This page contains excerpts from Dąbrowski’s works. References are available at the end of the page. 

Dąbrowski was a meditator, and this word appears nearly 100 times in his English works. It’s apparent from these excerpts that meditation and similar practices are something to be taken seriously by students of the theory. 

The fundamental quality shaped by the everyday effort of the individual aiming at personality is the ability to meditate” (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 166).

Excerpts from Psychological Bases of Self-Mutilation (1937)

Children and adolescents often engage in self-pricking with pins, biting of the fingers and lips to bleeding, kneeling on peas, sleeping on a hard bed. Weak, anxious, and sensitive children show excessive affection for the mother. We find that during the preadolescent period such children rapidly develop an attitude of great overconfidence, as a form of revolt and protest against the former dependence and submission. Such youths become, sub-consciously to a great extent, annoying and even cruel to their parents. (This is especially so in the relationship between these sons and their mothers.) The realization, after regaining their equilibrium, that they have done some harm to the parent, especially when the death of the parent makes reconciliation impossible, produces a feeling of guilt and a need for punishment which is frequently effected in the form of self-mutilation (living through past experiences, meditation, self-accusation, and physical self-mutilation). Under such circumstances, a suicidal tendency or attempt at suicide may arise, as an expression of the impossibility of gratification of the need. (Dabrowski, 1937)

As we have stated above, such or other forms of asceticism are found in all known people, primitive as well as civilized. In some people asceticism did not go beyond the form of moderation and training in endurance (Jews, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Japanese). Among the Jews, ascetic customs before the period of exile, as well as after (Hassidism and Rabbinism), explicitly forbade tortures and ordered fasts, spiritual exercises, and meditation. The body to the Jews was the expression of beauty created in the image of God. Close observance of the laws and emphasis on the value of fertility were the only outlets from the misery and difficulties of the reorganization of life after exile. (Dabrowski, 1937)

The observation that pain induced or increased the state of excitement had some significance in its adoption for this purpose. They used in India the diverse kinds of self-mutilation, ranging from the simple exercise of moderation in nourishment, clothing, talking, etc., to physical self-chastisement and the worst tortures. To the last belonged such forms as: spending whole days naked on spiked boards; holding the arms up for many months, or years, without interruption until atrophy of the muscles and stiffening of the joints set in; pressing the closed fists until the ingrowing nails broke through the palms. Different castes of Saddhus practice various forms of self-mutilation. Buddhism did not recognize self-torture but pointed the way to attaining insensibility to one’s suffering by meditation and the exercise of control over natural instincts. (Dabrowski, 1937)

Christian asceticism was the result of a combination of Hebrew practices of moderation, Oriental influences (Egyptian, Hindu), Greek philosophy, Christ’s principles based on his life and death, and finally the prolonged persecution which produced resistance to physical and moral pain. The last of these was due to the influence of the belief that earthly life is only a period of trial and preparation for eternity. The tradition of solitary and collective meditation, fasts, and other religious exercises as an initiation to the teaching of others, Christ’s directing the way to Him of those who would be-come His pupils, and the influence of practices in other religions were the bases of the future establishment of monastic orders with rules for self-denial, prayers, and other forms of religious exercises. Whipping was one of the oldest and simplest forms of physical tortures based on the consideration of whipping as a punishment. (Dabrowski, 1937)

The lack of an adequate outlet in family life and love, and the aversion to life were compensated by his ardent pathological addiction to meditation on death, and on the organization of the environment which continually reminded him of suffering. Becoming accustomed to suffering and realizing that it is inseparably connected with our own minds, that through its intensity and its interweaving into life it constitutes our personal property, causes in such individuals as Michelangelo a fervent worship of suffering and death. (Dabrowski, 1937)

These factors will be described in their logical order on the basis of the writer’s diary and memoirs, as well as of those works which reflect his personality to a greater degree, Tolstoy was naturally exuberantly healthy, full of energy, which, unreleased in work, sought to escape in channels common to people of his class namely in sensual pleasures. The force of these physical demands and of their gratification was so strong that it made Tolstoy quite helpless, filled him with fear of yielding completely to these impulses. He feared his desires, yet his strong, healthy body derived contentment from these experiences. The smell of horses’ sweat and the suffering of hunted animals intoxicated him. He excels in the description of war pictures, yet he is one of the greatest exponents of pacifism. We find in the majority of his works (War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Power of Darkness, The Devil, Father Sergius), meditations on the fatalistic influence of sexual impulses on man’s life. They destroy man’s personality, debase his character, and drag him down morally. Experiences of this kind lead him to subject himself to ascetic rigors. In his youth he enlisted in the army, in an attempt to suppress his low impulses by military discipline, only to return with a stronger desire to the sexual pleasures. The keener his sexual tendencies, the more arduous is the struggle to suppress them, which leads to his medieval ascetic attitude toward marriage. (Dabrowski, 1937)

The worship of health, strength, and physical beauty suffers here an exceptionally strong blow; the consciousness of transformation of beauty into decay, evoked by the sight of the dead body, produces a strong mental shock. The urge to investigate, to study each phenomenon exhaustively, produces interest in the problem of death. The more successful he was in life, the more frequently and deeply he thought of death as an inevitable end; an awe inspired by death transformed itself into a metaphysical fear. These meditations brought him to the idea of suicide (The Death of Ivan Ilyitch). He concealed articles with which he could put an end to his life when the moment arrived. Each succeeding death of his near ones increased this morbid state. His grandmother, his father, two brothers, and a son died. The instinct of self-preservation draws him away from the study of this problem for a short time, but at the occurrence of a new death he suffers a stronger blow than before. (Dabrowski, 1937)

Self-mutilation produces similar traits in emotionally hyperexcitable individuals through distressing experiences, submission to pessimistic moods, meditation about death and the uselessness of life, etc. The early creation in the child of an ability to form wider association and the formation of an inclination in a definite direction, depending on his interests and capacities, would be valuable in weakening the tendency towards an exclusively inner life and strengthening the life in the family group. In such people, the formation of an active basis for life and of a faculty to fight the evil in himself and others is possible. (Dabrowski, 1937)

Excerpts from Types of Increased Psychic Excitability (1938/2019)

Adolescence is usually delayed; overexcitable types are characterized by a prolonged period of dreaming, [and presence of] infantile symptoms. On the one hand, in social contacts and among friends there is bashfulness, and on the other hand too great a trust, excessive exclusivity, lack of selectivity and the principle “this or no other.” In social contacts fearfulness expresses itself by embarrassment in dancing and talking. There is an inability to compete for a person who has become the object of one’s affection, inability to assert oneself and fight, but frequently courage and great ability to protect and surround with care the person one is close to. A normal level of intelligence combined with affective overexcitability produces touchiness that increases as a result of life experiences, which steers toward excessive self-analysis, reverie, meditation, and flight from social contacts. Hence in this type of individual we often observe isolation from the group, inclination toward being alone. Not infrequently, these tendencies guide the individual toward a path beneficial to mental health—flight into nature. (Dabrowski, 1939/2019)

