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

Excerpts from Psychological Bases of Self-Mutilation (1937)

One feels that the author is unable to remove some destroying force which exists everywhere, which inflicts the least expected and most painful blows because it is directed against youth, beauty, and the most cherished sentiments. These characters were all created by a man who possessed an appreciation of beauty, of individuality, and of heroism, who, in moments of the greatest blossoming of these qualities in his heroes, destroys them by blind accidental forces and foolishly insignificant conflicts existing in their imaginations. This is precisely “the laceration of his own wounds” but it is also evidence of his desires to destroy, as a symptom of his philosophy that “all arises from dust and to dust shall return.” Such writers as Dostoyefsky and Zeromski possess, on the one hand, a strongly developed sense of reality, recognizing the “human beast” in general and in particular, and, on the other hand, a worship of upright and long suffering people who suffer only because of their spiritual values. They bear the painful knowledge that wrong is never rectified or revenged, that the evil of cosmic character frequently infects innocent and beautiful souls (Eva Pobratimska), and that in greatness lies the secret germ of lowness. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 31)

This mental splitting and aversion to life is opposed by the instinct of self-preservation and the sense of reality, which struggles with these tendencies in order to preserve the ego. The more pronounced this disintegration, the stronger is the urge for destruction and the wish to die. Schopenhauer's life was characterized by conflict between the instinct of self-preservation and the negation of the wish to live. The ability to notice the “human beast” in all its complexity and realism, along with sympathy for the downtrodden individual and a deep subtleness of feeling, characterizes Dostoyefsky, Tolstoy, and Zeromski. The need for spirituality, on the one hand, and the tendency toward sensuality, on the other hand, are the basic characteristics of Weininger. All these authors showed self-mutilating tendencies to a high degree, and some of them displayed certain hetero-mutilating tendencies as well. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 32)

Nietzsche's work is the expression of his spiritual reality. The conflict exists between Apollo, symbol of ideals, of sculpture and painting in the realm of art, of intuition, measure, number, and refinement, and Dionysus, symbol of music, passions, savageness, and abandonment. Nietzsche [according to Jung] was of an intuitive type with a tendency to introversion (Apollo) which found its expression, for example, in Geburt der Tragedie and Also sprach Zarathustra. He had, however, the earmarks of savageness, the signs of an untamed will (Dionysus), and indications of episodes of strong erotic excitement. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 33)

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, pp. 34-35)

An important factor was also the frequent conquest of India by people of little spiritual culture but of overwhelming physical force (Mongols, Mohammedans), or by powers seeking imperialistic development and material profits (British). These factors produced a feeling of helplessness, of fear and pain, and as a consequence, what is characteristic of people with whom one misfortune follows another, a subconscious desire for complete annihilation, the ending of the destructive work begun by fate. The daily occurring tragedies of life require constant adaptation to them. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 36)

The Hindus adapted themselves to these conditions by resignation, self-withdrawal, mental shrinking, passivity, and self-mutilation, as means of becoming insensitive to pain, to misfortune, and death. They bore the tyranny of others calmly. A compensation for their humiliation was the feeling of spiritual elevation. Experience during the ages rendered permanent this characteristic attitude in regard to violence. The relation of the Hindus to reality was described in the holy books which were greatly respected as guides of life. One who was able to tolerate the worst experiences with indifference, especially pain and death, won the name of ascetic and the highest esteem and admiration. (Dabrowski, 1937, pp. 36-37)

Sometimes the goal of the ascetic practice was the final annihilation of life, which was the source of all pain and evil. The fear of the continuous wandering of souls, with the belief that the path to the heights of spiritual existence or that this existence itself will be a continuous torture, was the basis of self-mutilation by continuous and agonizing wandering to bring the final destruction closer. (Dabrowski, 1937, pp. 37-38)

Not all the forms of self-mutilation have as their aim the real elevation of the individual to a higher spiritual level. They were frequently combined with a tendency to dramatization, with tricks, produced for profit and the gratification of vanity and the excitement of admiration. Despite the difference between both forms we find in the second form an expression of the tendencies both to lift themselves to a higher level and also to get into the limelight. This is again a distorted way to perfection. As I have shown, the Hindus are introverts who rather favor mental dissociation, mysticism, and ecstasy. Many times the causal experience of agreeable states of excitement and ecstasy (accidental experience of fatigue, narcotization) was the basis for the application of this accidentally observed method of bringing themselves into this state. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 38)

The suicide of Spitznagel, a friend of the great Polish romantic author Slowacki, is an example of suicide based on the irritability and struggle between tendencies. We know from the psychological works of Julius Slowacki that he was, in contrast to Spitznagel and despite his great overexcitability and tendency to depression, a type which easily realized his aims in the world of dreams and fancies by which he transformed real life as he wanted it. Spitznagel, on the contrary, needed to see spiritual values in life and had a much more strongly developed sense of reality and criticism, which did not allow him to transform reality at will. Not finding in the real world the spiritual values he sought, there was an intensification of the inner conflict resulting in self-mutilation and suicide.

Weininger's suicide was the result of an inner conflict between the need of spirituality and the sensual life symbolized by woman. In the period preceding his suicide, Weininger showed ascetic and self-mutilating tendencies, as well as a tendency to inflict pain on others. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 43)

Difficult mental conflicts and an abnormal educational environment have a great influence on the arousal and development of suicidal desires as enlarged self-mutilating tendencies. Parental love and the child's feeling that he is of some value play a great part in the development and transformation of the child's egocentrism. An abandoned child is deprived of the influence of these factors. A break in the physical and spiritual contact with the mother and disorders during the developmental periods cause a weakening of self-esteem which retards the development of the instinct of self-preservation. The feeling of affection and cordiality is to the child as indispensable for his mental development as feeding is for his physical growth. The gradual development of self-reliance and of the ability to adapt easily to new surroundings is based on the feeling that in case of mistakes one has the unfailing help of his dear ones. Lack of this assurance causes mental overexcitability, a feeling of uncertainty and self-appraisal as an unnecessary and useless individual. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 45)

Dostoyefsky embraced a gulf of suffering, misery, and primitive passions; these traits became his second nature. His first suffering is imposed on him, but later this is weakened and diluted by his voluntarily accepting an attitude of suffering, which he then exhibits for the attainment of sympathy and exciting of interest. Only after many years does Dostoyefsky begin to glorify his punishment and his suffering, reaching the third phase of reaction-the formation of the philosophy of suffering. In The Brothers Karamasov, and especially in the Idiot, he introduces submission to suffering (Mishkin) as a principle of life. In the figure of Mishkin he presents his thesis that spiritual strength is associated with physical weakness and suffering. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 60)

