested, why will they be tested, and how will the results be used.
- I am not 100% convinced that using music and designs are the most accurate way to measure someone's ability to identify emotions. A long time ago, I took the CD ROM version of their test and found it so tedious I got frustrated and quit the program without finishing it! In particular, I just couldn't take the music and designs idea seriously, though the story interpretation section seemed more plausible. I suppose I should make another attempt at the test again sometime, but it won't be for a while since it is back in Florida and I am off to Australia. Evidently though, these methods have proven to be a start that has provided some useful, statistically significant data, and I can't say I can think of a better way, except perhaps to use voices, since they can contain a lot of emotional information. Or perhaps videos of interactions, possibly just watching the non-verbal communication.
- I am not fully comfortable with how the authors measured a person's ability to "assimilate," understand and manage emotions. In particular, in the category of understanding emotions, I am concerned this might be more related to knowledge about emotions and knowledge about what are commonly accepted emotional "rules" than intelligence. John Mayer addresses this in a bit in the Psychology Today interview.
- I am not completely comfortable with the authors' basic assumption that there are certain "right" answers, nor with their use of consensus and "expert" opinion. I wonder how they tested themselves to be sure they were in fact experts! I personally believe it is very possible that one may be very highly emotionally intelligent yet not feel the same way others do or interpret things as the majority of others do in exactly the same situations. In fact, evolution itself depends on variance from the norm, so I am cautious about this area. Also, what is the "right" emotion or response for one person may depend on that person's individual nature, beliefs, values, upbringing or situation.
That said, I want to make it clear that I believe these three authors are working with integrity and are themselves concerned with these same kinds of questions. By raising these concerns, my goal is to help them become more precise in their measurement and definition of emotional intelligence as a true form of intelligence. Also, I want to feel satisfied that I understand their work for myself, so I am struggling a bit with these questions. But I feel confident that these authors are motivated by a search for the truth, rather than by whatever sells, something which is rare indeed, in the United States!
S. Hein -- November 25, 1999
What is the right way to feel?
In one of their articles, Mayer et al discuss whether there is a "right" way to feel. They seem to mock the idea that each of us may feel differently about the same thing and yet somehow we are all correct about out feelings. I feel very uncomfortable with this line of thinking. I keep asking myself: What if you and I look at the flag of our country, then someone asks us how we feel? Is there a right answer? What if someone asks two employees how they feel when they think of going to work? Is there a right answer? What about if one looks at a group of children sitting silently in clean uniforms as they are being indoctrinated by a religious teacher in a parochial school? How should one feel about that? Or if one watches a parade of marching bands and military equipment?
Most scientists seem to agree that our emotions have evolved to their present place in the human species because of their contribution to our survival as individuals and as a group. So if we were to somehow be able to measure the contribution to our survival that each emotion made, then perhaps one emotion is more "right" than another. For example, if I feel ashamed when I look at my country's flag, it may be a healthy feeling if my country has acted in an irresponsible way. If another person were to say he feels proud when he looks at the same flag and that I should also feel proud, which of us is right? I would argue that to ask which of us is "right" is the wrong question. I believe a more objective measure, if such a measure could be devised, would be to ask, "which of our feelings is most likely to contribute to the survival of the species"?
I am of course implying that the survival of the species is the absolute highest goal. In fact, I will go further than implying that, I will state clearly that this belief is a fundamental part of my entire belief system. In fact it is the most fundamental part. At the same time, very closely related to that is the survival of the individual. Each of us, or most of us, is more concerned with our own survival than that of the group. By the way even though many may claim to be selfless and interested only in the welfare of others, my experience has taught me that this is rarely the actual case.
I don't claim to fully understand how the evolution of the human species works or in which direction it is headed. But I suspect that somehow, through a large scale aggregation of us each acting in our own interests, the survival of the species is enhanced. Let me clarify the phrase "in our own interests." By this I mean that we are working towards meeting our own highly individual needs, included among those of course are our emotional needs.