Consequently, sensually overexcitable individuals dislike serious conversations, meditation, philosophizing, and self-analysis. They also dislike solitude, which narrows down the range of stimulation, and predisposes to reflection, contemplation, and taking a look at oneself as if from outside. Some of them, under conditions of unavoidable solitude, take sleeping pills in order to prevent fears that arise because of the lack of strong sensual stimuli, their weakening, and the restriction of their range of operation. For individuals of this type issues of worldview are of minimal significance. Their physical vitality is so strong that certain questions, for instance, the unavoidability of one’s death, are foreign to them. The momentary fear when facing signs of death is very quickly counteracted by strong changeable impressions, all the more because this kind of fear reaches into deep layers of personality. (Dabrowski, 1938/2019)

Excerpts from Positive Disintegration (1964)

In religious individuals, development produces such signs of disintegration as asceticism, meditation, contemplation, and religious syntony (the feeling of unification with the world). All these are signs of stratified development of the internal environment. (Dabrowski, 1964)

Symptoms of positive disintegration are also found in people undergoing severe external stress. They may show signs of disquietude, increased reflection and meditation, self-discontentment, anxiety, and sometimes a weakening of the instinct of self-preservation. These are indications both of distress and of growth. Crises are periods of increased insight into oneself, creativity, and personality development. (Dabrowski, 1964)

As discussed above, disintegration causes the movement of the disposing and directing center to either higher or lower levels but with a gradual tendency for stabilization at a superior level of development. To the degree that the disposing and directing center takes its place at higher levels, the individual begins to live more closely in accordance with his own personality ideal. The personality, during its formation, not only recognizes its ideal more clearly but takes part both in the elaboration of this ideal and in its effect on the transformation of inferior structures. Localization of the disposing and directing center closer to the personality ideal often occurs in a state of concentration and meditation, particularly after either very difficult periods of life tragedies and severe stress or significant pleasant events. Intuitive elaboration of the substance of experiences develops as a result of this transformation. (Dabrowski, 1964)

The cyclic individual possesses intellectual, moral, and aesthetic potentialities which form a solid basis for personality development. In this type of person positive disintegration will result in the diminution of exaggerated sociability, overly practical attitudes, opportunism, and strong adaptation to the external environment. Positive disintegration in this type also leads to increased independence from the external environment (which little by little builds a hierarchy of values) and a heightened inclination to solitary meditation. (Dabrowski, 1964)

If the individual possesses opposite mental characteristics, he may aim to go beyond a narrow extroversion through reflection, meditation, and the developed ability to remain in solitude. These changes may be necessary to complete and cultivate his present structure in the realization of his personality ideal. During the changes he experiences the processes of positive disintegration, through which his psychological type becomes more complex and is supplemented with new, and to some degree opposite, characteristics. This leads to development of his inner psychic environment, a deepening and enlargement of his life experience, and, gradually, secondary integration. The transformation of psychological type, the deepening and broadening of personality, is directly related to symptoms of positive disintegration. Mental health thus necessarily involves some psychological symptoms. (Dabrowski, 1964)

Excerpts from Personality-Shaping through Positive Disintegration (1967)

This work does not intend to provide a systematic and comprehensive study of these concepts. The author will deal only with the problem of personality, as he views it, based on his own experiences, meditations, and ideas. As the above-mentioned conceptions obscure the problem of personality, which is in itself very complex, some, at least general, definitions are required. (Dabrowski, 1967)

The basic Socratic thought, “Know thyself,” is always actual for everyone who consciously realizes his ideal of personality. It goes hand in hand with a fundamental query: “Who am I, and where am I going?” Learning to know oneself consists in seeking an answer, through experience and meditation, to the questions: “What is it in myself that is not ‘me’? What is it that I am becoming, although it is not yet crystallized? And what should I strive, with persistent will, to make myself, although it is not yet myself, through meditation, contemplation, and continuous effort?” (Dabrowski, 1967)

Spiritual heroism is not possible without continued preparation, for it is evolved by means of the internal elaboration of experiences. The shorter or longer states of meditation and uplift which interrupt the current of our impulsive and habitual life are a prerequisite for making common-sense decisions in impersonal matters, for the ability to persist in a given position despite the greatest difficulties, and for the daily performance of assumed tasks. In such states we leave our biological self to attain higher levels of our inner feeling of self, where fear vanishes, and where interest in the present moment and the events of everyday life disappears or abates, giving way, after we are “filled up” with new energy, to a feeling that our capacity to organize matters of vital importance in accordance with the established hierarchy of aims has gained strength. (Dabrowski, 1967)

In attaining the level of personality, man’s attitude toward death is, as it were, the result of two attitudes, one rational, objective, and critical, and the other emotional and dramatic. The first regards death as a universal process, which affects the given individual as “one of many,” whereas the second expresses a drama, in which the negation of biological life is associated with the need and sometimes even with the necessity of supersensual life. This drama often gives way to a state of peace and internal harmony, which is connected with the supersensual Being, through meditation. (Dabrowski, 1967)

The process of self-education consists in admitting to consciousness all that may stimulate and educate. In doing so we should adopt an attitude of constant differentiation and selection of these stimuli, partly or wholly rejecting some of them and admitting other. In this process there are moments of interruption of one’s daily activities, moments of withdrawal from the daily routine and of breaking contact with the external world, in order to enter, with a fully relaxed body and mind, into communion with one’s ideal, and to charge oneself, as it were with subtle spiritual energy. This reaching out, through meditation and contemplation, to one’s educational ideal usually contains in itself the elements of a religious attitude. (Dabrowski, 1967)

Disturbances of consciousness and orientation, besides various mental diseases, are encountered in states of ecstasy and deep meditation. The main characteristics of the latter are the spontaneous, volitive surrendering of oneself to these states and the lack of injurious repercussions from them in the totality of one’s life. (Dabrowski, 1967)

With normal people we observe the symptoms of positive disintegration in moments of arduous experiences, or, less often, in moments of great joy, in moments of increased reflection, meditation, unrest, and dissatisfaction with oneself. The intensity of these symptoms is evidence that such individuals possess more or less marked resources for accelerated psychic development. With such persons we usually observe an above-average psychic sensitivity, and superior syntony – though not always displayed externally – and a greater subtlety of feelings. On the other hand, enhanced psychic excitability is characterized by marked psychic frangibility, disharmony in the internal milieu of nervous individuals, and often by inadaptability to the social environment. The same phenomena are observed in a considerable number of neuroses and psychoneuroses, which are usually not treated, since individuals affected by them do not normally present themselves for treatment in a sanatorium or clinic. (Dabrowski, 1967)

