Page presented by Bill Tillier.
⧈ * By Zeke Degraw, used with permission.
Born: 9/1/1902 Klarów, Poland Died: 11/26/1980 Warsaw.
▣ 1.1 What's this all about?
Kazimierz Dąbrowski (1902-1980) developed the Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) to describe psychological development. Dąbrowski’s approach is a precursor of the modern field of post-traumatic growth research. Dąbrowski felt no existing theory of psychology could explain the wide differences seen in human behavior. TPD is a broad and complex approach, with many interrelated and unique constructs. Although in many ways unusual, TPD has a solid basis in philosophy, psychology and neurology. In constructing TPD, Dabrowski reinterpreted existing psychological constructs and introduced new ones.
TPD has many potential applications, including in psychology, psychotherapy, education, philosophy, ethics, science, history, sociology, politics, and pastoral guidance.
Dąbrowski had an odd and complicated view of personality; he believed the average person has a group defined individuality, but not a unique personality. Personality represents one’s deep essence (one’s true, higher self), and reflects the highest level of development — however, personality is a rare achievement. Personality is defined as a self-aware, self-conscious, self-chosen, autonomous, authentic, and self-confirmed unity of mental qualities. The self is positive, other-oriented, and selfless (the ego is defeated). Here, we see empathy, humility, responsibility, self-education, self-assessment, and self-control.
Dąbrowski did not define mental health by the presence or absence of symptoms. Mental health reflects people as they “ought to be,” not as they are. It is defined by ideal, desirable, and authentic qualities.
Dąbrowski saw depression, self-doubt and anxieties as critical parts of growth. Conflicts may lead to emotional, philosophical and existential crises. Crises challenge us to review our life and create opportunities to reorder our priorities, to inhibit or drop some things, and enhance or add other things.
Dąbrowski said we should look at our emotions and differentiate lower from higher emotions. Awareness of our higher emotions allows them to direct us toward authenticity, where intelligence serves emotions. Intellect without emotion is unbalanced development. Feelings and imagination let us see “the higher possibilities” and “what ought to be in life.” Dąbrowski saw emotions and values as synonymous and said we must carefully evaluate our emotions to create, and/or choose, our own unique hierarchy of values.
Although we have an animal heritage, we have some uniquely human instincts that qualitatively separate us from animals; e. g., the developmental instinct, the creative, and self-perfection instincts.
Dąbrowski felt that psychological variables (e.g. intellect, instinct and emotion) are best understood, and must be described, using a multi-level analysis. Many people see life only on one level. However, reality consists of lower and higher levels that differ qualitatively. When we are able to see and compare psychological variables on lower and higher levels, it often creates conflicts over which we should choose. Over time, we build a hierarchy of choices that we are comfortable with. These “multilevel” views of ourselves, and of life, help us to see, and describe, reality more deeply and accurately.
Dąbrowski carefully observed people and described five levels of psychological functions: the lowest and highest levels are integrations. An integration reflects the cohesive, interrelated processes that are the foundation of our psychological functions. These two integrations are quite different. At the lowest level, is a strong self-serving, lower, ego-based identity, focused on one’s own needs and reflecting social roles and mores; this is adjustment to “life as it is.” This rigid integration curtails autonomy, but also provides strong security. At the highest level, is an integration reflecting a unique and authentic personality. It is a harmonious structure based on one’s unique essence and values. Adjustment is to “life as it ought to be.”
How do we develop from the lower to the higher level? In his research, Dąbrowski saw that people achieving personality show a common path; they have many crises, often breaking apart the lower integration, thus allowing opportunities to rebuild a unique self. This process is guided by the development of one’s personality ideal; a vision of one’s unique self and essence — of one’s best self. Once this image is seen, we can make day-to-day choices leading toward achieving our ideal.
Why is personality rare? Dąbrowski observed that people achieving personality show a group of common characteristics, linked to development, but not guaranteeing it. These “developmental potentials” consist of several psychological aspects that Dąbrowski believed are genetic. Not everyone has enough of these characteristics to reach full development. The most important of these characteristics involves nervous energy: Dąbrowski called it “overexcitability.” People with overexcitabilities often have intense experiences in life, usually creating, and/or intensifying, crises. Overexcitabilities may impact our physical energy, the five senses, our imagination, our intellectual curiosity, and our emotions — the most important type. Another key characteristic is a strong inner drive to express one’s true self. Other energy factors include the mental factors that shape development by controlling behavior — what Dąbrowski called dynamisms. Instincts, drives, and intellectual processes combined with emotions are dynamisms.