So it seems to me that we each must be concerned with meeting our own emotional needs. As I have written elsewhere, I believe our feelings are gauges of the level of just how much these many emotional needs are met or unmet moment by moment in our lives. They are something like thermometers and something like the electrical meter, the ammeter, which tells you if you are presently charging or discharging your battery. Something which "charges" your emotional battery might drain my battery.
To return to the example of the flag, let's say it is the swastika you and your neighbor are looking at as a uniformed army marches down your country road on its way to invade Belgium. Perhaps you feel energized by this site. You feel proud, strong, secure and self-righteous. Yet I feel embarrassed, ashamed, disillusioned, and heartbroken. Which of these is the greater contribution to the survival of the human species? Which of these is the "right" set of feelings?
Of course I am using extreme examples, and intentionally so.
I want to make a very strong statement that we must be extremely careful when we use words like "right" and "wrong." To his credit, Jack Mayer is consistently cautious with his choice of words. But I felt so strongly about this one statement of his that I needed to voice my concerns. More specifically, I guess it is a fear which motivates me to write on this particular sunny morning when I was just in the middle of building a storage shed for my firewood. So what is this fear? Let me try to identify it more precisely. The name Goleman comes to mind again. He seems to represent how the emotional intelligence research can be misused. A close friend of mine wrote to me and said something like "Goleman seems to represent the forces of evil in the world--conformity and centralization of power, while Mayer and Salovey seem to represent good-- the growth of the individual and of humanity." While I don't choose those exact words myself, I do share her general feelings. But it is not really Goleman I am afraid of. It is those who already use emotions and their knowledge of them to manipulate, coerce, and control.
Knowledge, intelligence and emotion are all forms of power. So are fame, popularity and financial wealth.
As with all power, it all depends what we do with it. But what we do with it depends on what are values are, what our beliefs are, and what are goals are. These depend on where we were raised, how we were raised etc. It also depends on what our needs are, both physical and psychological. None of this is simple. It makes my head spin at times. I start to feel overwhelmed by it all and I need to take a break and go chop some wood, climb on some rocks, ride my bike or take a dive into some icy cold water from a mountain river in Canada.
On Personality Psychology and Profiting from Patients
In his 1998 article for the journal Psychological Inquiry, John Mayer shares his concern that his primary field of interest, personality psychology, which encompasses his work on EI, is not attracting many graduate students. Several others who commented on his article in the same journal expressed the same concern.
On reflection, I wondered if this was perhaps because there is simply not much money in personality psychology. If one goes into clinical psychology one can open up a private practice and charge somewhere around $100 US dollars per hour, which often is paid for by insurance companies. If one goes into psychiatry, where in the USA one can prescribe drugs, for "mental illnesses," then it is possible to charge approximately the same amount after only spending 10 or 15 minutes with a client! But what can one do with a PhD. in personality psychology? One might be able to go into teaching at the university level, but few university professors make the kind of money that a psychiatrist can make. Nor do they even have the potential to make the kind of money that can be made by people who write about psychology in the popular press!
A few years ago I remember sitting in on a lecture for undergraduate psychology majors at the University of Florida. There were approximately 150 students in the room. The speaker was a professor in the department who also had his own private practice. The entire theme of his lecture was how to make the most money. First he talked about how you can't make any money with a Masters degree. And how you certainly won't make any money if you go into social work. He said it was necessary to get a Ph.D. if you had any hope of making any real money. Then he talked about how difficult it was to get accepted into a top Ph.D program. As I looked around at the 19-21 year olds in the room, I could see the fear and anxiety in their faces. In fact, I could feel the tension in the room. I thought to myself, "These kids are already under enough pressure, this kind of stress sure isn't going to help them think about other people's needs and about helping other people. It is just going to make them think even more about themselves."
