17 episodes

What can be positive about disintegration? Join us for a deep dive into Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. It’s a framework for understanding a variety of intense experiences that often look and feel like mental illness, but which can also be viewed as building blocks for creating an authentic personality.

positivedisintegration.substack.com

Positive Disintegration Podcast Emma Nicholson and Christiane Wells

    • Health & Fitness
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

What can be positive about disintegration? Join us for a deep dive into Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. It’s a framework for understanding a variety of intense experiences that often look and feel like mental illness, but which can also be viewed as building blocks for creating an authentic personality.

positivedisintegration.substack.com

    The Highs and Lows of Positive Disintegration

    The Highs and Lows of Positive Disintegration

    In episode 17, Chris and Emma were joined by Elizabeth Mika, a Polish-born psychologist and expert on the Theory of Positive Disintegration. Elizabeth shares how she first became interested in Dabrowski’s theory as a teenager in Poland, how it inspired her to go into the field of psychology, and her journey into working with the theory once she immigrated to America.

    Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, focused on the ‘lows and highs’ of Dabrowski’s levels, from the sub-levels of unilevel integration to the Fourth Factor and drive for self-transcendence. We talk about the dangers of narcissism and its various forms, the role of positive maladjustment, and how self-reflection and inner transformation is the first step in making the world a better place.

    “We need to look within before we start changing the world. The greatest gift we can give to the world is our transformed self.”

    This is the image we discussed with Elizabeth around minute 31 from her 2018 Dabrowski Congress slideshow. See the resource list below to download her slides.

    “Self-education is about personality development on the ever higher levels. Its highest goals is in the natural dimension the fullness of humanity, and in the supranatural dimension – becoming God-like. Self-education should go hand in hand with introspection, and those two activities should become one effort, lasting a lifetime, to come close to the ideal.” 

    Resources Mentioned in this Episode

    Tyranny as a Triumph of Narcissism (article on Medium)

    On Primary Integration, Psychopathy and the Average Person (article on LinkedIn)

    Sudden Dynamic Insight: Moving from Conflict to Peace (PDF)

    What Disintegrates? (PDF)

    Pathocracy and Andrzej Łobaczewski (by Dr. Steve Taylor for Psychology Today )

    Follow Elizabeth on Twitter

    Wondering how you can support our work?

    Donate to the Dabrowski Center

    If you enjoyed this episode on Apple or Spotify, please remember to click on the stars and leave a rating or write a review.

    Thank you for listening to Positive Disintegration. Please, feel free to share!

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit positivedisintegration.substack.com

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Overexcitability and Openness to Experience

    Overexcitability and Openness to Experience

    In episode 16, Chris and Emma were joined by Dr. Shelagh Gallagher, for a discussion of overexcitability (OE) and openness to experience (OtE), based on her paper which compares the two frameworks. Shelagh is an independent consultant in gifted education and President-Elect of the National Association for Gifted Children.

    We discussed the controversy in the field of gifted education about OE and OtE, and the value both frameworks can provide in informing us about the gifted student experience in education. We talked about the impact and difference having multiple OEs can have in a person’s life, and Shelagh shared insights from her research and pointed out directions for future work in gifted populations.

    Shelagh will be a keynote speaker at the 2022 Dabrowski Congress and will be talking about contemplations on overexcitabilities.

    Resources mentioned in this episode

    Openness to Experience and Overexcitabilities in a Sample of Highly Gifted Middle School Students by Shelagh Gallagher

    Building Bridges: Research on Gifted Children's Personalities from Three Psychological Theories by Shelagh Gallagher

    24-item Overexcitability Questionnaire

    A Comparison of the Concept of Overexcitabilities with Measures of Creativity and School Achievement in Sixth-Grade Students by Shelagh Gallagher

    Creative Personality Characteristics and Dimensions of Mental Functioning in Gifted Adolescents by Shirley Schiever

    The 15th International Dabrowski Congress agenda and registration

    Shelagh’s website

    NAGC

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit positivedisintegration.substack.com

    • 53 min
    Creativity and Authenticity

    Creativity and Authenticity

    In Episode 15, Chris and Emma were joined by Melissa Bernstein, co-founder of Melissa & Doug Toys and author of LifeLines. We learned about Melissa’s inspirational journey to self-acceptance and living authentically after spending decades of her life suffering from existential depression and angst.

