Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Daniel Goleman needs no introduction. The former senior editor of ‘Psychology Today’ is widely known for his Vital Lies, Simple Truths and The Meditative Mind. His groundbreaking bestseller Emotional Intelligence ( Bantam Books, New York, 1995) is yet another landmark in the world of applied psychology. It extracts years of research on human emotions and their behavioral significance to emerge as a lovable book.
Goleman’s approach, as his typical, is demonstratively scientific with a natural appeal to common sense; case studies are nearly fictionalized for the reader’s interest, followed by explanations to answer the questions popping up in the reader’s mind. ‘Emotional Intelligence’ is thus essentially a solution-oriented work. By making explicit the biological nature of emotions-anxiety, fear, anger, and joy- it gets to the roots of problems raised by emotional immaturity. The approach is fruitful since problems whose roots are known are half-solved.
The book carries five main parts: The Emotional Brain (biological basis of emotions), The Nature of Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence Applied (emotions, behavior, and relationships), Windows of Opportunities (relearning emotions), and Emotional Literacy (educating people’s emotions). Appendices and explanatory notes make it a comprehensive edition.
Goleman regards amygdala, the almond-shaped structure above the brainstem, as the seat of all emotions, as contrasted with the ‘thinking brain’-the neocortex. In all cases of our emotional fits, the amygdala hijacks the brain; in a few cases the thinking brain gets time/chance to check the impulse. To refine our personalities of maladaptive emotional tantrums-that lead to problems small as a raging beat to fatal as suicide or murder-we need to strengthen our thinking brain. That this is possible, and experimentally demonstrated, is the crux of the book. Goleman tells of basic emotional skills like self-awareness; identifying, expressing and managing feelings; impulse control and delaying gratification; and handling stress and anxiety. These come from ‘emotional education’, which, according to the author, means not to avoid conflict completely but to resolve it intelligently before it spirals into a fight. And thus we come to know about the ‘Resolving Conflict Creativity Program.’ Goleman effectively epitomizes the point of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in Erasmus’s quote: ‘The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.’
With a number of interesting, exciting, pleasing, depressing, and surprising instances from real life, and some great quotes of wisdom, Emotional Intelligence is for everyone who has emotions and needs to know their intelligent use.