During his lecture, he lamented the fact that psychologists can't prescribe drugs while psychiatrists can. He wanted the legislation in the USA changed so psychologists could also prescribe drugs. His told the students, "There are only so many hours in the week. And there is only one of you. Your income is limited to how many patients you can see in that week. There is a fixed cap on how much you can make. No matter how many hours you work in a week, there is still a ceiling on how much you can make in one year." Then he gave them the same examples I mentioned above. He was encouraging the use of drugs simply because they were more profitable. He also enticed the students with his stories of how the pharmaceutical companies lavished the psychiatrists with expensive presents and sent them to free conferences around the world so they could promote their newest drugs.
Throughout his lecture there was no mention of the patients' needs or of the quality of the service being provided. It was all about money.
On Effective Regulation and Management of Emotions -August 22, 2000
The other day I went back to re-read the 1990 article on EI by Salovey and Mayer. The article starts with an abstract. There were a couple of things in the abstract which troubled me, so I will write about them here.
Below is a copy of the abstract:
This article presents a framework for emotional intelligence, a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan and achieve in one's life. We start by reviewing the debate about the adaptive vs. maladaptive qualities of emotions. We then explore the literature on intelligence, and especially social intelligence, to examine the place of emotion in traditional intelligence conceptions. A framework for integrating emotion-related skills is then described. Next, we review the components of emotional intelligence. To conclude the review, the role of emotional intelligence in mental health is discussed and avenues for further investigation are suggested.
The first word which concerned me was "effective." My question is: What do we mean by effective? Do we mean efficient? My thoughts were, "Hitler's army was efficient. Gas chambers are effective." Then I remembered reading David Caruso's article on EI in the workplace. I wondered again, do we want certain companies to be more "effective" and productive in their manufacture of unhealthy products? I think of cigarettes for example. Or of assault weapons? In that article, David sounds a bit too much like Daniel Goleman for my comfort when he speaks of the ability to "manage" emotions in others as one of the four basic components of EI. But "managing" someone else's emotions sounds frighteningly close to "manipulating" in this context. I think of Arlie Hochschild's studies on what she called "emotional labor," in other words trying to act happy, because that is what the boss requires of you, when you are not truly feeling happy. She found this was not only counterproductive, but also unhealthy for the employees involved.
So back to the question of "What do we mean by effective?" I truly don't know what the authors meant. To me it is simply a nice, catchall kind of word which most people don't question - much like the word "appropriate" or "should". But in this case, since it is being used in an important new conceptual definition, I believe the word, and ever word in their paper, word needs to be carefully reviewed.
The next thing that troubled me is the word "regulation." I don't much like the sound of that word, either. It brings thoughts and feelings of rules and control and subordination to social norms. It is a word which Goleman uses a lot and I believe it reflects his conformity to the status quo, or perhaps his agreement with Freud and B.F. Skinner that humans generally need to be controlled by others or they will become like savage animals. (I sometimes refer to Goleman, in fact, as the "B.F. Skinner of emotions.") While I share this belief to a small degree, and I agree we need a balance between control and freedom, I believe Goleman, Freud, and Skinner underestimate the potential for self-control and self-regulation. I believe that our feelings, when developed in a healthy way from childhood on, serve as guides to what is healthy for the individual and for the group or the species as a whole. In fact, I believe our innermost, undamaged feelings connect us to all living organisms, from the small helpless sea urchin that was washed upon the shore, to the mightiest trees in the California Redwood forest.
From what I can tell by the writing of John Mayer and Peter Salovey, they are less interested in conformity to social expectations and controlling the behavior of others and more interested in personal growth of the individual than is Daniel Goleman. So I do not direct my concerns primarily at Mayer and Salovey - my concerns are just aroused by their choice of words. (1)
August 25, 2000 addendum - I am afraid John Jack Mayer and David Caruso may feel a bit personally attacked by the above comments, so I will take another look at them at some point. For now I will add that one thing I admire about this group is that they stated very clearly in 1990 that they were investigating a hypothesis of theirs.(2) They were never making sweeping claims as Goleman did in 1995 and has done since then. They have been very cautious about making misleading claims.
