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Emotional Intelligence

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Spring 2006

Schiefelbein, Stacey 99084969
October 2005
Article Summary


Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman

“Anyone can become angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, at
the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right
way-this is not easy.”– Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics. This quote from Aristotle sums up the article in thirty six words. This article goes over emotional intelligence in
such great detail with so much information it is hard to simply pick the
“summary points” in which this paper is to be written. But, as always I will
try my best.
Why do we do what we do? Why do third grade boys go on rampages of dumping
paint all over school supplies and vandalizing cars, or teens shooting each
other with guns in the streets, or why do parents end up killing their kids
simply by “reprimanding” the child? The third grader dumped the paint because
some class mates called him a baby and he wanted to prove them wrong, the
shooting was a sign of disrespect, and the babies being “reprimanded” to the
point of death was because the child soiled its diaper. All of these actions
seem irrational for what the circumstance in which they occurred. Are we really
in control of our emotions or our emotions in control of us?
First thing that comes to mind when the above statements of emotional rampages
are read is the thought of, “Those people might not have the highest IQ”.
Interesting enough, IQ has nothing to do with it. It is said that IQ can not be
changed, but is rather genetically imbedded and cannot be changed. We are who we
are. However IQ and personal experience are not linked in any sort of way. We
may not be able to change our IQ but we can influence our personal experiences.
This is important because personal experience is directly linked to emotional
intelligence, which involves self-control, excitement and persistence, and the
ability to be a self-motivator. Emotional Intelligence is crucial in becoming a
well rounded-socially capable person.
Why do we do, what we do, when we do it? Why does a certain color make our eyes water, why does a certain scent remind of us of a past memory, simply I ask why.
To begin to understand all of this mum-bo-jum-bo, we must take a look at our
brains and then go from there. Our brain is broken down into many parts that
control different emotions at different times, some control fear and rage while
others control passion and joy. By looking at all this information, it is easy
to see how it reveals our emotional habits that conflict with our better
interest. Emotional intelligence means in short hand, being able to read into
other persons emotions without verbal communication, along with how to handle
our personal relationships. The two concepts really do go hand in hand. How can
a relationship work smoothly if you cannot “perceive” what the other person is
feeling or thinking? Well, I’ll tell you, they cannot exist one without the
other. Our intelligence of the emotional nature puts our emotions at the center
of our existence. If it wasn’t for our emotions we wouldn’t feel anything. It’s
more than just pure emotion that keeps us from feeling things, our emotions
actually helps us balance out our rational thoughts. Genetically we are wired a
little bit for our intelligence emotions, but most of them do come through
personal experience. One genetic factor is our temperament; however that can
and is molded in our childhood. Meaning our temperament is there when we are
born, but through personal experience we form and shape how we handle
situations. A cool and interesting way to view emotional intelligence as stated
in the article; “Our passions, when well exercised, have wisdom; they guide our
thinking, our values, our survival. But they can easily go awry, and with the
appropriateness of emotion and its expression. The question is, how can we
bring intelligence to our emotions-and civility to our streets and caring to
our communal life?” I think that statement on its own says enough.
“It is with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to
the eye.” –Antoine De Saint- Exupery, The Little Prince. What is essential? I
believe it is emotions, and our emotional intelligence that our heart sees is
essential is living a full life. Altruistic love is our deepest feeling that
belongs to passion and our essential necessities. Only the strongest emotion
