He was heavily influenced by his Catholic upbringing which inspired personal sacrifice and intimated perpetual torment for some. He pursued a lifelong obsession with self-mutilation resulting in his semi-autobiographical work, "Psychological Basis of Self Mutilation. He called this initial integration Level I. Individual expression at Level I is influenced and constrained by the first two factors.

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The Theory of Positive Disintegration is a novel approach to personality development. He called this initial integration Level I. Individual expression at Level I is influenced and constrained by the first two factors.

The first factor channels energy and talents toward accomplishing self-serving goals that reflect the lower instincts and biological ego — its primary focus is on survival and self-advancement. Often talents are used in antisocial or asocial ways. For example, at the lowest edge of Level I many criminals display this type of selfish behavior. They advance their own goals at the expense of others. The second factor, the social environment milieu and peer pressure , constrains individual expression and creativity by encouraging a group view of life and discouraging unique thought and expression.

The second factor externalizes values and mores, thereby externalizing conscience. Social forces shape expectations. However if a society, church, or government becomes corrupt, as in Nazi Germany, people strongly influenced by second factor will not dissent. Socialization without individual examination leads to a rote and robotic existence the "robopath" described by Ludwig von Bertalanffy.

Individual reactions are not unique, they are based upon social contexts "I cry at funerals and laugh at weddings — everyone does". For example, our emphasis on corporate success "a dog eat dog mentality" means that many business leader operate on the basis of first factor — they will quickly sacrifice another to enhance their own advancement [ citation needed ].

As well, our educational, political, corporate, and media systems are self promoting and discourage real examination or individual autonomy — the second factor. Alternatively, social justifications are often used: "of course I break the speed limit, everyone does. Crises challenge our status quo and cause us to review our self, ideas, values, thoughts, ideals, etc.

If development continues, one goes on to develop an individualized, conscious and critically evaluated hierarchical value structure called positive adjustment. This hierarchy of values acts as a benchmark by which all things are now seen, and the higher values in our internal hierarchy come to direct our behavior no longer based on external social mores.

At this level, each person develops his or her own vision of how life ought to be and lives it. This higher level is associated with strong individual approaches to problem solving and creativity. The person expresses his or her "new" autonomous personality energetically through action, art, social change and so on. Development potential Edit Advanced development is often seen in people who exhibit strong developmental potential "DP".

Developmental potential represents a constellation of genetic features, expressed and mediated through environmental interaction. The greater the OE, the more intense are the day-to-day experiences of life.

These overexcitabilities, especially the latter three, often cause a person to experience daily life more intensely and to feel the extremes of the joys and sorrows of life profoundly. These people are steered and driven by their value "rudder", their sense of emotional OE.

Combined with imaginational and intellectual OE, these people have a powerful perception of the world. The most important of these conceptualizations are dynamisms: biological or mental forces that control behavior and its development. Instincts, drives and intellectual processes combined with emotions are dynamisms. As outlined, people at lower levels use talents to support egocentric goals or to climb the social and corporate ladders.

He felt that free will did not go far enough in capturing the motivating aspects that he attributed to third factor. For example, an individual can exercise free will and show little motivation to grow or change as an individual.

This motivation is often so strong that in some situations we can observe that one needs to develop oneself and that in so doing, it places one at great peril. A person whose DP is high enough will generally undergo disintegration, despite any external social or family efforts to prevent it. A person whose DP is low will generally not undergo disintegration or positive personality growth even in a conducive environment. The notion that some people have an innate potential for development that is determined by a higher sensitivity or overexcitability analogous to the first aspect of DP and by a related tendency to develop individual differences and autonomy from the group analogous to the third aspect of DP was independently developed by Elaine Aron see Highly sensitive person.

A mixed blessing? Potentials to experience great highs are also potentials to experience great lows. Similarly, potentials to express great creativity hold the likelihood of experiencing a great deal of personal conflict and stress. This stress both drives development and is a result of developmental conflicts, both intrapsychic and social.

Suicide is a significant risk in the acute phases of this stress. The isolation often experienced by these people heightens the risk of self-harm. Children and adults with high DP have to find and walk their own path, often at the expense of fitting in with their social peers and even with their families. At the core of autopsychotherapy is the awareness that no one can show anyone else the "right" path. Everyone has to find their own path for themselves.

The levels Edit The first and fifth levels are characterized by psychological integration, harmony, and little inner conflict. Of course, there is often external conflict at both Levels I and V. In the process of development the structures of two or even three contiguous levels may exist side by side, although it must be understood that they exist in conflict.

The conflict is resolved when one of the structures is eliminated, or at least comes under complete control of another structure. A fairly high degree of primary integration is present in the average person; a very high degree of primary integration is present in the psychopath".

Many people who are considered "leaders" often fall into this category. A vast majority of people either do not break down their primitive integration at all, or after a relatively short period of disintegration, usually experienced at the time of adolescence and early youth, end in a reintegration at the former level or in partial integration of some of the functions at slightly higher levels, without a transformation of the whole mental structure.