Since Mayer has done most of the writing since 1990, and because he is the only one of the group who I have met personally, I will say that I also admire him personally because he has not been lured away from his original work by the world's hunger for information, products and services relating to EI. Beyond that I admire and respect Dr. Mayer for the way he has responded to Daniel Goleman's books, fame and fortune. He could have been highly resentful and bitter. He might have felt betrayed or used by Goleman. I don't know exactly how Jack (as he prefers to be called on a personal level), felt when Goleman's book came out. I asked him once how he felt about his work not being cited till page 47 of the book, and he smiled and shook his head and said, "There were so many problems with that book.... that was really one of the least of my concerns."
Looking back, I am not sure how much this was a true statement or how much he simply did not want to share his true feelings. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, and not say, as I would for most intellectuals, that he really didn't know how he felt, or how to express his feelings with feeling words. One day I will ask him on a scale of 0-10 how much he felt resentful, envious, used, etc. It will be a little test of his EQ, if not his EI!
Something else I like about Jack--He has a sense of humor! He sprinkles little bits of it here and there, even in his academic writings. This is something which makes him more "human" and more likeable. And it is probably one reason we seem to understand each other a bit.(3) Of course our mutual dislike of Daniel Goleman has brought us together as well! I must add though, that I highly doubt Jack would ever say he doesn't "like" Dan Goleman. That would sound unprofessional, childish, simplistic,etc.
And I can't really say that I don't like Goleman either because I don't know him personally. I will say, as if it weren't obvious, that I don't like what he says about emotional intelligence. And I don't like what he has done with his fame and fortune. I don't like the way he is pandering to big business and has abandoned the schools and children. Actually, maybe it is better he stays away from influencing children because I don't like what he says about the need to regulate behavior, about conformity to social norms and about self-esteem not being important. Nor do I share his political views, or at least not all of them.
Here are some notes from one of the Mayer et al articles. I donīt remember what article it was now.
Feeling frustrated about the article and what to say about it. So I decided to go through the four branch model, or my adaptation of it.
How do I feel? Frustrated. 7 Discouraged. 4 Afraid 7 (of hurting my rel. with authors) critical 8. judgmental 5. Guilty for not being as critical of them as I have been with others, and for letting my personal favorable feelings towards the authors influence my reviews, and for letting my support of their work and my belief in the concept of EI also influence me too much. Feel unvalued 3 because they don't send me drafts of their stuff before they submit it for publication. Unsure about how to proceed. Thinking it will be good to check with DC first. about my concerns. Which are:
Where did they come up with "bullies have high self esteem"??
They sound defensive. Not much new information is presented. Just the .96 correlation between the expert and consensus scoring. (was this ever mentioned in a previous article? it wasn't in the 1999 Intelligence article.
What happened to these three criteria for an intelligence.
An intelligence such as emotional intelligence must meet stringent criteria in order to be judged as a true intelligence. For the purposes here, these criteria can be divided into three fairly distinct groups: conceptual, correlational, and developmental. The first, conceptual criteria, includes that intelligence must reflect mental performance rather than simply preferred ways of behaving, or a person's self-esteem, or non-intellectual attainments (Carroll, 1993; Mayer & Salovey, 1993; Scarr, 1989); moreover, mental performance should plainly measure the concept in question, i.e., emotion-related abilities. The second, correlational criteria, describe empirical standards: specifically, that an intelligence should describe a set of closely related abilities that are similar to, but distinct from, mental abilities described by already-established intelligences (Carroll, 1993; Neisser et al., 1996).(2) The third, developmental criterion, states that intelligence develops with age and experience, and is based on the groundbreaking work by Binet and Simon at the beginning of century (as reviewed in Fancher, 1985, p. 71; see also, Brown, 1997). These three criteria will be next examined in greater detail.
