David Brooks, columnist with New York Times, has just authored a new book, The Social Animal, in which he documents research that demonstrates the importance of emotions, the unconscious and the human capacity to "connect" to other humans through such techniques as immitation, modelling, and seeing into another's thinking and feeling.
His book is counterintuitive to the conventional wisdom about many aspects of our social and political culture, in that reason and logic and data do not always provide solid bases for making decisions, although these aspects do still belong in any equation that seeks to generate "good" decisions.
Identity, still a potent factor as a predictor of future success for some, while for others, the name they were given at birth seems to influence their future life patterns. In fact, the capacity to see and to explore patterns is one of the better ways to evaluate intellectual capacity, as if the capacity to relate to others, and to use emotions to provide value to experience.
Speaking on the TVO program Big Ideas, recorded at the Rotman School of Management in October, 2011, Brooks enlightened his audience through some of his analyses of current political behavior...In discussing President Obama, he says, "If we all have multiple personalities, then Obama is the person with the most personalities, and the 'up' side is that he can see himself both from the inside and from the outside, yet the 'down side' is he is rarely all in, or totally present." With respect to Romney, he recounts an incident in a diner in Maine, during which Romney, when running in 2008, met some thirty-five people at various tables, exchanged greetings with each, and on the way out, named each by their first name. That incident describes some of the nature of the American politician, for Brooks.
Bringing emotions along with the unconscious and our capacity to 'connect' at deep levels into our policy discourse, including how we design education, will have a dramatic impact on the kinds of decisions that are made by those responsible.
For decades, I have argued that churches fail their parishioners in their denial of the emotional life of humans, and for centuries, churches have considered emotions to be a sign of human weakness, verging on evil.
I use an incident in which I was directly involved:
When speaking with an Episcopal Bishop, in 2000, about what I considered the "male need to identify and to own and to name our emotions," this specific bishop literally screamed, "You can't do that! It is far too dangerous!" And which moment, the assistant to the bishop declared, "There is already too much emotion in this room for me, and I have to leave!"
Needless to say, my relationship with the church, all Christian churches, has long ago ended, probably by mutual consent, although such an encounter never formally occurred.
May Brooks' book, his columns and his insights continue to roll over those, especially males, whose consideration of their emotional character to be "off limits" both to themselves and to their families, in the hope that even a few men will awaken to the gift of those emotions claimed, and honoured and shared with those they love, including all of their co-workers, and their colleagues, and especially those whose lives are shaped by their "world view."
Quoting another researcher, and one of the more clarifying and insightful metaphors used by the researcher was that humans are more like "clouds" than "clocks" but whenever we have a problem, we try to fix the problem as if it were a clock, without realizing that we are not even perceiving the situation as complex and abstract as it is.