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Dabrowski / advanced development....quotes... articles ... books.

High Ability  |  Highly Sensitive  |  A publication of  Talent Development Resources .

  

"A Polish clinician and theorist, Kazimierz Dabrowski held an M.D. in psychiatry and a Ph.D. in psychology... he found great creative and developmental richness in clients who consulted him for psychoneurotic symptoms and even among those who manifested psychotic disorders.

"He saw in these persons' lack of adjustment to their social reality a sensitivity to reality of a higher order. His clinical practice revealed a link between psychoneurotic and creative processes."

From "Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration" by Karen Nelson, PhD, Advanced Development Journal, Jan., 1989

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"Almost 97 percent of the highly creative suffer from different kinds of overexcitabilities, neuroses, and psychoneuroses.

"So, neurotics and psychoneurotics are a mine of social treasure.

"If their emotionality, talents, interests, and sensitivity were discovered at an early age, society and science would profit."

Kazimierz Dabrowski - from interview: The Heroism of Sensitivity, 1979, published in Advanced Development,
Vol 6, Jan 1994

For an overview of Dabrowski and his work, see
The Theory of Positive Disintegration


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Emotional, imaginational and intellectual OE [overexcitability], apart from sensitizing and increasing overall psychological receptivity to internal and external stimuli,
help one develop attitudes of prospection and retrospection...

...bring unconscious contents to one’s awareness...and allow for their processing and integration, thus freeing great amounts of psychic energy, necessary for creativity.

> From article: Theory of Positive Disintegration as a Model of Personality Development For Exceptional Individuals - By Elizabeth Mika [page 2]

> Image from The Mission of Art by Alex Grey

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“Such a busy mind” -- Amanda Bynes, talking about going to college, commented, "I have such a busy mind and it's really hard for me to do one thing at a time. ... It's hard for me to sit still."

Finding it “hard to sit still” and having “such a busy mind” are forms of “excitability” or “overexcitability” - summarized by giftedness consultant Lesley Sword [in her article Overexcitabilities in Gifted Children] as “an abundance of physical, sensual, creative, intellectual and emotional energy that can result in creative endeavours as well as advanced emotional and ethical development in adulthood...”

    > More on The Inner Actor

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Personality development, especially accelerated development, cannot be realized without manifest nervousness and psychoneurosis.

It is in this way that such experiences as inner conflict, sadness, anxiety, obsession, depression, and psychic tension all cooperate in the promotion of humanistic development.

Kazimierz Dabrowski,
in his book Personality-shaping through positive disintegration. (1967)

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You live with a lot of complicated emotions as an actor, and they whirl around you and create havoc at times. And yet, as an actor you're consciously and unconsciously allowing that to happen. ....

It's my choice, and I would rather do it this way than live to be 100. .. Or rather than choosing not to exist within life's extremities. I'm willing to fly close to the flame. 

Nicole Kidman     ... [Interview, Oct 2003] 


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A Process of Evolution and Transcendence

As we aspire to evolve to higher and higher levels of development, we go through a continuous process of dissolution and reintegration.

In this process of evolution and transcendence, we constantly need to be willing to let go of old ways of seeing and thinking: our fixed philosophical positions, worldviews, self-concepts, etc.

And this is one of the most challenging aspects of actual development because it's the ultimate threat to the ego.

The only thing that enables real evolutionary, which means vertical, development is that courageous willingness to let go, at the deepest level, of our sense of who we are.

That's the absolutely terrifying, completely exhilarating truth of evolution at the level of consciousness in real time.

Andrew Cohen

> quoted in W-ISDOM list [see newsletters]

> book: Living Enlightenment : A Call for Evolution Beyond Ego - by Andrew Cohen, Ken Wilber



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“Brokeback Mountain” director Ang Lee was keen on teaching Heath Ledger how “to capture stillness” - one of [Ledger’s character Ennis] Del Mar’s signature traits - which was hard for Ledger, who can get twitchy.