can over-power ones rational thought of personal survival. For example, a
family was in a car accident, which leads the car falling into a body of water
and concluding in the car sinking. The parents push their child out of the car
giving the child priority over themselves. The daughter survived but both
parents died in the process of saving their child. Rationally ones first
thought would be to save ones self and then help others, but when our emotions
kick in, our emotional thought override our rational thoughts. We
“homo-sapiens” are known as the thinking species, and if you think about it we
are. On a non- loving note, the parents subconsciously pushed their child out
of the window of the water filled car so that there genes could be passed onto
further generations. It’s not selfish; it’s just the way we are internally
wired. Now back onto the loving-emotional side of things; our intelligence is
nothing with out emotional strength.
What happens when passion overwhelms reason? An example given in the article
states, that a husband and wife came home one evening heard noises in their
home. The first thing the man did was reached for his gun and shot the first
thing he saw. It just happened to be his daughter whom both husband and wife
assumed was spending the night at a friend’s house. The husband and father of
this family was simply trying to protect his family from danger. But before
figuring our exactly what the danger was, he eliminated it with a gun shot to
his daughters throat. Now down to the science of this situation, the man was
not crazy, but an alarm inside his brain went off and caused him to act
momentarily. There is nothing he could have done, because the instinct of fear
and protection of our possessions have been imbedded into who we are for
millions of years. Our emotional templates were imprinted over 10,000 years ago
and have changed very little since then.
Emotions are impulses for us to act upon. Emotion coming from the Latin root
motere, which means “to move”, is how the brain prepares the body for different
responses to different feelings or emotions. I will list some examples given by
the assigned article. Example one: When a person feels angry, blood flows to
the hands giving us more strength to grasp things. Also when one feels angry,
our heart rate increases, and adrenaline is released into our blood stream.
Example two: When a person feels fear, blood rushes to the skeletal muscles
making us able to run quickly, and the blood drains from our faces making us
appear ghost like. Example three: happiness is a feeling that soothes negative
feelings and causes a boost in metabolism. Happiness also puts the body into a
rest like stage. Example four: When one feels love or sexual satisfaction or
arousal, it is the exact opposite of the “flight-or-flight” feeling we get. Our
body becomes calm and tranquil. Example five: More light is let into our retinas
so that we are able to take more of our surroundings in when we are a state or
feeling of surprise. Example six: The feeling of sadness significantly
decreases our metabolism and depresses us as a whole. All of these emotions are
molded by our experiences, and is how we handle each of the examples.
We have one brain, but two minds. Wait, back that up. We have one brain, but
two minds. What exactly does that mean? We have an emotional mind and a
rational mind. The emotional mind feels, and the rational mind does the
thinking. This is pretty interesting on how we put together our mental life.
The rational mind comprehends our conscious situation, as well as awareness,
thoughtfulness, and the ability to ponder and reflect. The emotional mind is
“impulsive and powerful” and is sometimes illogical. The two minds are thought
of as the “heart and head” of our brain. But the cool thing is, our emotional
mind is more dominant then our rational mind most of the time, so the more
intense the feeling the more dominant the emotional mind is. The “head and
heart” theory are connected directly through feelings and thought. Thought is
essential feelings, feelings are essential to thought. Why is the emotional mind more dominate than the rational mind? Part of it is due to the fact that the emotional mind developed far before the rational mind did back millions and millions of years ago. In order for the two minds to work together the emotional and rational minds must be in balance. The emotional mind gives operation information to the rational brain and then the rational brain accepts or rejects the information that it is given.

