Emotional Intelligence | Stevehein.com


War, EI, Suicide

Petition for a ceasefire in Lebanon


August 10, 2006

I was working on an article called "Parenting, Suicide and EI" then I got up, took a shower, washed some clothes (by hand). Then I saw a newspaper with a picture of Beirut and an explosion.

If I didn't know that Israel had been invading Lebanon, I might have thought it was a terrorist attack. Then again, what is a terrorist attack? Are the Israelis causing people in Lebanon to feel terror, terrorized?

I didn't have all those intellectual thoughts when I first looked at the picture, though, and when I read the article. The article was titled something like "The hospitals in Beirut have no wounded people in them." I read a little more and saw that the Israelis had bombed so much of Lebanon that the roads are destroyed and it is too dangerous to even transport wounded people to the hospitals.

The article said that the hospitals had started making all these preparations to deal with the wounded, but they never thought about not having any wounded people to treat.

So what do we think about this? How do we feel? Is there an emotionally "intelligent" way to feel, to think about this?

I feel a little resentful right now towards Jack Mayer. He never tells us how he feels about anything. I know he has feelings, but he is too afraid to share them. I can only speculate what he is afraid of exactly and though I am going out on a limb a little I will say that probably all his life he has felt afraid of hurting people's feelings, of offending them and of starting conflicts. I am guessing that Jack feels very sad when he sees what is happening in Lebanon. I doubt he would call what the Israelis are doing "Emotionally Intelligent."

I don't know if he read my article called "War is not Emotionally Intelligent". I haven't heard from him in a long time. I think the last time I heard from him was when he told me he had his own website started and asked me if I would put a link to it, which I did. So, yeah, I feel a little resentful about that, too. But I don't feel highly critical of him because I met him in person and it is hard to find bad things to say about him. I do wish he would pick up a few things from me though when it comes to being emotionally honest, non-conforming and not thinking of self-harming and suicidal teens as lacking in emotional intelligence. It is hard for me to believe that Jack actually does believe this. I don't know how he could if he has been reading the stories of the teens I have been talking to for the past five six years or so. I am afraid Jack is too sheltered in his world of academia to really be able to handle the pain of the real world. As for David Caruso, I'm not really sure what he believes either. It seems like he thinks when a teen is depressed and suicidal they need medication, not a change in parents.

I don't even say "changed parents" because in my experience it seems parents who are so bad that their teenager thinks of killing themselves are beyond much hope of changing. Take Ocean's father for example. His attitude now is "You have burnt your bridges." He hasn't shown any interest at all in really learning or really being a better father. Ocean has never closed the door on him. She is not the one who is saying "I don't want to talk to you anymore." In my opinion she has all the reasons in the world to say that, yet she doesn't use the same coercive methods that her father does. She somehow was able to stay much more true to her own inner nature than most people I have known from such dysfunctional families. And her family wouldn't even look that dysfunctional to most people from the outside. Her father works as a computer programmer in a very large and well known software company. He has a "respectable" and probably quite well paying job. He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, so to speak, coming to the USA as an immigrant and living in government housing, in something like Indian reservations as I understand it from Ocean, and now being a full fledged member of American suburbia. Her brother graduated from a major university and received lots of awards for his technical skills. Her mother works in a office where she probably seems like a nice person and a caring mother to everyone there. But yet the family is very dysfunctional.

Anyhow, I have gotten way off the topic of the bombing and killing in Lebanon.

When I read what was happening I thought "Israel is just making more enemies." (Certainly that is not emotionally intelligent). And then I thought "And they are using weapons sold to them by the USA." And then I thought "Will Europe ever get involved in the Middle East? Will they ultimately go to war against the USA?"

I tend to think that the people in Europe are too smart to get involved in large scale wars. Is this emotional intelligence or cognitive intelligence or neither, I wonder. Maybe you could say they are too wise. Wisdom, it seems, comes largely from experience. I don't think you can really teach wisdom. I am guessing though that a person who we could call wise would probably have a high level of both IQ and EQ, as well as have a lot of experience, and have a pretty high level of self-esteem, or in other words feel pretty secure about themselves.

I also wrote an article about insecurity and emotional intelligence which talks about how Mayer-Salovey are not addressing the influence of insecurity on what they call emotionally intelligent or unintelligent behavior. It is still a little hard for me to believe that they have missed the boat so much on this. I am still hoping they will one day have a change of heart so to speak and start feeling more compassion for people who are suicidal and insecure and start digging a little deeper for cause and effect relationships. But I am not feeling too optimistic because they seem pretty heavily invested in their model of EI and what they call a test of it. Now they are using the test results to try to convince us that an emotionally intelligent person is so and so and not such and such.

But they are forgetting an important point. They are forgetting that if their test is not actually measuring emotional intelligence, then it is misleading to describe an "emotionally intelligent person" based on their test results. This is a little like giving someone a typing test and calling it an intelligence test and then saying a person is not intelligent if they do poorly on the test.

In other words, we do not really know what the MSCEIT test is actually testing, but I don't believe it is doing a good enough job of testing a person's innate level of EI to call it a test of emotional intelligence. For example, if you gave the test to someone who had a high level of emotional intelligence as a child, but lived a life of abuse, fear, punishment, trauma, cynicism etc. they might score badly on the "managing emotions" section of the test in particular. So the test authors might falsely conclude that this person has lower emotional intelligence than they really do.

Well anyhow, I want to post something and I am writing more than I wanted to. So let me get back to the article....