Conclusion: This is a complex but satisfying theory describing psychological development through crises.
Download What's this all about? As a PDF.
▣ 1.2 What's New?
The Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, Dr. Norma Hafenstein, The University of Denver, will host the Fifteenth International Dąbrowski Congress, in-person and with an online option, Monday-Tuesday, July 18-19, 2022.
A small block of hotel rooms is reserved at the Hilton Garden Inn Cherry Creek. Here is the link to reserve your hotel room (no charge today, free cancellation by 6 pm the day of check in). The default hotel reservation dates are July 17-20, for a total of $494, but the rate is good 3 days before and 3 days after.
For more information see: Website.
Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization When psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman first discovered Maslow's unfinished theory of transcendence, sprinkled throughout a cache of unpublished journals, lectures, and essays, he felt a deep resonance with his own work and life. In this groundbreaking book, Kaufman picks up where Maslow left off, unraveling the mysteries of his unfinished theory, and integrating these ideas with the latest research on attachment, connection, creativity, love, purpose and other building blocks of a life well lived.
Personality and Growth: A Humanistic Psychologist in the Classroom. In the winter of 1963-'64, American psychologist Abraham H. Maslow taught "Experiential Approaches to Personality" at Brandeis University. Personality & Growth: A Humanistic Psychologist in the Classroom contains the transcribed recordings of Maslow's remarkable work with his students.
We are pleased to announce: Personality development through positive disintegration: The work of Kazimierz Dąbrowski. By W. Tillier
This new publication presents a comprehensive overview of Kazimierz Dąbrowski's work and places it within a contemporary psychological context. This book will appeal to anyone interested in Dąbrowski's work.
▣ 1.3 Four seminal quotes set the stage:
1). "Personality: A self-aware, self-chosen, self-affirmed, and self-determined unity of essential individual psychic qualities. Personality as defined here appears at the level of secondary integration" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 301).
2). "The propensity for changing one's internal environment and the ability to influence positively the external environment indicate the capacity of the individual to develop. Almost as a rule, these factors are related to increased mental excitability, depressions, dissatisfaction with oneself, feelings of inferiority and guilt, states of anxiety, inhibitions, and ambivalences—all symptoms which the psychiatrist tends to label psychoneurotic. Given a definition of mental health as the development of the personality, we can say that all individuals who present active development in the direction of a higher level of personality (including most psychoneurotic patients) are mentally healthy" (Dąbrowski, 1964, p. 112).
3). "Intense psychoneurotic processes are especially characteristic of accelerated development in its course towards the formation of personality. According to our theory accelerated psychic development is actually impossible without transition through processes of nervousness and psychoneuroses, without external and internal conflicts, without maladjustment to actual conditions in order to achieve adjustment to a higher level of values (to what 'ought to be'), and without conflicts with lower level realities as a result of spontaneous or deliberate choice to strengthen the bond with reality of higher level" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 220).
4). "Psychoneuroses 'especially those of a higher level' provide an opportunity to 'take one's life in one's own hands'. They are expressive of a drive for psychic autonomy, especially moral autonomy, through transformation of a more or less primitively integrated structure. This is a process in which the individual himself becomes an active agent in his disintegration, and even breakdown. Thus the person finds a 'cure' for himself, not in the sense of a rehabilitation but rather in the sense of reaching a higher level than the one at which he was prior to disintegration. This occurs through a process of an education of oneself and of an inner psychic transformation. One of the main mechanisms of this process is a continual sense of looking into oneself as if from outside, followed by a conscious affirmation or negation of conditions and values in both the internal and external environments. Through the constant creation of himself, though the development of the inner psychic milieu and development of discriminating power with respect to both the inner and outer milieus—an individual goes through ever higher levels of 'neuroses' and at the same time through ever higher levels of universal development of his personality" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 4).
