Letter: Teach emotional intelligence

ktx america stampTeach emotional intelligence

It is with profound grief that I am writing this letter. This past week, I attended the funeral of a bright and apparently well-adjusted 15-year-old who committed suicide.

When adolescents are tragically violent against themselves or others, it naturally causes people to wonder how this could happen, and sadly there are often no adequate answers, only supposition. Parents now worry that their children, who appear OK, will do the same thing. We as a society can no longer address these questions posthumously with a few counselors brought into the community to help put the pieces back together. There could never be enough of us to meet the growing demand. We’ll never be able to remove all the guns, ropes, pills or other weapons of destruction.

It is for this reason that I would like to address the bigger issue of mental health education. I believe it is time to institute mandatory education curriculum to teach emotional intelligence in schools, K-12. We live in a world of extreme stress and alienation which is impacting all generations. There is no downside to EQ, Emotional Intelligence. Our children need to know how to access their emotional intelligence and master it — to understand their emotions, how to relate to them, and how to live with them. After all, they will have them all of their lives. This is essential at all ages of development, and it is particularly imperative when children hit the rough patches of puberty. The emotional roller coasters brought on by hormone upheaval, as we have seen time and again, can be deadly as the youngsters take desperate and drastic measures in reaction to their feelings. We need to teach them the tools and give them creative and rote experience to recognize, identify and manage their emotional states.


As a traumatologist and psychotherapist, I see the effects of poor psychological education, and emotional dysregulation everyday. Violence, victimization, bullying, drug use, sexual acting out, self-mutilating behaviors, murder and suicide are issues that are being addressed separately in communities around the country. All of these need to be addressed together first at the core level — and the place to start is with emotional intelligence education.

We grieve as a community for our children and for our country. Let’s enact some real change to address this now.

Noelle Damon, LCSWR, DAAETS, Holistic Psychotherapist/Traumatologist/Consultant, Diplomate, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, Kingston

There are 6 comments

  1. gberke

    What does emotional intelligence education look like? where is it done, how has it worked and could the books possibly come out of Texas?
    If emotional intelligence can be taught, where are the textbooks?
    Bad behavior? that’s morality Public deportment? That’s civics.
    Suicide prevention… that’s where you talk about suicide right up front, explain how people get there and the damage it does to everyone that loves them.
    We paint all suicide as irrational, and it is not. So we don’t give people a means to test what they are going through with a rational decision, and we leave them outside the realm of any access to reason…

  2. CP

    If we want our kids to be happier, let’s give them a world to be happier about:

    More political intelligence, less schoolyard-bulling and name-calling. More co-operation, less confrontation. More seeing the word as it is, less doctrinaire obfuscation. More and more realistic education, less denial of truth for ostensibly religious or other reasons. More action on climate change, less sticking our heads in the sand. More reality, less spin. More understanding of how negotioation,, not violence or war, is the best first choice for resolving conflicts, either personal or national. More honey, less vinegar. Let’s give our kids a better answer to the question asked by the late Rodney King: “Can’t we all get along?” Yes, we can; Together, let’s figure out how.

    Optimism always works better than pessimism. Kids – and adults – with that attitude, and a realistic sense of their surroundings, are far more likely to thrive.

