The Richmond Review

book review   


      home : book reviews : The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus

Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman
London 1996

Merchandise Links

UK Edition:

US Edition:

We are Descartes’ children. The power of I-think-therefore-I-am has to a great extent contributed to a culture that prizes rational thought above all other mental activities, ghettoising emotional responses within the limited arena of the family and individual relationships. Rational thought is valued precisely for its apparent lack of emotional, or "irrational" attributes, considered unreliable, whimsical and essentially subjective, all attributes that are considered negative. Rational thought is perceived as masculine, emotional thought is perceived as feminine. The polarisation in our culture into masculine and feminine, with all the attendant value judgements has been at the centre of sociological, psychological and feminist debates for the last 30 years.

Daniel Goleman argues that far from being detrimental to rational thought, emotional intelligence is an integral part of our thought processes. He contends that emotional awareness includes self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, self-motivation, empathy and social deftness, and that these are qualities which mark people who excel, whose relationships flourish and who succeed at work. Emotional intelligence is not something that is fixed at birth but which can be nurtured. He cites neurological research on people whose emotional brain areas have been damaged. Daily functioning was severely impaired, although IQ and cognitive ability remained unchanged. Without access to their emotional knowledge, these people were unable to make decisions that superficially seemed to involve only rational thought – such things as making an appointment became the focus of endless agonising and difficulty.

There are echoes of all those great self-help books with shiny covers that promised to show you How to Make Yourself More Attractive and Change the World in 24 Hours! Goleman gets under the rational defences and tempts the businessman with "Want to be more effective and get a promotion?" And the bits about the five emotional domains – knowing your emotions, managing emotions, motivate yourself, recognising emotions in others and handling relationships could quite happily sit between the covers of Cosmopolitan.

But on the whole he provides a thoughtful and balanced critique of how we fail to nurture our emotional powers, and how detrimental this is, not only to the individual, but to society as a whole. More importantly he addresses the issue of rethinking the education we provide for children. Goleman argues that this is the only way out of the cultural impasse the West finds itself at. "I feel therefore I think" could be a useful soundbite for the future.

Reviewed by Jennifer Merk


Search The Richmond Review

Enter email address and Subscribe for updates

Product finder

Browse our network:

Visit The Big Bookshop


The Richmond Review

Copyright © 1995/2003 The Richmond Review