Let us now stop to think for a moment about the problem of creative intelligence. Let us pose a question: what is creative, the intelligence or the whole personality of the creator? What is the process of development of creativity, at what moments is it evoked, and what are the conditions accompanying the advent of ideas? Of course, here we can make only some sketchy remarks. To the first question we can answer that, in general, the share of the creator’s whole personality is proportional to the depth and extent of the creative processes. The advent of a creative idea, the development of a creative process, contains in itself several fundamental elements: an intensification of attention, the workings of thought within the scope of a given problem, the unrest that accompanies the advent of ideas and the lack of sufficient elements for their development, states of general mental and psychic disequilibrium, and states of irritation and enhanced excitability. Very often after this period there ensues a phase, as it were, of separation from the spontaneity of the creative process; there comes a period of calming down, of “rest,” not infrequently of meditation and contemplation, sometimes a period of turning one’s back, for a certain time, on a given area of one’s interests. The creative idea usually arises in the first period, and develops in the second, though this is not always the case. There are creators with such wide interest, with such creative passion, that the above-outlined process goes on almost permanently. In many other cases we come into contact with longer or shorter intervals, with “nights of the soul” in creativity, analogous to such intervals in general psychic development. (Dabrowski, 1967)

Within the process of religious perfection take place such disintegrative manifestations as asceticism, meditation, contemplation, religious syntony, and other metaphysical and religious experiences (the problem of good and evil, sin, conscience, free will, reward and punishment, and grace). (Dabrowski, 1967)

Meditation and contemplation are forms often preparing an individual for secondary integration. Meditation makes one learn internal observation, to reflect on the essence of one’s spirit, on the complexity of one’s psychic structure, and on the transcendental world. Contemplation is a process of bringing oneself in touch with the transcendental values, of separating from the instinctive structure, of gathering psychic and moral strength for one’s internal reshaping. In contemplation a process of knowing the higher reality, through love, sets in. (Dabrowski, 1967)

We therefore have the need to transfer these experiences to a higher level, feel the pressure of tendencies to approach transcendental problems, and experience the need for meditation. One thus increases one’s sensitivity to the suffering of others, and resistance to one’s own sufferings; there increases the awareness of death, “familiarization” with it, although simultaneously transcendental unrest increases. (Dabrowski, 1967)

The fundamental quality shaped by the everyday effort of the individual aiming at personality is the ability to meditate. We have referred to it repeatedly. It has its origin in a form of reflection, a predisposition for deep meditation, the ability to interrupt one’s daily activity, and the need for frank “philosophizing.” The individual may avail himself of the many works of various schools dealing with spiritual life in order to deepen this capacity for meditation. Retrospection and prospection and periodic isolation of oneself give definite results here. They clearly promote all those activities which develop the inner environment and its hierarchy of values – that is, they promote all the dynamisms of multilevel disintegration. (Dabrowski, 1967)

We will now briefly comment on the shaping of individual qualities of personality such as chief interests and capabilities, the ability to form exclusive bonds, and the feeling of one’s “oneness” and identity. They develop from the indicators of personality and are shaped by many factors, such as the propagation of these qualities in the family and at school, the example of close relatives and friends, and vital experiences. The deepening, through positive disintegration, of self-awareness, the development of knowledge in all directions, the raising of the level of affectional experiences, the shaping of adaptability to suffering and death, and meditation, exert a fundamental influence. (Dabrowski, 1967)

Psychotherapeutic measures applied included attempts to influence a change from the obsessions the patient had about shortcomings in his moral structure to the attitude of elaboration and realization of a hierarchically laid plan of working for the good of others. Care was taken to accentuate and work out the dominant of the synthetic attitude in relation to the analysis of oneself dominant and in relation to experiencing. These psychotherapeutic operations were closely associated with the weakening of the dominant of multilevel disintegration in relation to the dominant of secondary integration (methods of relaxation, meditation, and contemplation). (Dabrowski, 1967)

His conversion, his discovery of truth, his changes in his mode of living, his scientific achievements, his deepening love for his nearest relatives and friends, all these and more St. Augustine owed to long, long inner struggle and meditation, to errors and to violent clashing with himself. (Dabrowski, 1967)

Excerpts from Mental Growth through Positive Disintegration (1970)

Inner psychic milieu is a dynamic mental structure which appears significantly only at advanced stages of mental development, basically at the time of multilevel disintegration. At the level of primitive integration, strictly speaking, there is no inner psychic milieu. It arises later to the degree as developmental dynamisms are formed, particularly those of an autonomous nature such as the third factor, inner psychic transformation, authentism, personality ideal, education of oneself and autopsychotherapy, the ability for meditation and contemplation. (Dabrowski, 1970)

Stimuli received in the psychic milieu may be such that they will evoke a reaction, a change within the bounds of the inner milieu. Of course, in such case there is no exteriorization. This implies nothing else but inner developments independent of the outer milieu since no exteriorized reaction occurs, and in fact, none is required in such case. In meditation, at times of deep inner quietude the process of interiorization becomes isolated from external stimuli. Inner silence, by definition, is a state of mind when the reception of external stimuli is shut off. When this occurs the inner spiritual dynamisms become strongly activated and become all-important in the process of inner psychic transformation. (Dabrowski, 1970)

As personality grows toward integration its ideal comes out in a more concrete outline. Insight into its nature and its power, come in moments of high emotional tone, concentration, meditation, and periods of creative inspiration. It then becomes the greatest reservoir of strength, a source of the strongest creative dynamisms in the strife for inner perfection. Perfection, then is synonymous with the attainment of the highest levels of personality development. (Dabrowski, 1970)

25. If a serious somatic disease, which does not cause mental deterioration, occurs in individuals capable of mental development, it becomes one of the developmental stimulants which hasten the growth of his inner psychic milieu and of the creative forces which accelerate the process of shaping the personality. This connection is the result of the need for necessary changes in the attitude towards oneself and the environment, for giving off many of the former habits and needs, the necessity to replace some needs by other needs. Somatic disease frequently causes an increase in reflection, self-observation, observation of the environment, and meditation. These conditions are favorable to the developmental, independent, original and authentic thinking and authentic life. (Dabrowski, 1970)

Excerpts from Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness

His excessive sensitivity, scruples and fear, excessive feelings of inferiority and sinfulness arose from his innate increased sensitivity and his educational background. His enhanced emotional and imaginational excitability was combined from childhood with nuclei of the potential of a hierarchy of values (authentic vocation, early developed inclination for prayer and meditation, early developed sense of guilt). Justification of others and severity in regard to himself express the development of empathy, humility, readiness to be “against himself” which is a form of isolating in himself the subject and the object. All this is an expression of strong tendencies to differentiate within oneself higher and lower values, that “which is” and that “which ought to be.” There is a clear formation of the instinct of self-perfection. (Dabrowski, 1972)

