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The Connection Between Suicide, Self-Destructive Behavior
and Emotional Intelligence, According to Mayer and Salovey

May 28, 2008 I strongly disagree with what Mayer and Salovey have to say about the connection between EI, suicide and self-destructive behavior. I have written about this in various places but today I realized that I don't have one article which really shows clearly and directly what they believe, or at least strongly suggest. So today I have copied this from one of my previous articles. I was inspired to create this page as I was writing about Brian Rand, a US soldier who killed himself.

Here is what Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer wrote in their first important paper on EI in 1990:

Many problems in adjustment may arise from deficits in emotional intelligence. People who don’t learn to regulate their own emotions, may become slaves to them. Individuals who can’t recognize emotions in others, or who make others feel badly, may be perceived as clodish or oafish and ultimately be ostracized. Other peculiarities of emotional deficits exist as well. Sociopaths, who are impoverished in their experience of emotion, seem to over-regulate mood in others for their own purposes. A far more common ailment may involve people who cannot recognize emotion in themselves and are therefore unable to plan lives that fulfill them emotionally. Such planning deficits may lead to lives of unrewarded experience lived by individuals who become depressed, even suicidal.

Salovey, P. & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211.

And here is what Jack Mayer currently says on his website:

The high EI individual, relative to others, is less apt to engage in problem behaviors, and avoids self-destructive, negative behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, drug abuse, or violent episodes with others.

The reason I strongly disagree with the Mayer and Salovey is because of my direct experiences with abused, suicidal, depressed and (many times) smoking, drinking and drug-using teenagers. These teenagers are sensitive and intelligent. Whether they are "emotionally intelligent" depends only on the definition of EI which is used.

S. Hein
May 28, 2008


Who Is Emotionally Intelligent?

See Definitions of Emotional Intelligence

The Girl, The Rock and The Boat - EI and Suicide

Parenting, Suicide, Emotional Intelligence

Amina Filali, 16, Suicide

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Additional thoughts

Here is a quote from an article about Brian Rand, a US soldier who killed himself after being sent to Iraq.

"He also became increasingly violent toward his pregnant wife, and his stepdaughter once had to call the police."

Now compare this to what Mayer and Salovey say about the "High EI individual". They say such a person avoids "violent episodes with others." So we might ask ourselves whether Brian's violence towards his wife was more a factor of his innate low EI or of the fact that he was trained to be a soldier and then was ordered to go to Iraq where he eventually killed someone as part of his "duty" to his country?

Amina Filali

I wonder if the so called experts would say that Amina Filali had low emotional intelligence since she killed herself after being forced to marry and live with a man who had raped her when she was 15 years old.

Amina's Story