Emotional and social intelligence

I got 5.23 in the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire, which didn’t really surprise me. I feel that I am a very emotional person and am empathetic towards others’ emotions. a skill I have developed during my years as a nurse as empathy is essential to help people who are scared or in pain. I lost points in that I struggle to control my emotions, frequently crying with women who have miscarried or grieving relatives. I do think it is important to be able to have control over emotions in the workplace as showing anger or grief can be seen by colleagues and clients as unprofessional. However, I do know from personal experience that long term suppression of emotions can be detrimental to the worker and can result in burn out. I do however think it is important to suppress some emotions at work such as anger and grief, but in future I will be more aware of the long term effects of this and work on measures to mitigate it, such as time out, meditation or exercise.

Professor von Hippel talks about social intelligence and how it’s controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain. He supports this with both historical evidence and experimental evidence on volunteers which he has conducted in his laboratory. The historical evidence pertained to a man whose personality changed completely after an accident in which his frontal lobe was damaged and as a result his personality changed for the worse which resulted in him losing his job. Von Hippel also presents evidence for the frontal lobe shrinking as we age with the result that older people may inadvertently make inappropriate comments. I found this interesting as it is something I have noticed whilst nursing elderly people, who can come out with some shockers and I never realised it was due to this.

Professor Panksepp discussed the neuroscience of primal emotions. He presents evidence from animal studies and clinical trials to support his theories that emotions are due to the release of chemicals into the brain such as opioids and may be triggered by stimulating areas of the brain. He argues that by understanding more about the neuroscience of emotion incarceration can be reduced as anger will be better understood and treatable, as would addiction. There would also be a scope for more effective treatment of mental illness such as depression. I found his theories really exciting as mental illness, addiction and incarceration are areas in which I’m particularly interested. I previously worked as a nurse in prisons and was surprised with how many of the population had one or more of these issues, so I feel that if his theories are put into practice incarceration rate and cost can be significantly reduced. I have also just commenced work as a librarian at an organisation which provides support to people and their families effected by drugs, alcohol or mental illness.


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