We observe in psychoneurotic the development of hierarchically higher nervous processes (e.g. reflection, meditation), rather than practical everyday skills, or psychomotor skills, and a tendency towards excessive inhibition of lower level functions. This is characteristic of the majority of psychoneuroses. In certain cases of psychoneurotic disinhibition and “explosivity,” there is a manifestation of the tendency to return to more integrated positions, to submit to the more primitive directions of well-organized sub-cortical centers, back to a well known, and secure level. This takes place when the individual cannot achieve a higher level of equilibrium while the experienced tension exceeds his limit. Dostoevsky said that when he experienced the sublime and the ideal, just then as if through a psychical fissure leaked in “basic” impulses (sexual, aggressive, and the like). (Dabrowski, 1972)

Except for the studies of oxygen consumption, heart rate and skin resistance during transcendental meditation (Wallace, 1970) little is known of the responses of the autonomic system under such conditions as inspiration or ecstasy. Such conditions can be integrative and disintegrative at the same time; their integrating action consists of organizing the action of the whole psyche in obedience to a superior activity; they are disintegrating, also, in the sense that they exclude conditions of physical reality or of the immediate environment. (Dabrowski, 1972)

Contrary to the opinion of Brun (1954) that night is the enemy of psychoneurotics, we find that often such individuals are particularly creative at night since then their ability for concentration is unhampered. The night by its quietness and freedom from being disturbed releases their ability for synthesis, meditation, and internal transformation. We see this phenomenon often, especially in such writers as Balzac or Kafka, who wrote at night. Most young, intelligent and creative people with psychasthenic traits spend time late at night working creatively or discussing philosophy and moral questions. (Dabrowski, 1972)

The thing in question here is not only quietude and solitude at night but also during the day through short moments of isolating oneself from external stimuli and transition to the reception of internal stimuli. Such quietude and solitude in order to open oneself to internal stimuli is necessary for most writers, poets, musicians, painters, who also show strong components of introversion, hierarchization of values and unfolding of their inner psychic milieu. Such states of isolation occasionally take the character of a positive, one may say even healthy and desirable autism. Such autism is not a rigid psychical organization but a temporary complex of behaviour serving to put oneself in order by closing off the external world and plunging into meditation. Such autistic periods are at times necessary to improve relations with others and to raise the level of empathy. For example, Socrates spent many hours in solitude deep in thought and for this some considered him a sage and others a madman; Gandhi observed a day of silence once a week. The same type of behaviour is found among saints of all nations, yogis, and others having the recognized or unrecognized distinction of advanced development. (Dabrowski, 1972)

The climacteric has certain similarities, although from the biological aspect, the phenomena are not only new but also difficult and unpleasant because there is a diminution of energy, of efficiency, loss of beauty, and awareness of somatic discomforts. In the experiencing of an individual aware of himself there is a feeling of losing one’s attractiveness, one’s value and instead growing dependence on others. Individuals endowed with great developmental potential experience suicidal thoughts, preparations for death, and often changes in the direction of opening interest in meditation and mystical phenomena. at the same time they are dominated by feelings of sadness, isolation and loneliness. (Dabrowski, 1972)

We differentiate also levels of the same psychoneurosis (intraneurotic levels), for instance, the lowest level of hysteria (borderline of level I and II) is a characteropathic hysteria, while at level II and borderline of level III it is conversion hysteria, and in the transition stage from level III to IV it is a hysteria of existential character marked by a deep empathy toward others, with dramatic attitudes, and even elements of meditation and ecstasy (See Table II and its legend). (Dabrowski, 1972)

In the very tendency for isolation, quietude, concentration and meditation, and even in a tendency for ecstasy, can exist some very constructive prophylactic and protective forces. For example, in an hysteria with more pronounced nuclei of multi-level disintegration, the tendencies toward periodic isolation, loss of interest in actuality, lack of response to external environment, tendencies for meditation or ecstatic states, are the very conditions which may contribute to the development of a reality function at a higher level and to the growth of a hierarchical inner psychic milieu. These conditions allow to discover and to realize higher forms of reality, such as, for example, the reality of genuine mystical experiences. (Dabrowski, 1972)

As we have pointed out previously, an accelerated development of abilities and talents appears at the borderline between unilevel and multilevel disintegration. The psychical tension rising at this time within the inner milieu provides favorable conditions for the formation of new outlooks, concepts, and attitudes connected with an increased need for non-adjustment to the actual situation, and with a parallel drive for adjustment to new, striking, usually higher level phenomena, such as a sense of growing, a clearer vision of the ideal, an increase in the ability to experience contemplative contents and actual increase in experiences in this respect. In the stages of meditation, first in the growing calmness and recollected concentration there is a presentiment that new important contents are going to arise; in deeper meditation this new reality becomes alive before the mind; and ecstasy is a clear vision of a transcendental reality. (Dabrowski, 1972)

Many of my patients told me that as a result of practicing meditation, or of periods of solitude, their relation to themselves and to the external reality underwent a positive change. The feeling of “going insane” from tensions beyond control subsides, the tension drops and there is a “temporary” integration of a global character. Periods of isolation, meditation and contemplation of beauty together with his artistic efforts marked the beginning of Clifford Beers’ recovery from a grave psychosis (Dabrowski, 1967). Jan Wladyslaw Dawid saved himself from prepsychotic condition and suicide by reaching to meditation and a serious study of mystical experiences (Chapter 10). Isolation, meditation and creativity were the essential factors in the life of Kierkegaard and Kafka by which they “tamed” their depressions and anxieties bordering on psychosis, and by which they turned them into the very dynamisms of their development and creativity. (Dabrowski, 1972)

These processes develop the dynamisms of autonomy, authentism, empathy and responsibility. They enhance the reality function on a higher level, the hierarchy of values and the personality ideal; they precipitate the growth of the disposing and directing center at a high level and the growth of inner psychic transformation. They activate education-of-oneself, autopsychotherapy and develop faculties of meditation and even ecstasy. (Dabrowski, 1972)

In the course of development only insignificant traces are left of the lower levels of hysteria. The individual develops his enhanced emotional overexcitability, high level of “concreteness” in the approach to life’s problems, empathy, and a capacity for meditation and ecstasy which preserve him from psychosis and involution because they allow him to take great steps forward in his individual evolution. Great syntonic and empathic reactions characterizing the conditions of depression and sub-depression often express the elevation to a higher level of human feelings, understanding, respect, humility, etc. These forms of depression and existential anxieties, altruistic anxieties, favor the growth of deep empathy, deep relationship between “I” and “Thou.” Such developments have strong prophylactic value against egocentrism, psychopathization, and paranoidal tendencies. One of my patients said: “I was unable to reach higher levels of love, friendship and sacrifice without first developing during my sadnesses and depressions humility and a feeling of inferiority.” (Dabrowski, 1972)