As a young scientist, during the International Educational Congress in Munich, in 1896, he called attention to the degeneration of the analytic school of psychology and pedagogics, the decided victory of the positivist school to the exclusion of spiritualism, telepathy, and mediumism. This passionate battle against the analytic school would indicate that, in spite of Dawid's acceptance of this experimental view, he does not lack interest in philosophy which would be expressed by a more indifferent manner. It shows rather a keen penetrating mind, searching for facts and disliking vague argumentation, and simultaneously needing a philosophy of life, with rather strongly suppressed metaphysical impulses. The following is proof of the emotionalism of this outwardly cool personality: “There were always things in the face of which I was unable to be quiet and indifferent, to restrain myself from a protest.” In spite of this, his work as a whole, between 1881 and 1910, reveals the calm of an accurate investigator. He finds an explanation for the world in physicochemical phenomena. That which could not be experimented upon was not worth the effort of thought. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 64)

The above quotations clearly show the change of tendencies caused by a shock. These tendencies, depending on the personality, sought another fulcrum and, led by the instinct of self-preservation, found it in the belief in the existence of spiritual life. According to Lukrec, Dawid's friend and biographer, there was in him “a deadly struggle between the empirist and the mystic, the Titan of exact science, demanding proofs and facts, and the despairingly lonesome, solitary man, wishing to believe in life hereafter and the possibility of a reunion with the beloved one he had lost.” These struggles lasted years, it was accompanied by a characteristic symptom frequently found in deep mystics, the tendency to moral self-scourging, self-accusation, and asceticism. Dawid had no real sin behind this self-torment. Lukrec explains this as follows:

This moral self-calumniation is a test, not of David's moral value, but of his new spiritual state. To find a proper criterion to appreciate David's value, we must seek it in his works and ideals, the highest ethical standards of his life, his disinterestedness, poverty, unshaken ceaseless defense of the weak and tormented, and his vigorous fight for scientific, social, and political principles and convictions.

His despair at the loss of his wife ruined him physically and completely exhausted him mentally. He gradually developed tuberculosis. Simultaneously with the weakening of the functions of his body, the need of spiritual union with his wife grew through paroxysms of pain, acuteness of intuition, sometimes hallucinations. (Dabrowski, 1937, pp. 65-66)

In this newly developed mental attitude, idealism takes place of materialism; in psychologico-educational methods of work, intuition finds place beside the experiment. Transformation through personal experiences, especially suffering, and the conscious, active weakening and destruction of selfish impulses of an individual capable of intense spiritual life (spirit of sacrifice, charity, suffering) becomes the aim of education. Voluntarily accepted suffering plays a role of decisive importance in this process. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 66)

In his desire to establish himself firmly in the reality of the spirit, man, within the limits of his possibilities, suppresses all that attached him to life up to that moment, first of all his personal sensual feelings and needs.

Practice has, for a long time, taught ascetics that it is indispensable for them to repress the sex impulse in order to develop a higher spiritual-religious life. The strength of this impulse is then sublimated. This interdependence is proved in a way almost experimental by the quoted cases of Novalis and others, in which sensual love is transformed directly into spiritual love; the object of sexual feeling becomes one of religious cult. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 66)

We see here that the need of suffering and its evaluation are caused by the firm belief that it is the only means of contact with the beloved person. Suffering which finds its expression in the feeling of guilt may be considered, on one hand, as the mark of personality (introspection, self-sufficiency, introversion), which always takes full and rather exaggerated responsibility for its actions: on the other hand, as the sign of the appearance of a new and strong complex coming to the fore with sudden and extraordinary force, causing in the person a feeling of dazzling, but also of sadness, that so strong a complex was hitherto suppressed and insignificant (the reality of spiritual life). (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 67)

Essentially, suffering which is, so to speak, thrust upon one, accepted and considered as an indispensable condition for spiritual life and for the satisfaction of the highest needs (spiritual relation-ship with his wife) must be included in the philosophy of life of a thinker, must be exercised by an active personality and afterwards amplified to produce intense spiritual experiences. Hence arises the problem of sacrifice and death as the most intense suffering, and at the same time the condition for complete transition to spiritual life. (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 67)

In this period of involution, a slight loss of strength and decrease of sexual desire were compensated by the search for faith and spiritual immortality, regardless of physical death. For a long time Tolstoy could not visualize the value of spiritual immortality alone. Thus, more and more frequently and clearly he began to see the possibility of acquiring immortality by spiritual development and sensual suppressions. “Whoever sees the meaning of life in self-perfection, cannot believe in death, nor that such perfection can be interrupted.” (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 73)

The feeling of inferiority, of imperfection and of bashfulness produced in him a feeling of guilt, dislike, and hatred of certain of his own features, the need of sacrifice, torment, and destruction of certain of his own complexes, and the desire of working toward self-perfection. He understood that his feeling of inferiority and his ugliness might bring about compensation in some valuable form, that suffering growing out of such a background is of great importance for spiritual perfection: Yesterday I thought that if my nose were deformed, it would be an incentive toward moral perfection. I nearly felt like experiencing this affliction which I called misfortune, but which would make suicide justifiable. (Dabrowski, 1937, pp. 74-75)

One of the more important causes of unrest and torture in Tolstoy was the contrast of his two halves: the artist and the moralist. As an artist he was above all a naturalist, an impressionist, a genius in reproducing nature's life in its most varied forms, especially physical life. As a moralist, he considered the spirit as the only indestructible substance which develops more and more with the suppression of sensual life. Nearly all forms of art, outside of some works designed for special moments (religious music) were to Tolstoy harmful to spiritual perfection, because they excited passions particularly the imagination. “Everybody knows that most adulteries are committed under the influence created by these arts especially music.” (Dabrowski, 1937, p. 76)


From Positive Disintegration (1964)

The period of real, essential moral maturation is often one of spiritual void: of isolation, loneliness, and misunderstanding. It is the time of the “soul's night,” during which the then existing sense of life and forms of connection with life lose their value and force of attraction. The period will close, however, with the working out of an ideal, the arising of a new disposing and directing center, and the appearance of forces of disapproval, shutting out every possibility of a return to the initial level. This is the process of development of personality. The third agent, having now gained the right to be heard, will admit no retreat from the road ascending to a personal and group ideal. The growing realization of a personality ideal is the secondary phase of self-education and is unique to the formed personality. (Dabrowski, 1964, p. 63)


Excerpts from Personality-Shaping through Positive Disintegration (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, p. 19)

The strength and universality of religious experience show that the internal attitude of man corresponds to a supersensual Being, transcendent as an object of these religious experiences and at the same time constituting a necessary condition for the very fact of the existence of this experience in our consciousness. This Being is a requirement of our hierarchical psychological structure, a requirement for its highest level, for it seems more convincing to assume that this hierarchy reaches into transcendency than to take it for granted that it ends in and with us. Furthermore, in the spiritual evolution of man, in his universal development, or universal outlook, the religious experience constitutes a domain which cannot be eluded, and its acceptance is a prerequisite of the multilaterality of development and of outlook that has just been mentioned. This fact also manifests not only on the intellectual but also, in a way, on the existential plane the objective existence of a transcendental object of religious experience. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 26)