The prominent feature of this level is an initial, brief and often intense crisis or series of crises. Crises are spontaneous and only occur on one level and often involve only one dimension. These crises involve alternatives that may appear to be different but ultimately are on the same level. Unilevel disintegration occurs during developmental crises such as puberty or menopause, in periods of difficulty in handling some stressful external event, or under psychological and psychopathological conditions such as nervousness and psychoneurosis.

Unilevel disintegration consists of processes on a single structural and emotional level; there is a prevalence of automatic dynamisms with only slight self consciousness and self-control.

During this phase, existential despair is the predominant emotion. The resolution of this phase begins as individually chosen values begin to replace social mores that have been ingrained by rote and are integrated into a new hierarchy of personal values. Many of the status quo explanations for the "way things are," learned through education and from the social order, collapse under conscious, individual scrutiny.

Common behaviors and the ethics of the prevailing social order come to be seen as inadequate, wrong or hypocritical. Positive maladjustment prevails. Level II is a transitional period. This period is the crossroads of development: from here one must either progress or regress. Level III: Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration Edit Level III describes a new type of conflict: a vertical conflict between two alternatives that are not simply different, but that exist on different levels.

One is genuinely higher and the other is lower in comparison. You just look at something, maybe for the th time to use the words of G. Chesterton , and it strikes you — you see this one thing differently and once you do, it changes things.

You can no longer "go back and see it the way you did before. These vertical comparisons often illustrate the lower, actual behavior of a person in contrast to higher, imagined ideals and alternative idealized choices.

These vertical conflicts are critical in leading to autonomy and advanced personality growth. If the person is to achieve higher levels, the shift to multilevelness must occur. If a person does not have the developmental potential to move into a multilevel view, then he or she will fall back from the crises of Level II to reintegrate at Level I.

In the shift to multilevelness, the horizontal unilevel , stimulus-response model of life is replaced by a vertical and hierarchical analysis.

These personal value ideals become the personality ideal: how the person wants to live his or her life. As events in life are seen in relation to this multilevel, vertical view, it becomes impossible to support positions that favor the lower course when higher goals can be identified or imagined.

The involuntary spontaneous development of Level III is replaced by a deliberate, conscious and self-directed review of life from the multilevel perspective. Social mores are reviewed and re-accepted by a conscious internalization when the individual feels it is appropriate.

Likewise, when the person feels it is proper, a social value is reviewed and may be rejected to be replaced by a self perceived higher alternative value. At the highest levels, "individuals of this kind feel responsible for the realization of justice and for the protection of others against harm and injustice. Their feelings of responsibility extend almost to everything". Prosocial here is not just support of the existing social order. Here, prosocial is a genuine cultivation of social interactions based on higher values.

These positions often conflict with the status quo of a lower society positive maladjustment. In other words, to be maladjusted to a low-level society is a positive feature. Level V: Secondary Integration Edit The fifth level displays an integrated and harmonious character, but one vastly different from that at the first level.

Behavior conforms to this inner standard of how life ought to be lived and, thus, little inner conflict arises. Level V is often marked by creative expression. Especially at Level V, problem solving and art represent the highest and noblest features of human life.

Art captures the innermost emotional states and is based on a deep empathy and understanding of the subject. Often, human suffering and sacrifice are the subjects of these works. Truly visionary works, works that are unique and novel, are created by people expressing a vision unrestrained by convention.

Advances in society, through politics, philosophy and religion, are therefore commonly associated with strong individual creativity or accomplishments. Applications of the theory of positive disintegration.

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Positive disintegration

The Theory of Positive Disintegration is a novel approach to personality development. No true individuality nor true free will can be formed on that level. Certain people children and adults who experience so called overexcitability OE have the potential to grow out of the lower levels and integrate their being into the higher ones. 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. They are expressive of a drive for psychic autonomy, especially moral autonomy, through transformation of a more or less primitively integrated structure.


Connecting with Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration

The Theory of Positive Disintegration is a novel approach to personality development. He called this initial integration Level I. Individual expression at Level I is influenced and constrained by the first two factors. The first factor channels energy and talents toward accomplishing self-serving goals that reflect the lower instincts and biological ego — its primary focus is on survival and self-advancement. Often talents are used in antisocial or asocial ways.


Positive Disintegration

When he was six, the youngest child, a daughter aged three, died of meningitis. Kazimierz was initially schooled at home. Later he attended "Stefan Batory" secondary school in Lublin. During World War I he was deeply shocked by the sight of the bodies of fallen soldiers strewn across a battlefield. At 16, having falsified his age, he gained access to the newly opened University of Lublin , where he attended the Polish language programme. At 18, he was admitted to Warsaw University to study Medicine.


Kazimierz Dąbrowski


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