From Intelligence article
For an intelligence to be considered a standard intelligence, it must meet certain criteria. It must be reliable, of course. Beyond that, tasks that are believed to measure the intelligence must be correlated with one another. In addition, the candidate for an intelligence must be related to, but also independent of, other existing intelligences. Finally, the intelligence must develop with age.
From Selecting a Measure of Emotional Intelligence: The Case for Ability Scales in Bar-On
why does the age thing matter? can't a brick layer or a truck driver also get better with age?
On the Ciarrochi et al book, leadership in EI, the United States and my own mission
(I originally wrote this on November 11th, 2001. It was slightly updated on November 24 after having met the lead editor of the Ciarrochi et al book. -- S. Hein)
Last night I took another look at the Ciarrochi et al book: Emotional Intelligence and Everyday Life. I read most of the chapter by Peter Salovey. The more I read of it, the worse I felt, not only about the chapter but about the entire book. I woke up this morning thinking about the book and my feelings about it. My thoughts then moved to the leadership of the EI field in general, and my feelings continued to worsen. I felt very sad, so sad tears began to form in my eyes.
I feel disillusioned with the leadership in this field. I have lost much faith in nearly everyone who has written about EI. I hesitate to even use the word "leadership." To me a leader is one who has a definite sense of direction; one who is led by higher values than the values of the majority; one who has a vision and who follows it; one whose perspective transcends personal, cultural and national interests.
I don't see this kind of leadership in the EI field. Instead I see people who are led by their own personal interests; who are led by their own personal fears and insecurities; who are fairly slaves to the cultural and religious indoctrination which they were subjected to as children. One cannot freely lead or follow one's own inner voice if one has not thrown off the shackles of their parents' and ancestors' beliefs and values.
I believe the field of EI needs some real leadership. Right now it strikes me as nearly as fragmented as the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity.) When I look back at the Ciarrochi book I see that even within the pages of that one single collection of writing we have authors attacking each other. One author criticizes another's definition of EI and that author criticizes the first author and his colleague for "theorizing" and for "absurdly" claiming they are the first to do scientific work on EI. One author criticizes those who treat EI as character and citizenship, while another other promotes this same interpretation of EI in the schools.
A leader, to me, has integrity. I have already written at length about the lack of integrity I see in the most well-known writer in the field of EI, Daniel Goleman. But this book, too, seems to lack a sense of philosophical or editorial integrity. It seems to contribute to the fragmentation of the field rather than to help solidify it. The goal of the book, as I understand it, was to produce a book which was easy to read, helpful in a practical way, and based on actual research findings specifically related to EI. After reading the book I am left with the sense that this standard was compromised by the selection of several of the contributing chapters, and as a result the integrity of the entire book was compromised. Some chapters are highly academic and others seem more like something from the popular press with almost no connection to academic research. Often, what research which is presented is not specific to EI.
I feel torn as I write about this book because I like the authors from what I know of each of them. I know Jack Mayer the best and I have consistently held him in high esteem. I recently met Joseph Ciarrochi and I got along well with him and found him to show signs of personal integrity. And from my correspondence with Joe Forgas and reviews of his prior work, I also have good feelings. So I am in the position of liking the editors of the book, but not liking the book. It seems that one problem was that the three editors each had their own ideas and motives concerning which chapters should be included. This maybe somewhat of a necessary evil when multiple people come together to create a book. Still, I would have liked to have seen a more strict editorial standard.
I have to say that one reason I feel so strongly is because I had such high expectations for this book. My extreme disappointment is no doubt caused by my own unrealistic expectations. I have been called a dreamer and I know that I am often disillusioned because of my idealistic hopes, expectations and desires. But this is me. This is who I am and how I feel. This is my value to the species. This is my contribution. I try to accept that each one of us has a part to play. But I feel frustrated. Or let's say energized. It is this energy that has caused me to write this morning.