After certain thoughts went through my head I walked away from the article and came into my room. I felt this surge of sadness when I thought of the killing and the future pain the Israelis are creating. Then I fell down on my bed and nearly started to cry.

I am not sure if Jack, David and Peter believe it is a sign of low emotional intelligence to cry. I am starting to feel so skeptical of their work that it would not surprise me too much to read one day that they say something like this.

To even try to answer the question: "Is it emotionally intelligent to cry" seems much too difficult at this point. So I will instead say that I believe it is healthy to cry. I have a lot of faith in nature and children cry naturally, so I am guessing there is a good reason for it from an evolutionary perspective.

So my question now is "After a person cries, then what?" Now we might be able to talk more easily in terms of EI. For example, would it be emotionally intelligent for me to kill myself because I feel so discouraged when I think of all the killing which is going to keep taking place for decades to come?

Well I won't even answer that question because I don't think it can be answered.

I don't think it can be answered because I don't think you can evaluate a person's emotional intelligence based on their behavior as an adult, or even as a teen. There is just too much influence by the environment after 6 or so years.

Thus, I don't even like the term "emotionally intelligent behavior." Take my example of the girl on the island that I wrote about on the new site. To summarize she was kidnapped and taken to an island where she has no chance of escaping, and she is being raped and abused psychologically. Is it emotionally intelligent or emotionally stupid to kill herself?

Could we really say she suffered from a lack of EI if she killed herself?

If the answer to the question is no, then how could we say that Ocean lacks in emotional intelligence for trying to kill herself when she was treated so badly in her "island" from which she could not escape?

Ocean is by no means a stupid person. Yet her pain was so intense not even the thought of getting "off the island" so to speak, was enough to stop her from wanting to kill herself.

I want to say again that teens self-harm in an attempt to stop or numb their emotional pain. I have never talked to a self-harming teen yet who was not in intense emotional pain - the kind of pain most "normal" people never have to suffer in their families. Most fathers do not treat their teenage daughter as Ocean's father did. Most mothers do not do the things Ocean's mother did. And most people are not kidnapped and taken to an island and raped with no chance of escape.

While the story of the girl on the island is fictional, Ocean's story is not fiction. It is reality.

Just as the killing in Lebanon is reality.

Which leads me back to crying...

Yes, I cried for a moment when I felt the pain of the killing and ignorance. Then I decided to write.

I feel relatively calm as I write this. Maybe you can tell my writing has changed since June, since before I spent a month with Ocean. I am not sure if you can tell or not, but I can feel the difference. I feel more secure now. That is the best way to describe it simply. I will add that I also feel more accepted. Ocean is probably the most accepting person I have ever spent so much time with. She tried to change almost nothing about me. We had our problems but we worked them out.

Before I went to Europe and met Ocean I had this terror of rejection. I still had it for the first two weeks or so while I was there. There were a couple of times when it looked like she and I were parting on bad terms. Yet somehow we talked things through and I now feel more secure in my friendship with her than I have ever felt with anyone in my life. It hurts me that I was deprived of my friendship with her for nearly a year, it was literally illegal for us to even communicate, just because of her father's problems.

It is now so obvious that he is the one with the problem, he is the one who is trying, almost desperately now, to still control her, to keep his identity hidden.

It is kind of pathetic really. A person so smart they got to a high paying technical job, yet so clueless when it comes to emotional skills.

My main hope is that thousands of people will read the story of Ocean and her legal father and they will learn something useful from it. It is my hope that Jack, David and Peter will take some interest in her, and actually I'd like them to meet her at some point and then tell me if they think she has low or high or average EI.

I have so much I want to say about her but it will have to wait.

Right now I would like to end this by saying two things

1. War is not emotionally intelligent 2. Teens don't commit suicide because they have low EI

Actually I can't end there in good faith. I just realized that it is a bit inconsistent to say that you can't call suicide an example of low emotional intelligence and then say that war is an example of low emotional intelligence.

I guess if I thought about it a while I would realize that when a person who is emotionally intelligent is trained to be a soldier, for example, and is taught to think that killing people is the only way to solve problems, or that it is the best way or even an acceptable way of solving problems, and that person is afraid, or the person who gives that soldier orders is afraid, or someone many levels above him is afraid, then I guess we can't really say he has low emotional intelligence if he obeys the orders he is given.

So I am not sure what to write next except that I have to think about this some more.

I think there is a difference between someone who commits suicide and someone who follows orders to kill. I suspect it is the more emotionally intelligent person who commits suicide, but I have to think about this.

If you want, write me and tell me what you think.

PS - after I wrote this I came online to post it and got an email from Lea Brovedani. She sent me a link with the petition I have at the top of this page. I feel encouraged people some people who say they are in the field of EI are doing something besides remaining silent.

S. Hein


Here is something I copied from http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-middle_east_politics/hizbollah_victory_3809.jsp

In Homage to Catalonia, his 1938 account of his experiences during the Spanish revolution at the start of the country’s civil war, George Orwell asked an important question that is directly relevant to the current Israeli-Lebanese war. In light of a British foreign policy of “non-interference” which hindered the Spanish republic and helped its fascist opponents (thus paving the way for the second world war), Orwell commented: “(whether) the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time”.

So how could we label the British, the Americans the Israelis who refuse to sign the UN's cease fire agreement? are they either wicked or stupid or are they emotionally unintelligent? I can't really say that they are because this goes against my own definition of EI. What I would say, generally speaking of course, is that they are emotionally unskilled, emotionally uneducated, and emotionally damaged people.


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