“Sometimes I find it hard sitting still, usually when I’m in the spotlight or even in rehearsal. My nervous energy comes streaking out of my fingerprints. My hands go all over the place.”

[Los Angeles Times, March 5 2006]

Psychomotor Excitability is lots of physical energy and movement, fast talking, lots of gestures, sometimes nervous tics...

Excitability is a higher than average capacity for experiencing internal and external stimuli, based on a higher than average responsiveness of the nervous system.

From description of the personality development theory of Kazimierz Dabrowski, MD, PhD. 

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The propensity for changing one's internal environment and the ability to influence positively the external environment indicate the capacity of the individual to develop. 

Almost as a rule, these factors are related to increased mental excitability, depressions, dissatisfaction with oneself, feelings of inferiority and guilt, states of anxiety, inhibitions, and ambivalences - all symptoms which the psychiatrist tends to label psychoneurotic. 

Given a definition of mental health as the development of the personality, we can say that all individuals who present active development in the direction of a higher level of personality (including most psychoneurotic patients) are mentally healthy.

Kazimierz Dabrowski -- in his book Positive Disintegration (1964)


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photo from book: 
When Gifted Kids
Don't Have 
All the Answers
...
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Emotional Intensity

Creatively gifted children and adults are emotionally intense and have rich inner lives (Piechowski, 1991). An enhanced capacity for feeling is essential to the production of great art, moving music, high drama, memorable prose and poetry, exquisite performances.

We love to watch the ecstatic absorption of a conductor, the passionate portrayal of Othello, and the dedicated delicacy of a ballerina.

To be passionately in love with one's work provides a sense of meaning to one's existence; it is truly one of Life's great blessings.

Why, then, do we become so disturbed when we see the precursors to this passionate involvement in young children?

Emotional intensity is one of the personality concomitants of giftedness.

It is natural for the gifted to feel deeply and to experience a broad range of emotions.

Dabrowski and Piechowski (1977) called this heightened capacity for feeling "emotional overexcitability," and found that it is strongly correlated with high intelligence.

Piechowski (1991) defines emotional overexcitability as "the great depth and intensity of emotional life expressed through a wide range of feelings, attachments, compassion, heightened sense of responsibility, and scrupulous self-examination."

Dabrowski saw the sensitivity and emotional extremes of the creative individual as positive potential for higher level development.

> excerpt from article: Emotional Intensity 
by Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D

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The Basic Concepts of Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration

- by William Tillier

Abstract:

Dabrowski presents a theory of personality development based on an interplay of potentials,
disintegrations of lower functions and reintegrations of higher features marked by a multilevel,
hierarchical view of life.

Personality development is largely the result of the impact of forms
of developmental potential (DP), notably, overexcitability (OE).

This overexcitability may lead to a long course of developmental crises (positive disintegrations)
and challenges that culminate in the emergence of an autonomous, self crafted personality.

The theory suggests individual developmental potentials are important factors in
determining the course of personality growth.

Developmental potential includes three aspects; special talents and abilities, a physiological
measure of neural reactivity Dabrowski called overexcitability (OE) and a factor describing
an inner motivation to develop.
 

for rest of article: see :

The Theory of Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dabrowski  [site of Bill Tillier]
 

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"A Polish clinician and theorist, Dabrowski held an M.D. in psychiatry and a Ph.D. in psychology...
he found great creative and developmental richness in clients who consulted him for
psychoneurotic symptoms and even among those who manifested psychotic disorders.

"He saw in these persons' lack of adjustment to their social reality a sensitivity to reality of a higher order.
His clinical practice revealed a link between psychoneurotic and creative processes."

from "Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration" by Karen Nelson, PhD,
Advanced Development Journal, Jan., 1989
 

~ ~ ~ ~

 

Overexcitability (nervousness) - The tragic gift

OE is a higher than average capacity for experiencing internal and external stimuli, based on a higher than average responsiveness of the nervous system. The prefix over attached to 'excitability' serves to indicate that the reactions of excitation are over and above average in intensity, duration and frequency. ...