These quotes capture the heart of Dąbrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration. The theory describes a process of personality development—the creation of a unique, individual personality.
Most people become socialized in their early family and school experiences. They largely accept the values and mores of society with little question and have no internal conflict in abiding by the basic tenents of society. In some cases, a person begins to notice and to imagine 'higher possibilities' in life. These disparities are driven by overexcitability—an intense reaction to, and experience of the day-to-day stimuli of life. Eventually, one's perception of reality becomes differentiated into a hierarchy and all aspects of both external and internal life come to be evaluated on a vertical continuum of 'lower versus higher.' This experience often creates a series of deep and painful conflicts between lower, 'habitual' perceptions and reactions based on one's heredity and environment (socialization) and higher, volitional 'possibilities.' In the developing individual, these conflicts may lead to disintegrations and psychoneuroses, for Dąbrowski, hallmarks of advanced growth. Eventually, through the processes of advanced development and positive disintegration, one is able to develop control over one's reactions and actions. Eventually, development culminates in the inhibition and extinction of lower levels of reality and behavior and their transcendence via the creation of a higher, autonomous and stable ideal self. The rote acceptance of social values yields to a critically examined and chosen hierarchy of values and aims that becomes a unique expression of the self—becoming one's personality ideal.
Dąbrowski acknowledged the strong and primitive influence of heredity (the first factor) and the robotic, dehumanizing (and de-individualizing) role of the social environment (the second factor). He also described a third factor of influence, a factor emerging from but surpassing heredity—"its activity is autonomous in relation to the first factor (hereditary) and the second (environmental) factor. It consists in a selective attitude with regard to the properties of one's own character and temperament, as well as, to environmental influences" (Dąbrowski, 1973, p. 80). The third factor is initially expressed when a person begins to resist their lower impulses and the habitual responses characteristic of socialization. Emerging autonomy is reflected in conscious and volitional choices toward what a person perceives as 'higher' in their internal and external milieus. Over time, this 'new' conscious shaping of the personality comes to reflect an individual 'personality ideal,' an integrated hierarchy of values describing the sense of whom one wants to be and how one wants to live life. With the new freedom and force of the third factor, a person can see and avoid the lower in life and transcend to higher levels. The 'ought to be' of life can replace 'the what is.' It is important to realize that this is not simply an actualization of oneself as is; it involves tremendous conscious work in differentiating the higher and lower in the self and in moving away from lower selfish and egocentric goals toward an idealized image of how 'you ought to be.'
The idealized self is consciously constructed based on both emotional and cognitive foundations. Emotion and cognition become integrated and are reflected in a new approach to life—feelings direct and shape ideas, goals and ideals, one's ideals work to express one's feelings. imagination is a critical component in this process—we can literally imagine how it ought to be and how could be in this establishes ideals to try to attain.
Initially, people who are acting on low impulses or who are simply robotically emulating society have little self conflict. Most conflicts are external. During development, the clash between one's actual behavior and environment and one's imagined ideals creates a great deal of internal conflict. This conflict literally motivates the individual to resolve the situation, ideally by inhibiting those aspects he or she considers lower and by accentuating those aspects he or she considers higher. At the highest levels, there is a new harmony of thought, emotion and action that eliminates internal conflict. The individual is behaving in accord with their own personality ideal and consciously derived value structure and therefore feels no internal conflict. Often a person's external focus shifts to 'making the world a better place.'
In describing development, Dąbrowski elaborated two qualitatively different experiences of life—unilevel and multileveled—divided into five levels. These two main qualitatively different stages and types of life are the heteronomous, which is biologically and socially determined (unilevel), and the autonomous, which is determined by the multilevel forces of higher development. Level I is heteronomous, aka unilevel. Level III and above, autonomous (multilevel). Level II is transitional, a brief intense time of unilevel crisis—a test of character from which one normally will either regress or advance.