The sense of humility reflects one's multidimensional world outlook, in which a man realizes the existence of higher values and at the same time soberly appraises his own level and possibilities of development. The indeterminism of the laws, needs, and reality of our spiritual development is encumbered here by the sense of determinism of our somatic, instinctive, and material side, the sense which assigns us a definite point in appraising ourselves, a point from which we can lift ourselves higher only through very hard internal struggle. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 29)

A correct attitude of humility, arising from the realization that we are infinitesimal creatures in this endless universe, from the tendency to assume an objective attitude toward reality, and from the survival of our individual spiritual beings and a sense of union with the Supreme Being, helps us to overcome the fear of our own death and to attain peace of mind. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 32)

Contemplation is also a sign of one's passing from a merely active life to a life in which action combines with moments of solitude. The capacity and need for isolation observed among normal people usually indicates progress in the development of personality. People who do not feel any need for solitude, or cannot bear it, are wholly extroverted and unprepared for psychic transformation. Dostoevsky is right in saying that solitude in the psychic sphere is as necessary as food is for the body. Moreover, the capacity for contemplation and solitude points to the spiritual independence of an individual. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 33)

To a personality within which the artistic component is dominant art allows the highest intellectual, religious, and even moral revelations. Beethoven said: “Music is a greater revelation than wisdom and philosophy.”2 Through their great love of beauty Socrates and Plato imparted an individual, emotional character to their science of impersonal general ideas, of the impersonal “essence of the thing,” and thereby broadened it by adding a more human element. The poems of St. John of the Cross, endowed with a distinct though subtle sensuality, weakened his extreme attitude of denying all human spiritual unions in life. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 34-35)

During the period of germination of the “seeds” of personality and during the later period of its realization, there occur fundamental convulsions in the internal life of a man spiritual crises resulting from the struggle between sets of various tendencies. In the consciousness of the individual this struggle contains in itself the basic element, namely the struggle between good and evil, with the tragedy-swollen feeling of the necessity of selecting and deciding. This is the Shakespearian “to be or not to be,” the Kierkegaardean “either/or,” or J. W. Dawid's individual striving for salvation. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 35)

“In states of highest spiritual tension man feels that he himself must know something, decide something, do something, and that in this no one can replace him . . . Some people think that the essential thing in mysticism is the ardent seeking of absolute truth. They are wrong. The first, deep motive is always personal and moral, namely the salvation of life, the problem of suffering in the spiritual order of things. . . . When a man suffers, feels his guilt, and worries about his own redemption, then the problem of being and its purpose becomes a personal issue for him.” [Quote from Dawid.] (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 36-37)

The internal, gradually growing maturity of a man, or the spiritual agitations which accelerate this maturity, lead him to a negative attitude toward his thus far pursued aims and ways of living, the value of which diminishes or dwindles. Simultaneously, he begins to seek fervently for the meaning of his own existence, not by philosophizing but by a deep experiencing which involves a struggle between conflicting powers in his nature. The idea, in this seeking, is to find the new essence of existence, in another dimension, and this is accompanied by a personal drama which one must go through. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 37)

Another basic individual quality is represented by lasting emotional bonds of love and friendship, bonds symbolized by the Platonic myth of two halves of the same soul. The best example of such conjunction are the bonds between Christ and His Apostles, which lead to the highest degree of friendship, or the individual bonds between Christ and St. John, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus. Such bonds are further exemplified by the spiritual bonds between Socrates or Pythagoras and their disciples, or by the brotherhood often entered into in religious orders (St. Francis and his three friars, the spiritual union between St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa, or that between St. Clara and St. Francis). A profoundly significant and even touching example of eternal individual union would be the love or friendship on the part of St. Augustine toward his mother, St. Monica. In common life we encounter such individual or group unions of a higher order of spiritual tension in the love between married people, in the fraternal or sisterly unions, and in the friendly unions between individuals not related who go side by side desiring the realization of a common idea. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 38-39)

The third basic individual trait of personality is a certain specific, unique tone of the spiritual life, specific expression or manifestation of which is observed in a man's countenance and eyes or felt in his movements, expression of voice, behavior, and personal charm, the latter being a kind of individual “magnetism.” (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 39)

In some so-called morbid cases (psychoneuroses, schizophrenia) we face symptoms of a similar kind, namely a sensation of something foreign in us, something uncommon and of higher value, the lack of a full sensing of oneself as something that is wholly integrated. In the process termed here the awakening of self-awareness, which arises in connection with moral crises and with efforts to transform oneself (birth of personality), there occur symptoms analogous to these but not identical with them. This is the process of becoming aware that there exists in us the higher and the lower, the spiritual and the instinctive, structures. This is the process of becoming aware of the distinctness of the new structure which emerges from the former one, wherein the active, directing part is played by the separating structure, which is conscious of being spiritual, suprainstinctive, and realizing that the evolutionally lower qualities must be subordinated to the nascent, or an already more clearly visible ideal, and reshaped to serve it. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 40)

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, p. 42)

However, there are people, not few in number, in whom, besides the schematically described cycle of life, there arises a sort of a “sidetrack,” which after some time may become the “main track.” The various sets of tendencies tear away from the common biological cycle of life. The self-preservation instinct begins to transform and exceed its proper tendencies, attaching ever more importance to preservation of a man as a spiritual being, and to moral action, even to the detriment of man's physical side. The sexual drive is sublimated into lasting, exclusive, non-species-oriented as it were, emotional bonds. The fighting instinct shifts to the area of conflicts in the world of moral values, transforming and sublimating the conflicts into an attitude of fighting for a good cause and into an attitude of sacrifice and love. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 48)

In the process of the elevation of the possessive instinct, from a lower to a higher level, one may sometimes observe automatic, and also conscious, resignation from the need for lower forms of the possessive instinct in favor of higher forms. Lao-tse, Kierkegaard, Dawid, and other personalities distinctly passed through the process of the loosening and then the dissolution of tendencies to primitive possession, for the sake of winning higher forms. Resignation from more material goods, and the annihilation of needs connected with them is a sublimating process, without which no real spiritual development is possible. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 115)

Sexual Instinct. Disintegration of this instinct, with particular individuals, may be manifested by abstinence for a long time from all kinds of sexual intercourse, by some disturbances in the sexual drive, or by the weakness of this drive with infantile types. It appears that the infantilism of the disintegrative stage would signal the development of a human being in which the somatic sexual bond would lose its strength in favor of the “spiritualistic” form. On the other hand, and in our opinion, which differs from that of Von Monakow, the integration of individual sexual experiences (idealistic, Platonic experiences in relation to the object of affection, and a brutal venting of the sexual drive in relation to other persons) would not be a reflection of development. Sexual exclusiveness marks a certain “nonspecies orientation” of the sexual drive. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 117)