The essential creative elements of Gérard de Nerval’s poetry were arealism, imagination and fantasy. We can, I suppose recognize here the realism of a world of fantasy with strong contemplative components, if such perceptions are strong, wide and systematized. De Nerval, practiced some form of meditation fairly regularly as a result he experienced states of autosuggestion, trance, premonitions and visions. Such elaborated world of imagination in spite of being removed from ordinary reality has its own sense, its own limits, its own organization, its own laws independent to a large extent from the laws of the ordinary reality. According to Richer (1962) all of de Nerval’s visionary, symbolic, obsessive elements together-expressed his “unceasing care to endow the smallest detail of individual character with a universal significance.” (Dabrowski, 1972)

Gérard de Nerval combined childlike, even psychoneurotically infantile traits of sincerity, animism, magical thinking with creative inspiration soaring into a romantic and ideal world. Nevertheless he was systematic in his efforts to develop his esoteric experiences, visions and dreams by regular meditation. Like Proust he created a “reality” of visions and presentiments. (Dabrowski, 1972)

Dawid himself remarked on how decisive in bringing about this change was his wife’s death. He said that his previous research by comparison had hardly any significance in giving him a sense of meaning for his life and his work. The tragic circumstances were the main cause which released his genuinely creative experiencing and thinking. In this he had only one goal: to penetrate empirically (mainly by means of meditation and ecstatic states) into the supersensory world. His whole creative potential focused on the area of psychic development which as if unveiled itself before him after the tragedy of his life. His books like “Psychology of Religion,” “Last Thoughts and Confessions,” “The Soul of Teaching” demonstrate his fundamentally new conception of reality. (Dabrowski, 1972)

Dawid’s creative process was in general conscious, although some contents had an unconscious, or even superconscious character embracing mystical phenomena. Such were his high intuition, empathy and the feeling of the presence of his deceased wife near him; also the feeling that his wife spoke to him although he was aware of uttering the words himself. He became convinced that the way to mysticism broadened, deepened and elevated his awareness and was the cause of his greater understanding of others and empathy. Nevertheless, both during his experiences of higher states of consciousness and afterwards he elaborated them critically and systematically. He studied with discrimination available sources on mysticism, parapsychology, methods of self-perfection and meditation. Dawid himself began to practice meditation as an empirical approach to the study of mystical phenomena. In consequence his attitude towards people became more deeply empathic. (Dabrowski, 1972)

In contrast to his earlier field of interest which was narrow both in method and scope, in his second period he displayed universal range of interests and greater complexity of his scientific attitudes. This increased range of scientific possibilities of research was exemplified by the fact that he gave attention to the significance of experiencing in development, that he discovered for himself the highest levels in meditation and ecstasy, and that his empathy has grown to a high degree. (Dabrowski, 1972)

In the case of the girl (Case 16) one would have to direct her interest to less rough sports like skiing, swimming in order to attenuate her aggressive tensions; to awaken in her an interest for nature and the external world. One would also have to attempt to convince her by way of example that if she tried to attain some measure of internal quietude through meditation and relaxation then her somatic disturbances would also diminish. But it would be important to convince her of her considerable abilities, and that they would flourish with more systematic and responsible effort, which needed to replace her mannerisms. (Dabrowski, 1972)

Excerpts from The Dynamics of Concepts (1973)

We know well that the people who are endowed with a great power of imagination are capable of transferring their life experiences into the sphere of fantasy. A musical composition may be “heard” in musical imagination, a drama may be seen in visual and affective imagination. The same is true of sculpture, painting, etc. In the states of meditation and contemplation the individuals “see” and “hear” without any concrete, external sensory stimuli. (Dabrowski, 1973)

The recognition of multilevelness of mental functions and structures in oneself allows analogous recognition with regard to other people. Consequently, the ability for empirical recognition of multilevelness of mental life in oneself and in others appears only among those people who have achieved significant progress in their versatile development, particularly that of instinctive and emotional functions. This is especially true with regard to such experiences and kinds of knowledge which involve intuition, meditation, contemplation, ecstasy, and mystical states. Certainly these kinds of experiences are not universal or even widespread. They are restricted to human individuals endowed with specific mental qualities associated with the experiences of the transcendent, absolute reality. This point will be illustrated by Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling.” (Dabrowski, 1973)

At a higher level of unilevel disintegration and at the initial level of multilevel disintegration sadness gradually becomes less dependent on somatic factors. It is more reflective, associated with meditation and a tendency to isolation; it loosens its relationship with fundamental impulsive tendencies and connects with astonishment in relation to reality, with disquietude towards oneself and others, and with contemplation. (Dabrowski, 1973)

The action of the instinct of self-perfection is synthesized in relation to other functions, and is usually regulated and systematized by concentration, meditation, contemplation, and even ecstasy. This contemplation or ecstasy, on the level of secondary integration and on the level of the instinct of self- perfection, is not a marginal, unilevel, or pathological state, but an expression of the synthesis on the highest level of personality. (Dabrowski, 1973)

The creative process frequently occurs in states of meditation, contemplation or even ecstasy all of which represent higher phases of disintegration. In suffering, sorrow, sadness, despair and tragedy, the states of depression and dejection coexist with the states of elevation, loftiness, and joy. Depressions and existential anxiety are characteristic of the majority of outstanding artists, especially poets, writers and painters to mention only a few: Proust, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Saint Exupéry, Tolstoi, Camus, Michelangelo, Van, Gogh, etc. Serious disintegrative transformations stimulated and enhanced creative forces in Clifford Beers, Wladyslaw Dawid, Fedor Dostoevsky, John Keats, etc. (Dabrowski, 1973)

The appearance and operation of the third factor and of the dynamism “subject-object” in oneself is of crucial significance at this stage. The dynamism of inner psychic transformation operates on the basis of these two dynamisms. It participates, not only in the affirmation and organization of the new mental structure, but also works out the whole program of mental development and through the acts of critical differentiation, hierarchization of values and meditation leads to self-evaluation, that is to say, a critical assessment of one’s actual mental structure from the viewpoint of a consciously and authentically chosen ideal of personality. It is then, contrary to the activity of such dynamisms as “subject-object” in oneself and the third factor the methodological factor acting globally and narrowly, elaborating itself and “uplifting.” (Dabrowski, 1973)

On the highest level, that is to say, on the border of the fourth and fifth stages, as well as, on the stage of secondary integration, we have only one disposing and directing center which synthesizes intuitively all human tendencies, identifies itself with personality and its ideal and develops its own activity in unity with persona I through “insight,” meditation and contemplation. (Dabrowski, 1973)

Excessive empathy, authenticity, development of meditation and contemplation, the experiences and strivings of a Don Quixote, realization of a high hierarchy of ideals until the end of one’s life all those symptoms express transcendence of basic human needs, of immediate reality, and traditional forms of adaptation. This attitude expresses a turning away from basic organismic needs and drives, and therefore, a turning away from the human biological life cycle. (Dabrowski, 1973)