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▣ 1.4 Be Greeted Psychoneurotics.*
Suffering, aloneness, self-doubt, sadness, inner conflict; these are our feelings that we have not learned to live with, that we have failed to appreciate, that we reject as destructive and completely negative, but in fact they are symptoms of an expanding consciousness. Dr. Kazimierz Dąbrowski has spent 45 years piecing together the complete picture of the growth of the human psyche from primitive integration at birth; the person with potential for development will experience growth as a loosening of the stable psychic structure accompanied by symptoms of psychoneuroses. Reality becomes multileveled, the choices between higher and lower realms of behavior occupy our thought and mark us as human. Dąbrowski called this process positive disintegration, he declares that psychoneurosis is not an illness and he insists that development does not come through psychotherapy but that psychotherapy is automatic when the person is conscious of his development.
To Dąbrowski, real therapy is autopsychotherapy; it is the self being aware of the self through a long inner investigation; a mapping of the inner environment. There are no techniques to eliminate symptoms because the symptoms constitute the very psychic richness from which grow an increasing awareness of body, mind, humanity and cosmos. Dąbrowski gives birth to that process if he can.
Without intense and painful introspection and reflection, development is unlikely. Psychoneurotic symptoms should be embraced and transformed into anxieties about human problems of an ever higher order. If psychoneuroses continue to be classified as mental illness, then perhaps it is a sickness better than health.
"Without passing through very difficult experiences and even something like psychoneurosis and neurosis we cannot understand human beings and we cannot realize our multidimensional and multilevel development toward higher and higher levels." Dąbrowski.
* From the Filmwest movie, Be Greeted Psychoneurotics.
Dąbrowski captured the essence of psychoneuroses and development in his poem: Be Greeted Psychoneurotics.
▣ 1.5 An Excellent Review.
The foundation of the theory of positive disintegration is the assertion about the multi-level structure of reality. In Dąbrowski's works, reality is defined as a multifaceted and multilevel totality of phenomena that occur in the external and internal environment of a human being and are perceived by him, grasped, and also experienced through the senses and mental, emotional, imaginative and intuitive activities, interconnected. Thus, multilevelness concerns both the totality of reality and its individual elements or phenomena. Also man, his functioning and the structure of his psyche, along with the factors dynamizing its changes, are subject to description and explanation in terms of a multi-level structure.
According to the theory of positive disintegration, the drives characterizing a person and individual functions: perception, feelings, thinking, images, intuition, are varied according to the level of experience and action. To illustrate the horizontal differentiation in feeling, expression, and the meaning of a specific drive, Dąbrowski often refers to the differences between the sexual instinct and mature love. Another, more concrete and pictorial example of multilevelness may concern products and experiences of an aesthetic nature. Dąbrowski describes a horizontal upward ascent:
"... from rhythmicity and dance sensuality, to religious dances, from sensuality and rhythmic music of the Beatles, releasing moto-sensual tensions, to music that introduces us to silence, reflection, and even existential and transcendental moods (Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and others ). The same phenomenon occurs in painting and sculpture, ranging from plainly naturalistic, non-individualized sculptures and primitive-naturalistic painting, to the heights of Greek sculpture, revival architecture with Michelangelo at the forefront, impressionism and abstractionism ... " (Dąbrowski, 1989 a, p. 29).
... in the theory of positive disintegration, development of a person is tantamount to development towards identity and personality. It is about moving to higher and higher levels of functioning. The development potential is greater at subsequent levels of development. It increases with an increase in the number and dynamics of factors contained in the personal mental structure, factors that determine the ability to self-regulate experience and behavior. The dependence of the development potential on the complexity of the mental structure and its dynamisms results, according to Dąbrowski, from the fact that the driving force behind all changes are internal conflicts, requiring decisions that may be developmentally positive. The emergence of conflicts is of course the more likely the more complex and dynamic a person's internal structure is.
Traditionally understood, integration is something functional, beneficial, desirable and - as a result - positive. Disintegration, on the other hand, perceived through the prism of association with the disintegration, or even the decay of certain wholes, is generally treated as a negative and non-functional process. The theory of positive disintegration undermines this stereotypical, unambiguous conceptualization of both categories. Both processes - integration and disintegration - can have both positive and negative effects. Therefore, their role and meaning cannot be categorized at the poles: favorable - unfavorable, good - bad.