    Melissa discovered Dąbrowski’s theory in her late 40s and described the relief she felt from learning about overexcitabilities as a framework for understanding her lifelong intensity and sensitivities. She described reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and learning the word “existential” for the first time, and feeling that it was like being hit by a lightning bolt.

    Melissa talked about her path, which started out traditionally with therapy and grew to include autopsychotherapy and deep exploration into philosophical and spiritual works. We discuss strategies she has developed to challenge negativity and nihilism, and combat perfectionism, such as channeling darkness into light through her creative work. We also explore how sharing our creative outputs with others can help us find meaning and purpose, and the importance of taking time out to look after ourselves.

    Resources mentioned in this episode

    LifeLines website

    Melissa’s book LifeLines on Amazon

    The LifeLines workshop videos Chris mentioned watching in spring 2021.

    LifeLines Community Facebook group

    The Melissa & Doug website

    Listen to Melissa’s episode on The Good Life Project Podcast

    Emma’s blog on Self Care

    ** Join Melissa, Chris, and Emma at the 2022 Dabrowski Congress. There are both in-person and virtual options available for July 18-19, 21, 2022.

    [Note: if you need financial assistance to attend the Congress, please reach out to info@dabrowskicenter.org.]

    If you enjoyed this episode on Apple or Spotify, please remember to click on the stars and leave a rating or write a review.

    Please, feel free to share!

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit positivedisintegration.substack.com

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Relationships and Vulnerability

    Relationships and Vulnerability

    In episode 14, Chris and Emma were joined by Dr. Michele Kane, an educator, storyteller, and long-time Dąbrowski enthusiast. She has done wonderful work tending relationships in this community, and she shared herself with vulnerability and courage in this episode. Some of the topics touched on include the reality that learning about the theory changes your relationship with yourself, how well the theory captures differences in emotional range, and the importance of connection. We learned that feeling and being seen are critically important, and receiving mirroring is one of the blessings of discovering and participating in the Dąbrowski community.

    We talked about the Dabrowski Congress, which Michele has hosted twice (in 2010 and 2018, click on the year to download a PDF of the proceedings). Please join us for the Congress in Denver on July 18-19, 2022! Click here to register for in-person or virtual sessions.

    Emma read the following poem from Dąbrowski’s 1972 book Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness:

    Resources mentioned in this episode

    The books Dąbrowski wrote under the pseudonym Paul (and Paweł) Cienin called Existential Thoughts and Aphorisms and Fragments from the Diary of a Madman. These books can be purchased from Bill Tillier as part of a larger download package.

    Beyond Old Age by Annemarie Roeper

    Some of My Best Friends are Books by Judith Wynn Halsted

    Emma’s post The Beauty of Imperfect Self-Care

    If you enjoyed this episode on Apple or Spotify, please remember to click on the stars and leave a rating or write a review.

    Thank you for listening to the Positive Disintegration Podcast. Please, feel free to share.

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit positivedisintegration.substack.com

    • 43 min
    Through the Dąbrowski Lens

    Through the Dąbrowski Lens

    In episode 13, Chris and Emma were joined by Dr. Amanda Harper, an educator and Dąbrowski scholar from Tasmania, Australia. We discussed the deep and fascinating work that Amanda has done in examining Dąbrowski’s writing. The focus was on two of her published papers: one on Empathy and the Syntonic Continuum, and the other on Philosophy, Faith, and the Personality Ideal.

    We talk about the differences between syntony and empathy, how they look across various levels, and how Amanda mapped them in order to create a visual guide to these important dynamisms. We explore the value of defining terms, and why using Dabrowski’s own language and quotes helps us gain greater meaning from the theory of positive disintegration. Reading Dabrowski’s work can be a ‘treasure hunt’ for both academic purposes and within your own life!

