EI Theory – Part One

I received an email from a reader who asked me to slow down my writing a bit.  S/he went on to explain that s/he would be ever-so-grateful for a fuller explanation – a more bit-sized rendition of emotional intelligence (EI) theory.

Because I am especially deferent to my readers, our journey together for the next few days at least will focus on creating a moveable feast of sorts.  I hope to provide you with a fuller description of EI theory, complete with an array of EI delicacies sure to tempt even the most discerning palate.

Shall we?

Like Justitia who is often depicted holding a set of scales typically suspended from her left hand, human beings are a dynamic combination of biological, psychological and sociological (bio-psycho-social) factors whose healthy emotional and physical existence depends on balance. If more weight is given to any one side of the scale, imbalance on all sides will likely occur.

Our ever-increasing knowledge of genetics, the growing authority of neuropsychology over general psychology and the immense insight we now possess regarding neuroanatomy  is helping to make clear the influence of human biology over human emotion. But even these advances in the hard the sciences are not enough to provide us with a definitive explanation for our emotional complexity.  Social phenomenon, learning and repetition each play an important role in our emotional lives, making us much less biologically fixed-in-place than pure science alone would have us believe.

Here lies the rationale for the elongated examination of EI theory.  In the simplest way possible, we might come to value our ability to objectively assess and improve our own emotional behavior from a bio-psycho-social perspective.

Much of the influence of EI theory depends on taking a bio-psycho-social view– a balanced assessment of the origin of our emotional issues. EI theory hopes to integrate these often isolated systems into one coherent whole.

The biological reference in the bio-psycho-social model acknowledges the impact human anatomy and physiology have on emotional health. The influence of neurochemicals, hormones, the limbic neighborhood, the autonomic/sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems each contributes to the expression of emotion.

The psychological component of the bio-psycho-social model represents the cognitive process humans use to interpret their environment. The psychological factors thought to represent human emotion include thoughts, emotions and behaviors. EI theory endorses the work of Dr. Albert Ellis (September 27, 1913 – July 24, 2007) an American psychologist who in 1955 developed the intervention strategy known as rational emotive behavior theory (REBT).  REBT is believed by EI theory practitioners to be the most comprehensive body of psychological knowledge available today and fits nicely into a whole-person perspective. EI theory applies many of the already-established techniques common to REBT to help build individual emotional resolve.  Finally, REBT provides a step-by-step, strategic plan that nicely translates into real-life advantage, making self-help and independent use more of a possibility – rather than developing in its user a dependence on therapeutic assistance.

The social component of the bio-psycho-social model includes factors such as family of origin, community, tradition and the influence of one’s broader culture on thinking and emotion. Other common factors to look at from a social perspective include intimate relationships, socio-economic status and geography. When viewed individually, the social aspect of the bio-psycho-social model is a more difficult phenomenon to translate into treatment. Often, emotional wellness includes assessing the strengths and weaknesses found in one’s environment and their impact on one’s ritualized and excusable (yet self-defeating) behavior.

One’s social environment is often quite static, frequently unchanging and resistant to new conditions, new relationships and new habits. Changing thought and behavior are essential to the EI theory model. Examining and making adjustments to how one relates, interacts, cooperates and congregates within the confines of one’s own unique social environment may result in ostracization, ridicule, mockery and scorn from one’s peers. Social change may be one of the more difficult issues to address when assisting individuals using an EI theory intervention strategy.

Now that we have recognized the bio-psycho-social framework of EI theory, we will spend the next few days defining the intervention process more clearly.  It is important to remember, regardless, that EI theory depends on using a whole-person perspective.  EI theory rejects modern-day psychology’s over-emphasis on pharmaceuticals as a single solution for most mental health issues, resulting in a lack of focus on other factors that influence mental health.


10 responses

  1. Pharmaceuticals often serve to mask problems that could be helped greatly by behavior modification techniques. I further believe in many instances pharmaceuticals make psychological problems worse. Obviously there are genetic tendencies toward disorders, but I personally believe pharmaceuticals should be avoided most of the time.

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