If the candidate for personality is in the period of great creative tension, if he is advanced in development, and consequently if he reveals the sharp tenseness of multilevel disintegrative dynamisms, then of great help at this stage may be an isolation in peaceful conditions, which helps one to order one's sensations by an interruption of actual sensations and by a deepening of certain elements of the inner milieu. The conditions of “satiating oneself” in such an internal “constellation” with plastic sensations, music, and primarily with calmness would be compatible with the impressions and opinions of Aldous Huxley as to the importance of these sensations for the spiritual life of man. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 150-151)

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, p. 166)

These disharmonies in bodily and spiritual development were already noticeable in childhood. However, we should keep in mind that, despite the above-mentioned pathological disturbances, Michelangelo was physically resistant and indefatigable in work which required great bodily endurance. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 205-206)

One of the most important traits of Michelangelo was his immense and never satiated capacity for love. “The whole life of Michelangelo, whether that spent for writing, carving or painting, reveals to us that he was a lover of love . . . was in love sensually and spiritually.”3 Buonarroti was continually in love with everything. Primarily he loved his mother with a melancholy orphan's love. This love finds expression in the “Madonna with Child” and the Roman “Pieta.” He loved his family, his servants, pupils, paupers, unfortunates, he loved his fatherland, and the whole of humanity. He loved beauty in all its aspects: “freedom and truth, nobleness and strength, poetry and song, wit and straightforwardness, beauty of the face and harmony of the human body, “all the marvels and beauties of heaven and earth.” He loved art, which for many years was the only meaning of life for him. Finally, lie loved God, with a love that, with the passage of years, became the only love. He searched for God in his life as an artist. He created religious works, heard the fiery preachings of Savonarola, read the gospel, attended Mass almost daily, went on pilgrimages, prayed, and spent 17 years of his life gratuitously building St. Peter's Basilica and Gesu Basilica. Toward the end of his life God became the supreme value for him; he denied even his art. Describing his death Daniele da Volterra writes: “Nobody has ever passed away with better feeling and greater devotion.” In the deepened love of God there increased a strongly peculiar attitude of worship, of humbleness, of guilt, of inferiority, and of sin, which grows from yearning and the awareness that one's ideals have not been attained. Buonarroti isolates in himself a better and a worse part, as it were. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 209-210)

How did the shaping of the various levels of Michelangelo's personality present itself in the last period of his life? We have already said that dominance was won by religious feeling in which he attained high transcendental values. His interests in art and work were consciously removed to the background. From manifestations of his behavior there developed solitariness, suffering of discomfort, and a loss of the remaining friendships after the death of his closest friends. There then grew the feeling of boundless solitude accompanied by the need for contemplation, elevation, and heroism. Michelangelo's ideals of beauty and strength became ever more spiritual. The development of his personality, which he revealed on a gigantic scale, was not finished in time. He lacked calmness, internal peace, and the harmonization of transcendental values with the earthly world. His estrangement from the world was accompanied by the highest development of artistic creation and religious experience. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 213)

The personality of St. Augustine presents a typical example of the development of positive disintegrative dynamisms, highly intensive dynamisms varying in form and in direction of activity. When we take a closer look at the life of the bishop of Hippo, from his early boyhood to the very end, we are struck by the incessant varidirectional multiplicity of the planes of the spiritual development of his personality. In addition, the intensity of development of the particular psychic processes (guilt, subject-object, perfection) is much greater with St. Augustine than with the average man. This was the cause of his constant struggle with himself and his selection of various contradictory ways of attaining the truth. Incessant struggle for better knowledge of himself, selection from among various forms of life, and final preference for the supernatural values over all others, these were the results of many years of deliberations, doubts, breakdowns, and spiritual ascents. This state is perfectly illustrated by many facts from St. Augustine's life which have been published in detail up to the present day. We shall here omit any systematic study of the course of St. Augustine's life from childhood to complete maturation. We merely want to make the reader, who can learn from biography the events that took place in St. Augustine's life, sensitive enough to be able to discover in these facts the manifestations of certain laws according to which the development of St. Augustine's personality took its course. For the theory of disintegration St. Augustine is, in some respects, is perfect illustration, although his life would not suffice to give the reader a complete reflection of the theory of disintegration. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 213-214)

In course of time the dissatisfaction with himself changed into shame, to which something near despair attached because of the loss of hope of the possibility of finding the truth. He sought further, however, and leaned toward Catholicism, but here new difficulties arose. The first concerned his apprehension of spiritual beings (Augustine was completely unable to apprehend immaterial things and the second concerned the question of solving the problems of personal life within the framework of Christian morality. The disintegration already embraced the intellect, the volition, and the feelings. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 219)

This transformation of Augustine's personality brought very useful results to the whole range of matters to which he devoted himself. Having thought over his attitude toward life and his place in it, Augustine became a useful man in the Christian community, and as a bishop fulfilled his duties successfully. He was wholly consistent in his attempts to realize in his own life, and in teaching others, the goals of life which he considered true. High intelligence and a deeply philosophical mind led Augustine to create, as a consequence of the correct development of his personality, the foundations of Christian philosophy for centuries to come. Right up until the present time certain of his thoughts for instance, his conceptions of the world, of man, and of the spiritual life are ideas that are fertile for thousands of human minds. His philosophy reflects the shaping of his personality by way of positive disintegration and secondary integration. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 222-223)

The state of his continual sensual and affectional dissatisfactions, his instability of attitudes and variety of changing interests, his ambivalencies and ambitendencies did not yield the possibility of finding the center which harmonizes the other dynamisms and forms a hierarchy between them. This state of continual psychic fluctuation became unbearable for him. In these circumstances there gradually arose a tendency to depart from his early way of life that was based on the self-preservation and sexual instincts. His awareness of inner disorder increased; the tendency toward a more harmonious shaping of his spiritual self also increased. His “salvation” was at stake. The growing self-consciousness and yearning to transcend the present level combined with an increasing aversion for himself, with the feelings of inferiority and guilt, growing to self-hatred. The advancing process of disintegration introduced ever more fully the valuative or estimating factor. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 223-224)

The Manichaean dualism is solved by loving God as the highest good; skepticism is leveled by the introduction of the hierarchy of values and by the unification of free will with the will of God; sensual instincts transform into an enhanced sensitivity to beauty; affectional hyperexcitability transforms into a love of God and neighbor; imaginational hyperexcitability develops into a prospection in relation to goals. New attitudes and achievements lead to the discovery of the way to ecstasy. Secondary integration is thus attained. Ceasing to be the servant of contradictions and destroying nothing natural, but appraising and feeling them from the spiritual point of view, St. Augustine transformed his sexual drive into a love of beauty, transformed the species instinct into compassion, pity, sensitivity, and active love of his neighbor, thus creating a mature, self-conscious affectional attitude. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 224)

