DSM: Emotional Intelligence?


Robert Swanson (robertswanson@icehouse.net)
Sun, 25 Feb 2001 16:06:00 -0800


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From: Robert Swanson <robertswanson@icehouse.net>
Re: Emotional Intelligence?
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What is emotional intelligence? Here is my attempt to answer that question
in light of what I have been studying about the brain and development of
intelligence. You may skip this wordy essay to read the final part - a
numbered list of emotional qualities.

The Adaptation, & Maladaptation, of Emotional Intelligence

Intelligence is the ability to act for one's wellbeing. I see this ability
to thrive as two parts, adaptive and motivational. One part is an adaptive
ability, such as a virus' or an insect's ability to mutate and adapt to a
changing environment, or a human's abilty to mutate and adapt the outer
environment to one's needs. Part two of intelligent ability is motivation.
For a virus or cell this would be genetic instructions in the form of
protiens doing the chemical work of survival. For mamals, motivation is a
midbrain activity relating the world to emotions, and choosing ways and
means which produce less fear and more joy. Intelligent survival for people
is the ability to live in more joy.

The midbrain is the "mamalian brain" or "relational brain". It is here the
various nerve signals converge to compose what we call the reality of our
world. How that reality is composed is strongly affected by the
preponderance of emotion associating the incoming data. The relating nature
of this emotional brain is different from the limited perceiving nature of
the lowest brain, and different from the isolated thought nature of the
highest brain. So, it is one thing to be a great data collector (reptilian
brain); it is another thing to be a great data recreator (neocortex); and,
it is another thing to be a great data collator (midbrain).

The reptilian brain also has feeling qualities, such as hunger for the food
it runs for, or fear for the preditor it runs from or bites, or the arousal
that impels it to chase a potential mate. But if these feelings can reach
the emotional midbrain then the relationship of feelings to the world
broadens. Impulsive actions are given new value once one has experienced the
effects that occur following action on these impulsive feelings. The mind
now has choices to make regarding value. Will there be self-sacrifice? Will
there be compassion? Will there be patience? Any of these may have more
value than simplistic spontaneity.

Intellect reasons abstractly all by its lonely self in the left brain. This
is pure creative license. Apart from stimuli or emotions or values, the
highest brain function reconsiders how past-referenced stimuli, feelings and
values can be reconfigured to create how the world could otherwise be
according to Garp (or insert your own name). Here, believing creates seeing.
When this creative power is sculpted by emotions relative to life, then it
has intelligence and not just abstract intellect. However, the job of
guiding the intellect may not be the sole responsibility of the midbrain nor
the responsibility of the reptilian brain. There is another element...

There are nerve cells in the heart muscle. These cells seem to give a
guiding response to options created by the brain. Let's call this heart
guidance "intuition". If the proper chain of command is in place, impulses
from the heart will choose from the midbrain's relational choices as
reported on by the two subcommitties, the reptilian brain stem and the
creative neocortex. From nearly endless possibilities, the heart gives us
the ability to make an appropriate snap decision. A person can take data
subsconsciously of the present moment, mix it with creative possibilities
derived from the infinite, sort these possibilities according to
emotionalized values developed from relating with the world, and produce a
snap decision for the health of self-as-the-world.

Neurons develop through use. The more the heartbrain is used the greater its
utility. The same for the other brains. The first part of creating
intelligence is to develop these capacities. The second part of manifesting
intelligence is operating the hierarchy of the conglomerate as it is
designed by nature. Human (mamalian) intelligence is when the midbrain rules
what goes on in our heads. This is emotional intelligence. Now, heart
guidance, intuitive intelligence, occurs as the heart guides midbrain
opportunities. If there is a third intelligence it might be "world
intelligence". Recent discoveries show that there is a separately operating
brain woven into the intestines. The easy assumption is that it controls
digestion. But what if it also is the intuition of survival that finds
safety or food. The first example that comes to mind is a video I saw of a
coyote moving its den to high ground just before water suddenly rose in the
rivine covering its old home. Or, how about the water witch who came to my
place to locate a well location. Within three feet he chose the same place I
had witched a week earlier with a couple of wires.

Our society does not rely on the advanced human intelligence of emotion.
Rather we listen to the impulses of the reptilian brain. Our society cannot
integrate the heartmind's directions because the emotional brain is not
relating adaquately and therefore is not listening. The neocortex cannot be
a creative influence toward higher societal values because it is isolated,
thinking unto its own behalf per commands from the lizard, and not for the
motivational factor of joy as a quality of survival. No, we humans are
opting for fear as a quality of survival balanced by arousal and hunger as
motives for making a small selfish application of reason from the intellect.
We humans have used infinite possibility to place the reptilian lizard brain
on top of the hierarchy. Instead of values, it is sex and violence and food
that package our limited options. Fear, not intuition, makes the final
choice from among these. The "joy" of food and sex is created by the action
of protiens in our endocrine system. The love-joy of compassionate
relationship is not the world this lizard creates for us to live in.

Should children play with those offering an experience of corrected brain
hierarchy, the world would be a different place.

                          **********

The nature of the natural hierarchy might be better understood as quality of
energy to thrive. Whenever this energy has direction it is conscious to us
as feelings or emotions. When conscious direction is no longer needed there
is peace.

Eleven Energies:

1) Death
Energy has ceased to move an individual.

2) Surrender
Apathy, the lack of motivation, generates no new activity of survival.

3) Angst
Anxiety generates new activity, but so confused as to be useless.

4) Anger
Now there is energy for directed action, but, it is for the purpose of
destruction. If dominant, this activity eventually depletes the individual.

5) Fear
Fright can generate a longer lasting blast of energy focused on sustaining
life via limitation. Contact with the world is limited by hiding or by
running or by camouflage. Energy output is still more destructive than
creative. Thus we can say motivation here is not to thrive, but just to
survive.

*At this point we move from reptilian motivation to mamalian motivation.

6) Excitement
Ideation of fear is being averted in favor of experiencing for the sake of
thriving in life.

7) Committment
Values have set limits on what should be exciting.

*Here begins the enthroning of the heartbrain that the midbrain need not
work so hard. We are disappearing the last of survival that we may thrive
maximally. Motivation is moving subsconscious.

8) Compassion
Emphasis is placed on valuing awareness of relationship with other life and
their ecologies.

9) Creation
There is energy for awareness that has direction, and also for acting on
this awareness in behalf of recreated values relative to self, to the world,
and beyond.

10) Love
Enough energy has been so well directed into experiencing opportunities that
brain development is completed fully, and the heart has command over the
midbrain which has successfully related lower and higher brain activity to
"life" as an expansive idea.

11) Peace
The energy has done its work to know life as a guided relationship in joy.
The how of "to thrive" is no longer a question in the mind, but a knowing.

robert swanson

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