  3. nopolitics

    All of the above are great when it comes to ideas and ideals. Now let’s get down to reality:
    What we have in this country is a huge megalopoly of industry associated with the mental illness system. No “wholistic psychotherapist”–nor indeed Dr. Joe Mauceri, MD who saw himself as an itinerant type of that himself–can agree with promotion of the concept of mental illness. The letter above instead focuses on something else, something that might actually make a positive impact if put into practice. Industry is always opposed to that if the end result is it takes away its own business.
    The mental illness industry is also forevermore promoting itself and the successful mantra, taught by “Democrats” who are in fact “Dumbocrats” such as Mr. Sottile, is instead forever railing against “Deinstitutionalization” as a means of not letting go of nor letting up on the perennial villification of every Republican ever born, in this case the venerable Ronald Wilson Reagan. And since New York State has a long history of being involved both governmentally in a supportive way of this industry and also in support of the private ancillary industries surrounding same, particularly in this region in Middletown and Poughkeepsie. OMH, like many state agencies, are used as jobs programs to find such for persons victimized by pedophile priests for example, who refuse to shut up without a similar reward in a state agency which supposedly functions as a regulator but in fact only functions as a rubber stamp and an agent that happily “looks the other way” at all industry abuses.
    There are also some readers who would immediately downplay the author’s lack of credentials or seeming such, although she makes it sound her credentials have both great meaning in the field and esteem therein. However, that does not dissuade me from accepting her ideas as delineated, and to observe that those in the more accepted areas of the field are often entirely useless because their masters have insisted they go along with program, which is to promote more and more the concept of mental illness. Proactive understanding of emotions? That’s too cutting edge, there’s too much potential to wipe out large portions of the industry which neither adheres to science at any iota of a level nor adheres to the slightest notion about human rights or dignity that may arise therefrom. It’s all about operating another business, and the clients/consumers/patients/industry brokered slaves be damned. This is why liberals and conservatives have and will continue to both fail when approaching this issue.
    Those persons who have experienced a lot of trauma if not the most trauma will find their insurance doesn’t cover the services of Ms. Damon, either. So in the overall scheme of things, until those changes are made, and moreover until the PUBLIC at least insists that the industry start to think and act toward progressive and preventive ideas that have some chance of working like these listed above, there will certainly be no improvement in the level of overall satisfaction level our society has in general with itself. The only satisfaction level anyone does experience now is in dividends and stock price surges in the industries involved in this unscientific, barbaric and trauma-inducing charade we refer to as the mental health system. Hook up with an industry totally devoid of science, and you too can be a liberal political maniac devoid of either emotional intelligence or any significant brain at all. And if conservative, John Kasich and other hundreds of happy elected officials will be happy to indulge your support of the mental illness system based entirely on fear mongering, public safety, and all of that.
    Now let’s look at what drove a lot of mental health industry policy in this state since the 1950’s, When Fulton J. Sheen, Archbishop of NY, dared mention “Psychiatry” on his television shows in comparative pieces between that and “Theology”(which gave Psychiatry a sort of social status it didn’t have before), same having been inculcated for the purpose of assuaging the NYC shiek culture of the elite residents of NYC having a personal Psychiatrist, and things like same practitioners allowing folks like gossip columnist/”What’s My Line?” panelist Dorothy Killgallen overdose on such drugs, just as Judy Garland did her entire life, ending by being killed by same at the age of 47. Once Sheen, the then Archbishop of the huge Roman Catholic Archdiocese of NY did this, he married religion, which prior thereto was seen as too staid and rigid, with the rest of popular culture(which in this case was and remains pure evil). Sheen was a very popular figure of his time, but in doing this, Sheen opened the door into which evil walked through and hasn’t left popular culture, elitist culture, or Roman Catholic culture. The latter stems from the foundational notion, expressed vividly in the taking of unnecessary back surgeries by John F. Kennedy, that with liberal levels of education, mankind could do just about anything and achieve just about anything, and it was a sort of blind faith in the power of advanced education to also represent absolute truth in this regard, which, while this of course fell short of such expectations, hasn’t really left the popular mindset of most Roman Catholics. Thus, Psychiatry was admired by officials of the Roman Catholic Church so much so that it was used liberally by Roman Catholic Clergy to address issues which, while better addressed by the elmination of the rule of celibacy, became a popular practice within Roman Catholic culture as a means to further practice its own beliefs in the power of advanced education. Even as Psychiatry does not have–and never did have–any scientific basis worthy of the mention of itself along with scientific ideas—yet within the Roman Catholic Culture, Psychiatry remains well regarded and highly esteemed as a discipline arising from advanced postsecondary formal education. Even as the practice thereof neither is more positively useful to society than the practice of Roman Catholicism, and even as the practice thereof has demonstrably not led to any overall increase in societal advancement or overall satisfaction therewithin, both Psychiatry in the general populace and within Roman Catholicism remains a popular idea, right up there if not surpassing the long discredited idea that John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a vast conspiracy or any conspiracy at all. Against this reality, good ideas cannot long endure, as business interests tend to trounce these, and of all business interests in this country, hardly anything comes close to this industry which runs on fear, is stoked by fear-mongers including most of the media, and will neither go away in its current useless form nor reform to a state of comparative usefulness because it is too set in its ways to so change, and the healthcare megalopoly literally owns every elected official in this nation and thus no reform is possible due to this reality(which does not appear it will change in my lifetime).