I have hesitated writing such strong words about the leading writers in the field of EI. I don't want to damage the friendships and professional relationships I have begun to make. But I also need to be true to myself. I am not a political kind of person. I would probably fail miserably in politics. I couldn't even stand to be in a meeting with a room full of politicians. I would not even be able to make it in the academic world which itself is too political and constraining for someone like me. I feel a little defiant this morning. A little rebellious. I need to rebel away from the pack from time to time, I suppose. At the same time I feel torn because I want to help create unity, not only in the field but in the world. I also feel respect for the work which some of the academic researchers are doing and I feel a desire to work more closely with those in academia to make their work more relevant and helpful. I would also like to help them be the best parents they can be, so I would like to get them interested in my ideas about children, which I know is less likely if I put them on the defensive.
I probably am doing a lousy job at helping create unity. But I am at least aware that it is something we need. The world is fragmented. We have people killing each other because of their different beliefs and values. We need something which unites us as a species. I have my ideas about this and I am still working on it. I have made some notes on my personal website, but here I will say that I believe the concept of emotional intelligence offers us the best hope of uniting as a species. This is one reason I feel so strongly about the concept and so protective of it.
It saddens me and frustrates me when I see the majority of the writers in this field treating EI as simply another means to the same ends. For example, in Peter's chapter he is talking about the emotionally intelligent investor. What is the end which Peter seeks? The end is to make money. I didn't see Peter say a word about using your emotions to help you decide which investments will help the world; which investments will help you feel more fulfilled, more socially responsible; which investments will help your social conscience feel at peace.
I do not want to personally attack Peter or anyone else. I have personally attacked enough of the writers in this field. But I do want to challenge them to think on a higher level. To think about what life is really about. To think about what is really important. Some have written that EI helps us think about what is important, but I don't see many of the leaders applying this principle in their own work. Where is the writing on violence? Where is the writing on hatred? Where is the writing on resentment? Where is the writing on child abuse? Where is the writing on parenting? Where is the writing on peace in the world?
How important is making money on your stock investments if your children and colleagues are increasingly likely to either be shot at school, killed in a terrorist attack or drafted to fight a foreign war? How important is it if your children are alive but unhappy? For that matter where is the writing on happiness or personal fulfillment? Virtually all of the writers in this field talk about "success" but very few of them have even questioned what success is. Some have and I admire them for this, but the majority of the writers in the field seem to completely miss the real importance of emotional intelligence. To me what is really important about EI is that it helps us set our goals, not just attain them.
To be fair I will acknowledge that the book I have mentioned here was written before the events of September and October of 2001. Nonetheless, I have not seen the "leaders" of the field of EI come out with much to say about the violence. And even in this edited book on EI, there was very little said about children or parenting. What was said about education left me with feelings closer to disgust than anything else. I can only hope that the editors of the book were not actually very familiar with the work of the lead author of that chapter, Maurice Elias. There is some indication that he was selected primarily due to his name recognition, so I strongly hope that they are not advocating his ideas on parenting, for example. I feel so strongly opposed to that author's writing on parenting that I will be devoting a page to warn people about him, as I have done with Daniel Goleman. Not surprisingly these two writers support each other's work and are both active members of the EI Consortium, a group which has earned my disdain.
Most of the writing on EI is being done by Americans, or those with what I will call American-type values. It is no secret that I think America is leading the world in the wrong direction. The American values of appearances, money, power, status, degrees, religion, laws, police, punishment and violence are dangerously unhealthy for the rest of the world. Many around the world know this, but the Americans themselves will be the last to see it. Part of my mission is helping as many people see this as I can, including as many Americans.
I don't know the best way to do this. Because I was raised in an educated, dysfunctional family in the United States I learned to be an expert at verbal hostility. I know that my words put others on the defensive and this makes them unable to hear what I have to say. On the other hand, right now I can't say what I have to say another way. I am expressing myself as well as I can, trying to keep in mind my own principles, but at the same time writing what comes from the amygdala.
