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Reading Goleman's book again....

When I first read Daniel Goleman's book in 1995, the year it came out and became an international best seller, I had not yet begun my work in teen suicide prevention.

Now I have been reading some of the book again, and I am seeing it with new eyes and a heavier heart. I have learned so much about society, and particularly the American and British cultures by listening to the real life stories of teenagers in extreme emotional pain.

I feel almost overwhelmed with pain myself now when I re-read Goleman's words. I am not ready to express myself completely yet - not without swearing and labeling him. Even using the most foul language will never express my pain from what he has done in influencing, or perhaps better said, manipulating, millions of minds around the world.

I used the word "perhaps" intentionally so I could call attention to just one of the many painful things I have encountered when re-reading his book.

I have read sections of his book several times before, but this time I am reading it more closely, with more experience and with more knowledge, and I am noticing things I have never noticed before, yet were there all along. His use of the word "perhaps" is one of those things I have noticed in the past few days.

One of the basic problems I see with his book, and I am putting this very mildly now compared to my strong feelings about it, is how he.. how shall I say this? How he mixes science with subjectivity... or science with his own values and beliefs, or that of his culture. I am not yet sure how to word this but I feel a need to write something now to let out some of my pain.

But getting back to the way he writes, mixing science with what is clearly not scientific...

Annie Murphy Paul said this about his book when she reviewed it.

... while Goleman drew on the prestige of academia, he failed to adhere to its scrupulousness. (source)

And now I am seeing this even more clearly.

Goleman wants us to believe that his book is a product of science, and that it represents truth, objectively observed, studied and measured. Yet his book, nearly every page literally, is littered with non-scientific, subjective and often judgmental messages. Sometimes these messages are subtle, or we might say insiduous. As my partner said, he tries to direct our emotions with his writing. And I must admit, he does it smoothely, skillfully and superbly. He is an excellent writer, or at least that is what many would say. But what do we mean by an excellent writer? Do we mean someone who speaks the truth, or simply someone who is able to get the resuts he wants from his writing? Someone who is skilled with the use of words to manipuate or persuade or convince? Do we mean someone who is able to capture our attention and draw us in emotionally, and who sets us up to swallow whatever is being said, without critically filtering it for truth or even consistency?

I believe Goleman is guilty of some kind of a crime -- not a legal crime in the usual sense, but some kind of crime against humanity.

I am near tears now at the thought that I have written about how invalidating a sensitive child is a crime against inhumanity, and this is exactly what Goleman does with his book. But he is not just guilty of invalidating one or two sensitive children, instead he invalidates them en masse.

He very clearly leads his readers to believe that sensitive children, the ones who later may become sucidal teens if their emotional needs are not met, have something wrong with them, and they need to be "corrected" and changed so they will become happy, successful, productive, compliant (obedient) citizens.

I think of my question, years ago, for Daniel. The question was, "How would you define an emotionally intelligent soldier." Of course he never answered that question, and he never will. He will never have to defend his hugely popular book. He will never have to answer any questions to any kind of "authority." He has gotten away with his crime, much as George Bush has gotten away with what he has done, and as have so many others. Daniel Goleman will die a financially wealthy person - I have little doubt of that, as will George Bush. Goleman will keep a large degree of his social status. It is very unlikely that he will ever be exposed.

I sincerely believe that I have done the most to expose him as has anyone. Yet it was not enough. His reputation was hardly scathed. He is still taken seriously by most who hear his name.

It is painful for me to accept this. Painful for me to read his words and try to answer the question that keeps coming back to me as I read his writing. That question is, "How can anyone take this seriously as science?"

I suspect, and hope with all my heart, that history will prove that Goleman's book was a fraud. But I imagine I will not live to see this. I suspect it will take several generations before people can look back in shock and even horror at how highly sensitive, highly emotionally intelligent children were treated in this epoch of human evolution.

For now I will just show you two things I have found in the past few days. One is the list of his use of the word perhaps. I plan to edit it later to highlight the way he uses it unscientifically, but for now here is the raw list. I trust you will quickly see for yourselves what I am talking about, even though the list hasn't been edited yet. I believe it is safe to say that the vast majority of the uses support

Here is that list....


Core Components of EQI.org

Respect | Empathy
Caring | Listening

Other EQI.org Topics:

Emotional Literacy
Invalidation | Hugs
Emotional Abuse |
Feeling Words
Depression |Education
Emotional Intelligence
Parenting | Personal Growth

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Mixing terms

timid, fearful, sensitive

Those parents who engineer gradual
emboldening experiences for their children offer them
what may be a lifelong corrective to their fearfulness.

Kagan finds that children who are overly sensitive and
fearful grow into shy and timorous adults; from birth
about 15 to 20 percent of children are "behaviorally
inhibited," as he calls them. As infants, these
children are timid about anything unfamiliar. This
makes them finicky about eating new foods, reluctant to
approach new animals or places, and shy around
strangers. It also renders them sensitive in other
ways—for example, prone to guilt and self-reproach.
These are the children who become paralyzingly anxious
in social situations: in class and on the playground,
when meeting new people, whenever the social spotlight
shines on them. As adults, they are prone to be
wallflowers, and morbidly afraid of having to give a
speech or perform in public.

Directing our emotions

The encouraging thing is...


Obedience "insisting on obedience"

I feel encouraged to have found this criticism.. I feel less alone, more supported. It is by Linda Elder.. here is the link..


My overview of the book is that it provides a useful reminder of the importance of emotions in human life and of the fact that our emotions are intimately connected with cognitive matters, with thinking, in short. However, it is also my view that in his rush to make sense of the results of the data of brain research, Goleman inadvertently often becomes the unwitting perpetuator of social stereotypes about the relationship between emotion and reason.

To begin, Goleman’s book is that of the popularizer, not that of the theoretician. He writes in a style that is zippy, catchy, and appealing. His book is written in the style of an experience journalist. On a casual first read, one might come away with the impression that it is well integrated and internally consistent. Unfortunately, however, it is not.

Despite his frequent appeal to "brain research," the bulk of his book is interpretative rather than "factual." Or to put it another way, he blends his own interpretations so much with data from empirical research that one is apt to think that his interpretations of the data implicit in the studies he quotes are equivalent to data themselves. Nowhere does he call to our attention that he is doing much more than simply reporting. Nowhere does he call attention to the fact that he is continually construing what he is reporting in a direction.

here is a table of criticism I am working on. It gives specific examples from his book.  
In his footnotes his says this at one point: "The dramatic flourishes are my own." Chapter 8, note 1. I suggest it would be more honest to say that about the entire book. I would also add "The subjective, judgmental comments and interpretations are also my own, based on my own values, beliefs and cultural upbringing... and on what I thought would help sell more books."