In this manner the individual begins to dissociate, in his inner psychic milieu, what he feels to be “more himself” from what is “less himself.” He divides reality into this one which “is” and that one which “ought to be” he manifests growing empathy, autonomy, and authenticity. His aims and ideals undergo a change. His basic concern is no more his own preservation, but also his growth as a human being, as well as, the preservation and mental development of other people, as unique, irreplaceable individuals. This long-lasting and difficult process of self-education and autopsychotherapy operates tinder the strong impact of empathy and other dynamisms which lead to a sublimated type, and weakens all those qualities which are negative or irrelevant for the organization of a new mental structure on a higher level. As a result of this process, the introvertive type gains in sociability and displays increasingly higher forms of empathy. The extravertive type starts to experience the need for temporary isolation, meditation and contemplation. The transcendence of the psychological type is dependent on a more or less significant acquisition of some traits of the opposite type. It involves the processes of sublimation and complementation of typological traits. (Dabrowski, 1973)

Excerpts from Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions (1996)

There are two, although not the only, distinct manifestations of this dynamism [inner psychic transformation]. One is the transcending of biological life cycle. Somatic determinants of maturation, aging, or disease, are replaced by mental and emotional determinants of rich (accelerated) psychic development. The result is a continuation of creativity in spite of aging, continuation of psychic growth past maturity, expansion of emotional experience with age and deepening of love and friendship (6-126, 6-128, SE 69, SE 79, SE 80). The second manifestation is the transcending of psychological type by introducing traits of opposite type, for example an extravert becomes somewhat introverted, or an impatient and irascible person becomes patient and gentle, or a timid and anxious person turns into a confident leader. When such transformation reaches the point of irreversibility, i.e. losing the impulse to revert to the earlier trait of form of behavior so that it does not flare up even under stress, then we consider it developmentally true. The transformation would not be true if it were only a suppression. Inner psychic transformation may be observed in precursor form at a lower level, for instance in efforts to become more self-controlled, organized, considerate of others. At level IV this process is much more distinct, engaging deep reflection and concentration as, for instance, in meditation. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Education-of-oneself. This dynamism guides the realization of personal development according to a definite program built on an autonomous hierarchy of values. It entails a conscious alertness and activity of converting one’s experiences and actions toward the stream of personal growth. It denotes a capacity for long-range programs of self-development. In the words of Saint Exupéry: “Each evening I review the truth of my day: if the day was sterile as personal education, I am malevolent for those who made me lose it.” (SE 29). System of yoga and meditation, and related systems (e.g. Schultz’s autogenic training) when taken up seriously and systematically, are good models of education-of-oneself. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Self-perfection. Systematization and organization of a program of personality development is called here self-perfection. The goal and the process of self-perfection become clearly defined with special emphasis on moral and empathic development. There occur states of meditation and contemplation in which the individual realizes the existence of a superior hierarchy of personality as the highest self-chosen, self-affirmed, and self-aware structure attainable in human development. Following this realization, the individual endeavors to unite himself with the highest levels discovered by him in his experience. This is the discovery of the ideal as the goal of personality development. The process described is that of the dynamization of personality ideal. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Empathy. Empathy achieves its highest expression in the readiness to sacrifice one’s fife for the sake of others. Empathy develops not only toward the people one is responsible for but also toward one’s highest strivings, one’s own unrepeatability harmonized with a total respect for “Thou” which exceeds the respect for oneself. The highest level of an authentic “I” in relationship with an authentic “Thou.” We encounter here the development of empathy for everything that exists, especially all living creatures. There is a profound and active empathy toward all those who are hurt and humiliated. Love is emanated equally strongly in the contemplative states of meditation as in conditions of everyday life. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Moral differentiation of others is based on the deepest empathy toward them. This empathic differentiation occurs through intuitive-synthetic insights, obtained frequently during meditation and contemplation. The feeling that it is possible to step over from empirical experiences into the borderline of transcendence is based on an understanding of the differences and closeness of “I” and “Thou” in a harmonic duality of existence and essence. The individual reaches his own ideal and the ideals of others through mystical experiences and identification, thus achieving full harmony in perfecting himself and others. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

The organization and synthesis of the inner psychic milieu, primarily by emotional-cognitive dynamisms, such as third factor and subject-object in oneself, results in deep transformations in attitudes toward sexual fife. The ideal of exclusivity and permanence of an emotional relationship develops as a deeply reflective philosophical attitude. (By ‘philosophical’ we mean the principles a person believes in and fives by as a function of an examining and searching attitude). The loved one becomes the subject endowed with individuality and uniqueness. a program of sexual life and of its sublimation is developed through retrospection and prospection. Meditation and highly developed empathy and responsibility for the family play here a crucial role. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Thus growth of empathy, altruistic and existential concerns mark the transition in the deepening process of reflection from level III to IV. In level V this is augmented by ‘transcendental’ concerns. The process of inner psychic transformation started with the aid of meditation and contemplation is carried on in a more essential all-inclusive manner. Reflection becomes a systematic practice of deep calm concentration. It ceases to be an analytical argument but begins to depend more and more on the operation of intuition. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

The dynamisms of inner inhibition are very strong, as is the readiness to eliminate any “excitability” from sources of lower levels. There is a program of methods and means of developing excitation on higher level with simultaneous inhibition of dynamisms of medium or low level (i.e. borderline of levels II and III, and early III). It is well known that the state of meditation brings about inner quietude, calm awareness of one’s weaknesses, calm equilibration of what has been achieved in the struggles of everyday life. This inner calm can be considered a meditative inhibition which strengthens our achievements. In rare moments one may be given the chance to reach to very high levels of reality. In such moments appear new insights which in some way stimulate us “upwards.” This stimulation as an immediate result of the experience is full of positive and serene tension. It is a calm excitation coming “from above.” We could call it a contemplative excitation. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Development of an increasingly deeper awareness of moral evil and its dangers both internal and external. Development of conscious courage. Constant readiness to inhibit negative stimulations. Stimulation of positive processes and positive attitudes. There is something like “automation” of the excitation of higher functions which inhibit lower levels of functions. The habit of feeling and being responsible for one’s own and other’s development in the area of inhibition and excitation develops very distinctly. Characteristic for this level prevalence of inhibition over excitation is the consequence of growing inner calm and quietude achieved through meditation and contemplation. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Experiencing of pleasure has its source in the realization of a more developed hierarchy of values and in the work directed toward the realization of one’s personality ideal. Growth of empathy is a source of profound pleasure, as is meditation and contemplation. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Experiencing pleasure comes from the realization of ideals, from a growing autonomy and authentism, from empathy which encompasses all aspects of life. We observe here a clearly developed harmony between the need and the attempts of uniting oneself with others on the threshold of transcendence. Meditation and contemplation become powerful vital sources of the highest levels of bliss. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Hierarchization of success: gradual turning away from external forms of success. Transfer of weight toward moral, altruistic, and creative success. “Lower” forms of success are renounced for the sake of “higher” ones. Sometimes there is a spasmodic elimination of lower kind of success as in trying to achieve the ideal by force. This can be seen in dramatic initial forms of generosity and self-sacrifice. At times this takes the greater form of asceticism and renunciation of worldly life. The meaning of success is developed in meditation and contemplation. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Internal quietude and self-determination. The sense of permanence of existence is embedded in the structure of the ideal. The ideal is developed through continuing practice of meditation and contemplation. Emotional bonds are inviolable. Immortality of friendship and love. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

