Dr. Chris Wells studies Dąbrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration, and she founded the Dabrowski Center to provide a home for the theory and to support her work. She serves as the CEO & President of Dabrowski Center, and she is an author, speaker, consultant, and the co-host of the Positive Disintegration Podcast.
I came to the work I'm doing now thanks to a deep exploration into my own past. In 2014, I undertook a research project to understand the intersection between giftedness and mental illness, and that's when I discovered Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration. At first, I didn't embrace the theory because I had spent so many years thinking of myself as mentally ill—I was not looking for an alternative framework. The work that I do as a researcher and clinician is intertwined with my lived experiences as an extreme outlier. My graduate degrees are in social work (MSW) and psychology (PhD), but I spent years in mental health treatment as a patient before pursuing those degrees.
When I was young, I was identified as highly gifted, but I did not fit the expectations that came along with that label. My passions were never fed from schoolwork and academic achievement. By the time I was in high school, I was sure that there was something wrong with me, and I began to search for answers in psychiatry and the DSM. I spent years—decades—of my life on medication and feeling like an outsider because of my status as mentally ill. When I returned to school and began studying social work and psychology, I struggled to feel like I could contribute because I was so accustomed to perceiving myself as defective and broken. I feel grateful to have discovered Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration and the liberation I've found in his words.
Growing up, I was different enough from other kids to feel like an alien. When I discovered the literature on the qualitative nature of giftedness and positive disintegration, I finally felt like I had answers. It helped me make sense of my experiences better than psychiatry ever had. There are aspects of my mind that are special and extraordinary, and my work in gifted education has been exploring the nature of giftedness.
I founded the Dabrowski Center because I want to provide a home for the theory of positive disintegration. I believe that there's power in this work that can help alleviate suffering.
Chris is no longer accepting new therapy clients. She is focusing on consulting work and speaking engagements while building the Center. If you'd like to meet with Chris or hire her to speak, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris is a member of the American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, National Association for Gifted Children, Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology, and SENG.
Published work (PDF downloads)
The Origins and Conceptual Evolution of Overexcitability by Wells & Falk
Reexamining Overexcitability: A Framework for Understanding Intense Experience by Piechowski & Wells
Other media and appearances
Chris's keynote at the 2022 Dabrowski Congress
Chris and Emma joined host Abbie VanMeter on the Stories Lived. Stories Told. Podcast.
Human Range: My Life, My Journey with Dr. Lin Lim, Finding Me/Us
Chris joined Jen Harvey Sallin for Conversation 12: Giftedness, Positive Disintegration & Mental Health on Conversations on Gifted Trauma Podcast
Chris and Emma were on the Our Gifted Kids Podcast with Sophia Elliott, Episode 048: Why You Need Dabrowski
Innov&Créa Podcast with Anne-Julie Vallée, Positive Disintegration Theory VS Creative Process with Chris Wells
Een Intense Reis (An Intense Life) Podcast with Marije Hofland, The Theory of Positive Disintegration as a framework to become your authentic self; a conversation with Chris Wells
Unleash Monday, with Nadja Cereghetti, Episode 33, When Learning About Overexcitabilities Changes Your Life! with Chris Wells
Embracing Intensity Podcast with Aurora Remember Holtzmann, Episode 111, Shining the Light on Positive Disintegration with Chris Wells