For the sake of unity and finding common ground I will add that I want some of the same things that most Americans and most humans want. I want to feel secure. I want to feel safe. I want to feel loved. I want to feel loving. I want to feel successful. I want to feel valued and valuable. I want to feel important. I want to feel heard. I want to feel respected. I want to feel influential. I want to feel helpful. I want to feel helped.
I believe these desires are universal among the human species. I believe these desires come from our deepest emotional needs as humans. I believe our highest goals should be aligned with our deepest needs. Right now I believe we are out of alignment. I am not sure we ever were in alignment. Not at least since nature gave us the ability to think, plan and set goals. On the other hand we have always been part of nature so this may be all part of the natural process. Perhaps our needs are simply changing over time and we as a species are experiencing the pains of growth.
Right now I hope that we are still in a learning mode when it comes to our evolution as a species. I hope that we will learn to set social goals which are closer in alignment with our human needs. I believe that our emotional intelligence can help us set these goals. This is what I encourage and challenge others to write about. If Americans are good at anything they are good at accomplishing their goals and objectives. They are productive, they are efficient, they are effective. But so were the Germans even at a time when their goals were chillingly out of line with universal human emotional needs.
I encourage all those who work in the field of emotional intelligence to reflect on what is really needed in the world today. Do we really need to be more efficient? More productive? Do we really need to make more money?
If not, then what do we need?
I suggest we let our emotions guide us to what is important to think about. Then I suggest we let our intelligence help us identify what has worked in the past, what hasn't and what is likely to work or not work in the future. I suggest we use our understanding of emotions to help us make decisions which will affect the behavior of others in more positive ways. I suggest we think about how we want others to feel and what is most likely to help them feel that way. To do this I suggest we think about how we feel and what contributes to our feelings in one direction or the other.
I truly believe our emotions and our understanding of them have the greatest hope for uniting us as species. This is not just an academic exercise. Real lives are at stake. Possibly the lives of your own children and loved ones.
I know that I am more afraid of being killed now than I was on September 10th. And I am more afraid of being killed now that the Americans have been bombing Afghanistan and have shown almost no signs of understanding the message which was delivered to them on September 11th.
When the world is becoming increasingly violent, when one nation thinks it can impose its will on the rest of the world using whatever means is necessary, when people have to use extreme measures to be heard as they try to protest abuses of power -- possibly even using nuclear weapons to get their point across -- when all of this is happening in the world we live in, does it really matter how much money we are making in the stock market? Does it really matter how much more make-up we can sell by giving "emotional intelligence training courses" to cosmetic sales reps? Does it really matter if our cars are washed and waxed?
There are a lot of very smart people in the field of EI. I challenge them to use their own emotions and emotional intelligence to help them decide what is really important, what really matters, and what they can each do to help bring a lasting peace in the world. I remind them that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
I suggest we try something new. I suggest we look for a better way. And I believe we can find this better way if we focus on those emotions and feelings which unite us as a species. All humans have the capacity for feeling emotions which can divide the species as well as which can unite the species. Feelings which divide us include feelings of aggression, resentment, hatred, destruction, hostility, violence, judgment, superiority, nationalism, punishment and vengeance. On the other hand feelings which unite us include emotions or emotional states of acceptance, understanding, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, connection, commonality, cooperation and peacefulness.
I have been writing about how to create a more emotionally intelligent world. I have my own vision of this world. It seems not to be shared by many people at this point. Perhaps I have not articulated it clearly enough. So this is what my mission is. It is my mission to write for parents and teachers, for future politicians and future world leaders. I still feel somewhat overwhelmed and daunted by this mission, but it is one which I have not been able to escape from. So I reluctantly keep returning to it out of the extreme pain which I feel when I see what is happening in the world around me, even in the world of EI.
