Harry’s Book Review: Emotional Intelligence

Book Title: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Author: Daniel Goleman
Copyright Date: 1995
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN: 978-0553383713
Audio, e-book or foreign translation available:  Audio and Kindle available
Suitable for children: No.  Reads much like a college text book.  Not quite as dry, but not a book for a child.

Let me open with the qualifier that this book does not match the normal criteria for the books I typically review for SurvivalBlog.  I sincerely doubt Daniel Goleman ever had this audience in mind.  However, I think many in this audience would be well served by reading this book.

Two relatively recent posts on SurvivalBlog brought this book to mind for me. “Anticipated Traumatic Stress in TEOTWAWKI” by F. B. (11/23/13) and “We Who Are Left Behind” by M.D.L. (11/26/13) both provided great examples of how our own emotions come into play during a stressful situation.  From the “freeze” response of the strapping farm boy with a machine gun to the lack of a will to live after losing your loved ones, there are things which our own bodies do with which we must figure out how to cope.

When things go wrong with our skeletal structure or our muscles we can see and feel the problems.  Or at least with X-rays and MRIs we can.  We can usually tell exactly what caused the problem and we can create a plan to resolve it.  It is not so with our emotions.  Yet our emotions have the potential to be every bit as debilitating as a broken limb.

If anyone thinks emotions will not play a major role in TEOTWAWKI they are deluding themselves.  Unless you are one of the very rare few who are incapable of feeling you may well find yourself in an emotional mess unlike anything you have ever encountered in your life.  And you can pretty much guarantee that the majority of people you have to deal with will also be emotional basket cases. How do you prepare for that?

I will suggest that step one is developing a good relationship with God.  I know there are many who don’t want to hear that, but if you look into those who survive the worst that life can throw at them (POWs for instance) you will find that faith makes a big difference.  Even this book, Emotional Intelligence, which builds its foundation on evolutionary theory, includes a quote on the value of a belief in God.  (More on that later.)

Step two should be educating yourself about yourself, and I believe that this book offers a good start.  I don’t find it to be the perfect book, and in fact I would love to hear from other SurvivalBlog readers if they are aware of better resources.  I can imagine that either law enforcement or the military should have developed materials more appropriately focused on this element.  However, lacking a book focused on TEOTWAWKI, this is the best I know of for an analysis of what makes a person tick on the emotional side.

The book opens with discussion of the physical side of emotions, from facial expressions and blood flow patterns to the anatomy of the brain.  A good portion of this part is given evolutionary credit where I personally believe the hand of The Designer is at work, but however you got there, what you have is what you have.  This part only skims the surface and does so in easily understood terms with lots of anecdotal examples.

Goleman goes into depth on the subjects of 1) Knowing one’s emotions, 2) Managing emotions,  3) Motivating oneself, 4) Recognizing emotions in others, and  5) Handling relationships.  All of these will be very necessary skills in the event of a system collapse.

Emotions which are addressed with some detail include rage/anger, anxiety, melancholy and fear.  On the opposite side are discussed optimism and “flow”. Flow is an interesting subject all in itself.  “Getting in the groove” might be a reasonable synonym.  It is the state of mind in which one is performing at their peak level, doing a task for which they are well prepared, but which involves a degree of challenge.

There are also several pages on the subject of emotional wounds and PTSD.  This material will likely be very applicable to a TEOTWAWKI event.  The healing process discussed may be very valuable knowledge, particularly given that what seems to work best is not what I would call intuitive.  One of the best techniques used by children appears to be the reliving of the event through role play, but with a better outcome.  While parents and educators don’t want the children to even think about the event, the children are making a game of it, and apparently that game has healing potential.

Applications discussed for emotional intelligence include such things as education, marriage, management and medicine (emotion plays a role even in healing after surgery).

It should be noted that this is not a book to plan on reading through in one sitting.  To extract what is needed one needs to plan to spend a good deal of time in introspection and consideration section by section.  There was at least one part of this book which I had my wife read and consider how well it applied to me.  Expect to find out things about yourself as you read this.  Plan on spending time thinking about the ramifications of those findings.  It can be good or bad, but regardless of which, you will be better off if you know what you are working with.  If need be, you may be able to make changes now in order to be more emotionally fit for the future. One of the last sections is “Temperament is not Destiny.”  There are things you can do to alter your emotional condition.

As I mentioned already I believe there could be better books out there for this audience.  I did not read this book with the idea in mind of reviewing it for SurvivalBlog.  When it occurred to me that this book might be a candidate for a review I had to put some effort into refreshing my mind about the book.  I had been struck by the mention of God when I first read the book, and that in part because it seemed so incongruous to the rest of the text.  Indeed, I went hunting for that reference just to make sure I was not in error in mentioning it.  There is an index at the back of the book.  God did not rate an entry.  However, “Guns, danger of” did rate an entry, and that reminded me of this tidbit from the book, speaking of children born during the 1980s:  “These teenagers are the first generation to have not just guns but automatic weaponry easily available to them…” I couldn’t make heads or tails of that nonsensical statement, but I suspect it speaks to the author’s perspective and his degree of understanding on matters near and dear to this audience. s

JWR Adds: Harry is correct in pointing out the author’s apparent bias and unfamiliarity with firerms facts. Mr. Goleman is woefully under-informed. Here is a dose of truth: Fully automatic weaponry has never been “easily available” to teenagers, but semiautomatic guns have been in American homes since the early 1900s. Semi-automatic rimfire rifles were introduced by Winchester in 1903, and centerfire semi-auto hunting rifles have been quite popular ever since the introduction of the Remington Model 8 series rifles, in 1906. It is also noteworthy that semi-auto shotguns have been in common use since FN introduced the Auto-5 shotgun in 1902. Detchable magazine semi-auto rifles have been very popular in civilian use since just after World War II, when large numbers of M1 Carbines came home in dufflebags. (And there were nearly a million more sold to civilian shooters by the DCM in the 1960s.) The ratio of semi-auto rifles to traditional repeaters (pump, lever action, and bolt action) in civilian hands hasn’t changed appreciably in the past 30 years, although semi-auto handguns now clearly predominate over revolvers. What Mr. Goleman and assorted leftist do-gooders fail to recogniize is that even though per capita firearms ownership in America is now at an all-time high, both the violent crime rate and the rate of accidental deaths with firearms have been on the decline for several decades. (Although the percentage of homes with gun owners has gradually declined, the total number of guns has increased, indicating that the average size of private gun collections has increased.)