The theory of positive disintegration distinguishes five levels of development: from primary integration, through three levels of disintegration, to secondary integration. The lowest level of primary integration is non-functional, both individually and socially. At this level, the integrity of the mental structure, its cohesiveness, is of little benefit. On the contrary, it can cause complacency - beautiful indifference. It inhibits the influence of the factors that dynamize the changes and encourage positive efforts. Disintegration processes are an opportunity to move beyond the stage of developmental deadlock. They loosen or break the cohesiveness of the primary - drive and impulsive - mental structure, its functions, ways of experiencing and acting. By breaking down and differentiating the personal structure, they cause crises and conflicts, and - as a result - create the need to deal with the disturbance of integrity.
As Dąbrowski uses the concepts of identity and personality in an inconsistent way, it is necessary to initially systematize his position on the issue of identity and personality.
The theory of positive disintegration assumes that every human being is a person. Personality and identity, on the other hand, are the result of such transformations of a person's mental structure that lead him to achieve the highest of the five levels of development - the level of secondary integration. Although the author of the theory applies the concepts of identity and personality in relation to the previous levels, it is probably the result of the lack of terms differentiating qualitatively different characteristics of different developmental statuses. On the one hand, Dąbrowski sometimes talks about the lower levels of personality, or about having two personalities at the lowest level of disintegration. On the other hand, the author emphasizes in many places that the level of personality is tantamount to the level of secondary integration, and personality is the result of reaching this level.
Personality is a mental structure that forms at the highest level of personal development. Building a personality is related to the development of two essences in the psychological structure of a person, individual and social, which are conceptually synonymous with identity. Although essences and personality constitute a structural and functional whole, the stabilization of an essence precedes a complete transformation of psychic structure into personality. Therefore, in the light of the findings of the theory of positive disintegration, identity is a preliminary - and necessary - condition of personality.
Primitive integration is sometimes referred to by Dąbrowski as primitive integration. The mental structure of people at this level is developmentally the lowest. It is a coherent, impulsive and drive structure that mechanically regulates experience and behavior. At this level, mental functions are integrated, well organized, and unconscious. Their goal is direct satisfaction derived from meeting primitive, genetically conditioned needs. Since people on the level of primary integration do not have an internal mental environment developed or have only "faint seeds", they are not exposed to contradictions and instability of drives, feelings and aspirations, and do not experience internal conflicts that could disturb the coherence of their mental structure. When encountering difficulties from external reality, the primordially integrated persons may display some form of disintegration. In general, however, these are weak and periodic disintegrations, which do not lead to changes in the mental structure. When the stress factor subsides, people return to their initial state, ie to the "primitive adaptation attitude" (Dąbrowski, 1979, p. 10).
People whose development has stopped at the level of primary integration are not able to reflect, evaluate, select or eliminate constitutional and environmental influences. They perceive reality in a narrow, one-sided way. Their experiences and behaviors are mechanically regulated by direct stimuli. They lack a fully developed time perspective - they do not understand the role played by the flow of time on the stage of constantly changing reality. Consequently, they cannot put themselves in the face of imagining their own death. A further consequence is insensitivity to the death and suffering of others. In describing the status of primitive integration, Dąbrowski emphasizes the inability to empathize and - more generally - a low level of emotionality. He also notices that the primitivism of emotional functions can go hand in hand with one-sided intellectual development. Mental and imaginative functions remain then an instrument for the realization of primary drive goals.
According to Dąbrowski, the status of primary integration is appropriate for a significant part of the population - for "the majority of the so-called average people ”(Dąbrowski, 1989 b, p. 53). The development potential of people who are representatives of the so-called the statistical norm is small. In the case of people from among the "majority", the chance to brighten the perspective of individual evolution lies in the unequal cohesiveness of their primary psychological structure and in the events of external reality that violate the integrity of this structure:
"The structure of an individual may be more or less prone to disintegration, therefore it may be stimulated by stresses and harsh experiences. These environmental factors that influence the tendency to disintegrate, thus determine the possibilities of active development ... " (Dąbrowski, 1979, p. 10).
The theory of positive disintegration distinguishes four types of factors causing the first, i.e. the lowest, form of disintegration in people. Two of them are internal in nature and are related either to normative conflicts emerging in the course of the life cycle, or to individual psychophysical properties. The other two categories of factors are of an external nature. The first of them includes changes taking place in the life situation of a person, requiring them to develop new forms of adaptation. The second category of external factors includes such changes or events in the environment of the individual that cause strong injuries or trigger the disease process (cf. Kobierzycki, 1989, p. 46). One-level disintegration is thus caused by a broad class of phenomena. It can be a reaction to the death of a loved one, job loss or a car accident. It may appear: Kazimierz Dąbrowski's theory of positive disintegration ...