He was a representative of the school of experimental psychology; accuracy and clarity characterized his thinking and speech. As a young scientist he pointed out (at the International Congress of Education in Munich in 1896) the degeneration of analytic schools of psychology and pedagogy, and that the positivist movement had already won a clear victory over those movements characterized by spiritualistic trends. At that time Dawid displayed a tendency to base his thinking strictly on observed facts, and a reluctance to accept any obscure argumentation. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 226)

His despair after the death of his wife ruined his physique and exhausted him mentally. Gradually a tubercular condition set in. Simultaneously with the weakening of the somatic functions, the need for a spiritual union with his wife grew in paroxysms of suffering, sharpness of intuition, and sometimes in hallucinations. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 228)

In this new mental attitude, materialism was replaced by spiritualism; in psychological-educational methods intuition and inner experiment replaced natural experiment. Reshaping through personal experiences, and especially through sufferings and the conscious and active weakening and then the destruction of low impulses by a man capable of intensive life (the spirit of sacrifice, charity, and suffering) created new aims. In this process suffering, accepted by his own will, played a fundamental role. In his tendency to strengthen himself in spiritual reality Dawid with all his possibilities and limitations suppressed everything that connected him with his former life, and primarily with his sensual experiences and needs.
Suffering elevates a man, ennobles his spirit, but this takes place only in cases of active suffering, as a result of conscious will and an effort to sacrifice oneself in the name of a higher ideal. We see that the need here for suffering and its assessment were caused by the belief that only in this way would it be possible to regain contact with the beloved person. What Dawid emphasizes several times in his statements about reshaping is the role of suffering in elevating love of a lower order into ideal love, love in another reality. Suffering which finds its expression in the feeling of guilt may be regarded, on one hand, as a process flowing from typological traits (introspection, self-sufficiency, introversion), which causes a feeling of excessive responsibility for one's deed, and on the other hand, as a mark of new values emerging, which act with extraordinary power and at the same time cause sorrow on account of the disappearance of the thus far strongly held values. If the suffering appears in the mind of a person living a new life as a condition sine qua non of obtaining new values (in this case the spiritual bond with the beloved person who had passed away), then the need for sacrifice is strictly connected with this dynamism. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 229)

In the last years of David's life, therefore, there took place fundamental changes through the process of positive disintegration. Grievous experiences had, as we have already mentioned, activated his nuclei of personality and accelerated their crystallization. There arose and developed, very intensively, dissatisfaction with himself, feelings of guilt and sin, and the feeling of “otherness.” There developed the awareness of the necessity of changes, of acquiring a new disposing and directing center which would take the place of the destroyed one, a new center formed from a set of feelings and aims which would bring about a new spiritual and transcendental being. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 231)

David's new personality is indeed a new personality and one can only find with difficulty the nuclei of this personality in the period preceding his tragic experiences. In the place of a life organized within a rather narrow framework of a philosophical system, exact scientific methods, selected contacts, and considerable assurance, there entered into the new personality strong internal conflicts, the feeling of inferiority in relation to himself, the feeling of dissatisfaction with himself, the feeling of guilt, and these gradually shaped a new disposing and directing center in the form of faith in transcendental reality, belief in the value of the mystical attitude and the contemplation method, as well as in a love for people, a capacity for self-sacrifice, and the will to face the unknowable. In place of his former scientific interests and tendencies arose upon their negation interests in the spiritual world and the tendency to realize its goals. In place of a physically lost loved one came the will to find her in the transcendental world. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 231-232)

Beers revealed masked spiritual activity even in the phase of serious depression, and manic-depressive psychosis. He read newspapers, drawing conclusions of a personal character; he read books and closely observed his environment. Slowly he began to talk with the mentally sick, whom he did not suspect of detective like tendencies. Gradually he regained his faculty of speech, the persecution delusions weakened. Then he came upon the idea of checking the identity of his brother; this idea he writes saved his life. He informed his brother in a letter that he had seen his double, but that if, however, this was not a double but the brother himself he should prove this by coming to him with the letter. If the visitor had been a double he instructed his brother to forget about the whole matter. His brother came to him, Beers convinced himself of his brother's identity, and from that moment he began to correct his delusions. The passage from the depressive phase to the maniacal phase was for him a period of enormous happiness. He calls this period his second birth. While formerly he felt in his brain “millions of needles,” in the new phase he felt in it the “warm breath of the goddess of wisdom.” The maniacal phase liberated and revealed in him capabilities which before his sickness he had never suspected that he possessed (literary and drawing capabilities). He spent many hours reading books in order to acquire efficiency in writing; he also wrote long letters and spent time drawing. These new creative efforts were not properly appreciated on the part of his physicians. A dull and malicious assistant physician ignored them and even prevented Beers from making them, punishing the patient by putting him in an empty prison cell when he did not heed his prohibitions. Even in those conditions Beers found his outlet in inventive ideas. He spent time thinking about the possibility of overcoming gravitation and building a “flying machine.” From the first moment of the maniacal phase “plans to reform humanity” occupied Beers' mind. Delusions of greatness and enhanced feelings of God's providence gained strength. When taking part in religious services he interpreted Psalm 54 as a “call” for great changes and as an “order to engage in fighting.” Caught in a mission of reform, he gave up his original desire to make humanity happy in all provinces and thought only about the reformation of hospitals for the mentally sick. To this end he purposely brought about his transfer to a division of violent patients in a state hospital (he had already been acquainted with such a division in a private hospital). He wanted to explore the methods of treating violent mentally ill patients. He learned the hard way the brutal methods that were used by hospital attendants and even by one of the physicians. For demanding his rights, for being unable to control his flood of words, and for defending other patients, he was starved, kept in an unheated room, beaten, strangled “till his eyes came out of their sockets,” tormented by means of a “muff” or by being kept in a straitjacket for twelve hours or more. These torments resulted in a partial return to former delusions. He came to know the tortures of the “cattle cottage” where boisterous patients, those having hallucinations, or the physically weak, who required greater effort on the part of the attendants, were treated cruelly. (Dabrowski, 1967, pp. 236-237)

In that period he lost, as it were, his paranoia, he began to lift himself morally higher and higher, and he no longer resembled the man he had been several years before. In this way Ferguson passed through deep spiritual changes. His case has proved true the opinions of Master Eckhart and the poet John Dryden, who maintained that one cannot attain a high level of development without the passage through certain periods of mental disorders. (Dabrowski, 1967, p. 242)


Excerpts from Mental Growth through Positive Disintegration (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, p. 75)

