Emotional literacy has become something of a buzz-phrase for the new millennium--but what on earth does it mean? According to Susie Orbach
,one definition of emotional literacy is: "the capacity to register our emotional responses to the situations we are in and to acknowledge those responses to ourselves so that we recognise the ways in which they influence our thoughts and actions."
In simpler terms, emotional literacy is the attempt to take responsibility for understanding our personal emotions. But this is no trivial undertaking, as Orbach points out in this collection of writings taken from her column in the Guardian.
Orbach says that without knowledge of our emotions we cannot hope to mature or understand what it is that stops us from ever being completely satisfied. In Towards Emotional Literacy, she looks at a wide range of different emotional responses to situations in families, between friends, at work and in the political and public arenas in order to demonstrate the increasing importance of emotional literacy in everyday life.
The emotionally illiterate--the hypercritical manager who diminishes the effectiveness of his staff and damages their self-esteem in the process; the disruptive child who interrupts the class, making it difficult for the other children to pursue their own interests; two friends who gossip, or put down a third party as a means to cementing a friendship--are all around us, and reading through the different sections it is impossible not to recognise yourself in at least one of the sample situations.
The author's sound belief that until we validate our emotions, Recognising what we are feeling and using it to enhance rather than to overwhelm our thinking, is fair enough, and in true Orbach style she makes her point well, arguing clearly and concisely, without patronising the reader and continuously provoking a definite response. But when it comes to taking the emotional bull by the horns and taking her advice? Read Towards Emotional Literacy at least twice before you try. --Susan Harrison.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
* The second collection of her Guardian columns, following the successful WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON HERE. Susie Orbach is regarded as Britain's most famous psychotherapist.