"... during development crises, eg in the periods of puberty and menopause, overcoming difficulties in an unfavorable external situation or under the influence of certain psychological and psychopathological factors, such as nervousness and psychoneurosis" (Dąbrowski, 1979, p. 12).
People characterized by one-level disintegration show strong ambivalence and ambitiousness which, by affecting their relations with the environment, may cause numerous external conflicts. They are passive in the face of cyclically changing internal states, fall into extreme moods (with the dominance of negative states - depression and sadness), toss between a sense of inferiority and a sense of superiority, and between feelings of harmony with the external environment and an attitude of rebellion and hostility towards the environment. Subject to conflicting drives and changing moods, they behave in an unstable and inconsistent manner.
One-level disintegration loosens, and in some cases even breaks, the mental structure. The processes of the simplest form of disintegration do not, however, encompass the entire personal psychological structure, but run on one level of it. Since single-level disintegration is dominated by automatic dynamisms, poorly or not at all unconscious and not subject to personal control, the processes of decomposition outweigh the processes of reconstruction. At the first level of disintegration, there is still no third factor. People lack an internal disposition center and autonomy that would allow them to consciously regulate the transformations of the internal structure. They also lack a clear and stable hierarchy of values that would set a developmental direction for the breakdown of the mental structure. For this reason, the end of one-level disintegration is most often regression, tantamount to reintegration at the original level. The consequence of the prolonged process of one-level disintegration may be severe mental disorders, especially psychoses and suicidal tendencies.
It happens that one-level disintegration takes forms similar to the initial stages of multi-level disintegration. If it is subject to gradual differentiation over a greater number of levels, then it should be treated as a preliminary stage of multi-level disintegration. Dąbrowski claims, however, that a significant part of the population is susceptible only to one-level disintegration. Most people's mental structure is characterized by a strong integration of drives, low plasticity and emotional sensitivity, little ability to sublimate, and a narrow range of abilities. The evaluation processes are subordinated to external norms in the majority of cases, and the activities undertaken by people focus on meeting specific needs, often created by the cultural and social environment. Even when - under the influence of internal or external disintegrating factors - people who belong to the majority described by Dąbrowski undertake developmental challenges, their efforts are usually counterbalanced by a strong tendency to return here to the structure of primary integration and end in regression (Dąbrowski, 1964, p. 26; cf. Kobierzycki, 1989, p. 49).
Multilevel spontaneous disintegration
Dąbrowski sometimes describes the multi-level spontaneous disintegration as impulsive and insufficiently organized. It differs from single-level disintegration in the degree of complication of the processes that characterize it. Complication is the result of breaking down mental structures and functions into individual levels, described by Dąbrowski as lower and higher. The personal internal structure becomes a hierarchical structure. Structures of different levels are in opposition to each other, there are clashes between their elements. As a result, people are subject to strong internal conflicts and crises, which dynamise the changes in the mental structure.
Conflicts and crises resulting from the difference in levels cause states of high mental tension. Mental stress, in turn, causes various forms of neurosis - depressive, anxious and obsessive, hysteria and psychasthenia. The appearance of their symptoms indicates:
"... slow activation of hierarchy mechanisms revealing channels upwards. There are strong tensions, dramatic and even tragic experiences, but there is considerable help in solving them precisely through the hierarchy of development. There are times of breakdowns, even suicides, periodic deterioration of the state of neuroses and psychoneuroses, crises on the road due to various forms of increased mental excitability, but at the same time mental resilience and the ability to solve many complicated problems increases" (Dąbrowski, 1989 b, pp. 54-55).
It should be noted here that Dąbrowski distinguishes between neuroses of a lower level and neuroses characteristic of higher developmental statuses. A phobia in response to external trauma is not the same as an existential fear phobia. The first appears in people who are disintegrated at one level and, in general, is associated with a regression to primary integration. The second type of phobia is the result of increased mental excitability, characteristic of multi-level disintegration. The appearance of its symptoms means the person enters the royal path of development.