On the level of the organization of multilevel disintegration the problem of death is placed in a definite correlation with other problems and aspects of life. The development of a sublimated attitude towards death often causes the activity of the disintegrative dynamisms to increase in order to destroy residual structures of primitive levels in the inner milieu which are unwanted by the developing self. This conscious and willful program of eradication of the lower structures of personality can be called the instinct of partial death. The problem of death is placed within the hierarchy of values; it is incorporated into the personality structure; it is clearly “interiorized.” Without being made less important or less dramatic it is placed in the context of other basic problems of equally high or even higher values such as responsibility for others, charity, permanence and unrepeatability of one's spiritual values. (Dabrowski, 1970, p. 98)


Excerpts from Existential Thoughts and Aphorisms (1972)

9 Creative transformations are possible only when the instinct of self-preservation or the life instinct collides consciously with the death instinct. Limned behind the gossamers veiling the inevitable destruction of the totality, there looms the possibility of saving a part in the struggle of the spiritual side with the fleshly, the human with the brutish, the conscious with the unconscious. (Cienin, 1972a, p. 9)

17 Self-contradictory is the hierarchy of values that Thomism posits; the same holds true for monistic philosophies and their like, in these intellectual, abstract and universalistic functions are paramount. Such approaches exclude emotivo-aspirational functions and, by the same token, the raison d'etre of all differentiated structures, unique, unrepeatable, genuinely human. Such doctrines, although they pay lip service to individual spiritual immortality, actually exclude it, for it is not compatible with the strict logic of their philosophical argument. (Cienin, 1972a, pp. 10-11)

43 Faltering success what a big word and a great period in development. Until now there were ambit financial needs, desire to possess desire for power importance. Need to be higher, unaware of the problems of other people, hurting them or even destroying them. And now . . . forgetting about oneself, helping others, activities grasping at the banal word “sacrifice,” compassion, empathy, identification with others and many previously unknown attitudes. But how much we still desire partial success, even small results in spiritual things, in so-called higher matters. Only after the majority of our aims and goals are reduced to ashes, do some remain to light the way toward love without self-satisfaction. (Cienin, 1972a, pp. 18-19)

49 How fascinating it is to occupy oneself with spiritual new, unknown, unusual, unreachable matters! Transformations, self-denial, sacrifice, suicides how unusual they are! But if one wants to experience all the matters from narcissism to authentism one must not only occupy oneself with them but truly deny oneself, truly leave illusion, and truly go on committing partial suicides. (Cienin, 1972a, p. 20)

66 To destroy all the sensually concrete which is connected with the lower instincts and to keep all the spiritual concreteness and unchangeableness of chosen qualities. In this spirit, Kierkegaard fought for Regina Olsen, for love in the absolute and . . . lost. And perhaps not, perhaps the same Regina will come in transcendent; the same, yet richer and understanding the unrepeatability of their relationship. (Cienin, 1972a, p. 26)

126 The ease, strength, and long duration of emotional reactions provided the basis for a false conception of the so-called “threshold of resistance” to frustration. People give positive opinions about being able to adjust easily and they speak well about a “high” threshold of resistance to frustration. It is as if they praised those who are insensitive, those who in a “well-balanced” way accept joys and sufferings (mainly the latter), and who easily “cope well with them.” How bad and one-sided is such an understanding of “adjustment” and inner psychic transformation! How unchristian it is, how inhuman and unspiritual and how very physiological! (Cienin, 1972a, p. 46)

137 It used to be said that a psychologist was an expert on souls, but when the soul was liquidated from science in a scientific manner psychologists began to occupy themselves with “sub-spiritual” matters, especially with those on the lowest level defined most rigorously because only here scientific methods can be applied. In this way the “psychic man” and his integrated personality ceased to exist for psychology; he was lost on the way and drowned by the enthusiasm for measurable parameters. How blessed is the fact that they left this field free to artists, writers and philosophers. (Cienin, 1972a, p. 138)


Excerpts from Fragments from the Diary of a Madman (1972)

The first kind is the holiness which concentrates its whole attention on dialogue: God and I, and sometimes I and God, relegating other matters to the side. It is a humble love for God, renouncement for God, suffering for God. It is love close to the world but which transforms the heavy load onto God. This yearning for “marriage” with God and for being his “wife” or “fiancée” is to some people disgusting. It is a draft toward “marriage” with God, sometimes toward a “spiritual' wedding night. This attitude is often expressed in a “sublimated” song without words about the divine lover. These constant prayers, waiting for favours and ecstasy … I am a bit afraid of such holiness. (Cienin, 1972b, p. 48)

It is perhaps a distorted expression of love for God; it is an imposition of exclusiveness of love for him to whom everything belongs and whom it is necessary to reject everything which, even though it is highly spiritual, is not directed exclusively toward God. (Cienin, 1972b, p. 51)

On one hand we can have the highest levels of idealization, spiritualness and authentism; and on the other, these experiences coming to life, these “bloody” eksorie of experiences which set in motion “a circular cycle” without end, without exit, in a tangle of chaos which often introduces automatic activities on a lower level. (Cienin, 1972b, p. 55)

It is necessary to know well what is more important, what, is real and what is fantastical, what is substantial and what is spiritual. One cannot compare the importance of mystical, esthetic and moral experiences to experiences connected with sleep, eating, health, satisfaction of the sexual instinct. (Cienin, 1972b, p. 80)

Theosophical and antroposophical experiences in the area of spiritual life (which are full of chaos and option), concern with mystical experiences of Yoga are the expression of rules whose acceptance must be notably based on one's own experience, on experience which one has by oneself, in this way, to confirm the experience of others, perhaps chosen ones.
Not all can participate in these experiences because they concern only those with special spiritual qualities, with special life histories persons who have autonomic factors. (Cienin, 1972b, pp. 80-81)

Also it is possible during the first kind of experience to transport oneself in the air, to steer oneself, to experience spiritual joy because of independence from the rules of gravity, from the pressure of connections with the earth. This experiment say those who experience it has nothing in common with dreams or with “flying” during dreams. Consciousness is more perfect, control much higher and there is a possibility of stopping the experiment and coming to it, at will. (Cienin, 1972b, p. 81)

Cosmic spirituality and cosmic techniques
In the world of nuclear experiments, in the world of biology and biochemistry, in the world of electronic brains—there arise thoughts and experiments of penetration into new worlds. One thinks about the creation of artificial people, about refrigeration and thawing of human tissues and bringing to life—the dead.
These are biological and physical experiments and besides them, in a very poor way, there appear aims in the spiritual world in order to bring about great progress in spiritual matters, in separation of higher things from lower ones through spiritual encounters, astral experiments, through the exercise of will and through the exercise of yoga. It is an field analogous to biological and technical experiments.

Perhaps the technique through the slow but systematic problem solving from the borderline of biology and medicine, and the detailed techniques will indicate the even greater possibilities for psychology, education, philosophy and spiritual life. Perhaps they will prepare for a spiritual “leap into the unknown,” will allow the invention and creation of forces of autonomy and authentism which are at present too weak. Perhaps it will allow the fortification of these efforts from the biological side; perhaps it will allow the discovery of one's own methods of regulation of spiritual multilevel forces which would be able to transgress the life cycle of man, to transgress the dependence from constitutional forces and external environment.

