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Positive Disintegration & the DN

Positive Disintegration & the DN
10/18/14 3:54 PM
Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dabrowski

The Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) by Kazimierz Dąbrowski describes a theory of personality development.
Unlike mainstream psychology, Dąbrowski's theoretical framework views psychological tension and anxiety as necessary for growth. These "disintegrative" processes are therefore seen as "positive," whereas people who fail to go through positive  disintegration may remain for their entire lives in a state of "primary integration." Advancing into disintegration and into the higher levels  of development is predicated on having developmental potential, including overexcitabilities and above-average reactions to stimuli. Unlike some other theories of development such as Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, it is not assumed that even a majority of people progress through all levels. TPD is not a theory of stages, and levels do not correlate with  age.
Dąbrowski's theory of personality development emphasized several major features including:
  • personality is not a given universal trait, it must be created—shaped—by the individual to reflect his or her own unique character (personality shaping)
  • personality develops as a result of the action of developmental potential (DP) (overexcitability and the autonomous factor), not everyone displays sufficient DP to create a unique personality.
  • developmental potential is represented in the population by a normal (bell) curve. Dąbrowski used a multilevel approach to describe the continuum of developmental levels seen in the population.
  • developmental potential creates crises characterized by strong anxieties and depressions—psychoneurosis—that precipitate disintegration
  • for personality to develop, initial integrations based on instinct and socialization must disintegrate—a process Dąbrowski called positive disintegration
  • the development of a hierarchy of individual values — emotional reactions — is a critical component in developing one's personality and one's autonomy, thus, in contrast to most psychological theories, emotions play a major role in this approach
  • emotional reactions guide the individual in creating his or her individual personality ideal, an autonomous standard that acts as the goal of individual development
  • the individual must examine his or her essence and subsequently make existential choices that emphasize those aspects of essence that are  higher and "more myself" and inhibit those aspects that are lower or "less myself" based upon his or her own personality ideal
  • critical components of individual development include autoeducation and autopsychotherapy

I know psychology is somewhat frowned upon 'round these parts... but I couldn't resist. The parallel with the nanas is too compelling. So far, this theory is little known in the mainstream psychological world, but it's found applications in understanding gifted children. I figure understanding Pragmatic Dharma yogis might be another application. As mentioned here, PD theory might help the Pragmatic Dharma movement get more mainstream recognition. Its existence might help normalize the 'Dark Night' and convince some people that it's a 'positive' experience.

In terms of 'developmental potential', it seems plausible to me that 'over-excitable' (cf. highly-sensitive) people are more likely to reach a breaking point where it's seen that current structures are inadequate. Or, in insight terms, it seems plausible to me that 'over-excitable' people are more likely to notice the true nature of phenomena, and hence are more likely to experience intense A&Ps, and so intense DNs. I'm unsure the extent to which an analogy can be drawn with the progress of insight.

Given their genuine (authentic) prosocial outlook, people achieving higher development also raise the level of their society. Prosocial here is not just support of the existing social order. If the social order is lower and you are adjusted to it, then you also reflect the lower (negative adjustment in Dąbrowski's terms, a Level I feature). 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.
Also, what a relief this is emoticon

Hope someone finds this useful. Thoughts, questions, comments?

RE: Positive Disintegration & the DN
10/18/14 4:13 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
This is fantastic! I love psychology, actually, so I'll never frown at you. emoticon

I like that this is less standardized than nana's. I think it's true that most people who are meditating are looking for relief. To say that everyone follows the same order of emotional events, though, never seemed right to me. This model frames the path in a reactionary and developmental way - which is probably more accurate. I think it's true in my own experience that I have come up with an ideal personality and am trying to move towards it.

RE: Positive Disintegration & the DN
10/18/14 5:31 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
I can definitely relate to this, in my early teens, coupled with some traumatic life-events (expulsion from my high school, living with relatives apart from my nuclear family, multiple suicide attempts, intense study of Astrology to discover the causes of my shitty-life-events, investigation from school authorities as to the possibility that I was a danger to myself and my fellow students etc) I entered a long, protracted period of intense depression and "existential coasting".

I believe (from my brief reading of the article) that I suffered from his Unilevel Disintegration, after the crises I was mute for two years, I spoke to no one. I was deeply religious and superstitious, I possessed no "activity" (I literally did nothing), I feared that my fellow classmates would spontaneously stab me to death, I was deeply paranoid.


Because of this total absence of "being", (it was an existential crisis), I, in parts, overcame these problems one by one.

First cognitively, then feeling-fed, then existentially in the soul, I experienced several awesome and besorbed altered states of consciousness.

As it stands currently, all I do is bhushuku (literally: eat, sleep, shit), I am perfectly and totally happy and content. I'm in college and still working towards my degree, however on academic probation, because I literally (still) do nothing.

Yet I am plagued by literally zero existential problems, moreover my sexuality is now integrated and something I am wonderfully at peace with. All I do is leisure, leisure, leisure. I smoke cigarettes and have non-dual (emptiness) experiences and listen to music.

So I'm often amazed by how much I changed in the course of about 6 years, for the first 15 years of my life, literally went through nothing, I am almost amnesiatic about it (I don't remember much of it). I was only truly alive in the latter quarter of my life.