Piechowski Archive

Dr. Michael M. Piechowski was born in Poznań, Poland, and he is a scholar in the field of gifted education. He has a M.Sc. in plant physiology from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, and PhDs in the fields of molecular biology (1965) and counseling psychology (1975) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

He worked as a collaborator with Dr. Dąbrowski from 1967-1975. Michael helped him produce the books Mental Growth through Positive Disintegration, Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness,  Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions, and Theory of Levels of Emotional Development

Michael wrote about his work on the Multilevelness Project and the collaboration with Dąbrowski in his chapter, “Discovering Dabrowski's Theory”:

Prior to the book’s [Mental Growth] publication in London in 1970, Dabrowski had two pieces of our collaboration translated into French and published in Annales Médico-Psychologiques. The first, on the inner psychic milieu, contained my initial attempt to create a visual picture of the dynamisms of the theory that would place them in the order that Dabrowski felt they tended to emerge (Dabrowski, 1968). He must have thought the drawing an adequate visual approximation to his conception of his theory (Figure 3.1, page 44). He used to say that in his mind, he saw the dynamisms as if on stage, certainly a more animated and dramatic vision than my two-dimensional imitation of Moorish arches.

The second piece was on higher emotions and values, in which Dabrowski argued for an objectively based, universal hierarchy of values (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1969). As a neurologist, he firmly believed that as a person achieves higher levels of development, corresponding changes take place in the nervous system. He relied on a neurological exam of his own design as an initial assessment of the person’s developmental level.

Canada Council gave Dabrowski a three-year research grant to showcase his theory through a multifaceted analysis of case examples. The idea was to ask volunteers to write autobiographies and open-ended responses to Verbal Stimuli, take an intelligence test, and take a neurological exam. A clinical-diagnostic interview collected essential information about the person. Dabrowski’s principal research assistants in this project were Marlene King (Rankel) and Dexter R. Amend. Marlene King was in charge of the enormous task of collecting the material and keeping track of subjects, their appointments, and their testing. Dexter R. Amend worked with Dabrowski on the description and final form of the neurological exam.

As the project was getting off the ground, I left the University of Alberta in January of 1970 to become once again a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, this time in counseling. My departure did not make Dabrowski happy. However, our close collaboration continued until 1975. The years 1970 and 1971 were spent working together on his book Psychoneurosis Is Not an Illness (1972). Pages with clarifications, elaborations, inclusion of new clinical examples, and successive revisions grew to a stack one foot high. As Dabrowski tended to grossly underestimate the amount of work needed, I was tempted to send my stack of pages to him as concrete evidence of the amount of labor involved. At one time, I told him that I was sure it would have been easier to be his patient than to work with him. He agreed. Still, his sense of urgency about the work made the whole atmosphere around him charged with excitement. (Piechowski, 2008, pp. 45-46) 

Michael is best known for bringing the overexcitabilities to gifted education as well as his work on emotional and spiritual giftedness. He is the co-editor of Living with Intensity and author of  “Mellow Out,” They Say. If I Only Could: Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright.

Michael Piechowski and Chris Wells
Michael and Chris at Yunasa West, 2021

Quote Collages from Michael's work


Positive Maladjustment



Inner Growth talk from 1999

Title Summary Categories Link
1965_The Fate of Phage Deoxyribonucleic Acid and Protein in Maturation

This is Michael's first dissertation, which was for a doctorate in molecular biology. His committee included Millard Susman, Ph.D. (chair), Robert M. Bock, Ph.D., and Howard Temin, Ph.D. Piechowski, M. M. (1965). The fate of phage deoxyribonucleic acid and protein in maturation. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Wisconsin, Madison. Listen to Millard Susman's oral history interview about the Genetics Department where Michael was a graduate …

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1968_Dabrowski_Le Milieu Psychique Interne

