A Sik Mind? With Dr George Sik - October 2014
Monday, 6th October 2014
A Sik Mind?
With Dr George Sik BSc (Hons), PhD, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPsS
Welcome to a new short column, revealing intriguing morsels from the wider world of psychology. Fascinated as we are by personality, it’s always interesting to read about what is counter-intuitive and the ‘dark side of emotional intelligence’ (nothing to do with Star Wars!) is one such topic. Essentially, being emotionally intelligent doesn’t necessarily make you a nice person – despite what books popularising the subject might have led you to believe. You can be very kind and caring but naïve or unaware of what people are really up to, or – and this is more sinister – very skilled at understanding others and putting yourself in their shoes, but with motives that are entirely selfish and manipulative. Machiavelli would have been very emotionally intelligent indeed! It is even making researchers think a different way about psychopaths, traditionally thought to be incapable of empathy with others. It seems that some kinds of psychopath can be more than a little skilled in seeing things from other people’s point of view, but only to serve their own devious ends. It’s worth remembering, then, that being emotionally intelligent is all very well…but it’s only the beginning of the story in terms of predicting how someone will actually behave.
The famous Rorschach inkblots test is seen by many these days as rather a relic of its time. Adults don’t necessarily project their hopes and fears into discussions of what they see when looking at a blot. When it comes to children, however, there is evidence of projection aplenty in the pictures that they draw and the stories that they tell. A new book called Inside Children’s Minds by Valerie Yule provides some fascinating insight into this area, with many examples of actual drawings and stories that the author has come across when working with children. Something as commonplace as a house, when it features in a tale told or an illustration made by a child can reveal a great deal about the mind of the child concerned and the book treats what can be a very serious topic in an accessible and engaging way. It’s worth listening to children’s stories and looking at their paintings more carefully: through learning in greater depth about how they use their imaginations, you can often find out a great deal more about them.