Psychomotor OE - an excess of energy manifesting in rapid talk, restlessness, preference for violent games, sports, pressure for action, or delinquent behavior.

It may either be a "pure" manifestation of the excess of energy, or it may result from the transfer of emotional tension to psychomotor forms of expression such as those mentioned above (tics and self-mutilation).

excerpts from article:

Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration by Elizabeth Mika

> Related pages:......intensity / sensitivity........cutting / self-injury

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....
Dabrowski's concepts
of overexcitabilities / excitabilities

 by Stephanie Tolan 

"The original Polish word can be translated more literally as "superstimulatabilities." 

It's a stimulus-response difference from the norms. It means that in these 5 areas a person reacts more strongly than normal for a longer period than normal to a stimulus that may be very small. 

It involves not just psychological factors but central nervous system sensitivity.

PSYCHOMOTOR -- this is often thought to mean that the person needs lots of movement and athletic activity, but it can also refer to the issue mentioned on the loop of having trouble smoothing out the mind's activities for sleeping. Lots of physical energy and movement, fast talking, lots of gestures, sometimes nervous tics.

SENSUAL -- here's the "cut the label out of the shirt" demand, the child who limps as if with a broken leg when a sock seam is twisted. 

Also a love for sensory things -- textures, smells, tastes etc. or a powerful reaction to negative sensory input (bad smells, loud sounds, etc.) The kids tend to be sensitive to bright lights (squinting in all the family photographs, etc.), harsh sounds.

A baby who cries when the wind blows in his face, for instance; a toddler who cries at the feel of grass on bare legs and feet. Another important aspect of this is aesthetic awareness -- the child who is awed to breathlessness at the sight of a beautiful sunset or cries hearing Mozart, etc.

 

IMAGINATIONAL -- these are the dreamers, poets, "space cadets" who are strong visual thinkers, use lots of metaphorical speech. They day dream, remember their dreams at night and often react strongly to them, believe in magic (take a long time to "grow out of" Santa, the tooth fairy, elves and fairies, etc.).

INTELLECTUAL -- here's the usual definition of "giftedness." Kids with a strong "logical imperative," who love brain teasers and puzzles, enjoy following a line of complex reasoning, figuring things out. A love of things academic, new information, cognitive games, etc.

EMOTIONAL -- this includes being "happier when happy, sadder when sad, angrier when angry," etc. Intensity of emotion. But also a very broad range of emotions. Also a need for deep connections with other people or animals. 

Unable to find close and deep friends (Damon and Pythias variety) they invent imaginary friends, make do with pets or stuffed animals, etc. 

Empathy and compassion. A child who needs a committed relationship will think herself "betrayed" by a child who plays with one child today and another tomorrow and refers to both as "friends." This is also the OE that makes the kids susceptible to depression.

Dabrowski believed emotional OE to be central -- the energy center from which the whole constellation of OE's is generated.

Highly gifted people tend to have all 5 of these, but different people lead with different OE's. The engineer types lead with Intellectual, the poets with emotional and imaginational, etc.

These five describe the unusual intensity of the gifted as well as the many ways in which they look and behave "oddly" when compared to norms.

> published as article Dabrowski's Over-excitabilities:
A Layman's Explanation [on Stephanie Tolan's site]

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Hypomania and Excitabilities

In developing his book The Hypomanic Edge : The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America, John D. Gartner, Ph.D. [clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Medical School] created a list of hypomanic traits he had synthesized from the psychiatric literature, as typical of an entrepreneur:

"..filled with energy... flooded with ideas... driven, restless, and unable to keep still... often works on little sleep... feels brilliant, special, chosen, perhaps even destined to change the world... can be euphoric... becomes easily irritated by minor obstacles... is a risk taker... overspends in both his business and personal life... acts out sexually... sometimes acts impulsively, with poor judgment, in ways that can have painful consequences... is fast-talking... is witty and gregarious... His confidence can make him charismatic and persuasive..."