The Inner Psychic Milieu. This is Chapter IV from Mental Growth through Positive Disintegration. Michael M. Piechowski assisted and created the diagram but is not listed as …

1969_Les emotions superieures et l'objectivite d'evaluation

Dabrowski-Piechowski 1969 Higher Emotions and the Objectivity of Valuation. This paper is also Chapter V in Mental Growth through Positive Disintegration …

1974_Two Developmental Concepts: Multilevelness and Developmental Potential

The theory of positive disintegration appears to be deceptively simple. It tells us that the development of individuality occurs in successive stages, wherein each succeeding stage is higher than the previous one. “Higher” means more awareness, more mental control, more Rogerian openness to experience, more empathy, more individual responsibility. To get from one level to the next one goes through depression, anxiety, periods of confusion and hypersensitivity, and when it is over the higher level is achieved. But is it all that simple? Is it possible to grasp a comprehensive theory of human development from a one-paragraph …

1975_Formless Forms

[Dissertation] Five criteria have been developed to compare and evaluate theories of counseling and psychotherapy: (1) concept form, (2) nondependence on general principles, (3) notions of structure, (4) properties of the organism, and (5) value structure. Twelve approaches to counseling and psychotherapy have been examined on the five criteria: psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, rational-emotive therapy, behavior therapy, reality therapy, Adlerian psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, encounter, client-centered therapy, experiential psychotherapy, eclectic psychotherapy, analytic psychology, and Maslow’s theory. Most approaches satisfy none or only one criterion. Behavior therapy satisfies criteria no. 1, 2, and 4, Jung’s analytic psychology satisfies criteria, 1, 3, 4, and 5, and Maslow’s theory satisfies criteria no. 1, 2, 4, and 5. Piechowski, M. M. (1975). Formless forms: The conceptual structure of theories of counseling and psychotherapy. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Wisconsin, …

1975_Piechowski_A Theoretical and Empirical Approach to the Study of Development

Developmental psychology, in spite of its dynamic growth, has not, thus far, generated a general theory of human development. Present developmental theories are either cognitive or ontogenetic, or both. All are descriptive. Their powers of explanation are limited. None of them include emotional development. It is argued that a theory of development in order to claim generality must (a) include emotional development, and (b) offer means of explaining, rather than only describing, developmental transformations. A nonontogenetic theory of development, called theory of positive disintegration, appears to fulfill these conditions. It is built on Jacksonian principles of evolution of levels of functioning. The central concept of the theory is that of multilevelness of developmental phenomena. Development is seen to be a function of the level of behavioral organization. The theory defines five levels. Each level constitutes a distinct structure. The dynamic elements of the structure of each level are identified. Positive disintegration is the name for the process by which the structure of a higher level replaces the structure of a lower one. The theory explains different developmental patterns by introducing the concept of developmental potential (DP). Although DP is a purely logical notion, it is given observable dimensions designated as dimensions of mental functioning. There are five of these and they correspond to psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual, and emotional modes of functioning. The first half of the monograph is devoted to the conceptual structure of the theory. The second half to empirical tests of the …

1977_Dabrowski_Piechowski_Vol 1

Theory of Levels of Emotional Development, Volume …

1978_Self-actualization as a developmental structure: A profile of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The characteristics of self-actualization are fully reflected in excerpts from Saint-Exupéry's autobiographical writings. The correspondence between the characteristics of self-actualization and Saint-Exupéry's developmental profile gains special significance because there exists, independently, a theoretical structure corresponding both to self-actualization and to Saint-Exupéry's material. This structure—level IV in the theory of positive disintegration—has previously been shown to represent Saint-Exupéry's behavioral organization. The characteristics of self-actualization and the properties of level IV structure are isomorphic. Self-actualization is the consequence of level IV structure and of the potential necessary for its …

