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Positive disintegration and emptiness

November 6, 2009

Back in the 1990s, when I was on the GT-A listserv, I ran across intriguing mentions of Kazimierz Dabrowski – his Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD), and overexcitabilities (OE). But when I tried to find his books, they were (1) out of print, (2) fabulously expensive, and/or (3) written in Polish. In 2005, I discovered Clive Hazell’s book, The Experience of Emptiness, which explains Dabrowski’s theory, as well as his own theory about “emptiness”, as an outgrowth of TPD,  hence the post title.

“The process of [healthy psychological] development involves a transcending of an earlier structure through its disintegration and ultimate restructuring into a new structure. Thus, disintegration is seen as positive, as being a necessary process for development to occur.” (p. 58)

  • Level 1 – Primary Integration
  • Level 2 – Unilevel Disintegration
  • Level 3 – Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration
  • Level 4 – Organized Multilevel Disintegration (cf. to Maslow’s Self-Actualized Person)
  • Level 5 – Secondary Integration

I’m not sure where the notes I made as I read Hazell’s book have disappeared to, but from what I recall, I believe I was departing Level 3 and attaining Level 4 around 2006 or so. A lot of personal growth occurred at that time, and I had a sense of getting to a different level psychologically.

However, I erroneously assumed that many annoyances in my daily life would work themselves out somehow, and they did not. In fact, the more deeply I understood myself, the more at odds with the world I often felt.  Especially with my job, which I was unhappy with, but unsure what other options I should try. Still, I quit in 2007, and set off looking for something “more creative”.

Then we moved to the Northeast a year ago, and I faced more setbacks. I continue to search for “more creative” employment, which has mostly meant I’ve been unemployed. But I remembered quite recently that this is likely another episode of “emptiness”, which requires riding out the uncertainty and seeing what develops organically.

The periods of emptiness do always end and something new emerges from them.



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