The list has intriguing parallels with OE [overexcitabilities / excitabilities] - for example, Elizabeth Mika's article Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration includes a description of Psychomotor OE - "an excess of energy manifesting in rapid talk, restlessness, preference for violent games, sports, pressure for action, or delinquent behavior.."

In his book, Gartner celebrates a number of entrepreneurs [e.g. movie moguls] whose success and contributions to the culture may be attributed to a great extent to their hypomanic attributes.

Douglas Eby..........> more on the book and topic on the page hypomania


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"Edison was another great hypomanic American... an inexhaustible furnace of ideas...

He often didn't sleep until he passed out on the floor after working forty-eight hours straight."

[from book The Hypomanic Edge]
[image from Apple ad: "Think Different"]

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The Gifted Child's [and adult's] Intensity
The intricate thought processes that mark these individuals as gifted are mirrored in the intricacy
of their emotional development.

Idealism, self-doubt, perceptiveness, excruciating sensitivity, moral imperatives, desperate needs
for understanding, acceptance, love -- all impinge simultaneously.

Their vast emotional range makes them appear contradictory: mature and immature, arrogant
and compassionate, aggressive and timid. Semblances of composure and self-assurance
often mask deep feelings of insecurity.

The inner experience of the gifted young person is rich, complex, and turbulent.

           Linda Silverman, PhD

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A Dabrowskian perspective recognizes that gifted individuals, with their heightened overexcitabilities and strong developmental potential, will be prone to experiences of emptiness as intensity drives them forward and older structures collapse. 

This article relates some dyamics of counseling six gifted adults, whose expressed symptoms of motivational paralysis, isolation, supersensitivity, impostor syndrome and job instability yield over time to insights based on Dabrowskiís Theory of Positive Disintegration.

The theory and its relation to experiences of emptiness are delineated and used to explain the dynamics of counseling strategies employed. 

Warnings and aids to counselors working with this unique population are offered. Special attention is paid to the delicate balance between respecting and confronting gifted defenses. 


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from abstract of article
The Experience of Emptiness and the Use of Dabrowskiís Theory in Counseling Gifted Clients: Clinical Case Examples -
by Clive G. Hazell 

in Advanced Development, Volume 8, 1999 - Counseling Gifted Adults - see the Gifted Development Center site

photo: Sebastian Caine [Kevin Bacon]
in the film Hollow Man (2000)

> book : Clive Hazell, PhD. The Experience of Emptiness

> related page : ..existential dread ...

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an accolade
by Dabrowski:

Be greeted psychoneurotics!

For you see sensitivity in the insensitivity of the world, uncertainty among the world's certainties.

For you often feel others as you feel yourselves.

For you feel the anxiety of the world, and its bottomless narrowness and self-assurance.

For your phobia of washing your hands from the dirt of the world, for your fear of being locked in the world's limitations. 

for your fear of the absurdity of existence.

For your subtlety in not telling others what you see in them.

For your awkwardness in dealing with practical things, and for your practicalness in dealing with unknown things, for your transcendental realism and lack of everyday realism,

for your exclusiveness and fear of losing close friends, for your creativity and ecstasy, 

for your maladjustment to that "which is" and adjustment to that which "ought to be", for your great but unutilized abilities.

For the belated appreciation of the real value of your greatness which never allows the appreciation of the greatness of those who will come after you.

For your being treated instead of treating others, for your heavenly power being forever pushed down by brutal force; for that which is prescient, unsaid, infinite in you.

For the loneliness and strangeness of your ways.

