Emotional Intelligence Construct
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive accurately emotion, appraise emotion, and express emotion; the ability to generate and access feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional growth and intellectual growth.
People who are aware of their own and others’ emotions gain a large amount of information about themselves, others, and the environment. Individuals who do not recognize their own emotions and others’ emotions are cut off from this useful information.
Emotional Intelligence is an important aspect of personality organization and personality functioning. There are varying levels of emotional intelligence ~ a spectrum as emotional intelligence needs to be evaluated in relationship to Self (intra-personal) and to Others (inter-personal) and to Society.
As part of the patient’s clinical assessment of baseline and progress through psychological treatment, emotional intelligence (such as, cognitive empathy & emotional empathy) is routinely assessed.
Emotional Intelligence and Development
As we emotionally mature through childhood and into adulthood we learn and take on board moral standards that we absorb from the individuals around us, from society at large, and the people who make up the community we live in. All being well, the development of these moral standards passes through several stages through childhood and adolescence, moving towards reward and positive outcomes and positive self-esteem/confidence, moving away from avoidance of punishment, moving away from avoidance of disapproval and rejection; and then, finally, to avoidance of guilt and self-recrimination. Unfortunately, some people dodge the last step in the process.
Emotional Intelligence and Impulses
All Emotions are Impulses to Act or not to act. The emotions of fear, anger, happiness, love, surprise, disgust, and sadness send signals to the brain that release hormones to give strength to the necessary actions and reactions. Though not often viewed this way, we are feeling creatures that think, not the other way around. Humans are of two minds: the emotional mind and the rational mind. One mind feels and the other thinks.
The emotional mind lodges impulsive, powerful, and often illogical feelings, while the rational mind affords us the ability to think and reflect (e.g. introspection).
The two minds interact. Being alert to our feelings allows them to inform our conscious thought and can lead to action for coping and surviving. Feelings inform the rational mind, which then moderates the involvement and expression of our emotions. Some of us have greater access to our feelings and a more expansive emotional range than others, so there is considerable individual variation in how we respond to feelings and thoughts.
Emotional Intelligence Constitutes Three Components of Mind
The concept of emotional intelligence emerged in psychological research and constitutes three components of the mind: cognition (thought), affect experience (feeling) and motivation (to act or not to act). To make use of one’s emotions in an intelligent way requires us to connect the first two components of the mind: cognition and feeling.
The theory of emotional intelligence links cognition and feeling by suggesting that emotions make cognitive processes more intelligent and that one can think intelligently about emotions.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS DEFINED AS THE ABILITY TO PERCEIVE ACCURATELY, APPRAISE AND EXPRESS EMOTION; THE ABILITY TO GENERATE AND ACCESS FEELINGS WHEN THEY FACILITATE THOUGHT; THE ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND EMOTION AND EMOTIONAL KNOWLEDGE; AND THE ABILITY TO REGULATE EMOTIONS TO PROMOTE EMOTIONAL AND INTELLECTUAL GROWTH.
People who are aware of their own and others’ emotions gain a large amount of information about themselves and their environment. For example, a musician who is sensitive to experiencing pre-performance anxiety will know that she needs to find ways to keep calm before she goes on stage to perform. Over time she learns to manage this situation so it does not affect her actual performance. Individuals who do not recognize their own and others’ emotions are cut off from this useful information.
Emotional Intelligence and Personality
Emotional Intelligence is an important aspect of personality organization and personality functioning. There are varying levels of spectrum impairments as emotional intelligence needs to be evaluated in relationship to Self (intrapersonal) and to Others (interpersonal).
When I evaluate the quality of emotional intelligence, some dimensions that I am interested in 1) patient’s interpersonal functioning, 2 ) patient’s capacity for intimacy, and 3) patient’s internal investment in others, that is, the patient’s basic understanding of the nature of the close relationships, along with patient’s capacity to appreciate and care about the needs and feelings of others (empathy).
Evaluating Capacity for Intimacy
When evaluating capacity for intimacy, I consider whether the patient has been able to establish intimate relationships, whether the intimate relationships have been sustained over time, and whether the patient can integrate gratifying sexual experiences into intimate and tender relations.
Evaluating Internal Investments into Others
When evaluating the patient’s internal investments into others, I evaluate whether the patient sees the relationship in terms of need fulfillment, or in terms of who gets what from the relationship and who gets more, or whether the patient has a sense of mutual give and take.
Evaluating Capacity for Empathy
When evaluating the patients capacity for empathy, I evaluate does the patient have capacity for empathy —can patient accurately perceive and care about the needs and feelings of others? Is patient exploitive in relationships? Or does patient take satisfaction in giving to others and caring for others? Does patient have the capacity to allow oneself to be cared for?
Emotional Intelligence and Psychological Defenses
Emotional Intelligence also encompasses psychological defensive operations (i.e. Psychological Coping mechanisms) of the Personality organization. When I assess psychological defensive operations in regards to emotional intelligence, I evaluate 1) the degree to which the patient relies on predominately on a) healthy, adaptive coping defenses or b) repression-based coping defenses or c) splitting based coping defenses; And 2) the degree to which psychological defenses are maladaptive, pervasive, and introducing rigidity and interfering with personality functioning.
Lower-level “primitive” Defenses may look like paranoia, idealization/devaluatio, black and white thinking, narcissistic fantasies. Higher level coping defenses may look like perfectionism, anticipation and planning.
Emotional Intelligence and Aggression
Emotional intelligence also involves the assessment of the patient’s capacity to manage aggression, that is both internally directed and externally directed. Aggression is often expressed in behavior, either toward others or toward the self, and assessment of aggression tends to be largely behaviorally focused.
Self-directed Aggression would look like self neglect, risky behavior, self-injury, and suicidality. Other-directed aggression would look like hostile verbal and behavioral temper attacks on others, enjoyment of suffering of others, and revenge.
In addition, I inquire and evaluate internal subjective expressions of aggression, such as overwhelming feelings of envy, intense hatred, or recurrent, often pleasurable fantasies of revenge. I also evaluate the patient’s self-comparison to others, for example, Self-Other “Grandiose Special” or Self-Other “Grandiose Victim”.
Emotional Intelligence and Moral Functioning
As with the assessment of aggression, assessment of moral functioning is largely behavioral, combined with evaluation of the patient’s experience ( or Lack of experience) of an internal moral compass and capacity experience: Guilt (ie. Fear of getting caught) versus Remorse (i.e. internal experience of regret).
As part of the patient’s clinical assessment of baseline and progress through psychological treatment, emotional intelligence is routinely assessed. Assessment of emotional intelligence focuses on the sense of Others as well as sense of Self
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Thank you, warmest,
Shawna Freshwater, PhD