Perhaps we will enter the area of possibilities of enlarging the forces of concentration, of human essence and of “approaching” transcendence.

Frankly, I doubt it, and even I do not believe in reaching these roads on a narrow path: scientific and technical. In every case there must be the cooperation of transformed, sublime and authentic spiritual forces of man, that is to say, also “psychopathological forces.” (Cienin, 1972b, p. 87)


Excerpts from Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness (1972)

These different forms of the psychoneurotic developmental potential constitute in their totality the “royal path” of hierarchical development—through multilevel disintegration, inner conflicts, creative instinct and instinct of self- perfection—toward secondary integration, i.e. toward the united, harmonious and highest spiritual reality which is liberated from lower levels of the unconscious and in which one experiences contents previously known consciously but only intellectually (i.e. without the dynamic participation of higher emotions). (Dabrowski, 1972, pp. 10-11)

She had a love partner, but was not sure of his attitude. She could not be sure whether his feeling for her was genuine. She did not recognize spiritual relations without a ground of “concreteness.” In her partner she recently noticed an attitude “of prudishness, previously absent. Because of the unnaturalness and lack of sincerity in the patient it was difficult to establish to what degree their sexual life was normal. (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 86)

High level of intelligence, mainly theoretical, though in some areas practical side was fairly good. Symptoms of magical thinking (for instance in the fact how important to him was the ceremonial procedure of festive occasions in his church or in his everyday routine). Preponderance of introvert tendencies, egoistic and egocentric in character. On one hand he exhibited the so-called “spiritual desires,” and on the other hand excessive care for his own comfort and pleasure. In his religious practice ritualistic observance was dominant. He used ceremonial gestures, like raising his finger to make a point in discussion. Tendency towards underlining his own importance. Considerable sensitivity of feelings and imagination. He exhibited sensual and imaginational overexcitability (but limited only to things connected with his person) as in touching, or in the religious ritual of his church where he was a leader. Rather weak inner psychic transformation. Lack of internal conflicts, Weak developmental dynamisms. Superficial hierarchy of values, not worked through and weakly realized in his life. To avoid feelings of guilt in his sexual relations with women he protected himself by an elaborate ceremonialism so that he as a superior being descended down to bring happiness to his humble female companions. One can see this in the predominance of formal approach over experiential and emotional, of ritual over internal content. He was very pedantic about his eating habits and also his sexual relations for which he dressed up in a ceremonial manner. (Dabrowski, 1972, pp. 89-90)

One patient wrote this in his autobiography which illustrates this point: “From these ‘spiritually bleeding' struggles emerges a new force, a new truth, a new power which directs me. I feel that my stored-up experiences, sufferings, disturbances have been collected together and employed by ‘new', higher forces which changed them, molded them, and have given them a new meaning in my growth. How blessed are these transformations.” (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 131)

In his behavior he was uncertain, hesitant, especially in relation to marriage. Thoughts of death as a liberation from his difficulties were his constant companion. He had self-destructive tendencies and always had, thoughts of suicide. He felt that there was, something incorporeal about him. He lived in the world of essence and spiritual concreteness. By his continuous hesitation he repeatedly brought himself to exhaustion. At a certain moment he began to love his fear as a creative element. (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 185)

R.R.: I often feel psychic tension when dwelling on the objective valuelessness of all that which has for me, and my friends, a great subjective value. It seems like being captured in a poetic vision of that which is objective; I feel that objectivity is expressed by a deadly machine in the form of animosity and a brutal force exerted against subjectivity. But this kind of subjectivity, for us, is the highest type of reality, being destroyed, however, by mechanistic objectivity. I dwell on the possibility of losing my friends and close relatives, their smile, their presence, their aspirations, their unique personalities. It seems to me that reality is a tragic misunderstanding. I wake up at night to see all things in cruel realism. I notice the shamelessness and limitations in the thought and feeling, and the super-power of the so-called realists. I see the damage, injustice and humiliation of people who are spiritually strong but weak from the point of view of ability for adjustment to everyday life. I see around me death, as if waiting for me. I see the cowardly and nonsensical avoidance by people of essential issues. You understand and see, I am sure, doctor, that in all of which I am speaking there is much existential content. Yes, I have been fascinated for years with existential philosophy. But this is not for me an expression of a passing vogue or snobbery, or of my literary bent. It flows rather from my experiences and interests, which, as it were, went out to meet existential philosophy. I feel very strangely that our subjective reality is something very essential for us, most essential indeed; that one must go through a rebellion of subjectivity against objectivity or reality, even if that rebellion is a priori condemned to failure. (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 278)


Excerpts from The Dynamics of Concepts (1973)

In relation to the first problem we can distinguish the following instincts as “higher”: the cognitive collective, creative, self-perfection instincts, etc. The instincts of self-preservation, the sexual instinct and the instinct of fighting can be considered “lower.” We can also distinguish the intrainstinctive differences of levels of development, for example, in the instinct of self-preservation. Here, we see the transition from the primitive level of brutal aggressiveness to a tendency to preserving oneself as a “spiritual entity” as a being which is separate, unique, unrepeatable, conscious of itself, and having empathy and esteem for the “Thou.” The instinct of fighting presents various levels from the most brutal, primitive level of physical fighting to the struggle for ideas with an attitude of respect for the adversary. (Dabrowski, 1973, p. 12)

The knowledge and experiencing of the feeling of shame and guilt, together with the realization of reparation are fundamental in the understanding of the theory of positive multilevel disintegration. They are indispensable in developmental and educational psychology, education, self-education and autopsychotherapy. The understanding of the positive meaning of this dynamism is one of the means of eliminating the one-sided negative interpretations of feelings of shame and guilt which are popular in psychopathology, especially with regard to psychoneuroses. It lets us evaluate positively “psychic crises of “the night of the soul,” the experiences of abandonment and spiritual emptiness, and the so-called active inner life with a realization of the ideal, through “separating” and “breaking up” in oneself. (Dabrowski, 1973, p. 64)


Excerpts from Multilevelness of Emotional and Instinctive Functions (1996)

[Sexual behavior at Level IV] Third factor works toward a high level of sexual life by separating and selecting what is to be curtailed and eliminated from what is to be accepted and developed. Third factor determines what constitutes a positive or a negative experience in relation to higher and lower levels of sexual fife. It eliminates all that is animalistic and selects all that is authentic, individual, social, and empathic. Third factor thus chooses exclusivity of emotional ties, responsibility for the partner and the family, and the unrepeatability of the union of love. In cooperation with empathy, self-control, self-awareness, prospection, retrospection, third factor creates a ‘school’ of marital and family life. Example: “I would not exchange for anything her unique ‘power’ over me. Always unity of the physical with the moral and the spiritual. Union of minds and hearts, never the physical union alone. I feel disgust toward the tyranny of the physical aspect of love, but in its spiritual aspect I feel close to something like an ‘immortality of sex’. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 49)

