Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Emotional literacy

With drawing the four feelings one is wanting to know if the child (or adult) has the word A.N.G.E.R. (and the 3 others) connected up with the right emotional experience. One looks for these kind of things. Below are two drawings of anger and one searches for the right signs in the drawing.

Do they draw the appropriate facial expressions and body posture and paraphernalia?

Angry 2

Angry 1

These are two interesting drawings of anger. At least at the surface level they indicate a good level of emotional literacy with anger.

The second drawing has clenched fists, exposed teeth, eyes and eyebrows right for the emotion. This is a good sign that they have A.N.G.E.R. and the correct emotional experience connected together.

Further investigation would look into the BOOM and the swirling thing above the head. One is looking for the possibility of explosive anger with the boom and when angry the person experiencing a kind of swirling effect in the head or some kind of change in the consciousness. It is most likely this is not the case and one is kind of ruling the out possibility. But it may lead to something of this kind.

In the first drawing of anger we also have the teeth, the clenched fist and words that are appropriate to anger. Also we have the appropriate paraphernalia with an axe with what seems to be blood dripping from it. Again one would need to rule out the possibility of the inappropriate expression of anger with the use of physical violence as symbolised by the axe. Or the person may have come from a background where anger and physical violence went together. Or it may indicate a very intense level of the experience of anger for the individual.

However in summary both the drawings show a satisfactory level of emotional literacy with anger and areas where subsequent questioning could occur.

Happy 1

This is a good drawing of happy as the picture has a happy feel to it and the figure looks appropriate with the smile, relaxed posture, the cat and the serene surroundings. Thus indicating reasonable literacy levels with this emotion.

With this emotion one also wants to assess the persons social life. In this drawing the person is alone and not with others or engaged in interactions with others. Subsequent questioning would be on this area. However the instruction was to draw a happy person and not draw a happy person with others so that is the usual explanation one gets when questioning like this.

With such questioning one is looking for this emotion to be experienced in interactions with others particularly others who are of emotional importance to the child such as the parents, (or with adults the spouse).

In the picture the figure looks to be patting the cat. This could be a sign of the NP ego state. It is OK to experience happy feelings whilst in NP and I would be asking about the person experiencing happy just for them self and not when looking after some thing else like an animal or another person.

Scared 2
If you want to see it larger simply click on the photograph

This is an interesting drawing and reflects the possibility of some level of illiteracy with this emotion. The small figure, wanting to be alone and possibly hiding behind a wall. These are not good signs as in this emotion one is wanting the person to be seeking out others who can provide safety and support. Could indicate the beginnings of the hurried child syndrome.



  1. Whenever I see my therapist he asks to see what paintings or drawings I have done or am in the process of doing. He may point out connections between my frame of mind and the work I have done.

    I kind of wish he didn't do that because since then I feel very self conscious of what I am doing when I paint. It has inhibited me. Maybe I should tell him. Or ask him to not analyse my work to me verbally (even if it appears show some correlation between my emotional state and my external surroundings).

  2. Interesting. As I said, I love your exercises. If I lived in a big city where drawing therapy was available I would go. Hurried child has come up for me before, not that I am sure what it means aside from the basic definition. I drew the axe with dripping blood with a bit of a smile on my face. I am not an axe murderer in real life lol!

  3. Hello Linda,
    I would definately suggest you say something. You don't want to loose what you get from your painting by becoming inhibited.



  4. Hi Kahless,

    I find it hard to imagine you as an axe murderer.

    But from what I know of you the hurried child certainly applies.



  5. I think emotional literacy is the same thing as EQ (emotional quotient) which is something researchers study a lot in management. Studies always show that people with low EQ aren’t good at working on teams and don’t make effective leaders. Is emotional literacy something that people are supposed to learn from being around other people, or is there some kind of genetic reason people lack it? Is emotional literacy anything like a personality trait?

  6. Tony,
    I am on holiday next week. I am pleased to be going away. We are going to Israel. Some people have asked if I will be safe. That doesn't worry me. But tomorrow someone is going to shout at me and I am scared. I feel somewhat stupid for that. So I guess my 'scared' is all mixed up.
    Definitely in need of hugs!

  7. I hope you have a good holiday Kahless,

    I don't know if I would agree that your scared is all mixed up. The realness of someone shouting at you and the emotional fall out is psychologically far more dangerous than going to Israel.

    So here is a cyber hug from me