1979_Piechowski_Developmental Potential

Today's concept of giftedness has been broadened to include considerably more than academic capability as measured by I.Q. tests, yet, the call for broader conceptualization has essentially resulted in further test orientation. There is a need for a model that would enable one to conceptualize giftedness in terms other than testable skills. This paper presents a psychological model of giftedness that accounts for intellective and non-intellective dimensions, especially those of imagination and feeling. The model rests on the concept of developmental potential taken from a theory of human development. The value of this concept lies in that it gives readily identifiable components: special talents and abilities and five forms of psychic overexcitability: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional. Specific examples of expressions of overexcitability identified in case data with gifted are …

1981_Gage, Morse & Piechowski

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1981_The Logical and the Empirical Form of Feeling

Susanne K. Langer's theory of art seems to have suffered some neglect in recent years. The plausibility, usefulness, and demonstrability of her principal idea, that works of art present the logical form of feeling, have been questioned. The purpose of this paper is to invite attention to the work of Manfred Clynes on experimentally obtained forms of feeling and the inner pulse of music, for it appears to be a direct demonstration of Langer's logical form of feeling. Clynes's research has revealed important features of the nature of feeling which not only confirm Langer's ideas but have opened a new field of study: the study of expression as a function of its spatial and dynamic form. If aesthetic education is to be rightfully regarded as the education of feeling, then we are presented here with a rich source of implications, because suddenly feeling is no longer an elusive quality but has a precise and demonstrable form whose properties can be measured. The first part of this paper reviews the key concepts of Langer's theory, the second presents Clynes's discovery, and the third carries out an alignment of their …

1981_Two Types of Emotional Overexcitability: Conserving and Transforming

From the proceedings of the Third International Conference on the Theory of Positive …

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1982_Self-Actualization Profile of Eleanor Roosevelt

Piechowski & …

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1983_Personal Growth: An Empirical Study Using Jungian and Dabrowskian Measures

Lysy and …

1984_Developmental Potential of the Gifted

Describes a model of developmental potential that defines 5 parallel dimensions or modes of mental functioning assumed to be genetically independent of one another. The 5 modes encompassed by the model are represented by 5 forms of “psychic overexcitability.” The prefix over in overexcitability is meant to convey that this is a special kind of responding, experiencing, and acting that is enhanced and distinguished by characteristic forms of expression. The 5 forms are psychomotor overexcitability (P), intellectual (T), emotional (E), and imaginational (M). The model was tested in a study with 49 gifted adolescents (aged 12–17 yrs), 28 gifted adults (aged 22–55 yrs), 19 artists (aged 18–59 yrs), and 42 graduate students (aged 22–50 yrs). Results of assessment on an overexcitability questionnaire indicate that both gifted adolescents and gifted adults were characterized by 2 nonintellectual factors—M and E–and by T overexcitability. It is concluded that while the level of each overexcitability variable differs considerably across gifted individuals, they are consistently and reliably present in a gifted group of any …

1985_Comparison of Intellectually and Artistically Gifted on Five Dimensions of Mental Functioning

Compared overexcitability profiles in (1) 23 18–59 yr olds active in art, music, literature, or other artistic fields; (2) 37 intellectually gifted 22–55 yr olds; and (3) 42 22–50 yr old graduate students, using a 21-item, free-response questionnaire. Five broadly defined areas of psychic life were measured by the instrument: personal level of energy, sensual aliveness, the pursuit of knowledge and truth, imagination, and the life of feeling. A model predicted that the strength, richness, and depth of talent would be a function of the 5 measured dimensions. Analysis showed that intellectual talent tended to be associated with 3 dimensions (intellectual, imaginational, and emotional), while artistic talent tended to be associated with high scores on all 5 dimensions (especially on imaginational and emotional). In contrast, graduate students had lower scores on all 5 …