The mental functioning of individuals on the level of multi-level spontaneous disintegration is varied and dynamic. In the mental structure, an autonomous third factor is formed and evolved, which gradually takes control over experience and behavior. People gain the ability to self-reflection and self-esteem. The developing emotionality of higher levels allows the discovery of a hierarchy of values and goals, which also gains importance in the regulation of feeling and action. The multi-level processes of loosening and breaking the mental structure are an expression of crossing the biological cycle, departing from the rectilinear dependence on development phases, freeing oneself from genetic and social determinants. At this stage, the anxiety experienced by individuals is described as existential, and crises and conflicts are often of a moral nature. Dąbrowski wrote on this topic:
"Attitudes of hesitation are replaced by a growing sense of what should be, as opposed to what is in one's own personality structure. Internal conflicts are large and represent the hierarchical organization of emotional and intellectual life - what is against what should be " (Dąbrowski, 1989, p. 43).
As conflicts and crises are a symptom of entering a higher level of development, spontaneous multi-level disintegration is of fundamental importance for developmental transformations and is treated as an initial form of multi-level organized disintegration. The spontaneous multilevel structure does not yet have a degree of organization sufficient for integration on the secondary level and the formation of a personal identity and personality. However, the personality ideal that ruthlessly dynamizes further transformations is formed in it.
Organized multi-level disintegration
The specificity of multi-level organized disintegration can be inferred from its name. They distinguish themselves from the previous form of disintegration by a higher level of systematization. What characterizes people at this stage of development is a clearly formed autonomous factor and a highly developed hierarchy of values and goals. Therefore, people no longer experience such strong tensions and conflicts, they are characterized by:
"... quite a significant psychological calming, organization and systematization of development and a much higher share of reflective elements" (Dąbrowski, 1989 b, p. 55).
A man whose internal reality is organized in a multi-level disintegration is capable of self-reflection and self-assessment to the extent that allows him to purposefully transform his own mental structure and his attitude towards the environment. As development factors characteristic of the third level of disintegration, Dąbrowski lists: the third factor enabling conscious differentiation and choice, the dynamism of the subject-object in itself, the dynamism of a high level of empathy, the dynamism of intra-psychological transformation, self-awareness and self-control, and the dynamics of self-education and self-psychotherapy.
At the fifth level of development, the mental structure is reintegrated. This, of course, is not to return the structure to the state it was before its loosening or disintegration, but to organize it at a higher level. Secondary integration is: "... with the level of secondary harmonization after the individual goes through the phases of one-level and multi-level disintegration, through heavy internal and external experiences, through the phase of lowering dynamisms of lower and growth of higher dynamisms" (Dąbrowski, 1989b, p. 55).
Dąbrowski emphasizes, however, that: "Secondary integration can be realized in many ways; it may include: a return to the previous forms of integration in a more perfect form (I), a transition to a new form of integration, but with the same primitive elements of the structure without a higher hierarchy of values and goals (II), or a transition to a new structural form with a new , a higher hierarchy of values (III). The latter path is the most appropriate path for the mental development of the internal environment" (Dąbrowski, 1979, pp. 27-28).
Only at the level of secondary integration, and only in the case of its third variant, do people have a formed identity, and their psychological structure is a personality. The dominant development factors are then: the highest level of self-awareness and empathy available to the study, autonomy and authenticity, responsibility, shaping all major interests and talents, and the personality ideal. The most powerful dynamism, the main factor of further development is the personality ideal, built on the foundation of two essences - individual and social. Individual essence contains the most important interests and abilities of persons that, her lasting and unique bonds of friendship and love, and a conscious sense of identity with her own development history, with herself in the present and with self-projection into the future. The social essence, also known as common or universal, includes empathy, responsibility, autonomy, authenticity and a high degree of social awareness. Dąbrowski, I am writing: "These two essences constitute two closely related groups of basic personality traits, each of which is a sine qua non condition for the existence and development of the other" (Dąbrowski, 1989 b, pp. 55-56).