Be greeted!

 from Dabrowski's book
Psychoneurosis is not an illness

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sites

The Theory of Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dabrowski
> primary information site [by Bill Tillier] with articles, book lists, links etc

Dabrowski Discussion Group   [a Yahoo group]

ADAP ("Advocates for Developing Academic Potential") / Dabrowski section

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......related articles :
 

Common Misconceptions About the Gifted   by Mary Rocamora

Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration by Elizabeth Mika
Development is a progression from rigid, instinctual egocentrism to conscious altruism based on empathy, compassion and self-awareness. Development takes place through the process of positive disintegration, which is the loosening and dismantling of the initial character structure during the course of one's life and replacing it by consciously created personality.

Gifted, Talented, Addicted - by Douglas Eby
Writer Pearl Buck commented, “The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.” A number of people with exceptional abilities have used drugs and alcohol as self-medication to ease the pain of that sensitivity, or as a way to enhance thinking and creativity. Sometimes they risk addiction.

Mis-Diagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children: Gifted and LD, ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder - By James T. Webb, Ph.D. -- Many gifted and talented children (and adults) are being mis-diagnosed by psychologists and others as having ADHD, OCD) and Mood Disorders. These common mis-diagnoses stem from an ignorance among professionals about specific social and emotional characteristics of gifted children which are then mistakenly assumed by these professionals to be signs of pathology.

Misdiagnosis of the Gifted  by Lynne Azpeitia and Mary Rocamora

Overexcitabilities in Gifted Children - By Lesley Sword
Overexcitabilities are an abundance of physical, sensual, creative, intellectual and emotional energy that can result in creative endeavours as well as advanced emotional and ethical development in adulthood. Overexcitabilities feed, enrich, empower and amplify talent.

Overexcitability and the Gifted by Sharon Lind
A small amount of definitive research and a great deal of naturalistic observation have led to the belief that intensity, sensitivity and overexcitability are primary characteristics of the highly gifted. These observations are supported by parents and teachers who notice distinct behavioral and constitutional differences between highly gifted children and their peers. The work of Kazimierz Dabrowski, (1902-1980), provides an excellent framework with which to understand these characteristics.

On Primary Integration, psychopathy and average person - by Elizabeth Mika
The concept of integration in psychology has predominantly positive connotations, usually describing a state conducive to coherent, predictable and effective functioning of an individual in the world. Disintegration, on the other hand, is typically considered a negative and undesirable aspect of human existence, characterized by lack of coherence, chaos and general ineffectiveness. Dabrowski's aim was to show that both concepts as descriptions of psychological states can have either positive or negative meaning, depending on their role in individual development.

Theory of Positive Disintegration as a Model of Personality Development For Exceptional Individuals
    - By Elizabeth Mika. 
Kazimierz Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) shows great promise as a universal theory of development. It is the first theory in psychology that postulates levels of personality development and methods of measuring them, and also describes and explains mechanisms of emotional development. It focuses on positive aspects of mental health, and utilizes research findings and clinical insights uniquely applicable to developmental needs of gifted and talented individuals.

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**books by Kazimierz Dabrowski
 


> Original Dabrowski materials available on CD at

The Theory of Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dabrowski  [site of Bill Tillier]

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books available from ......

Psychoneurosis is not an illnessicon

Mental growth through positive disintegrationicon

Personality-shaping through positive disintegrationicon

Multilevelness of emotional and instinctive functionsicon

The dynamics of conceptsicon

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...
   books that include quotes and other references to Dabrowski's work :
 

Howard Bloom. Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century

Riane Eisler, Nel Noddings Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century

Piechowski, M. M. (1999). Overexcitabilities. in M. Runco & S. Pritzker (Eds.) Encyclopedia of creativity

Jane Piirto, PhD.  Understanding Those Who Create

Linda Silverman . Counseling the gifted and talented

Robert J. Sternberg. Defying the Crowd

Marylou Kelly Streznewski. Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential

James Webb, Elizabeth A. Meckstroth, Stephanie Tolan.  Guiding the Gifted Child

Ellen Winner. Gifted Children: Myths and Realities
 

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giftedness: characteristics ****intensity / sensitivity***perfectionism*

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