[Sexual behavior at Level V] In addition to profound responsibility for the partner and his development there is also an even greater responsibility for the development and sublimation of sexual instinct in others. There is an effort to make the hierarchization of sexuality an individual reality in human life. The means to it are envisaged to be through a subordination of sexual instinct to a highly developed hierarchy of values, moral ideals, emotional and ideological closeness with the partner and responsibility for the family—one’s own and the larger family of mankind. Friendship replaces sexual love. Spiritual union is realized through love (Kierkegaard). (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 51)

Finally, in level V the synthesis approaches completion. The inhibition of lower levels is effortless; in many functions they disappear altogether. In sex, the highest empathy of an authentic “I-and-Thou” replaces sexual relations, in conflict there is no aggression or fighting but rather cooperation with others on far-reaching universal and spiritual goals as a means of eliminating aggression. In fear, there are only altruistic, existential and transcendental anxieties. The problems of life and death become crucial. Smiling becomes all-inclusive, expressing infinite love. (Dąbrowski, 1996)

[Reflection at Level V] Constant readiness for the activity of the highest forms of reflection. Inhibition of primitive drives and tendencies occurs without great effort. The individual has a highly developed ability to differentiate psychophysiological and spiritual functions. He also possesses a high level of coupling between inhibitions and excitations which take part in the dynamization of the personality ideal. The systematized inhibition of lower and medium levels developed in level IV is gradually replaced by the more pervasive and more powerful dynamization of the ideal. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 82)

[Crying at Level III] Crying is distinctly interiorized, controlled, connected with an understanding and experiencing of a hierarchy of values, connected with the struggle to inhibit lower drives. Crying is a symptom of identifying with others more than with oneself; it is an expression of sympathy and of reflection.
Crying appears at the time of entering into new, unknown problems.
Crying appears during performances, concerts, reading novels, or as a reaction to observed events. Crying appears also as a result of spiritual uplifting, or at times of “sad joy” (e.g. during tragic plays or films)
Crying is mainly a function of emotional overexcitability, and to some extent also of imaginational overexcitability. It often results from the pressure of empathy. Crying occurs more often in solitude than in the presence of others. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 89).

[Religious attitude and experience at Level II] Ambivalences and ambitendencies manifested as belief and disbelief, as “spiritualization” of one’s approach to a divinity, as periods of fear or disregard of a divinity. Symbolization of personal fears and inner conflicting impulses as different gods is characteristic here as a personification of human opposites. Or, there may be a feeling of an exclusive contact with the divinity symbolized by a ritual of betrothal to a divine personage, often followed by a feeling of letdown, or lack of favor (grace). Also characteristic at this level are periodical attitudes of atheism alternating with search for contact with a deity and its protective power. (Dąbrowski, 1996, pp. 96-97)

[Religious attitude and experience at Level III] Under the influence of multilevel dynamisms develops a hierarchy of religious values. This is followed by a need to spiritualize and differentiate the conception of divinity. The image and conception of divinity grow out of one’s developmental tendencies and strivings. The concreteness of immanence is linked with the concreteness of transcendence. In religious immanence one creates an idea of God through one’s subjective needs, in transcendence one sees God independently of one’s subjectivity. Concrete transcendental realities correspond with strong emotional realities of a high level of development. Immanence and transcendence may appear as an antimony, yet at the same time they constitute a two-part harmony. The search for grace it is experienced as coming from two directions at once: from the subject and from higher reality. Sometimes one observes deviant forms of devotion of the divinity characterized by artificiality, excessive self-criticism and self-abasement or spiritual narcissism. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 97)

[Magic at Level IV] 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, p. 109)

[Emotional ties at Level IV] Love and friendship take on a spiritual character and are based on working together in the context of a common goal of self-perfection. The action of the dynamisms of organized multilevel disintegration, in particular the dynamisms of identification and empathy, constitute the basis of conscious design of a developmental program in relation to the exclusiveness of emotions. Emotional ties are more deeply than ever before understood as unique and unrepeatable. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 115)

[Attitude toward death at Level IV] The problem of death is placed within one’s authentic hierarchy of values. It is clearly interiorized and incorporated into one’s personality structure. The problem of death is placed in the context of other values such as responsibility for others, universal love, permanence and unrepeatability of one’s spiritual values and one’s bonds of love and friendship. Relating the problem of death to other human problems and values does not make it less important or less dramatic in the way it is experienced. As a factor in development we observe the activity of an instinct of partial death. It is a conscious and deliberate program of eradication of the lower personality structures. In order to accomplish this the disintegrative activity of some dynamisms (e.g. the rejection aspect of third factor, the critical aspect of subject-object in oneself, or the containing aspect of self-control) may be increased in order to destroy the residual structures of primitive levels of the inner psychic milieu. This can take the form of asceticism, of resignation from personal ambitions, for the sake of serving others, or deliberate and voluntary frustration of one’s basic needs. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 117)

[Self-preservation at Level IV] On this level there is a clear hierarchical organization of values in which the lower levels of the self-preservation instinct are subordinated to its higher levels. This is manifested in a capacity for sacrifice for the sake of ideals, in a need to preserve and to develop these ideals. One of the strongest growing concerns is the preservation of spiritual values and individual essence. (Dąbrowski, 1996, pp. 122-123)

[Pride and dignity at Level III] Certain “pride” is derived from developmental attainment, from spiritual progress, from the awareness of one’s inner life and hierarchy. Pride may arise from having unusual but genuine spiritual experiences. Manifestations of “pride in humility” alternating with genuine humility (multilevel ambivalence of pride and humility). Struggle with pride of lower level. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 124)

[Adjustment at Level V] Adjustment to personality ideal. Calmness and harmony derived from independence from the “lower” I and form the lower levels of the inner psychic milieu. Independence through love, sacrifice and self-sacrifice. Full acceptance of the way of suffering as a means of attaining spiritual liberation. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 133)

[Inferiority toward others at Level IV] Balance between the feeling of inferiority towards oneself and the feeling of inferiority toward ideal and an authentic hierarchy of values. Sense of smallness within the enormity of cosmos combined with a sense of one’s spiritual worth. Blending of external and internal feelings of inferiority in the core of individual and common essence. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 134)

[Regression at Level V] Absence of any type of regression. There are periods of spiritual rest in nature but with instant readiness to resume one’s work. Indeterministic imperative of work till the hour of death. Relaxation prior to taking an important decision or prior to carrying out an important decision whether it involves internal or external heroic action. The highest authentism of man capable of an instantaneous suspension of his activities in order to take up in all simplicity total sacrifice and death. (Dąbrowski, 1996, p. 142)

[Psychiatry at Level V] 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, p. 147)



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