    Amanda shared what it was like to study the theory during her master’s and doctoral programs, and compared notes with Chris who also has experience examining constructs over time in Dąbrowski’s original texts, as well as the value and experience of attending conferences and meeting up with the Dabrowski community.

    Resources mentioned during this episode

    Jasneath Education (Amanda’s website with courses available for purchase)

    Remember to check out Amanda’s newsletter.

    The papers we mentioned:

    Through the Dąbrowski Lens: Empathy and the Syntonic Continuum (2019)

    Through the Dąbrowski Lens: Philosophy, Faith, and the Personality Ideal (2017)

    Through the Dąbrowski Lens: A Fresh Examination of the Theory of Positive Disintegration (2017)

    Amanda’s new chapter can be found in the Palgrave Handbook of Transformational Giftedness for Education:

    Through the Dąbrowski Lens: Wisdom, Transformational Giftedness, and the Personality Ideal

    The Dabrowski International Facebook group where Chris and Amanda are admins with Bill Tillier.

    The Dąbrowski original materials are available through Bill’s website.

    The quotations we read during the episode:

    “The term syntony is used within Dąbrowski’s writings to describe a sense of balance and oneness. This refers to a state where there is no inner turmoil and no conflict but there is a deep sense of connection and unification with existence in the world” (Harper & Clifford, 2019, p. 36).

    “Empathy is a response based on reflection, a sense of nurturing toward other people, and an understanding of others’ circumstances (Dąbrowski, 1973)” (Harper & Clifford, 2019, p. 37).

    “Growth of empathy is one of the most powerful developmental dynamics and one which most clearly shows the progressive and hard won change from narrow egocentrism to an all-encompassing universal love. Empathy grows out of the strong emotions of search for the meaning of life and finding it in concern and service to others, and out of the need for self-perfection as a human being. Self-perfection is not possible in a vacuum but grows out of a sense of relatedness with others measured in terms of an “ideal other” embodied in one’s personality ideal. It grows out of conflicts with oneself which produce an increase in caring and appreciation of others, and deeper humility within oneself.” (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 70)

    “Without the tragic, the challenging, the conflicting, and the confronting, an individual cannot—will not—experience the inner psychic transformation necessary for multilevel development or the emergence of a full empathic condition and cannot move toward the personality ideal. Similarly, without these challenges and anxieties, we are not equipped to understand or experience in its fullness the tapestry, elation, and fulfillment of the process of development.” (Harper & Clifford, 2019, p. 265)

    Here are the graphic representations that were mentioned during the episode:

    Amanda’s Syntonic Continuum from her 2019 paper:

    The Constellations of Dynamisms figure that Chris mentioned pulling up during the discussion of syntony and

    • 53 min
    Gender and Authenticity

    Gender and Authenticity

    In episode 12, Chris and Emma were joined by Ellie Krug and Tamara Grady for a discussion of gender and authenticity. Ellie is the author of Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change (2013), was a trial lawyer and has extensive experience providing training on diversity and inclusion. Tamara is an Osseo District School Board member in the suburbs of Minneapolis, and she is a proud mom of children who are a part of the LGBTQ community.

    This conversation centers on authenticity, and the challenges faced by people discovering and becoming their authentic selves, through the lens of two personal and touching stories. We didn’t talk explicitly about Dąbrowski’s theory in our discussion but instead focused on the lived experience of Ellie and Tamara on their journeys of personal growth and development. Through these stories, we explore acceptance, unconditional love, and compassion—not only for others, but for oneself—in the context of the struggles faced by transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people.

    Resources:

    Ellie’s website

    Ellie’s book: Getting To Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change

    Ellie’s Facebook page

    Ellie on Twitter

    Tamara on:

    Twitter

    Instagram

    LinkedIn

    Study dispels harmful gender dysphoria myth (“ROGD” is not a real thing)

    Advice on how to use gender pronouns

    If you enjoyed this episode on Apple or Spotify, please remember to click on the stars and leave a rating or write a review.

    Thank you for listening to the Positive Disintegration Podcast. Please, feel free to share.

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit positivedisintegration.substack.com

    • 57 min

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