1985_Patterns of Overexcitability in a Group of Artists

Interviewed 13 Ss (aged 19–43 yrs) who had a serious involvement with artistic or creative work at a vocational, professional, or avocational level to assess the manner of functioning and interaction patterns of the 5 categories of overexcitability (i.e., psychomotor, emotional, sensual, intellectual, imaginational) that are considered to be basic in gifted and creative individuals. It is suggested that the model of the 5 dimensions of mental functioning is useful in describing the psychological endowment of artists. Three patterns of overexcitability that emerged from the study (balanced and integrated, emotionally vulnerable, and polarized and restless) are …

1986_The Concept of Developmental Potential

There exist important personality characteristics of the gifted and talented that intelligence tests do not tap. Among these characteristics is a broad range of a heightened activity which finds expression in an enlarged and intensified manner of feeling, thinking, imagining, even tasting. The model of developmental potential defines five dimensions of such enhanced mental functioning. These five dimensions provide a broader conception of the makeup of giftedness and talent. The model offers new means of examining commonly used methods of identification; it also offers ways of recognizing potential for self-actualization and outstanding moral …

1989_Piechowski_DP and the Growth of the Self

Piechowski, M. M. (1989). Developmental potential and the growth of the self. In J. VanTassel-Baska & P. Olszewski-Kubilius (Eds.), Patterns of influence on gifted learners: The home, the school, and the self (pp. 87-101). Teachers College …

1990_Inner Growth and Transformation in the Life of Eleanor Roosevelt

This article describes Eleanor Roosevelt's discipline of inner life. An earlier study (Piechowski & Tyska, 1982) showed that Eleanor Roosevelt met all the criteria of self-actualization as given by Maslow. Maslow labeled her a “doer” rather than a ”seer” or a visionary. But she was an inspired person, “a woman with a deep sense of spiritual mission” (Lash, 1971) and, as such, much more a “seer” than Maslow gave her credit. Christ was her inner ideal. Her methods of inner work are described in the sections on the courage to know oneself, coping with inner conflict and emotional pain, self-discipline, and the inner ideal. Her inner growth is briefly analyzed in terms of Dabrowski's theory of emotional development-a theory particularly well equipped toward understanding lives engaged in the process of inner psychic …

1990_The Heart of Leta S. Hollingworth

The life of educator and psychologist Leta Hollingworth (1886-1939) is examined in terms of six traits associated with self-actualization: autonomy and superior perception of reality, problem centeredness, spontaneity, a sense of kinship with all people, interpersonal relations, and …

1991_A Developmental Framework for Self-Actualization

Brennan and Piechowski. This study presents a theoretical framework for personal growth leading to self-actualization, and case studies of individuals engaged in such growth. Maslow's description of self-actualizing people and Dabrowski's theory of emotional development are brought together for this purpose. We show that self-actualizing people can be found by means of an instrument for assessing levels of emotional development. People who are assessed at or near Dabrowski's Level 4 meet the criteria of self-actualizing growth. The degree of self-actualization can be assessed with the intensive interview guide developed for this purpose. The interview guide successfully met the objectives of this study. We have found that our self-actualizing individuals share a number of characteristics in common. They have a similar outlook and concern for humanity and its future. They have intensity, energy, and the persistence to work toward high ideals and a capacity to inspire others toward similar ideals. In their life histories, they share childhood giftedness, emotionally difficult and disruptive life experiences, and intense life-affirming …

1992_Etty Hillesum “The Thinking Heart of the Barracks”

“The thinking heart of the barracks” is how Etty Hillesum described herself when she was an inmate of a German concentration camp in World War II. She entered voluntarily to prepare herself for the inevitable end. Her diary is the story of her inner transformation, of being within herself a battlefield for the problems of our times, of finding joy and inner peace in the face of persecution, suffering and death. Love perfected her will-love for people and love for God. Her diary is one of the most detailed records of the work of love and will that makes advanced development …