How is the brain set up? Why is it the way it is? The brain sits on the spinal cord in your back. The base of the brain that sits on the spinal cord is called the root brain. Functions such as, organ function, breathing and metabolism are all located in this area. This part of the brain is also known as the primitive brain. This brain cannot think but rather regulates the body in order for the body to survive. It is thought to believe that the thinking brain grew from the emotional brain, then leading to the conclusion that there is a direct relationship between the two minds.

When one thinks about the emotional mind and smelling, do they put them in the same category? Well they are directly related believe it or not. Everything we smell from danger to the sexual attraction of a potential mate takes place in our emotional brains. There are two layers of cells in the brain that deal with smell; the first layer sorts out the important facts of the smell, and the second layer tells the body what do with that information.

Added after the two minds is something called the neocortex, which handles all our thinking for the rhinencephalon, or what we regular people like to call the “nose brain”. Not only does the neocortex strategize and make long term plans, it also is the creator of the bond between mother and child.

What exactly is an emotional explosion? Or should the real question be what is a neural hijacking? They are two in the same. In the limbic area of the brain an emergency alert is sent to the neocortex before the thinking brain can figure out what is going on. So this means, that the person that is having the hijacking has no conscious idea of what he or she is doing, its like the brain is thinking and acting but the body is not comprehending what it is doing.

These hijackings originate in the amygdala in the center ofr the limbic brain. It is shaped like a almond that is attached above the brainstem and near the bottom of the limbic ring. If the amygdala is separated from the brain it causes what is called “affective blindness”. What does that exactly do? Well it is how we feel passion and we no longer have feelings about everything. The amygdala is the part of the brain that senses trouble and sends the alert all over the brain. Our feelings take the shortest route possible to the amygdala, which is the most primitive and potent that controls our emotions. A cool, quick factoid on the amygdala is that I perceives, remembers, and feels fear independently.

Not only does the amygdala do all the above listed, it also where we store our emotional memories. Amygdala makes our perception patterns and differentiates the difference between two similar memories. Working along side the amygdala is the hippocampus which is important in the visual recognition and the amygdala is in charge of telling you weather you like or do not like what you are seeing. The amygdala also has the capability of comparing past to present occurrences, but it does a sloppy job. The amygdala develops a lot early in the brain than the hippocampus, which means that things and emotional memories that were created in our infant years, may trigger reactions later in our development and we wont know why because the memories were created before we had words to put with the memory. It is okay that the circuitry between past and present memories are sloppy because you don’t need to know all the details to know if something is dangerous or not.

What exactly happens when there is an emotional hijacking? The amygdala is triggered and the neocortex is not activated, this leads to the brain to be flooded with emotions. The “off” switch for getting rid of emotions is located in the left prefrontal lobe. The left frontal lobe deals with unpleasant emotions and the regulation of those, while the right prefrontal lobes deal with negative feelings. The left lobes keep the right lobes in order by inhibiting the right lobe. The prefrontal-limbic lobes are important in mental life and are essential is our decision making.

Whose smart and whose dumb? Or better yet, who is academically more capable and who is more socially capable? One has nothing to do with the other. Intelligence has very little to do with our emotional life. As stated in the article emotional intelligence is as follows: “ abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and hope”. Also well quoted from the article, “ emotional aptitude is a meta-ability determining how well we can use whatever other skills we have, including raw intellect”. It has been proven that people that are emotionally adept, they can manage their own feelings and deal with other people effectively. These type of people tend to have an easier time with relationships because they are more in touch with their emotions rather than some one with just a high IQ score. Tests that test IQ are simply a measure of how well one can take a test, and have nothing to do with dumb or stupid its just to see who knows how to take tests better than others.

There are seven key varieties in the spectrum of intelligence. There is the verbal and mathematical-logical alacrity which is known as “the personal intelligence”. Then there is interpersonal intelligence, which gives people the ability to be a leader, nurture relationships, make and keep friends and resolve conflicts. Next there is interpersonal intelligence, which gives people the ability to understand people, corporate and the ability to work with them. Intelligence in its self is being able to understand one’s self, and then using that information to understand people. How people register and remembers information is a type of intelligence known as cognitive revolution.

Did you know that intelligences break down into their own special little groups? Here they are: Social intelligence which gives us the ability to understand others; personal intelligence which uses our intuitive and common senses and is the basic definition of emotional intelligence. There are five domains in which emotional intelligence or personal intelligence break down into: knowing one’s emotions, managing the emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships. All of those are equally important in the development of personal and emotional intelligence.

This article throws a lot of information at you at once. It covers why we feel what we feel and where and why and all that great jazz. Its all complicated and simple all at the same time. The knowledge gathered from the article will help us all understand ourselves better, which in turn helps us understand others.

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Stacey Schiefelbein