With the development of a high level of alterocentrism one observes gradual development of existential attitudes, of delving into essence of valuing divinity as an embodiment of love together with a deepening need of faith in the uniqueness of God and his personal attributes. as a result of experiences gained through systematic meditation and contemplation and the effort at self-perfection a tendency develops toward making one’s subjective religious needs more objective, and toward making transcendence a concrete reality. Religious attitude is manifested as a search for objective supernatural realms in transcendence. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Attitude in art expressed as “nothing human is alien to me.” Multilevel and authentic synthesis of many different kinds of art. Close relationship with Michelangelo, J. S. Bach, Mozart, Franck, Faure, Gregorian chants. Elaboration and resolution of pathology in art in the sense of capturing positive aspects of certain “pathological” or thought to be pathological processes. Responsiveness to drama and tragedy in life generates the need to give them expression in art, in fact, to infuse art with the sublimity of tragic human experience. Understanding of and need for religious drama. Identification with others and individual authentism in art. Work on solving the problem of an artist and an observer in oneself. “I” and “not-I” (e.g. “I am not proud of what I think and nothing interferes between what I see and what I write,” SE 47). Experiencing and expressing in art the absolute “I-and-Thou.” art as a function of growing calmness, concentration, meditation and contemplation. The highest art—synthesis of many levels of art into one integrated whole. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

The individual under the influence of such dynamisms as the third factor, subject-object in oneself, and inner psychic transformation begins to develop a hierarchy of value levels in relation to different problems. He approaches in similar manner cognitive methods directed to these problems. The interests of knowing are universal and at the same time with a clearly elaborated multilevel hierarchy. Cognitive activities are entirely in the service of the developing personality. Through meditation and contemplation they reach empirical forms of mystical cognition. The fink between cognitive functions and higher emotional dynamisms is here very distinct and very strong. For example, it may be expressed thus: “There was a time when I was sure of the independence of thought. I believed that when one passes from the experiential sphere of emotions to the discursive sphere of thought then the whole of human life is raised to a higher level. Today I know that these were just speculations based on unfounded presuppositions. Events and experiences in my life, especially when I felt isolated, sad, in mental pain, broken down, convinced me that my intellectual interests underwent fundamental changes. My thinking has lost its clearly delineated boundaries of thinking for its own sake. It became an instrument of something higher, something you could call a synthesis of intuition and ideal. Isolated thinking has lost its appeal for me, but such thinking which is geared to “higher functions” gives me at times the feeling of reaching to others, to an ideal, and may be to something even higher, like the reality of transcendental experience.” (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Beginnings of intuition based on development of a hierarchy of sensations. Development of intuitive insight as an ability to grasp the core of a problem without having to approach it by trial and error. Beginnings of differentiating intuitions of lower and higher level. Beginning of attempts at concentration and meditation. Intuition is the product of hierarchization of values and of gradual detachment from ongoing involvements and preferences. The individual begins to pay attention to the needs of others, begins to discover new relationships and principles guiding one’s search for the “new” and the “higher.” Intuition ceases to be concerned with the manifestations of external reality, such as telepathy, ESP, and the like, but begins to outline the shapes of truths yet unknown to the individual. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Development and deepening of intuition is closely related to the increasing distance from lower levels of reality and closer approach to its higher levels. The framework of reference for intuitive processes is much broader, because it is taken, so to speak, from a much higher altitude. Knowledge is easily applied to particular phenomena, because perception is multilevel and multidimensional having its source in the highest level which organizes in an all-encompassing and yet precise manner all the lower levels of reality. Intuition is thus developed through detachment from the needs of a lower level and through closer binding with the personality ideal. Meditation and contemplation contribute to the growth of intuition. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Awareness and self-awareness are the function of the activity of the dynamisms subject-object in oneself and an increasingly stronger multilevel internal structure. Awareness is in the service of development and ideal. Growing awareness of the uniqueness and independence of individuality and at the same time of sharing in the community of mankind. States of heightened awareness or transcendental awareness occur. Awareness and self-awareness develop through meditation and contemplation. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Strong increase of awareness through systematic meditation and contemplation. Resolution of the distinctness of one’s awareness and of one’s unity with others. Self-awareness and awareness are in the service of highest empathy as well as one’s independence, i.e. one’s individual essence. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Magic ceases to apply as such, instead, it is replaced by the cooperation of spiritual forces which integrate elements of an ecstatic state, prayer, a sense of spiritual power, and sometimes also a high level of artistic expression. This blending of high level processes suggests the notion of an inner mystery play. Magical suggestibility works no longer at this level. “Magic” of higher levels is elaborated through self-awareness and self-control. There is a total separation from magic of physical character, and in consequence, total rejection of magic on a low or medium level. The individual strives to reduce his egocentrism and to put magic to the service of meditation and contemplation. Magic becomes a function of a mystical attitude and of ecstasy. No magical elements work in isolation from the dynamics of higher spiritual reality. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Fully developed differentiation between essential values and pseudovalues. The expression of enthusiasm is calm and directed chiefly toward high levels of moral and emotional values. It is an enthusiasm of silence, meditation, contemplation, and ecstasy. It appears in the realization of ideals. The only difference in its expression with that of level IV is that here enthusiasm is much more strongly allied with transcendental values. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Solitude appears as a need. Isolation is sought as a means of understanding oneself and others (development of the inner psychic milieu). Increasing need for reflection, meditation and contemplation augments the need for solitude as a necessary condition of developing the dynamisms of multilevel disintegration. The search for true friendship and true love often leads to isolation from a group. There is also a need for solitary contemplation of nature and art. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