The content of both essences is the foundation for a personality shaped by one's ideal. The personality ideal and its essence constitute a functional whole, leading to the development in the mental structure of central individual and social qualities, which form into a set of permanent, individual-specific properties and functions. The personality characteristics created in this way are not subject to qualitative modifications in the course of their lives. On the other hand, the mental structure retains the possibility of quantitative changes and the ability to acquire less significant additional properties. After the formation of the personality, development mainly consists in confirming and improving its typical features and forms of activity.
Individuals who have reached the personality level have a stable hierarchy of values and goals governing their experience and behavior. They no longer feel normative internal conflicts, they do not hesitate between what is and what should be. They show a strong tendency to altruistic actions and are characterized by a high level of compassion, described by Dąbrowski as universal. Achieving secondary integration is therefore not only of individual importance. Since it can have considerable social consequences, striving for the level of personality has a moral dimension and, therefore, is treated postulatively by Dąbrowski.
In this context, let the final conclusion be the postulate of taking a closer look at the theory of positive disintegration and taking seriously both its entirety and the detailed findings it offers - including those relating to identity and personality. Despite the fact that Dąbrowski's concept seems to go to extremes - moving from idealism, or even romanticism, to a very pessimistic assessment of the possibility of the realization of personal potential by the majority of people, perhaps it is worth considering again. Again, because there was a time when the theoretical and practical importance of theory was reflected in publications and conference debates. Many of its claims have made personality psychology a dead end. The theory of positive disintegration could provide a new (old?) Impulse to research and analyze the issues of identity and personality
Above from google translate, Tylikowska, A. (2000) Teoria dezintegracji pozytywnej Kazimierza Dąbrowskiego. Trud rozwoju ku tożsamości i osobowości. (Kazimierz Dąbrowski's theory of positive disintegration. A struggle to develop towards identity and personality.) In: Gałdowa, A. (ed.) Tożsamość człowieka. (The human identity.) Kraków: Wydawnictwo UJ.
▣ 1.6 Poem.
▣ 2.1 A full bibliography of Dąbrowski's work and works related to Dąbrowski's Theory.
▣ 2.2 Synopsis of Dąbrowski's major English books:
▣ 2.3 Biographies.
▣ 3.1 TPD 101. Short film. *
▣ 3.2 TPD 201. Primary PowerPoint.
▣ 3.3 TPD 301.
▣ 3.4 TPD 401. Secondary PowerPoint.
▣ 3.5 TPD 501. Original works download.
▣ 3.6 201/401 Appendixes.
▣ 3.7 201/401 Master References.
⧈ * By Zeke Degraw, used with permission.
▣ 4.1 Original Works.
▣ 4.2 View Videos of Dąbrowski.
There are two excellent video archives of Dąbrowski. When he first arrived at the University of Alberta in about 1968, Leo Mos was asked to interview him with a panel of students from the Centre for Theoretical Psychology leading to a six-hour interview. Second, one of his early students, P. J. Reese, made two half-hour movies of Dąbrowski. These have been digitalized and posted to YouTube.
⧈ K. Dąbrowski interviews - University of Alberta - c. 1968
⧈ Two K. Dąbrowski movies by Reese - c. 1975
▣ 5.1 Past events.
▣ 5.2 Congress Videos.
⧈ 2016 Dąbrowski Congress sessions
⧈ 2014 Dąbrowski Congress sessions
Thanks to James Duncan many of the sessions at the conferences were videotaped and are available on YouTube.
▣ 5.3 Proceedings & Photos.
▣ 6.1 Eugenia Dąbrowski.
▣ 6.2 The Kazimierz Dąbrowski Medal
▣ 6.3 Dąbrowski’s Grave.
▣ 6.4 Dąbrowski in Edmonton.
▣ 6.5 More Dąbrowski.
▣ 6.6 In Memoriam.
▣ 6.7 Wikipedia Link.
▣ 7.1 Issues.
▣ 7.2 Dąbrowski’s Levels.
A.1 Posttraumatic Growth.
A.2 Positive Psychology.
A.4 Maslow's Ideas.
A.5 Maslow Bibliography.
B.2 Facebook discussion group:
▣ You can join at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DabrowskiInternational/
B.3 Webpage Search.
This site was first posted October 26, 1995, and is maintained by Bill Tillier, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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