1992_Piechowski_Giftedness for All Seasons

This is a study of three lives in transformation, two of which are directly concerned with the issue of war: Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who lived in the Nazi occupied Amsterdam and later died in Auschwitz and Peace Pilgrim, an American woman who started walking for peace at the time of the Korean war. The third, Ashley, is a contemporary woman, mother of two. The lives of these three gifted individuals illustrate characteristics of transforming growth: inner conflict, acceptance, willingness to serve, surrender, and inner peace. As a result of their far reaching inner transformation, they discovered on their own the transpersonal principle of nonseparateness. From the depth of their being they know that inner peace is the necessary condition of world peace. These cases illustrate in greater depth than was previously available the higher levels in Dabrowski's theory of emotional development. They also bring out the deeper meaning and effectiveness of acceptance which the theory has …

1993_”Origins” Without Origins_Exceptional Abilities Explained Away

Book review by MMP from Creativity Research Journal. The book reviewed was The Origins of Exceptional Abilities by Michael J. A. Howe …

1993_Is Inner Transformation a Creative Process

After some musings, the answer to the title's question is “yes.”; Piechowski bases his argument on Dabrowski's theory of levels of emotional development, Maslow's concept of “self‐actualization,”; and Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Within this frame he takes up three cases: Etty Hillesum, the Dutch woman whose inner growth, recorded in her diary, led her finally to volunteer for deportation by the Nazis, and to go off singing; a woman named Ashley, a fiercely devoted teacher who kept a diary recording her inner struggle for purification; and a woman known as “Peace Pilgrim”; who covered 25,000 miles on foot, telling peace along the way. The article concludes on the note that inner peace is the foundation of world …

1995_Assessing developmental potential in gifted children: A comparison of methods

Compared 2 methods (questionnaire and interview) of assessing forms of overexcitability in gifted children. It was hypothesized that the interview, offering the possibility for probing and clarification of responses, would yield richer response material than the questionnaire. 28 younger children (aged 9–11 yrs) and 18 older children (aged 12–24 yrs) participated. Contrary to expectations, the interview did not yield higher overexcitability scores. In 2 separate comparisons of the questionnaire and interview similar results were obtained for 4 of the forms of overexcitability. Correlations between questionnaire and interview scores were too low to consider the methods equivalent for making individual assessments. Older Ss scored higher than younger ones. Most of those in the younger group had difficulty writing their answers; therefore, the interview is recommended for children below age …

1997_Emotional Giftedness The Measure of Intrapersonal Intelligence

This chapter brings together emotional giftedness, emotional growth, and moral sensitivity with the concepts of developmental potential (overexcitabilities), self-evaluative processes, and inner transformation. This is Chapter 30 in Colangelo & Davis's (1997) Handbook of Gifted Education (2nd …

1997_Emotional Giftedness: An Expanded View

We live in an age of prodigies. Young pianists, violinists, even cellists, age 10, 12, or 14 perform brilliantly and movingly with the world's great orchestras. Others enter college and complete a Ph.D. or M.D. before their age mates graduate from high school. Rarest of all, two accomplished painters, one in China and one in the U.S., were recognised even before they were 10 years old. A concert performance, a work of art, an advanced degree are easy to notice and applaud. When it comes to gifts of the heart-empathy, compassion, forgiveness, or defending others-the situation is different. There is no wide audience and no TV camera to record and broadcast accomplishment in the emotional sphere, what Annemarie Roeper called being emotionally gifted. This paper expands on Roeper's original concept to include the sense of justice, moral sensitivity, positive maladjustment, loyalty, resistance to victimisation, forgiveness, and spiritual …

1998_The Self Victorious: Personal Strengths, Chance, and Co‐incidence

Models of talent development and outstanding achievement emphasize as one of the necessary conditions a strongly supportive environment. Historic and contemporary cases are presented as exceptions to this rule. Examination of these cases shows that personal strengths of the individual are the key factor in overcoming deficiencies in environmental support. This makes the self the centerpiece of the scenario of talent development. Of the four models examined here, Feldman's and Piirto's give more weight to the whole individual than do Tannenbaum's and Gagné's. Attributes of the self‐will, entelechy, striving for autonomy and self‐realization suggest areas of inquiry in further development of these …