Yet I do not feel only pain. I also feel encouraged from time to time. From time to time I feel supported and understood. For me it is nearly a full time job managing my own emotions. I struggle to not be defeated by my negative feelings. I try to accept them, to learn from them, and to be guided by them. This seems to be working for me, all things considered. I feel thankful to those who have written about emotional intelligence, because I have learned things which have proven valuable in my own life. I feel a little remiss for criticizing them so harshly at times. At times I have thought some of them have gotten too powerful and too influential, so I have done what I could to reduce their power. At other times I have believed that some of the writers have not been influential enough, so I have done what I could to increase their influence.
Now though, I am seeing more clearly that I need to continue to follow my own path. Maybe you could say I have outgrown my need for critiquing the work of others. (On the other hand this may be an important part of my contribution to the world.) I suppose questioning others is a natural part of developing one's own ideas and philosophy of life. I suppose it is also natural to look for someone to admire, to seek someone to look up to. There comes a time though, perhaps, in our own personal growth when we need to even stop admiring others. When we have to accept that those who we looked up to have their own flaws, that they are still mere mortals, so to speak. I don't think I have put too many people on a pedestal in my life, but I do see now that I need to go my own way a bit more than I have in the past. This reminds me of the character in Hesse's book Siddhartha, who said something like he would never again bow his head or lower his eyes before any man.
This process has been in motion for several years at least. Today it just became a bit more clear to me.
I feel appreciative of all those who have supported me and my website. I sense some kind of a change taking place in me right now. I am not sure where this change will lead. I don't know how to finish this article or editorial. I don't even know what to call it. I just know that it was important for me to write and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. So to whoever reads it, thanks for reading. I hope that you have gotten something of value from it. Though I usually write to fill my own need for self-expression and understanding, I feel good when someone else gains something from my writing. This seems to be the way of nature: we must care for ourselves first, but when we help others, it feels good to us.
And what feels good naturally is healthy for us and the species. Yet we must use our intelligence and our understanding of emotions and human behavior to help us see that what sometimes feels good in the short term, may have consequences which are very painful in the long run. For example, it may feel good to take revenge on someone and it may feel good to exert your power when you are feeling afraid, threatened and humiliated by someone less powerful than you, but this may not prove to be the most intelligent thing to do.
Returning to the topic of leadership, I feel an obligation to play a somewhat stronger part in shaping the direction of EI over the next few years. I don't want to over-estimate my potential influence, but neither do I want to under-estimate it. Actually it is not just the field of EI, but it is the direction of humanity in general which I am concerned with. I see it is as my role to integrate the academic research, the popular press writings and my own feelings and my dreams of a better world.
I hope to continue to learn from the work of the researchers, yet continue to follow my own path. I further hope they will find something of value from my writing and feedback, since my intentions include helping them with their work, as they have helped me with mine. But since no one can force anyone to accept help, I can only offer it as I continue to write about what I see, think and feel.
1 - Certain words trigger emotional responses from me and I am a highly emotional person. I may not be highly emotionally intelligent -- I don't know because I still don't think any one knows what emtional intelligence actually means, and I don't think there are any good tests of it -- but I know I have strong feelings. I laugh and cry easily. And I believe we need both ends of the scale in our lives. As Mary Chapin Carpenter sings "I can't laugh till I have cried or cry till I have laughed." (From the song, I Take My Chances) I value my freedom and words like "regulation" trigger feelings of resistance or even rebellion whenever I hear them. I am not sure just now what other words to use, but because I promote emotional honesty, I am simply sharing my true feelings as well as my thoughts. Most authors, especially those in academia, will rarely if ever truly share their feelings with feeling words. They may say "I feel that..." or "I feel like..." or any number of other things which use the words "feel" or "feelings," but I have noticed a consistent absence of feeling words when I read the academic papers. I feel frustrated by this! ...and determined, determined to "state my own case," to express myself and my ideas, my beliefs and my feelings.
2 - Though the 1990 article was actually written by Salovey and Mayer, my current comments include David Caruso who has worked with them since at least 1997.
3 - (My mother used to say my sense of humor was my saving grace. Sadly, when I think of that now I wonder if the unspoken message here is, "I disapprove of everything else about you,"