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Intellectual Unhappiness

One thing I have noticed among my more intellectual clients is an increased emphasis on, well, intellectualism. Among these very bright, educated, and discerning people, there seems to be little or no recognition that there exists an emotional, as well as an intellectual (logical, rational), experience of the world. And if there is recognition of an emotional experience, it almost always takes a back seat to the intellectual.

In thinking about my own education—my "schooling," as Mark Twain would put it—I realized all the things I was supposed to learn in school were of the intellectual variety. Beyond all else, I was taught to be a critical thinker, one who (although it was never stated so directly) did not let any sort of bias color my understanding of the world, certainly not an emotional one.

But I was not just learning geometry, Latin, physics, linguistics, and the rest, was I? I was also learning how to navigate a social environment. I was learning how to form relationships with teachers, friends, and romantic partners. I was figuring out what the hell I was going to do in life. It seems strange now, looking back on it, that none of this was part of my formal education. These things were supposed to be learned "on the side," while the "real" learning was taking place.

In the next few posts, I'd like to look at our culture's attitude toward emotional intelligence, emotional learning, and emotional experience, and examine the effects this kind of thinking has.

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