1999_Piechowski_Inner Growth: Unilevel and Multilevel Development According to Dabrowski's Theory

Handout from a talk given by Dr. Michael M. Piechowski at the 12th Annual Hollingworth Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, May 1-2, …

1999_Theories and the Good: Toward Child-Centered Gifted Education

Grant & Piechowski. Educators tend to look to theories for ideas on how to educate gifted children. Theories are, however, not value-neutral explanations, but complex attempts to serve human goals that contain values and ideas for action, as well as explanations. When there is a disjunction between a theory and ideas about what is good for gifted children, the latter should be our guide. The most important value in gifted education, we argue, should be child-centeredness. Theories can serve this value by helping us to understand the perspective of a gifted child. Most models and theories (Maslow's and Dabrowski's being the primary exceptions) address the conditions that promote gifted achievement and do not illuminate the inner life of gifted children. And yet, the pressure to achieve often has negative consequences for the emotional well-being, of the child. Roeper's education for self-actualization and interdependence offers an approach to gifted education that respects the inner life of gifted children and assists them in finding their own way in …

2000_Childhood Experiences and Spiritual Giftedness

One hundred years ago, William James' study of religious experience was based on reports of spiritually gifted adults. Modern investigators found that when adults were asked about a spiritual experience of lasting significance in their lives, many described an event from childhood. These reports show that children are capable of authentic spiritual experiences of divine presence. God-in-everything, energy shimmering in living things, all-embracing unity and oneness, and much more, comparable to experiences of the great mystics. Moreover, some children on their own have discovered techniques for entering the joyful state of heightened consciousness. Recently advanced arguments for spiritual intelligence prepare the ground for recognition of spiritual giftedness, as distinct from other facets of …

2001_Childhood Spirituality

Hundreds of examples of childhood spiritual experiences have been collected by researchers in England and the United States. Oddly enough, they have been missed by the mainstream of transpersonal psychology. Three kinds of childhood experiences contradict the theoretical positions of Wilber and Washburn in regard to early stages of development: (1) when on the basis of their own experience children realize that the adults around them are spiritually ignorant, (2) when children become aware of their identity beyond the physical self and beyond one lifetime, and (3) when they know or discover methods of achieving on their own a state of nonordinary …

2003_From William James to Maslow and Dabrowski

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2008_Piechowski_Discovering Dabrowski's Theory

Chapter 3 from Mendaglio's (2008) edited book, Dabrowski's Theory of Positive …

2009_Emotional Life and Psychotherapy of the Gifted in Light of Dabrowski’s Theory

Jackson, Moyle, & Piechowski. In this chapter we introduce the basic terms of Dabrowski’s theory, review the themes of emotional life of the gifted, including emotional and spiritual giftedness, discuss psychotherapy for the gifted, and present two cases illustrating development through positive disintegration in exceptionally gifted young persons. KeywordsDevelopmental potential–Emotional intensity–Emotional sensitivity–Emotional giftedness–Psychotherapy–Multilevelness. This is a chapter in the International Handbook on Giftedness by L.V. Shavinina …

2009_Peace Pilgrim, Exemplar of Level V

Cases of secondary integration (Level V), the most advanced level of development through positive disintegration, are easily found within the religious sphere. To find a secular case of secondary integration presents a greater challenge. The life of Peace Pilgrim (1908–1981), known personally to a great many people, appears to be such a case. The course of her personality development appears to reflect successive phases of multilevel growth. This article examines Dabrowski's concept of secondary integration, personality ideal, and Peace Pilgrim's state of inner peace in an attempt to arrive at some purchase on these concepts. This study also raises the subject of spiritual experience as personal experience unbounded by systems of religious beliefs. This stratospheric study does carry actual implications for gifted …