“Organized” solitude. All external functions and responsibilities are worked out in the context of solitude, meditation and contemplation. Solitude becomes the necessary condition for developing the higher and the highest dynamisms of the inner psychic milieu, particularly the DDC and inner psychic transformation. The programming of these dynamisms is carried out in solitude. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Under the influence of multilevel dynamisms the change in the operation of self-preservation becomes quite marked. Mental determinants begin to act. One observes growing care for the preservation of moral, cultural, emotional, and creative values, frequently with a neglect, for instance, of the necessary care for health. This stage of growing above the instinctive drive for self-preservation plays an enormously significant role in education. Its most frequent expression is the fact that parents and educators strive to develop in children moral values on a higher level than their own. This is an example of subjugation of the instinct of self-preservation to moral values. Suicidal tendencies, various forms of aggression directed against oneself, various forms of the instinct of partial death are expressions of an inner manifestation of higher and lower levels of self-preservation. Reflection and meditation on death are frequent. In this level the self-preservation instinct undergoes a necessary and inevitable disintegration without which further development would not be possible. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Altruism is truly autonomous and authentic. It becomes an ideal standing against the actual selfishness of human nature. This ideal is developed through previous (level IV) education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy. It is expressed in serene readiness for self- sacrifice for the sake of others. The relationship of “I” and “Thou” takes on transcendental character together with profound and intense multilevel empathy. States of meditation, contemplation, or ecstasy bring about the synthesis of an altruism encompassing all human values. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Humility has its source in the awareness of one’s inner growth, and at the same time of the vastness of human misery, falsity, suffering and sorrow against which one is helpless in spite of feeling ready to work against it. Intellectual and emotional understanding of being distant from the ideal, yet strongly striving toward it. At times of reflection and meditation on the ideal, the feeling of humility and respect for that which is higher in the hierarchy of universal human values grows. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

All mental forces are directed to the realization of personality ideal. The evolving feelings of humility and respect for essential and existential values, for a hierarchy of absolute values, are directly connected with the yearning to reach the ideal and transcendence. Humility is experienced in meditation and at time of inner uplifting, which generates calm but poignant encounter with one’s deficiencies. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Here existential problems become more pronounced than in level III. Psychoneuroses are generated by a sense of failure in self-perfection and responsibility, by a sense of blocked progress in meditation and contemplation. Tendencies toward genuine ecstasy may be quite strong. Empathy may increase to the point of incapacitating the person in face of the extent of suffering and injustice in the world. Hence depression and anxiety over the fate and failure of other people. But all the psychoneurotic disturbances possible at this level are not severe because they are subject to autopsychotherapy, inner psychic transformation and education-of-oneself. Creative process may generate systematized obsessions of higher level as was the case of such writers as Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Miguel de Unamuno, William Faulkner, and so many others. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

At this level the term “regression” can be used only metaphorically. We observe reflective and elaborated relaxation, periods of total solitude, at times excessive introvertization of mystical states, periods of prayer, meditation and contemplation in order to collect one’s strength in the face of a social mission, before having to undertake decisions of great responsibility, or in order to develop common essence. Fairly calm and fairly systematic tendencies to regression through death (martyrdom) are also observed. Regressions at this level are always positive and occur as a necessary self-protection and as a means of continuing the labor of development. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Multilevel and multidimensional psychology. Distinct interest in the psychology of inner experience and in existential psychology. Systematic elaboration of objectivity of values, as represented by Jaspers, Binswanger, Tolstoy, Tagore, Camus. Organization of empirical psychology on different levels of empiricism. Elaboration of differentiating principles and methods of multilevel psychology, in which task the dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration play a highly significant role (e.g. the third factor, subject-object in oneself). Examples: Kierkegaard, William James, Jung, Minkowski, Allport, Van Kamm. Understanding that there is value in methods of cognition through meditation, contemplation or ecstasy, and that mystical experiences can be studied objectively. Mystical and similar experiences become thus accessible to empirical approach. Understanding that phenomena of psychopathology have to be differentiated on many levels. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

The highest level of empathy. Mentally ill are treated as unique and unrepeatable individuals. Most mental and emotional disturbances are looked upon as a means of development. Negative components in order to be transformed and employed in development are linked with positive ones. For instance, sensual needs for attention and frequent contact with others can be reduced by practicing relaxation and calm induced through meditation. Psychotherapy with a client is carried out with the aim of his being able to develop autopsychotherapy, i.e. to activate consciously and systematically his developmental dynamisms in the process of inner psychic transformation. Instead of treatment there is education. The goal for the client is to become capable to education-of-himself. Various systems and disciplines of yoga and self-perfection based on moral and spiritual principles have this character. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Continuing growth of self-determination, education-of-oneself and autopsychotherapy. Meditation, and empathy contribute to the development of educational methods. Comprehension of the value of intuitive and mystical cognition and of their influence in education in close cooperation with empathy. Education of personality and development of paths leading toward personality (cf. page 42) and its ideal. Education is founded on the recognition and experience of individual and common essence (cf. page 42, authentism). It recognizes the indispensability of contemplative methods and of testing them empirically. In consequence, these methods are part and parcel of the highest level of education. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Further development of existential and moral philosophical trends described in level III. Philosophy becomes more consistently a way of life. Philosophy is based on a program of self-perfection as exemplified by Pythagoras, Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Tagore, Tillich, Buber, Barth. Philosophy of emotions and will is developed as a function of multilevel empiricism of systematic meditation. The need for multilevel methods of exploring human experience is stressed. Two directions of philosophy emerge a most characteristic for this level: monistic (in the sense of accepting total identification with the first cause, the principle of being, or the highest being) and essential (in the sense of accepting individual essence as having an indestructible existence not to be dissolved in ultimate oneness). Gradual transition toward the orientation of individual essence. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Fully developed attitude of love stemming from the highest values which personify divinity and people in their unrepeatable and individual relationships. Active love resulting from experiences gained in meditation and contemplation. Total readiness for sacrifice for the sake of others and for one’s faith. Union with God is experienced in meditation or in strong intuitive projections. Such experiences generate an inner understanding of God through so-called infused knowledge. The deepest respect and love of God do not obliterate the awareness of one’s individuality. This means that the sense of affinity and union with God exists together with preservation of distinct and permanent individual essence. At times when it becomes difficult to obtain a response from God, one’s relationship to him is built through continuing work of inner perfection and through creating and discovering ever higher values. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

Dabrowski, C. (1937). Psychological bases of self-mutilation.  Genetic Psychology Monographs, 19, 1-104.

Dąbrowski, K. (1938/2019). Types of increased psychic excitability (Michael M. Piechowski, Trans.). Advanced Development, 17, 1-26. (Original work published 1938) 

Dabrowski, K. (1964). Positive disintegration. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Dabrowski, K. (1967). Personality-shaping through positive disintegration. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Dabrowski, K. (with Kawczak, A., & Piechowski, M. M.). (1970). Mental growth through positive disintegration. London, England: Gryf.

Dabrowski, K. (1972). Psychoneurosis is not an illness. London, England: Gryf.

Dabrowski, K. (1973). The dynamics of concepts. London, England: Gryf.

Dąbrowski, K. (1996). Multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functions. Part I: Theory and description of levels of behavior. Lublin, Poland: Towarzystwo Naukowe Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego.