In my previous post we got into the Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski who lived a harrowing life of pain and agony but yet was able to use that to develop the concept of Positive Disintegration. In this blog post I want to dive more into this concept so you, as the reader, has the opportunity to apply it into your own life. It is a complex theory so I will do my best to explain it as simple as possible.
As I stated before and as did Dabrowski, only a certain percentage of the population will have the ability to develop an advanced personality. We estimate this to be around 20% and it will involve going through conflicts both personally and with society. Dabrowski states that there are 3 key components that one must have to achieve this:
-Special Talents (High intelligence, Artistic, Etc.)
-“Third Factor” which is ones internal drive to express one’s self
-Over Excitability – A higher than average sensitivity to stimuli with a higher than average response. There are 5 types of over excitability:
*These three are the most critical ones
Emotional over excitability mostly drives and guides higher development and that life choices must be made with an awareness of one’s emotional reactions to a situation (Limbic Brain) and not so much our rational brain (Neocortex). Refer back to my post on Emotional Intelligence for additional information on this topic.
Generally what we tend to see in society is that the average person just follows the herd and displays a group personality. In order for a true personality to develop, the individual must breakdown his or her psychological integration and begin questioning social and culture as well as their own basic psychological character.
-The individual must create an ideal of their own personality to aspire to and understand his or her own behavior.
-One must base this unique personality on creating an unique hierarchy of values, aims and goals in life. This aligns with the person we aspire to be.
To reach this state we must shift our viewpoints in life from an unilevel view to a multilevel view.
-An unilevel view is having a flat horizontal viewpoint in life where choices have an equal value. If we reach a fork in the road, both left and right might be difference choice but have very similar outcomes.
-A multilevel view is shifting our viewpoint from a flat horizontal view to a vertical stance where we are fully aware of the choices from the lowest, easiest options, to the higher more developed options. The fork now has multiple options and each choice has a clear distinct outcome. These options and decisions align with the ideal self and the higher viewpoint of themselves.
Dabrowski stated that when we are developing an ideal personality, we are going from a state of “what-is” to a state of “what ought to be.” Once the initial integration with society has been loosened we will expect to, and be prone to, an influx of conflicts as well as emotions due to the fact that our new unique hierarchy of views and values might be contrary to the viewpoints of society. This can lead to strong anxieties and levels of depression which are the breakdown of the lower vertical viewpoints in our multilevel point of view. The creation of this individual autonomous personality is positive disintegration.
As a follow up to his theory, Dabrowski developed a model to outline this process by creating a series of levels that one must pass through to achieve positive disintegration and advanced personality development. This resembled that of Plato’s Levels of Reality which will be the topic of the next blog.
-Primary Integration is the first level which is where we primarily agree to adhere to the viewpoints of society and simply accept the values of one’s cultures. This is stated as one “gets along by going along” and little conflict exist.
-Second Level is “Unilevel Disintegration.” This is where conflicts begin to arise once one begins to breakdown their view points from primary integration. One must continue down this path or go back to a non-conflict state of mind.
-Third Level – Begins the process of multilevel viewpoints as well as individual internal conflicts between lower and higher levels.
-Fourth Level – Individual conflicts begin to subside as our ideal personality becomes realized through one’s choices. One will develop the idealized sense of one’s self that one wants to become and will understand the conflicts they will need to overcome.
-Fifth Level is the life long continuation of one’s goal of pressing the ideal self and self perfection. One’s actions are now in harmony with one’s values.
Now that you have a detailed breakdown of Dabrowski’s concept, I am going to give you an entirely fictional example to put these theories into practice:
Hector was a talented individual. He came from humble beginnings growing up in Mexico and through hard work he excelled in his education and graduated from college with a degree in accounting. After accumulating experience and capital, Hector started his own firm and one day was approached by a questionable individual who needed his service to launder money. Regretfully Hector said yes and continued in this scheme until the fed’s caught on and Hector was ultimately charged and convicted of his crimes. He spent five years in federal prison, and upon his release spent the next several years rebuilding his life. Eventually he was able to move into a nice suburban middle-class community where him as his family settled into. Hector’s experience led him to become passionate about criminal justice reform. He wanted to focus on re-entry programs for inmates to help them live productive lives by offering them housing and a means of transportation upon release. But his neighbor’s were not too fond of this. They felt that these people had their chance in society and that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Eventually this led to a big falling out with Hector and his neighbors where he was no longer accepted by those around him. But Hector stood his ground on his beliefs and the person he aspired to be. He fought through varies levels of emotions of being an outcast and being called names and shifted his focus into a vertical view on dealing with each situation seeing the world as it ought to be, rather then it currently is, and started his own non profit group for prison reform. He persevered through all the nay-sayers and took his experience from his first day getting involved in his crimes to being on stage at his local university speaking about criminal justice, built a following and was all-in on his vision. Hector worked through Dabrowksi’s levels and by working through the pain he changed the world for the better and fully achieved positive integration. And guess what? Follow these steps, stick to your guns, and you can do so as well.