2009_The Inner World of the Young and Bright

William James (1902) made the connection between intensity of character (ardor) and moral action more than a 100 years ago. In the 1960s and 1970s, when cognitive psychology supplanted behaviorism, moral development was seen as development of moral judgment through reasoning. However, reasoning does not guarantee that behavior will follow the dictates of reason. Behavior follows what one believes and feels to be right rather than what one thinks is correct. Emotional rather than cognitive development is the key to congruence between moral motivation and behavior. Dabrowski constructed his theory of emotional development from the study of lives of gifted and creative people. The theory provides insight into emotional life of the gifted and into what motivates moral action. This is a chapter in the 2009 book, Morality, Ethics, and Gifted Minds, by Cross & Ambrose …

2010_”We are all cells in the body of humanity”

The lives of Eleanor Roosevelt, Paul Robeson, and Etty Hillesum give insight into the inner transformation that is the essence of personal growth toward global awareness. Components of the process of personal growth are spelled out. Simple, easily accessible techniques, facilitate the process and empower children in their personal …

2014_Rethinking Dabrowski's Theory: I. The Case Against Primary Integration

Abstract: Some terms of Dabrowski’s theory are misleading. The construct of level and the concepts of integration and disintegration mean different things. The concept of primary integration as a starting point for personality development is untenable in light of research on child development. In its place, Level I as a type of development that is constrained by social pressures and the effort to succeed in life will serve better. Milgram’s studies of obedience and Bandura’s of the ways of bypassing one’s conscience are sufficient to explain how the Level I type of integration can take hold of a person. The descriptive term of disintegration is too extreme and too limiting to enclose the diversity of processes at each level that also include partial integration. Common errors that have crept into the usage of the theory are identified and …

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2014_The Roots of Dąbrowski's Theory

Dąbrowski's theory emerged from the neurology and clinical experience of the late 19th and early 20th century. Dabrowski addressed the problem of the tension of unbearably intense experience that can only be resolved through self-mutilation, suicide, or inner transformation. He identified the potential for advanced development in the qualities of heightened experiencing (overexcitabilities) and in the “own forces” of autonomous …

2015_A Reply to Mendaglio and Tillier

When Dąbrowski cast his theory in a series of formal statements (hypotheses), he was clear that the hypotheses were tentative and that new research findings will necessitate changes and revisions in the theory and its concepts. Mendaglio and Tillier see the theory as cast in stone and invariable: Dąbrowski’s “choice of terms and their definitions cannot be a focus of criticism: after all, TPD is his theory.” Consequently, Mendaglio and Tillier blindly stand by even the most absurd, inadvertently erroneous statements that are contradicted by the whole …

2017_Rethinking Dabrowski's Theory II

Unilevel disintegration, the second level in Dąbrowski’s theory, does not have a structure comparable to the higher levels. It also lacks direction. If so, one is bound to ask what is developmental about it and what, in fact, is developing in level II. Two classic studies and one of highly gifted adults show three possible kinds of emotional development on the not-so-flat plane of level II: a personal growth from black-and-white to relativistic thinking, from no sense of self to an individual self, and fulfillment of one’s talents as a productive member of society. Viewing the levels as types of development makes clear that the first two levels are not precursors to advanced …

2020_Lives of Positive Disintegration

Cases of advanced development are necessary to understand the theory of positive disintegration. Individual cases are also a test of the theory. Examples of advanced development suggest that Level V may not be as stratospheric as we tend to …

2021_Piechowski_Wells_Reexamining Overexcitability

Chapter 4 from Cross & Cross (Eds.) Handbook for Counselors Servings Students with Gifts & …

Figure 1_1970

Figure 3.1

From Piechowski (2008), page …

Forms and Expressions of Overexcitability

Table from Michael's book Mellow Out with the manifestations of …

Hail to you, Psychoneurotics

Piechowski 2002

Experiencing in a Higher …