    1. prairienut

      I think you have some good points to make, but if you tightened up your prose more people would have a shot at getting through your post.

  4. noppolitics

    Mr. Berke, you have an excellent example in suicide being painted as “irrational” when, at least often enough, it is not.
    Robin Williams for example had Parkinson’s Disease, and this diagnosis was confirmed in and by his autopsy. Folks can scream and whine all they want about how “clowns are really depressed deep down inside” and so forth, but they never get to whatever the issue(s) are that the person experienced. He had a moral right in my view to take his own life if that is what he preferred to do. That is also quite different than following Psychiatry which says “here–take this pill and it’s good for you” and that pill shortening your life, ie, in essence, killing you(which happens much more frequently than the stubborn admirers of Psychiatry, mainly composed of Roman Catholics who enjoy the imagery of pain which arises from torture, much like pointers used by Nuns in the old days of teaching and heavy metal rings some used to crush the little fingers of little boys just to let ’em know WHO was IN CHARGE. Funny how straightjackets, restraints and machines which pass electricity through the brain seem to conjure up such great memories….
    Besides that, since Psychiatry paints everything normal as irrational as well, we can validly include everything–except of course, Psychiatry itself and its circular reasoning and functioning, which is irreproachable even as a nonscience added to that description of itself.
    Now personally, I believe society should handle suicide like it handles auto insurance:”have some because it might in some instances be ok”. So if you can dispose of your body financially and thus not be a burden in that sense on society, and you want to do yourself in, fine. Unless you are a minor, you ought be able to do that legally. But of course Psychiatry has worked such wonders for our society and at very little cost, yes(twin lies)?
    What comes to mind also is the case of Mrs. LoDato, which Mr. LoDato fought valiently to pursue against a prosecutorial culture that refused to hear and turned him away, which is after a suicide attempt by his wife, if society then says “well we ought to do everything in medicine to help that person survive”, and instead we find that a physician merely hastened the process(who’s to say that’s the worst evil in the overall scenario, but are we a nation of LAW or a nation of “what I say at any given time IS law?–that’s what it BOILS DOWN TO). We are a nation of expedience and worship authority so much that here is how Kingston treated that advocacy–with disdain, protective of Dr. Mark Jobson. Then, let us compare this to how Kingston treated Dr. Bernadette O’Hara. Well, the main difference is the former issue got much ink and the latter got no ink. But Kingston threw Dr. O’Hara out like a baby out with the bathwater. And on pretexts and reasons that had nothing to do with anything. So if Kingston is found at all “Schizoid”, then these two physician experiences is one good example of that. Of course it could well be that Kingston, in general, just doesn’t know what the FLUB it is doing–which is more like–yeah, Kingston does NOT know what the FLUB it is doing along very many lines….and it HASN’T known for years and years and years. That’s WHY so many of us have such strong FAITH in most or much of Kingston’s medical community and its ability to serve our needs so very WELL–and have hung onto this level of faith through thick and thin, Nuns being exiled to alliances being created, to alliance CEO’s being run out. LMAO

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