by Daniel Goleman
Published by Bantam Dell a Division of Random House, Inc.
Tenth Anniversary Edition,
1995 and 2005
Not coming from a background of scientific psychological study and not being prone to read such material, I can’t begin to say how grateful I am for taking the time to be exposed to the depth and breadth of this book. Like many people, I had a vague idea that research was being done in areas of the human brain activity in relationship to learning, behavior and in innate responses, but had little comprehension of the powerful findings of how Emotional Intelligence is being applied in therapy as well as being on the cusp of implementation in society in general. The need, as the author points out, is vitally important in our society as institutions and mores change rapidly and in seemingly chaotic ways.
Emotional Intelligence is a relatively new term, posited in the late 20th century, to bring together many specific areas of study. Separately, research is being done on how modes of behavior are imprinted on our psyche, and include the use of neuroscience to visualize the functioning of the human brain as experience moves through the circuitry. The combination of this whole body of work has been a growing synthesis to where this book argues that the human experience is lived with two distinct, co-equal, continually active, forms of awareness. These are the intellectual brain (rational, interpretive, problem-solving – executive functions) and the emotional brain (reactive / impulsive, action-oriented, motivational – feeling functions).
The marrying of these evolving understandings of the whole person is that the emotional brain, just as the intellectual brain, needs training and refinement in all of life’s stages from infancy, through early childhood, into preadolescence and adolescence. And the good news is that retraining a unique set of preprogramed responses in adults can be accomplished with directed awareness, non-judgmental support and careful reconstruction of triggering events.
The five Parts in sixteen chapters of this book take the reader through the complexity of human emotional laying out the brain architecture, chemical / neural interactions, sensory clues, response memory, and the myriad of variations that can develop from both natural predispositions and environmental conditions. That is to say, there are general rules, but the path in calibrating emotional response needs to be creatively done with each individual and in conjunction with the help of a uniquely empathetic mentor who has the capacity to gain trust and relate in a genuine / authentic way to the emotions being expressed.
My contribution to the ideas of relearning emotional responses is based on my path from a starting point of virtually complete emotional devastation to a place of inner-peace where my responses to difficulties were no longer subject to being hijacked by unresolved past experiences. I put together the Process based on personal work with the help of others in the process of change and with my observations of them I witnessed the enormous benefit of honesty, integrity and humility. My coming to self-awareness and acceptance was one of trial and error, rather than a well-controlled approach. Non-the-less, I attest to all of the conclusions of Dr. Goleman, one in particular seen on page 285 in the Chapter; Schooling the Emotions, (paraphrased) “… It’s not just for those with problems, but all can benefit from these skills; these are an inoculation for life”.
Visit his web site at: danielgoleman.info/topics/emotional-intelligence/